Sunday, 6 September 2020

Week Up North

So the other week myself and the family had the most splendid adventure away to the county of our former residence, Northumberland. We ventured the delights of Alnwick, Alnmouth, Seahouses and Holy Island. It seems sort of odd thinking of Northumberland as a holiday destination again. For a long time it was home but before and after that it was a place for holidays. 

 I managed to visit some pubs including the old favourite The John Bull, as well as newer venues like The Ale Gate and The Pig In Muck. It was a great night and it is still obvious the North East beer scene is still formidable although has moved on alittle with new beers and new breweries of the region. A few of these I managed to get hold of from Turnbull's Butchers new farm shop. 

Prior to leaving the North East beer scene the Farmhouse brewery Rigg & Furrow were a fairly new outfit. Agriculture is a saison cross lager hybrid. Both hoppy and dry it balances the line between refreshing yet sophisticated. Moving on Full Circle Brew Co are a new Newcastle based brewery, Looper is a full on Hazy 6.4% IPA featuring opal fruits, tropical and stone fruit. Minimal bitterness, soft mouthfeel, very modern.  

First and Last Damson Porter was recommended. The term juicy comes to mind, like biting into a plumb. Loads of damson flavour and liquorice with a nice balance between richness and drinkability. 

None the less the holiday wasn't entirely about beer. It was great to see the old haunts again plus old friends. Next time I will remember to bring a jumper. 

Friday, 21 August 2020

Back In The Game

And we are back. It's certainly good to be brewing again. Not just that but racking, transferring, selling and delivering beer. Admittadly July was a bumpy ride of fluctuating trade. Pubs reopened after a big surge in trade then tentaively approcahed re-ordering. Notably a lot of independent trade has done better than expected. Certain pub companies have not. Yet on the whole the situation is improving. 

Given that our expanded bottle range helped boost bottle trade during lockdown we have decided to maintain it. This means re-brewing the ill fated Journeys End which will also be available in cask. Our full core range is also now back up and running. 

Journeys end sparge to copper
Journey's End run off to copper

Recently we also secured two local SIBA digital beer awards, an exclusive can/bottle only replacement for the usual SIBA regional events. Both beers have a history of awards and it was great to get Morocco Ale some silverware given all it's history and being one of my first epiphanic bottle beer experiences as a beer drinker.  

So as more customers get back in the game, the volumes being brewed get closer to those pre-lockdown. We havn't officially got a full staff back yet and one thing that has been thrown off is the plan of 2020 new seasonals. Meaning Grapefruit IPA and many of the crazy new stuff I was going to come out with is effectively on hold. Hopefully they will be re-implemented at some point. 

Sunday, 28 June 2020

Birthdays and new bottle beers

Monkey Wrench with Harrogate Blue is hard to beat

So as it stands, after three months of furlough I am likely soon to be doing my warm ups and getting ready to come off the bench for the grand reopening of pubs on July 4th. As mentioned on the last post the Daleside bottle beer range has now been greatly expanded. Journeys End (4.5%), Pace Setter (3.9%), Old Lubrication (4.2%) and the SIBA award winning Monkey Wrench (5.3%) are all now available in 500ml bottle. 

We also have more cask stock brewed and ready to hit the trade. However much of the trade comes back, if it comes back immedietly, eventually or just in a short burst is very much unknown. The other question is if the take home trade remains strong, could it fill in the gaps? Most seem to agree that re-opening on a Monday would be a more sensible option.

Admittedly 2020 hasn't dealt out many good cards. Aside from global crisis, and the fully media inflated, non-sensical orgy of mass scale squabbling whilst being stuck in a sort of groundhog day it's not been all bad. Life must go on so it seems and birthday 2020, the big three six was certainly a good one.

 Creeping ever closer to middle age is the perfect excuse for beer, undiscovered whisky, cheese and cigars. Luckily the forecast thunderstom was fairly brief and cleared up allowing for us to enjoy a seafood platter with a Firebrick Giuseppe Hells lager in the garden, a top class North East lager.

Afterwards an array of cheeses was accompanied by some Monkey Wrench and Port City Porter followed by some Taketsura Pure malt Japanese whisky and Mackmyra Gront Te Swedish single malt Whisky. Having never tried whisky from Sweden before I would say it was remarkably good. Ex olorose cask matured before finishing in casks conditioned with Japanese green tea, it opens very plump, sweet and approachable with very clean refined meadow fruit flavours. Approachable and fun, sort of like the Michael McIntyre of malt whisky but with the green tea aspect that throws in an extra dimention.

