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#ISBF4 #EvilKegFilth 5-a-side Collab Series No 2 : Elusive Brewing & Brewsmith Beer (Q&A)

Ain’t random pairings brilliant?

I just knew that these two (Andy & James) would hit it off, just knew.

Both like hops. Both are self – effacing decent fellas, who happen to brew bloody good beer.

With James having forged a reputation up here for consistently excellent beers and Andy with a growing rep on the national stage, I had high hopes for this brew. Like all the 5-a-side Collab Series.

Hops, hops and more hops. Yum. Let’s ask some questions…. Firstly, Andy Parker.

Andy, Introduce yourself and the brewery!

“Elusive Brewing started brewing in May 2016. We have a 5BBL/800L setup with 4 FVs and brew for cask, keg and bottle. I’m (Andy) full-time with support from part-time Assistant Brewer Steve who joined us (indirectly) from Siren, our neighbours. We’re very much a family business with everyone mucking in!”

What/who inspired you to start brewing?

“I started home brewing back in 2012 after being inspired by a growing thirst to learn more about the beers I was enjoying. Influences are many but I remember following the antics (and process) of David Bishop (who went on to become Northern Monk’s first brewer) and Adrian Chapman (now owner of Wishbone) and that giving me the confidence to give it a go. The first beer I brewed was a clone of Green Flash’s West Coast IPA.”

What is the ethos of Elusive Brewing?

“To never stand still. To improve and learn with every brew.”

What are the benefits of brewing collaboratively?

“We’ve done plenty of collaborations both before and after we started brewing commercially in Finchampstead and I can honestly say we’ve taken something from all of them. Having not trained professionally as a brewer, the chance to work with more experienced brewers is always educational and our processes certainly wouldn’t be where they are now without having been so collaborative.”

We are incredibly grateful that you agreed to take part in our #EvilKegFilth 5-a-side Collab Series. You haven’t been to #ISBF yet, but you won “Beer of the Festival” last year. You gonna come up & collect?

“Thanks for asking us to take part! We had lots of fun brewing Love Action last year and the video of the empty keg being, erm, serenaded will live with me for a long time. Sadly I can’t make it this year either as we’re away on holiday! This’ll be the longest break (10 days) I’ve had since starting the brewery, so I hope you can forgive me and also hope our beers are as well received this year!”

What was your reaction when you found out you were paired with Brewsmith?

“We’ve been paired with Alesmith – awesome! *books flight to San Diego*  Oh Brewsmith, in Bury you say. I see.”

“Hehe – just kidding.

I was really pleased as although I’ve not been able to try many myself (send some more down ‘ere guys!) I was aware of Brewsmith’s fantastic reputation. James came down a few weeks ago and we got along really well. The post-brew pub crawl round Reading was also great fun I hope to head up to Bury soon to see their place – maybe we’ll brew another beer!”

What inspired the beer?

“We had a chat on the phone about what to brew and settled on something pale and sessionable. It’s a mash up of Brewsmith’s trade mark drinkable hoppy Pales and ​our Sphere of Destiny SIPA.”

What did each brewer add to the recipe?

“Once we’d settled on the style there was some discussion around the grist and hops. James brought down some Centennial (thanks!) and a pitch of their house yeast which is really fruity and clean – playing a big part in the flavour profile of their Pales. Other than using more Munich malt the rest (water profile, hop schedule etc.) is similar to our Session IPA – a truly collaborative recipe!”

Cask v Keg. Thoughts?

“We very often put the same beer into both and which ends up working best usually depends on the style. Flavours from cask can be more nuanced and rounded whereas the extra carbonation and colder serving temperature of keg can really lift certain aromas and flavours. If I go into a pub with a good range of both formats I’ll usually end up drinking more cask than keg.”

What are we to expect from the collab beer?

“A bright and fruity session IPA with what we think is a well-matched trio of American hops in Centennial, Nugget & Mosaic.”

You’ve collaborated with a number of breweries, is there anyone else you’d really like to brew with?

“Yes – James Farran at Summer Wine.

I remember first visiting the brewery back in 2012 and leaving feeling astonished that they’re able to turn out such consistent quality from what they won’t mind me saying is (or was) very basic equipment that was probably a bit past its best by the time they got their hands on it. A testament to good brewing process, solid recipes and James being Yorkshire’s answer to MacGyver!

I also recall James’ old home brew kit being perched above the brewery – what looked like a bath tub and a hot water boiler (the kind you’d find in your airing cupboard). I’ve always maintained that you don’t need fancy kit to make good beer at home!”

Thanks Andy! (One of these days, you’ll get up to St Sebastian’s….!)

And now James Smith of Brewsmith Beer

James, Introduce yourself and the brewery!

“My name is James – head brewer at Brewsmith Beer and co-owner with my wife, Jen. We’ve been brewing for nearly four years now. It’s a family affair! Currently we produce around 15 bbl a week of ale, most of which leaves the building in casks, though we do some bottle and keg also.”

What/who inspired you to start brewing?

“Hmmmm. I think circumstance more than anything. We (family) had always wanted to run our own business. Jennifer (aware of my passion for beer) suggested we open a brewery and the rest as they say is history. A very short stint working in another larger and well established local brewery focused the mind and motivated us to go for it.”

What is the ethos of (your brewery) ?

“Consistent quality product, great customer service. Good beer with a smile!”

