Home Beers – April 2016 – Pt 1

When on my home patch – to the bafflement of many – I drink, almost exclusively, Northern beers.

Sometimes I get (what I can only describe as) looks of pity at the delights that I am missing. But gradually, ever so slowly, I think that people are starting to get my point.

That beer from these here Northern parts is – mostly – bloody excellent! And currently under appreciated.

Most people in my home city – Manchester – know how good the beer from this fine locale is. And they drink it in the pubs and bars. In fact, it would be really easy (I’m surprised no-one has tried it already!) to blog about exclusively Mancunian beers and breweries, but with some of the stuff that is flying out of Yorkshire, it would be madness.

But in March – finally – something happened that (for me) was a bit special.

We got some beers into Manchester from Five Towns of Wakefield and North Riding of East Ayton, nr Scarborough. Two of my very favourite breweries.

I’ll keep to (what has been described – appreciatively – as) my “fiercely local focus”. And the more we get some of these beers in this neck of the woods, you’ll see – for a change – that I’m not talking total bollocks about the bottled and canned beers that I drink.

See below.

“Nice to meet you, where you been? I could show you incredible things
Magic, madness, heaven, sin.
Saw you there and I thought, oh my God, look at that face
You look like my next mistake”
(“Blank Space” – Taylor Swift/Ryan Adams)

My current music crush track. Ryan Adams holds a special place in my heart, always will. You see, I was introduced to his music by my dear friend (no longer with us) Phil. One of the most inspirational people it has been my privilege to know. And I’m in his debt for this as well as so many other things

Anyhow. Ryan Adams has developed a habit of covering great songs and owning them. Check his version of Wonderwall. For me, WAY better than Oasis. But I’m biased.

And, for Mark, to counter Mr Adams, here’s Taylor.


Single Hop IPA (Amarillo) – Stubborn Mule Brewery (Timperley) – IPA – 5.7% abv – Epicurean (W Didsbury)

Burnished gold. A proper colour for an IPA this. Well carbonated, the head was abundant and white, giving off treefuls of Orange peel and zest, marmaladey in its intensity. I like Amarillo. My favourite aroma hop.

Oh yes. Oh very yes.Amarillo. You orangey beauty. Queen of hops.
And this beer does her justice. I get the big chewy toasty malt, spread with lashings of sticky juicy marmalade. Just all kinds of yum!

Then, along comes a decent whack of fruity bitterness to combat all that juicy orange running around my mouth, getting the saliva glands racing. This is right. up. my. street.

That orangey bitterness leads on to a juicy bitter finish and a gorgeous resinous aftertaste, sticky, and just…….

My first from this brewery in any format. A good start to say the least.


NZ IPANorth Riding Brewery (East Ayton, Scarborough) – IPA – 5.5% abv – 500ml – Bottle (Heaton Moor)

Another deeply golden beer with a lasting soft white head chucking out a simply bonkers amount of citrus! Mango, grapefruit and gooseberry. Bloody delicious aromas. Mouthwatering.

Oh. By. The. Gods.

WOW. Big and juicy malty bones supporting a big hop load of muscle. Oh this is SO good! All of that fruit. And more. Masses of mango, gooseberry tartness, even a bit of orange in there. And such a smack of bitterness! This is quite simply delicious. And so much more.

It finishes fruity and dry with a crackling dry resinous sticky aftertaste. Yum.

My mind of Pale beer. Juicy as a fruit stall. Bitter as Ian Duncan Smith.

He can brew, can that Mr Neilson. That’s for sure. I’ve been banging on about his beers for long enough. Now we can get them here in both cask and bottle. And I’m grinning.



Penny BlackThirst Class Brewery (Stockport) – Black IPA – 6.5%abv – 500ml –Bottle (Heaton Moor)

For a brewery that is barely a year old, Richard Conway at Thirst Class hasn’t put a foot wrong in either bottle or cask. And that goes across a range of styles. But this is the first I’ve seen of his Black IPA.

Very dark, with a light cream coloured pumping out a bit citrus led aroma, but with a darker coffeeish counterpoint, hinting at something more earthy. More appetising.

Yup. Oh yes indeed. This. Is. Gorgeous.

