My adopted home town Middleton is colloquially known as "Miggy". Among other things it boasts two breweries - JW Lees, a large, fairly well known concern with 170 odd pubs - and new kid on the block, Wilson Potter with no pubs. I have the honour of being CAMRA's Brewery Liaison Officer for both.
Last week I was invited to Lees to taste the new seasonal beer Drayman's Promise, described as " a rich mahogany ale. The aroma delivers a pocket of hops with deep spice and citrus notes. To taste,expect the refreshing qualities of a great bitter with a swell of hops on top." The brewer, Michael Lees-Jones described it to me. It is brewed using solely First Gold hops and has a touch of chocolate malt added to the grist which gives it colour and a touch of richness in the finish. It is late hopped to give a hoppy, spicy finish. It was an enjoyable beer at the brewery, but Michael felt that the late hopping had not shown through as much as he'd hoped and he'll up the hopping for the next brew. More power to his elbow on that one.
The true test of any beer isn't how it drinks in the brewery though, but how it performs where it matters - in the pub. I gave it a pretty thorough road test last night in the nearest proper pub to me, the Lancashire Fold and it was not found wanting. In perfect condition, it was more the beer that Michael was after, but I would never discourage him from giving it bit more hop oomph. It was lovely stuff either way and oddly pleasing to find it better in the pub than the brewery
Today, being an even handed sort of chap, I'm off to visit the good folks at Wilson Potter. It is a classic micro brewery on a small industrial estate and is probably the spickest and spannest brewery you'll ever come across. Cleanliness is an obsession there and that's no bad thing. The beer isn't at all bad either and here there is no doubt that humulus lupulus is in the beer. They brew a great range of mainly hop forward beers and I'm looking forward to my favourite "Tandle Hill". I'll tell you a bit more about them and how I got on in a blog post next week.
Despite the obsession with exotic beers from far away, it is satisfying to support local breweries and I was pleased to read today, that in a declining market, local beer increased its sales by 6.8% last year. I like to think I do my bit in helping that total along.
So that's Miggy. Two breweries and me. What more does a town need?
I note yet another new brewery in another part of my CAMRA branch area, Bury as described by my good friend Tyson. It is rapidly becoming a new (small) Burton on Trent
A bit of a CV. Tandleman is a veteran beer lover, CAMRA Chairman and (local) activist, beer author, beer reviewer and pursuer of all things good in beer. He lives in the North West of England and London. Despite his CAMRA membership, he does not limit himself to cask conditioned beer, though he believes that cask conditioning, when done correctly and appropriately, brings a quality to beer that is hard to equal by any other kind of presentation. He is a strong supporter of Northern methods of beer dispense and avidly detests poorly presented beer and dislikes pasteurisation. He regularly visits Germany, has conducted corporate British and German beer tastings for CAMRA at the Great British Beer Festival where he has worked for years on Biere Sans Frontieres and was Deputy Organiser at CAMRA's very successful National Winter Ales Festival in 2009, 2010 and 2011. He admires good brewers wherever they are and has travelled extensively in pursuit of good beer to drink.
This blog mentions specifics; pubs and beer, good and bad. The opinions will be forthright, but you can always disagree, just don't be offended. Comments from those mentioned are particularly welcome and a right of reply is hereby offered.
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