What are the benefits of brewing collaboratively?

“I’ll let you into a secret, it’s actually the first collab brew we’ve done with another brewery. It was a great experience and I reckon we’ve learned a bit and picked up some tips and ideas for making beer in the future. Hopefully the lads at Elusive feel the same.”

We are incredibly grateful that you agreed to take part in our #EvilKegFilth 5-a-side Collab Series. You’ve been to ISBF (or not – in Andy’s case 😁) How do you think ISBF compares to other festivals you’ve been to.

“Its an absolute pleasure. I think most beer festivals have their own different personalities, and it’s sometimes difficult to put your finger on exactly why something works.

The biggest thing Salford has going for it is the enthusiasm that most of the brewers have for the festival and the organisation, which is reflected in the quality and variety of the beers on offer. Plus there’s always some great people drinking and working there.”

What was your reaction when you found out you were paired with (your collab partner) ?

“WTF is Finchampstead?” (Gold star for QUALITY answer!)

What inspired the beer?

“What did each brewer add to the recipe?”

Cask v Keg. Thoughts?

“I’m a fan of both methods of dispense. They both have their place and there are definitely commercial advantages and disadvantages to both. Done properly, my preference would probably be cask. I’ll often taste a keg beer and think it would be belting served out of a cask. Rarely do I drink a good cask ale and think it could be improved out of a keg.”

What are we to expect from the collab beer?

“A lovely session IPA. Hopped with Centennial, Mosaic and Nugget. In a keg.”

You’ve collaborated with a number of breweries, is there anyone else you’d really like to brew with?

“Well you see we haven’t. We’ve got a collab lined up with Doug from Cwrw Ial in the next couple of weeks, and after that I’m definitely hoping to line up some more. I’d happily work with anyone at their place or ours – it could only be advantageous to everyone involved.” ( Note to Ed. Proof read your questions, fool!)

Cheers James!

Like all of the #EvilKegFilth 5-a-side Collab Series beers, this is going to be super special. Just remember, where you’re going to get it first?

VERY few tickets left. Click HERE to reduce that number even further….

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#ISBF4 : Some Important Details

Independent Salford Beer Festival 2017 logo

Nearly there now. The culmination of almost 8 months of toil is less than 9 days away. I just hope it’s worth it.

This is a celebration of beer. But it takes place for a purpose. That is to raise money for the venue. A Community Centre in the heart of Salford.

This event started in 2014 as something intensely personal to me. I’m tangled up in this place, with these people. It’s now part of me. Yes, this event is a celebration of what’s great in UK beer, but it’s about people. People coming together and – in the simple process of drinking great beer – helping the local community.

This year, a whole bunch of people who coalesced as friends through this event have come together to push it, promote it, getting involved in ways I’m certain they never thought they would. These people care about the event, sure. But they care about people. People matter. That’s why I love them.

This isn’t a fancy venue. But there’s soul here. Things happen in places like this all around the country, that are truly great. Humbling things. People get helped. Back onto their two feet. Helping them to help themselves.

I’ve seen it for myself. And it strengthens the ties that bind me here.

Like I said, this isn’t a fancy place. It isn’t an “iconic” structure. There isn’t history. Scenes from “Corrie” may have been filmed here (yes, really!), but nobody will film documentaries ABOUT it. Yet it has a soul. And that’s important, to me at any rate.

As for the event itself.

The food will be prepared onsite. Freshly. It will be – as ever – tasty and wholesome. We could do stuff differently. But we like it like this. It works.

There’ll be somewhere for you to sit, if you want to. Or stand, if that’s your choice. Being comfortable matters.

The beer will be priced reasonably. From (the equivalent of) £3 a pint – at the lower strengths, to £2.50 a third for the “silly” stuff. And we’ve got a bit of that….

There will be the now traditional series of raffles with some generously donated prizes held in the last 3 sessions – as always.

There will be fabulous live tunes. And some enthusiastic – if haphazard – attempts of DJing via laptop, with ‘sensible’ requests considered. As long as it’s Bowie, eh Mike?

But I’m not naive. You want to see the beer list. So, after 8 months of cajoling, mithering, nudging…. It’s just below. It has been a “labour of love”.

The aim has been for each and every beer to be new to Manchester. I’ve tried, but don’t shoot me if one or two slipped through the net. It wasn’t for the want of trying!

First, Cask.