So despite not managing to properly re-install the old DVD player to watch the Scum collectors edition DVD that was planned to end the night the whole event went rather splendidly. Many thanks go to the wife Helen for all the presents and efforts helping make it so great.

Saturday, 23 May 2020

In the midst of may

The Kitchen Arms

It's been long and odd couple of months. Whilst following the guidance of Hancock, BoJo, and the baked potato my current role of parent/teacher/kids butler and bloke loafing around the house doing the odd spell of chores was never going to be as exciting as the brewing adventure that was originally written out for 2020.

Nonetheless it's been great to hear the new Daleside Brewery delivery service is up and running and has been well received. Our team of un-furloughed elite have been answering the call selling and delivering beer far and wide. We have an official web store on the way and you can also get Daleside beers on the CAMRA webstore or Craft Beer Drop.

Additionally an extension of the bottled beer range is pending. Journey's End (mentioned in the last blog post) is to be re-born as a bottled beer and also available in bag in box. I highly recommend pairing it with chicken curry. Monkey Wrench is also to be be re-released in bottle, a development that's been in the pipeline a long time but thanks to the current Covid-19 crisis it makes a welcome return.

So far the situation seems more optimistic than originally thought. It seemed apparent the world never stopped enjoying beer or even slowing down the rate of consumption. Although as good as drinking through stock with Gary and Steve (pictured above) gets it will never be as good as visiting the local boozer with actual friends.

Free kicks

Trusty nerf blaster ensures everyone in the house stays alert in line with government guidance 

On reflection the surrealness of the situation of 2020 speaks volumes. Every so often these things happen, after all disease is a natural part of life. Ether that or this is the endgame of a huge incomprehensibly elaborate master plan led by a coalition of world leaders, the UN, Bill Gates, leading scientists, the world bank, George Soros and the WHO, that are all secretly shape-shifting reptilian-humanoid, satanic Illuminati who engineered and developed the virus, which may or may not exist and may or may not be caused by 5G towers to crash the world economy and subversively drive humanity towards satanic ideology via mass mandatory vaccinations that sterilize the masses in line with agenda 31 to cull populations resulting in lab born asexual AI augmented births by 2030, whilst at the same time implanting mind reading nano chips that relay mind reading data to the 5G towers which relay to Chinese satellites allowing for mass mind-control enforced by the weaponisation of the 5G towers at 60gHz, causing hypoxia towards any establishment opposition. The prolonged transmittance of the negative frequency resonance energies from fear and despair from the entire human race during lockdown transmits to the huge hollow alien designed secret satellite, the moon will bringeth great jubilation and rejoicing on the planet Drako, home world of the satanic Illuminati lizard people as their end game of mass mind-control and total totalitarian control of the human race, bringing forth the new dystopian world order, the incomprehensible evils of the shape-shifting Illuminati lizard people so sinister, dark, harrowing and subversive their plans so shrouded in darkness and secrecy hidden to all except those watching the You Tube video. They eat babies...

I feel myself slowly descend back down towards the kitchen my body enveloped by the metaphysical transition towards my original space time dimensional representation to continue the blog post...

Always the old ones...

But in other good news my youngest Harvey is on an impressive streak of dry nights at the moment. Encouraging stuff. The kids think the place is some sort of hotel and home schooling has often more resemblance to that scene from Rocky 1 where he's chasing chickens around the courtyard. Normally they are easily entertained but understandably have episodes of missing friends. It was certainly a shame to miss Henshaws beer fest this year also. The wife Helen has also been working quite a lot recently in home care, so it's allowed me to do a bit of cooking and (for the first time this century) some baking.

As I'm aware the next upcoming phase for the brewing industry is centered around opening pubs and the balance between doing it safely and doing it profitably. How that will play out is uncertain and I do hope one meter social distancing is adopted over two as it just seems more feasible. Until then we have virtual pubs, virtual beer festivals and drinking sessions. Although I have never bought into the 'virtual' concept, admittedly its done in good spirit. Who knows where it will all end. Stay safe everyone.

Friday, 10 April 2020

Journeys End and the lockdown

Admittedly this has been a difficult blog post to write. Never have I brewed a beer to be released into the unusual circumstances of a global pandemic. Without a web store or home deliveries post march  this was more like writing an epitaph.

