A great mention for Yorkshire and the House in the New York Times this January. See the article here
22. Yorkshire, England
A photogenic (and historic) ale trail.
The sprawling northern county of Yorkshire is becoming a big destination for beer lovers, thanks to a recently published guidebook called “Great Yorkshire Beer” and a renewed interest in historic breweries like Samuel Smith (founded in 1758) and Timothy Taylor (from 1858). Spend an evening crawling through the Fat Cat, the Kelham Island Tavern and other award-winning pubs in Sheffield — recently called Britain’s best beer city by the connoisseur Adrian Tierney-Jones — then travel to Leeds, whose compact center is home to the Victoria Hotel, the Cross Keys and other public houses that pull pints on traditional hand pumps. A final stay in the photogenic city of York offers a Tudor-style pub at the end of every cobbled lane, as well as modern beer temples like York Tap, Pivni and the House of Trembling Madness.— EVAN RAIL
Also related -
BBC Feature on the story here , Yorkshire Evening Post here , The Star here
Redchurch Brewery, Hackney Gold - 5.5%, £2.40
SNEAKING in just before Christmas, among all the novelty beers, came a few crates from the Redchurch Brewery – yet another one of those new breweries in London that seem to crop up every month or two with a range of delicious new beers.
And since we’re all a little ‘over’ drinking after New Year’s Eve demolished our desire to indulge, we’ll aim for something a little lighter.
Hackney Gold is, well for one, far from gold in colour – a deep brooding amber with flashes of red at the edges and a thick oatmeal head. The aroma it gives off is simply delightful: a dry bed of walnuts, pecans, and cereal grains are punched throughout with flashes of vibrant citrus hops.
The taste makes good on the aroma’s promise – an even, medium-bodied ale with a tendency toward the sweet. There’s a distinctive pepper and nut flavour, perhaps rye, that takes charge of proceedings, before what might be a small amount of chocolate malt smooths things over with a velvety pass over the palate.
The hops wait for the finish to make themselves known; dry herbaceous cascade (or some relative) provides an even, somewhat-intense bitterness, that dries the palate out.
So it might not be a golden ale, lying closer to the hoppy amber ale region, but Redchurch have made an excellent first impression with this – for something lighter and hoppier, the Bethnal pale is also fantastic. Bravo Redchurch.
• As recommended by Michael Bates of Trembling Madness, Stonegate, York
Brewfist, Italy Heimdall 7.6%, £3.15 per bottle
BREWFIST are one of an increasing number of contemporary ale producers that are making their way on to our shelves (and glasses, of course) from Italy.
As well as producing some fine pale ales, porters, and India pale ales, this producer from Codogno recently sent over some Heimdall: a weirdly Norse-themed beer brewed in the style of a Belgian saison. Not only that, for aroma, it is hopped liberally with Australian galaxy hops while maintaining a very modest bitterness.
The name and Viking on the label aside, it’s all very promising stuff.
It pours a bright straw colour with golden highlights and a very fluffy head; the aroma is of clementines and peaches and some characteristic saison spice: a promising start. Sweet for a saison, though not excessively so, peach is the leading flavour: soft and fruity, with a touch of apricot and almonds leading towards a dry, lightly bitter finish.
Overall, the body is moderate to light, with a lively carbonation that perfectly offsets the initial sweetness and drives the aroma home.
Definitely best served chilled and drunk fresh; I’d suggest getting your hands on this one sooner rather than later.
What exactly this beer has to do with Scandinavians, however, remains a mystery.
As recommended by Michael Bates of Trembling Madness, Stonegate, York
Ilkley Brewery, Mary Christmas - 4.7%; £2.85
ILKLEY Brewery are a wonderful local bunch, whose range of beers comprises both session ales with local flavour (see Mary Jane, and Joshua Jane, of Ilkley Moor fame) and some more experimental gems.
The Mayan, a chipotle and chocolate stout, was a recent special, and very special it was too, and Siberia, their one-off rhubarb saison was so delicious it’s been promoted to the status of core brew.
At Christmas, a festive beer with a pun in the name was required, and having Mary Jane and Stout Mary in the roster already, Ilkley had it perhaps a touch easier than some when it came to naming Mary Christmas.