Brewery Name ABV Style
Abbeydale Methuselah 2 8.1% abv Barrel Aged Stout with Cocoa nibs, vanilla and Sour Cherries
Allgates Pennygate 4.2% abv APA (Mosaic / Amarillo)
Bad Seed Bunco 4.3% abv US Pale Ale (Amarillo, Cascade, Chinook & Comet)
Beer Nouveau Berks Princess 6.3% abv Dry Stout
Black Jack Rhubarb & Custard  4.5% abv Rhubarb Brown Saison
Blue Bee Tia Maria Milk Stout 5.7% abv Milk Stout
Bone Machine Dream Machine 5.2%abv Oz hopped Pale
Brew York Luke Piehawker 4.8% abv Pecan Pie Porter
Brewsmith Table Beer 3% ish Table Beer (Citra, Mosaic, Simcoe) 
Briggs Neo Classical 3.9 % abv Green Hop Session Black IPA (Centennial / Cascade)
Cheshire Brewhouse Govinda (Organic Plumage Archer Malt /  Early Keyworth, Jester, Boadecia etc) 6.7%abv English IPA
Cheshire Brewhouse Govinda (Chevalier Malt / Goldings)  6.7%abv English IPA
Cwrw Ial Fruit Loop Soup 7% abv Fruit Salad NE IPA
Emmanuales Beer Thou My Vision  4.5 % abv Session Pale (Liberty, Azacca, Olicana, Columbus)
Five Towns Always Crashing In The Same Car 8.6% abv Rhubarb infused Belgian style Tripel – Orval Yeast
Five Towns Breaking Glass 4.8% abv Pineapple & Coconut Citra Pale (Pina Colada)
Hopjacker Javahoppy 6%abv Coffee IPA
Howard Town Lowry’s Vermillion 4.3% abv US Red Ale (Cascade / Mosaic / Willamette) 
Lost Industry 5th Shade of Pale 4.8% abv Pale Ale w/Orange / Lemon fruit Citra DH
Mallinsons Bramling Bramble 3.7%abv Single Hopped Bramling Cross Pale w/added fresh brambles
Marble Imperial Chocolate Stout 11% abv Imperial Chocolate Milk Stout
Neptune Run Aground 5.8% abv Coffee IPA
North Riding Brewpub Chocolate Orange Porter 6.2% abv  Porter
North Riding v Steel City Raspberry Citra (30/09/2017) 4.8%abv Citra well-hopped Pale with Raspberries
Offbeat Idiosyncratic IPA 4.3%abv Black IPA (Columbus, Simcoe, Comet)
Pictish Trigo Rojo 4.7% abv Hibiscus Wheat
Rammy Craft Cascadian RIPA 6.5% abv Bourbon Oak Aged Cascadian Rye IPA
Rat Sneaky Rat 3.6% abv Session Pale (Amarillo/Citra)
Redwillow TBC
Revolutions Black Monk Time 7% abv Belgian Stout
Rivington Never Known A Fog Like It! 5.2% abv NE Pale Ale
Serious Serious Wit 4%abv Wheat beer (orange peel & coriander seeds) (V)
Squawk Simcoe Pale (Cryo Hopped w/Ekuanot)  4.2% abv Pale Ale
Thirst Class Parkin Porter 4.8%abv Porter
Tickety Raspberry & Pink Peppercorn Wheat 4.5% abv Wheat Beer
Torrside American Barleywine 2017 (Bourbon barrel aged) 9% abv Barley Wine
Track Going To The Sun (Specially dry hopped) 7% abv Dry-hopped NE IPA
Turning Point Sun Empire 4.6% abv Tropical Pale Ale
Wishbone Night Star 2 5.5%abv Pale Ale (Mosaic, Ahtenum, Summit)
Runaway East India Porter 5.6% abv Porter (Yes. Cask!)

And #EvilKegFilth

Brewery Name ABV Style
Abbeydale Eiffel 65 9% abv Maple Blueberries IPA. With Sorachi Ace
Beatnikz Republic Tropical Rainforest 6%abv Tropical Stout
Bexar County We’re All Mad Here 6.1% abv Deconstructed Cream Tea
Brew by Numbers 17/10 Table Saison  3.5% abv Saison with added fresh ginger.
Cloudwater Happy Seasons  6.5% abv  Lychee Pale (Collab with Jing-A Brewing Co)
Elusive Love Action (12″ Remix) 10% abv Imperial Blueberry & Vanilla Stout
FiveCloud Aren’t You A Little Short For A Stormtrooper 6% abv NE IPA
Little Earth Project Sorachi Ace Saison 7.4% abv Wild Yeast Saison
Macc Brew Co Lemon & Sichuan Pepper Saison 5.5% abv Saison
Mad Hatter Under The Spreading Chestnut Tree 4.6% abv Nut Brown Ale
Magic Rock Bearded Lady (Islay Barrel Aged) 10.5% abv Imperial Stout
Marble Imperial Chocolate Stout 11% abv Chocolate Milk Stout
Mourne Chinook Lager 5% abv Lager
Northern Alchemy Birch Syrup Sour 3.2% abv Sour
Pig & Porter Mango Daiquiri DIPA 10.6% abv DIPA
Runaway East India Porter 5.8% abv East India Porter
The Kernel Biere de Saison : Raspberry 4.7% abv Saison/Sour
Twisted Barrel TBC Belgian Quad
Verdant / Stigbergets New & Improved IPA 6.5% abv IPA (heavy Citra /Centennial
Vibrant Forest Castanea 4.5% abv Mosaic / Centennial Pale
Weird Beard Tequila barrel aged Bearded Nurse 10.2% abv Tequila barrel aged Barley Wine
Wilde Child Righteous Indignation 7.4% abv NE IPA
Wiper & True/Stillwater /LHG  Vital One 10%abv Imperial Malted Milk Stout
Time & Tide Echo : Red Burgundy 5.9% abv Barrel Aged Bretted Saison
Hopcraft v Waen? A Sponge & A Rusty Spanner 4.7% abv Red Ale (Cascade, Citra, Galaxy Dry hop) 
Runaway Grub Lemon Drizzle IPA  5.2% abv Cake Inspired IPA! 
Six Degrees North Bombini 6% abv Belgian Style Honey Beer
Black Jack Rhubarb and Custard 4.4% abv Rhubarb Brown Saison
Mallinsons Lady Marmarillo 5.6% abv Amarillo XL – with a boost!