Anyhow, Journeys End is a 4.5% modern English IPA brewed with Admiral and Endeavour hops. Its story started in the mid march. A busy period of increasing momentum involving a flurry of brew days that ground to a sudden halt. The pub trade suddenly started slowing and slowing till only the most resilient publicans persevered. When the lockdown came the last lights went out.

And so we have the completely bizarre unforeseeable script of spring 2020. Like the ultimate WTF moment of Monty Python's Holy Grail where the animator suffers a sudden fatal heart attack. As surreal as it was the entire industry and nation had ground to a halt from the Covid-19 crisis.

Amid the chaos and confusion the mid golden British IPA was born. With its dominant candied orange, pine and woody citrus character the beer was shifted to its secondary tank, its current resting place.

Thankfully in some shape or form a contingency plan is in place for Journeys End. A web store or drive through is in the making and the beer may be brought back at a later date. Through will and determination this beer will reach customers in some shape or form.

Doing our bit to save the nation 

But aside from pushing for contingency plans what does one do in this current situation of lockdown and not brewing? Drinking the stock is an obvious option when facing the long void of gardening, home schooling and jobs around the house.

Clapping for key workers

"Virus"; drink 1 finger.
"Stop the spread"; drink 2 fingers.

This batch of pickled eggs is gonna be the bomb

Mucking about around the house 

Although having three different cask beers in the house is sort of like being in your own personal pub. In the wider world the uncertainties facing the brewing sector, the fate of the stock, pub companies facing rent payment and the rest of it all puts a dampener on the enforced holiday experience.

For almost my entire life I have never taken it for granted that I always seemed to be in the right place at the right time. Now however I'm basically in the wrong place at the wrong time. On the upside is still being alive.

Wednesday, 18 March 2020

SIBA Beer X 2020

SIBA beer X is an event I have never had the experience of venturing into. In the city of Liverpool it hosts a wide range  of suppliers and influential bodies from across the brewing industry. It also features various seminars, and a range of beers from Independent brewers across the nation.

Entering as brewers at SIBA beer X you find no shortage of folk trying to sell you stuff. We spotted lots of familiar faces from the likes of Murphy's, Crisp Malt, Charles Faram, Holdens and more. We also got to witness the Charles Faram Wellhopped World Series awards. Featuring the highest rated newly developed hops. You can sample the hops and beers brewed with hops on the Charles Farams stand. I also happened to bump into the bloke who developed and grows both First Gold and Sovereign hops. I do like First Gold hops. 

Farams Will presents the Wellhopped awards

Daya Brewing's Something Good 2 was a good display of Harlequin hops. Punchy tropical and resiny with some underlying British spiceyness. Ledbury Golden Ale, brewed with the new Euro variety Most was subtle with nuanced summer fruit a little reminiscent of a Styrian Golding.

I also managed to catch some of the Seminar from Carl Heron from Crisp Malt but overall it was the awards that were the star of the show. Daleside Lager winning bronze in the Bottle/can session lager. Sadly our other entrant and previous awards winner Monkey Wrench didn't claim any silverware this time but was on good form. Fellow Harrogate brewers Roosters won Bronze in Bottle/can 5.5-6.4% category and other names from the North East/Yorkshire cropped up from the likes of Acorn and Hadrian and Border. All in all it was a great day and night enjoyed by all including myself and general manager Adam. Hopefully next year we will achieve nomination again.

Monkey Wrench sits by abandoned single use glassware. A anti-Covid19 measure.

Cheers! From the Weyermann stall

Monday, 9 March 2020

Harrogate Beer Festival 2020

Harrogate Charity Beer festival is one of the biggest events of the calendar year at Daleside. Organised and run by Harrogate Round Table, the 30th Harrogate Beer festival featured live music, food and breweries from across the region at the town's Crown Hotel.

Sponsored by both Daleside and Theakstons both breweries were well represented. Keg beers were also available from Cold Bath Brewing, Theakstons and Daleside separate to the cask bar. My initial venture into the trade session involved much exploration. Memories of Harrogate Beer Festival from 2010 were a little sketchy. Everything was easy to find but my initial question was where was Emily? I know she got in late in the game and was nearly forgotten. Eventually she was spotted with her makeshift pumpclip...

One of the two casks in existence of Emily 

Gravity fed from cask and conditioned nicely. Emily was very drinkable for the 5.5% abv. Fleshy fruit and tropical flavours dominate. Underneath there's some banana, apple and spice underpinning the dry finish. Emily is approachable but complicated and arguably better aged a bit longer.