Initial sips of this full bodied dark beauty instantly flash up that citrus hop promise with a fruity burst. Sharp and tropical. Grapefruit initially, then a little sharp lemon, followed by more than a hint of mango.

Then, comes the roasted darker side in this most schizophrenic of beer styles. And boy is there a darker “Hyde” side to this beery “Jekyll”!

That fruitiness is jumped on and mugged by a really substantial roast flavour, bitter coffee and really bitter chocolate, earthy and punchy. Masses of roastiness. Yum. Many levels of Yum.
This dark delight finished with that roasted bitterness with a memory of that tropical fruit leading to a quite piney resin aftertaste. Beautifully and powerfully hopped with that earthy bitter choc / coffee roast.
Just. Right. Up. My. Street.
Sun HandsMacclesfield Brewing Company (Macclesfield) – 4.8% abv – Lemon & Cardomom Hopfenweisse – 330ml – Heaton Hops (Heaton Chapel)

Dave Harrison-Ward is (or was) a very talented “home brewer” (a term that doesn’t do justice to the skills displayed.

 Suffice to say, I’ve been lucky to “judge” some of his non-commercial beers and they have been simply stunning. I’ve been really anxious to get his commercial beers, but failed die to limited distribution and output.

Then I walked into Heaton Hops….

 This hazy wheat beer is almost copper coloured, with a light white lacy head and that aroma…… Spicy cardomom cut with citrus. Oh my. This is superb. As I expected.

Man has skills.

 Really well carbonated leading to quite a full mouthfeel, this delivers the flavour promise on the label. And then some! Lemon zest firstly with that yeasty spicy thing quickly augmented (rather than replaced) with the herbal cardomom. Unusual and hugely refreshing.

Feels increasingly creamy in the mouth in the second mouthful, the flavours just work so well together, managing the trick to be simultaneously refreshing, but finishing dry on the swallow. Leaving you wanting another mouthful.

 Don’t mind if I do!

As said, this finishes dry and with that spicy yeasty note leading to a pronounced herbal hop note alongside the lingering flavours in the aftertaste.

 I want another. The mark of an excellent beer.
Them & UsVocation Brewery (Hebden Bridge) – 4.5% abv – Red Session IPA – 330ml can – Bottle (Heaton Moor)

If ever a smell could make me swoon, it’s this. It’s a Mosaic Festival! Deep copper red and with a light white head, this is just a riot of tropical fruit aromas! Grapefruit zest, pineapple and bitter orange getting my juices raging……

And then you taste it. And all that promise is delivered. As if Vocation would disappoint?

Medium bodied with a decent light wholemeal bready malt dance floor base and a tropical hop Mosaic limbo party dancing all over it! Peach, grapefruit, mango all donning the grass skirts and getting under that pole. This is SO juicy, light and refreshing. It’s an absolute joy of a thing to drink.

A really nice bitter finish and resinous piney hop aftertaste completes the job nicely.

Get one.


AlcazarFive Towns Brewery (Wakefield) – 7.8% abv – Seville Orange IPA – 750ml – (500ml available at) Heaton Hops / Bottle/ Northern Beer Temple (Wigan)

Deep amber. A proper colour for a big IPA. That light persistent white head simply oozing deep orangey goodness. There must be at least 3 of my 5 a day in this glass! There’s something more tropical in aroma in here too, a bit of mango maybe?

Oh WOW. This man loves his hops. And this beer is no different. So big and juicy! A deep malty almost cheesecake base is the supporting cast for some beautiful, juicy and powerful hopping. Yes, there’s orange – you’d expect that. And that orange fruit is boosted by the lashings of US hops – I suspect Malcolm’s favourite Mosaic in there somewhere and Simcoe I believe.

Those hops and the bitter fruit more than balance the slight malty and fruity sweetness and bring a nice medium bitterness to this smooth and FAR too easy to drink beer. At 7.8% this is dangerous stuff.

That deep fruitiness stays right to the end and leads to a big sticky piney resinous aftertaste. So moreish.

I’m chuffed to bits that some local shops have his beers on THIS side of the Pennines. I’ve banged on for long enough!

This beer vindicates that faith.
That’s all for now. See you soon.