And the #EvilKegFilth 5-a-side Collab Series

North South Abv Name Style
Neptune Twisted Barrel 6.5 % abv Twisted Thai’d Thai Spice Saison
North Riding Offbeat 9% abv D. I. P. A. DIPA (Originally brewed 2013 with Kuhnhenn Brothers)
Torrside Bexar County 4.5% abv EPIA Indian Pale Ale
Rivington Pig & Porter 9.1% abv Lair Of The Baubai Fruited Baltic Porter
Brewsmith Elusive 4.5% abv Nomen Luni Pale Ale (Centennial, Mosaic, Nugget) 

There you go.

See you next week? Click and WIN! (OK. When I say Win……)


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#ISBF4 Brewday No 15 : Howard Town Brewery


It’s been a bloody marathon. Actually, probably more enjoyable than Pheidippides martially motivated footslog, but you get the point!

But here we are Brewday 15. And for this one, a long standing arrangement which – unfortunately, due to work pressures – I (Jim) was unable to attend. But with the design genius that is Andy Heggs and his mate Nick, we were certainly covered.

Again, like many breweries that I invite to St Sebastian’s, Howard Town aren’t slathered in glamour or soused with hype. What Stuart Swann does – quietly – is make full flavoured beers. Consistently. For me, the most important of beery C words. Well, apart from Citra, Centennial, Cascade….. But again, you get the picture.

Glossop may not be the centre of the beer universe – of course, we all know that that is Salford in 11 days – but there are few prettier places to go to work. To make beer. And as we drinkers all know, making beer ain’t work, right?

Take it away Mon Genius…. Oh, OK. Andy then….

“For all the huge popularity of beer nowadays, in my humble view there’s still too few breweries who focus on producing traditional, consistent, well-made session strength cask ales. Not everything has to be barrel-aged, hopped-to-hell-and-back or 9% and served in thirds (though no denying they are great too). Sometimes it’s just refreshing to enjoy a well made pale ale that floats around the 4% mark. Something you can enjoy a few pints of in one sitting.

And that’s why I love Stuart and Emma Swann’s output down at Howard Town Brewery tucked away in Old Glossop. They took over the reins down there in 2014 and focussed on reducing the original huge range of beers, refining and refreshing the recipes and nailing the consistency. Eight core beers remain, from the 3.5% Milltown through to the 6% Dark Peak alongside some seasonal specials, and all are eminently quaffable cask beers and super examples of their style.

After discussions back in July about getting together and brewing a beer for ISBF4, time went by very quickly and I had totally forgotten I’d stuck my neck out and offered to be mash monkey for the day. My memory was jolted on the first Monday in October though when I got a text from Stuart asking what time I thought I’d be arriving that Friday! Quick bit of logistics juggling with work and I’d booked myself onto the earliest train I could to that end of the line station that is Glossop.

Sadly, even that couldn’t get me there in time for mash in, so when I arrived with my regular partner in crime, Nick the Greek (also the day’s photographer), things were already well underway with the malts (lots of best ale, dark munich, caramalt, amber and crystal) doing their porridge thing.

Over bacon butties supplied by Jethro Tull loving brewery assistant Simon, we discussed what today’s brew was going to be – an American Red, coming in around the mid 4% mark. Stuart hadn’t quite decided on the hops – but had drawn up a short list of suitable candidates for our input. Cue much rubbing, sniffing and comparing combinations, alongside mouthfuls of the sweet wort to try and get a little impression of the potential results.

(obligatory cute Brewery dog shot!)

We decided on a hop bill of generous amounts of Willamette, Mosaic and Cascade which should have the beer singing at the top of its tropical, fruity voice. Once we’d decided on these and weighed them out, we earned our lunch (or worked off the bacon butties?) with some shifting of a fresh delivery of malts up into the store before descending on locally procured pork pie, cooked meats and fresh breads and talk of all things beer.

Between mouthfuls of lunch, the hops were added in at two stages during the boil and then a final generous amount through the hopback on the beers way into the FV, where Stuart got to work adding the yeast, we got to work with the malt shovel and Simon busied around with hose and brush cleaning down the rest of the equipment.

One thing is for sure, it will definitely live up to the red of American red – this beer looked amazing! Depending on the light going through it, it ranged from a malty brown hue through orange to a vibrant, brilliant red. Sure, the yeast will tame this colour a little, but this is going to be a beautifully hoppy red little number.

As always (I’ve had the privilege of brewdays down at Howard Town before) , the day went seamlessly and before we knew it it was time to say cheerio and head off. I’m really looking forward to tasting this beer – which as you’ll no doubt now know will be available exclusively first at ISBF4. So you know the drill – get clicking for a ticket! See you there.”

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#ISBF4 #EvilKegFilth 5-a-side Collab series No 5 : Neptune Brewery & Twisted Barrel Ale (Q&A)

It’s strange. How fate puts people together isn’t it? As far as I am aware, Les & Julie O’Grady and Carl Marshall didn’t know each other in October 2014. They met, that year, at our first bash at St Sebastian’s – sitting at adjacent tables in the “food area” – and got on really well.

Next year – almost like a planned “date”, same again. A friendship established. Brought together by beer. Good people gravitate.