Moving on it was good to try Daleside Stout again. I don't manage to try every seasonal we brew from on trade. Turning Point Disco king was a very pleasant IPA with lots of perfumed sweet citrus and pine from the use of Mosaic and Chinook hops. An all round quality West Coast style IPA. 

Rudgate Brew 28 Cry Wolf was also citrus, hop forward with lemongrass late on whereas Roosters Little Changes came across savory and quite traditional tasting for a new English hop variety beer. Theakstons Old Peculiar is a classic as always that's rarely encountered on cask. 

Another to mention was Theakstons Peculier IPA. An all round good beer that doesn't really tick the boxes of contemporary keg IPA. It's more of an ESB. On the whole I didn't manage to try everything on the list and given  I was getting served a few accidental pints instead of halves managed to get through a fair volume of beer. The all round impression was of a classy, well presented beer festival and a great night. 

Friday, 28 February 2020


The 80-litre trial brew plant is a relatively new addition to the Daleside kit, invented by former brewer Matt Bloomer. Although quite basic it's still more impressive and easier to use than my former 20-litre home brew kit.

This time round I would be brewing an experimental brew that might make the upscale or might be just for the hell of it. It will be featured at Harrogate Beer Festival 2020 March 6th - 7th.

Emily is a dry-hopped apricot Saison at 5.5% brewed with Galaxy and Cascade hops and an apricot puree. The abv would have been a bit lower if it weren't for underestimation of the aggressive nature of saison yeasts.

Late hops going in 

The fermentation temperature on this was let go a little as with many traditional Belgian ales though didn't go past 26 °C.

The name Emily bears no specific reference to anything although I did know someone called Emily at Uni and she was from Yorkshire but the name was more to do with it being one my favourite girls names.

On tasting Emily is dry and boozy with up front tropical banana and fleshy apricot going on. There's some spicy phenolics and hot alcohols underpinning it that the fruit partly masks but I'm hoping they age out. Overall I was quite pleased with Emily, she had some rough edges but I do look forward to trying her from the cask at Harrogate Beer festival.

Wednesday, 29 January 2020

On the Dray

Scenic views en route to Danby

In recent times due to the absence of certain staff it has fallen upon me to play the honorable roll of dray man. This has involved ventures out to far away lands such as Cramlington, Sunderland, Hartlepool, Darlington, Richmond, Boroughbridge, Whixley, Knaresborough and even the Toon.

In the drop zone

With it being about eight years since I was let loose in a van it was good to re-visit the basics. So after the sat nav's landed you within a 50 yard radius of the pub its time to exit the vehicle to find the actual pub then work out where to actually put the beer. Planning a dray run seems easy, until you factor in certain venues opening/closing at certain times. Then rush hour traffic and the van's weight limits.

Saying goodbye: the cellar is the beers' final destination

The dray man can be the eyes and ears of the brewery concerning direct customer relations. You also get to develop skills at manoeuvreing casks around tight cellars whilst routing out empties. I've often thought the roll would be great portrayed in a video game in the style of Grand Theft Auto (North Yorkshire). Virtual Dray Man 3: 'Drop Zone 2020' would feature variable Dray men first character options (as well as unlockable bonus dray men past and present). It would cover various theatres of distribution including South Yorkshire, West Yorkshire, Tyneside, Darlington, Ripon and many more where you can gain points for collecting empties and not getting caught in the bus lane. The idea might need more work before before going to major game producers.

Thursday, 9 January 2020

Key Lime Wheat

Key Lime Wheat is key lime pie influenced wheat beer featuring lime zest, oats and lactose. The first Daleside new release of 2020 it's a soft, sessionable, American style wheat with citric notes at 3.8%.

Lime zest 

As it happens Key Lime Wheat started its life in the 80 litre trial kit as I has never brewed one before. The inspiration came from desserts. Key Lime Pie is one of the greatest desserts on Earth alongside Sticky Toffee Pudding, Banoffee Pie, Baklava and obviously the cheese board.

Hops going in. Took some concentration to get this pic holding the phone in the other hand.

An entertaining brew day. Some judgement was required in the upscaling of ingredients. Often it's found X grams of ingredient Y for a 20 to 80 litre trial brew, when it's then multiplied up by so many thousand litres (for the commercial kit) gives an over the top number. Nonetheless I'm pleased with this one. Having ventured into brewing territory I don't usually enter I found this to have a better drinkability than I originally thought for a speciality beer.