It’s – to me – a bonus that they happen to have independently moved on to both brew exceptional beer. It’s almost a side issue to me. They’re good people, first and foremost. And I’m proud to know them all as friends.

Let’s say “friends with benefits”! Benefits that YOU get to try #ISBF4!

So, being – by quirk of fate – put together in the #ISBF4 #EvilKegFilth 5-a-side Collab series, it was time for a Q&A… Take it away guys! First up, Les at Neptune…

Introduce yourself and the brewery : –

“Neptune Brewery started in 2015 in Maghull, Liverpool on a 200 litre kit. A year on this was upgraded to a 6BBL & this year a further 2 F.V’s were added making four in total.” 

What/who inspired you to start brewing?

“I was inspired to start brewing when the ‘craft beer’ movement was gaining momentum. The beers that I was drinking and the scene in general was something I wanted to be part of. Being friendly with some of the more established brewers locally helped a lot.”

What is the ethos of (your brewery) ? 

” We aim to produce consistent beers that people will come back to time again. Our tagline is ‘Brewed to Enjoy’ which hopefully people do…”

What are the benefits of brewing collaboratively?

” Brewing collaboratively allows both breweries to bounce ideas off each other especially around beers that other brewery do so well.”

We are incredibly grateful that you agreed to take part in our #EvilKegFilth 5-a-side Collab Series. You’ve been to ISBF (and even sit together! 😁) How do you think ISBF compares to other festivals you’ve been to. 

” ISBF has a special atmosphere that other festivals lack, mainly due to the organisers passion for both the beer and the cause.”

Also getting beers that are specially made for the festival give it an edge over other festivals of similar size.”

What was your reaction when you found out you were paired with (your collab partner) ?

“Oh no, not them! :-)” 

What inspired the beer? 

“An opportunity for me to get out of my ‘comfort zone’ and creating something different.”

What did each brewer add to the recipe?
“Malt bill & hops from Neptune and Twisted Barrel’s ‘expertise’ on using spice and the style of beer.” 

Cask v Keg. Thoughts?
“Beer is beer, doesn’t matter what it’s dispensed from as long as it smells and tastes good.” (Bonus points for the correctly nailed answer!) 

What are we to expect from the collab beer?
“Something that Neptune haven’t brewed before which hopefully people will say ooh that’s interesting.“
You’ve collaborated with a number of breweries, is there anyone else
“Yes, but I’m not telling!”
Secrets eh? Cheers our Maghull Maestro!
And now, over to Carl….
Introduce yourself and the brewery : –

“Twisted barrel ale is a 6bbl brewery based in a creative arts village (Fargo village) in Coventry. A 5 minute walk from the town centre.
We have a taphouse on site which is open from Friday through to Sunday. With it being a completely vegan brewery it is open to everyone.
At the moment we have myself (Ritchie) as head brewer and Carl as brewer with multiple part time bar staff and directors.”
What/who inspired you to start brewing?

“It all started when we (Ritchie and Chris) started a podcast. It was called ‘All hail the ale’ we could talk about the beers but had no idea how they were made. So we thought ‘lets learn to brew’ that took us from hombrewing to where we are today.”

What is the ethos of (your brewery) ? 

“We at Twisted Barrel ale like to be inclusive to everyone from producing beer that everyone can drink to welcoming everyone into the taphouse with open arms. We are more folk than punk.” (LOVE it!) 

What are the benefits of brewing collaboratively?

“Learning new techniques. Everyone does things differently and what you can learn from another brewer/ brewery. Also its a great way to catch up with old friends.” 

We are incredibly grateful that you agreed to take part in our #EvilKegFilth 5-a-side Collab Series. You’ve been to ISBF (and even sit together! 😁) How do you think ISBF compares to other festivals you’ve been to. 

“From my experience (Carl) it has a lot more relaxed vibe. People seem to want to talk and sit with each other. I havent seen anyone not leave with a new best friend yet!” 

What was your reaction when you found out you were paired with (your collab partner)?

“Awesome. Mainly because we were due to brew with them after they visited us for a collab.”

What inspired the beer? 

“I think that was a combination of us both. Les not doing a saison before and us wanting to add spices to it.”

What did each brewer add to the recipe?

“Well Les brought the brewery and the ingredients and Carl brought the chopping and the mashing in.”

Cask v Keg. Thoughts?

“Both are awesome.”

What are we to expect from the collab beer?

“Interesting flavours. A LOT of interesting flavours!” 

You’ve collaborated with a number of breweries, is there anyone else you’d really like to brew with

“There are so many awesome brewers and breweries out there in the UK and the rest of the world. It would be rude to rule any out.” 

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#ISBF4 Brewday No 14 – Briggs Signature Ales

Nick Briggs. It’s fair to say that if he wasn’t such a clumsy numpty, this brewday would have happened 12 months ago – as it was scheduled to.

For those unaware, Nick is one of the brewers at Mallinsons. And he’s bloody good. That good that you’d never be able to tell his beers from those brewed by Elaine Yendall or Tara Mallinson. And THEY set high standards.

I’d sorted back to back brewdays with Nick (in his Briggs Signature guise) and Elaine. Or thought I had. Until Nick wandered in with his arm in a sling! Looking slightly sheepish…..

So. When I bumped into him at The Corner earlier this year and asked if he fancied it if I cashed that “rain check”, he promised to stay healthy.

Nick brews superb hoppy beers, but deliberately differentiates his beers from those of his day job by avoiding single hopped brews, blending hop flavours to achieve his taste objectives.

I wanted something (needed!) something of session strength. Nick was only too happy to oblige. So, for MY final brewday, I had no qualms about hauling my fat ass out of the house at Who Time (5:15 – I don’t do funnies…..)

OK. I was really early. Time for a full breakfast. In a cafe I’ve wanted to go in for AGES unsurprisingly. And it was excellent.

Vast majority Pale malt (as with most beers) with a bit of Munich for body, I blended the malts to Nick’s instructions and mashing in was a doddle – with those soul lifting hot porridge aromas filling the brewery.

At the risk of repetition, if you don’t love these smells, you don’t cast a shadow.

After sprinkling in a good weight of black and chocolate malt on top the top of the transferring mash – all shall be revealed – sparge commenced. Rinsing the colour from those darker malts soon started to have an impact…

Time for some hops. A lot of hops. Starting with a kilo of highly aromatic Centennial for bitterness.

Nick makes bloody excellent session strength hoppy pale ales, so, you can probably see where this is going, especially when you have late additions or 5kg of Cascade and another 4kg of Centennial.

A Session Black IPA is what we were brewing and the smells from those hops after the various additions was so fruity and sharp.

Testing of the wort at various stages gave us readings projecting a perfect abv of 3.9% abv, just what the Salford Doctor ordered!

I may be wrong, but I think – as does Nick – that Manchester hasn’t seen Briggs beers before. So, for us at #ISBF4, a very tasty sessionable first. Most of his beers – like many of the better small Yorkshire breweries, stay East of the Pennines.

But we’re getting one. And that makes me very happy.

A brewery you may never have heard of? But listen now. I don’t invite just anyone.

Few remaining tickets here. Get on them before it’s too late. (I hate tears….)

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#ISBF4 Brewday No 12 – Pictish Brewery

For those in the know – including some of Manchester’s starriest beer people – Pictish brew simply exceptional beers, their single hopped Pale Ales being particularly loved.

A “Go To” brewery for me and many others.

Some may be trendier, but some just do the simple things of making delicious beer using Malted Barley, water, hops and yeast. And do it bloody well. Like Pictish.

Last year, we had a single hopped Pale Ale (Pekko) and it was delicious. But, being a bit of a contrarian, Paul Wesley decided that he wanted to do something well…. a bit different this year. And this is certainly that!

I’ll leave this one to Jock – on his first brewday….

“An early 7.30am start, Paul is usually an even earlier riser, but was kind to Jim and Jock.

210kg Pale Malt and Wheat went into this extraordinary  brew for Pictish (Usually famous for Pale, hoppy, extremely quaffable session beers.)

The best and most unusual ingredient was yet to come…

A relatively small amount of hops for bitterness added, but then later came the colourful and fruity fragrance of…. Whole Hibuscus Flowers, lots of them too..

In their dry state, they tasted a little like blackberry cornflakes, when added to the brewing beer the colour and aromas exploded ! Purple Porrige anyone ?

Whilst this was going on Paul put Jim and Jock to work digging out the Mash..first bit of physical labour Jock had done for quite a while, but hey, all in a good cause..

We left Paul (and his faithful sidekick Martin) with huge thanks, just as purple frothy  bubbles were dancing at the top of the fementing/brewing? tank..We wondered what the head of the beer will be like ?

Paul made Jim and me extremely welcome and we will do the same at #ISBF4 when the Pictish team come to savour this brew and the many other beery delights that will be on offer..

Cheers Jock.

This most colourful of beers is – as Jock mentioned – a bit of a departure for Paul. But it’s certainly one of the first on my personal “to do” list. Just like every time I see a Pictish clip.

Fruity and tart. A perfect palate livener. And where you gonna go to get it first?

Tickets here


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#ISBF4 Brewday No 13 : North Riding Brewery & Steel City Brewing

North Riding.

As one brewer said to me “I hate how well he brews!” Said with a smile, but the point was made. I don’t go in to bat (to use a cricketing analogy – Stuart would approve) for just any brewery. But I did for North Riding. And after a year of so of pushing, we started to get beers on this side of “The Hill” from this cracking Scarborough gaff.

But it isn’t down to me. It’s down to the beer. And those beers are fabulous.

This brew started with a dream beer. I contacted the #InternationalManOfMisery we shall now refer to as Dave Mediapro (Overlord of Steel City) and asked him about a rebrew of one of my previous “beers of the year”, the oxymoronic Black IPA “Protz’s Pleasure” that he brewed with Stuart (Neilson – North Riding).

Needless to say, my bubble got burst. Damn!

Then all SORTS of weird and wonderful ideas flitted between Sheff, Bolton & Scarborough. Before Stuart  placed his amply sized foot down.

So it’s Friday afternoon. And I’m hotfoot from brewing at Pictish in Rochdale (more later) to travel direct to Scarborough, that prettiest of Northern resorts. To spend a night at what is now my favourite pub – but that’s for a future Beers Manchester post.

Saturday morning. Up early. The bribe. Citra. And lots of it.

Mashing in went as smoothly as it should. Mostly pale malt with some exotic sounding Chateau Melano.

We soon had those aromas of liquid breakfast rising from the vessel and lifting my soul.

(Two of Yarkshire’s finest. Getting their pout mash on!)

(I’m a sucker for a crop circle, me)

There is a two fold trick to this beer. A metric shitload of Citra (leaf & dry hop) and lots of my old Yorkshire friends.


Boil on the go and Magnum (Stuart’s “go to” bittering hop) it was time for a little light refreshment…..

 Obviously, I hated that part.

Boil done. Fragrance time. Oh yes…..

Citra. Dreadful stuff. NOT! Beautiful tropical fruit smells flooded the place. I didn’t want to get off the ladders. At all.

Oh to sleep on a hop bed like that. But maybe a bit cooler eh?

So. What have we got? 15 kgs of fresh Yorkshire Raspberries going into the FV. Pureed. Oh yum!

Launching simultaneously at Sheffield Beer festival, this is going to be a special little treat. Just for me.

Want to know something else, we’re getting 3 other beauties. One from the rarely seen Brewpub and these two beauties (Courtesy #EvilKegFilth 5-a-side Collab series North Riding v Offbeat!)

Ask nicely and I might (might, mind you) let you taste a bit of that Raspberry Citra ….. Tickets here

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#ISBF4 #EvilKegFilth 5-a-side Collab series No 5 : Neptune Brewery & Twisted Barrel Ale

In mist shrouded days of yore (ISBF 2014), I first met 3 people. They were sat on adjacent tables in the food area at St Sebastian’s. They were beer lovers, chatting away, getting along famously. I was just amazed that this bearded bloke from Coventry and this couple from Liverpool travelled to Salford.
Yes. They were beer lovers. But I wonder if they’d ever dreamed that they would end up brewing together?
Those three people were Les O’Grady (now Partner and brewer at Neptune Brewery), his lovely wife Julie and Carl Marshall (now brewer at Twisted Barrel). The “luck of the draw” bringing together 3 people who have not only been with ISBF from the start, but who have – mostly – actually sat together through each year’s Saturday lunchtime session.
Due to unforeseen events (last year) and unfortunate timing this, I have been unable to travel to Maghull to brew with Les. Something I hope to rectify next year!
But, the mighty Mowgli (aka The indefatigable @Leggywolf) hotfooted West to get his brew game on. I’ll make a blogger of him yet!
Take it away Lee….
 “I was back in the land of the Maghull Magician for another brewday. This time it was for the #ISBF4 collab between @neptunebrewery and Twisted Barrel @twistbarrelAle.
Les told me his ideas for this beer when we were at the Marble Arch for the launch of the Ladies That Beer marble collab beer, and I couldn’t resist going over and seeing how such a beer would be made.
I arrived to find Karl @ThaBearded1 breaking up the hops ready for today’s brew and boy were they smelling good no wonder really with Sorachi Ace being used today (That should make Linda smile – Ed).
We got the mash on the go which was mainly Pilsner malt with a small amount of wheat malt.

 Whilst this sat for a while to get all those sugars out the grains we got to work on the interesting stuff. Chopping some Thai herbs!!
This was going to be a Thai Saison so not only would this be Les’ first saison but a Thai spiced one too!
Between me and Karl we chopped up some Galangal, lemongrass chilli and cracked some black pepper! The smell of all these herbs were amazing and I was really intrigued how these would work with the beer.
It was now transfer time and I could put well honed skills of switch presser into action again. I definitely hadn’t forgot over the week between brewdays which switch to press.
I then quickly learnt that if you want to dig out the Mashtun when Karl is around you’d better jump in quick as he loves to dig em out. He jumped straight in and made short work of it!
After the wort has been boiling for an hour we added the first of the Thai herbs.
With two more additions added before the end of boil it was time for those Sorachi Ace hope to be added at flameout!
Then when everything was transferred over it was time to pitch the Belle Sasion yeast.
Les will be adding a load of lime zest next week to add to the Thai flavours.
This was a really fun days brewing with great company and this beer is really going to be one to check out.
But to check it out first you’ll need a ticket to #ISBF4.” (Hint : Click the hyperlink!)
Cheers Lee. I have a strange feeling that I’m going to enjoy QCing* this!
Massive thanks to our good friends at Neptune for hosting this collab and for Carl for travelling up from Cov (and for some awesome posing!) And Lee. For his expert pushing of buttons!
*Having a large glass full…..

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#ISBF4 Brewday No 11 : Marble Beers

Marble Beers. For me, the brewery that defines Manchester in the world of modern beer.

Beers that display consistency of excellence. Beers that are full flavoured and uncompromising. Beers that I love. In a brewery now under the custodianship of the much starred James Kemp (henceforth referred to as JK).

I was – to be fair – a bit star struck when Jan Rogers offered up the possibility of an #ISBF4 Brewday. A bit lost for words, I think the words “Yes Please! may have been a bit….. blurted. I was also still getting over the shock of finally meeting Steph Shuttleworth to be fair…..

With a date of 28th September (a date that I utterly failed to grasp the significance of, sadly) arranged with JK for the brewday, I threw open beer suggestions to our happy little ISBF “family”, and some of the suggestions were a bit ludicrous, then James made an executive decision.

A Chocolate Milk Stout. “6% +…….” Remember that bit….

So. I’m at Asda. Across from the Etihad stadium. Buying cold remedies. Of all the bloody times to catch a cold – what with three consecutive brewdays planned! I was in Manchester early – having dropped off the daughter at Ringway, but – for me – Marble are more than worth the effort.

With an early start, formalities were dealt with – signing in & safety wellies – and the whirlwind that is JK set off. MAN had that fella got some serious energy!

I saw the grain bill. And failed to totally grasp the significance. For ages. “6% +….”……

Mashing in was a breeze. JK did everything and was a constant blur of movement. His “feel” for the brew was amazing to behold – watching the freshly crushed malt hit the mash tun, he was constantly asking for the hot liquor  flow rate to be adjusted. Tiny adjustments. But he could SEE that the flow needed altering. Knowledge and skill.

Did I ever say how much I can never get bored of the smells of brewing?

Marble is – in almost all ways – the biggest brewery I’ve been “involved” with, increasingly apparent with each member of the team that appeared – Joe, Paul (brewers), the lovely Carl (Assistant Brewer), Jan (owner / director) – there was SO much going on. But no matter how much, JK was constantly alert to the sights and – more importantly – sounds of the brew.

I won’t bore you with some of the special beers that we got to taste. You’ll have to wait for those. But there ARE some VERY special beers coming soon.

With mash completed, reality began to dawn on me about what was being brewed. I was obviously a bit….. dense. This beer is bloody dark. Almost satanically so. Rich, slick, silky. We had a taste of the wort. Oh my…..

The weight of malt led to a slower controlled transfer – again, with JK all ears to the (I’ll call it) sighs and breathing of the kit. It really feels like an organic “tbing”.

BIG dig. Big dig. Mostly left to Lee (and finished by JK), Lee “enjoys” that kind of thing…

It all seemed over so quickly – when in reality it was nearly 8 hours. A lot of talking – what JK doesn’t know about the processes and techniques of brewing wouldn’t make a long read. Listening, observing the differences between breweries. And every single one IS different.

I’m lucky. I’ve been to – and brewed with – loads. But there’s something almost spiritual about getting the chance to brew with/at a place you’ve admired for 20 years.

And to be involved (in however small a way) in the making of something so big (hold that thought) and special does indeed feel, special. And a privilege.

Lee was going to IMBC afterwards. I don’t think he could have been more impressed than when I left him.

The beer? A Chocolate Milk Stout. Rich. Silky smooth. Decadent. And – in all likelihood – 12%+abv. It’s going to be special. It’s Marble after all.

And, like last year, this beer gets its launch at a little Community Centre in Salford. Good eggs that Marble lot you know! And to get it first? You’ll need a ticket. Click here to grab one.

And there was talk of barrel ageing. I needed to take my Amlodopine.

#NoSleepTilSalford Bottoms UP!

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#ISBF4 Brewday No 9 : Black Jack Beers

This beer was 18 months in the making….

Rich – genuinely, one of the nicest, most friendly guys in this game – and me (Jim) had plans to brew for #ISBF2016, but – for one reason or another – it simply didn’t come together.

But this year, it had to happen. And who better to ride shotgun with than Black Jack Brewtap’s biggest #FanBoy?

Take it away Jeff!

“It’s no secret that I love Blackjack brewtaps, they brew great beer & the guys are so friendly. So when Jim asked me if I’d like to brew with Rich & it would be on the same day as a brew tap, then how could I refuse. 
I saw Rich about a month before brewday & asked him about his ideas. It was decided that it would be good to do something with Rhubarb ( there’s more than that but read on). But where would we get all the rhubarb without going shopping? That’s easier than I thought with the power of Twitter.
I put a call out & friend of Salford Beerfest (none other than ace Webmaster….. Ed) Darren T was quick to reply – ‘how much did we need?’  I was invited to his allotment one Saturday morning & bagged as much as we could carry, dropping it off at the brewery on the way back for Rich to store until the brew day. At this point thanks also to Leggywolf for dropping off some from his harvest also. 
(Gratuitous Jaffa Shot)
 Brewday arrived with me still a bit jaded from a visit to the Friday night brewtap, an ‘early’ (“Early my ***e” Ed) 9ish tram would get me there for roughly the 9.30 agreed time. I arrived with Rich & Jim already there discussing how things would proceed. It all seemed so uncomplicated as Rich is such a chilled fella, he explained that if all goes to plain we’d be done by 4. Well as I’ve known jim for more than 30 years there was plenty of banter & comedy moments that morning. Both of us wanting to help out as much as possible….. 
Rich produced a bucket of rhubarb which was about half the haul & we agreed best to chop into small chunks, 7kg in total all done by me, of course this is thirsty work & by now the bar for the tap was set up so we retired to the bar for some refreshment ( my kind of day). Heading back into the brewery to clean the mash tun & add the rhubarb to the boil. 
The beer will be around 4.4abv, & as it stands at the min a lot lighter in colour than we expected, (No shit! Ed) 
…. you can certainly taste the rhubarb but as I said earlier there is secret ingredient to be added, this should turn the beer into what we hope will taste like Rhubarb & custard crumble, which, at the strength it is being served at, will make it one of the most popular beers of the weekend. 
 I enjoyed helping, was great spending a day with my good friend Jim & working along with Rich. Enjoy & see you in October,
love Jeff”
Cheers Jeff!

I’ve had a taste of this from the fermenter (see above shot) and it’s utterly delicious – and that’s BEFORE the additional rhubarb gets added to the fermenter!

Refreshing, fruity and gently tart. Delicious.

And unmissable. Grab tickets here

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