A light golden ale ‘infused’ with Caribbean rum (although whether this is poured in following fermentation or through the addition of rum-soaked oak or similar isn’t certain), but there is a touch of honey-sweet rum in the aroma. Drying cut grass, bitter botanicals and tarragon play about the nose atop a pleasing malty background.
The flavour is surprisingly dry, far closer to a lager than a boozy Christmas beer, giving peach and spiced rum off in equal measure. Richly perfumed, there’s a suggestion of cascade or similar American hops in the long bitter finish, complimented by pine nuts and a clean crisp body.
• Recommended by Micheal Bates of The House Of Trembling Madness
Nogne O, Norway – Underlig Jul; 6.5%; £5.70
Nogne O are one of Norway’s best-known real ale breweries outside of their native land. In fact as a brewery they export far more beer than they sell to the domestic market – perhaps in part due to the extraordinary tax applied to Norwegian alcoholic beverages.
Ironically enough, their wares are much cheaper in the UK than at home; a fact that vexes Norwegian visitors to the Trembling Madness every now and then, causing some to fill their suitcases up before returning home (if £5.70 a bottle sounds “a bit much”, in Norway this bottle would be two to three times this price – if you can find it on sale).
Underlig Jul is a light, sweet porter spiced with cardamom, ginger, nutmeg, cloves, and all the other Christmas spices you can think of. This is pretty self-evident on opening, with fresh bountiful spices leaping out of the glass at the most cursory of nudges. The body is relatively light, making for easy drinking, and the prickly carbonation prevents any sense of over-indulgence that bogs down a lot of recklessly sweet Christmas ales.
The spices and malty ale combine to create an intense, bitter chocolate and gingerbread beer, with flourishes of botanical cola and liquorice. Easy drinking, yet complex, sweet and spicy – Underlig Jul is certainly my favourite Christmas beer, and is brilliant at cutting through the rich food that reigns supreme during the festive season, especially those covered in gravy, or Christmas pudding.
• Recommended by Michael Bates of The House of Trembling Madness, Stonegate, York.
Brewdog, Hoppy Christmas - 7.2%, £3.10
WELL, Brewdog plumped for the simplest Christmas pun it seems, and get a D for seasonal beer naming as a result, but have they put a bit more effort into the beer itself?
Well, thankfully the answer is yes. Rather than settling on a winter warmer of some sort, everyone’s most loved/ hated/apathy-inducing Scottish brewers have released a 7.2 per cent India pale ale hopped heavily to provide something light and fruity to cut through even the richest Christmas foods.
Hoppy Christmas pours golden straw, crystal clear (no bottle-conditioning from Brewdog) beneath a tight, white head.
The aroma is full-on Simcoe hops; bursting with pine, papaya, candied grapefruit, and a musky, almost savoury, chestnut-paté note.
The flavour takes this lead and races off into the distance – juicy mandarins, a candy-floss sweetness, and a sharp lemon tartness in the finish create an intense aromatic mouthful, and yet oddly the finish is not particularly bitter.
Yes, there is bitterness, but Hoppy Christmas is almost approachable, maybe even drinkable– it’s all about the flavour here, rather than some puerile boast about bitterness units.
It’s not been my favourite beer of the season (Nogne O’s Underlig Jul almost always wins this one, I’m afraid) but for a beer so atypical of the Christmas-cash-ins that flood the market every year, this one deserves to be tried. It’s not only an exception to the norm, it’s also a genuinely good beer.
• Recommended by Michael Bates of The House of Trembling Madness, Stonegate, York.
York's top 10 craft beer pubs
The article by Tony Naylor has done well in listing 10 craft beer bars. Of course we all have other personal favourites that aren't mentioned. To read the full article visit here.
Here's the snippet on the House.
The House of Trembling Madness
Even if you stand in the ground-floor off-licence (its stock of over 600 beers will leave you slack-jawed), it is quite possible not to notice that upstairs lies one of Britain's most idiosyncratic beer bars. Tucked into the exposed eaves of a 12th-century Norman house, decorated with animal skins and ancient taxidermy, the House of Trembling Madness is a tight, friendly squeeze where hop-heads linger over two cask ales (both from the wonderful Wild Beer Co on this visit), specialist draft Belgian beers and an amazing, ever-changing selection of bottled brews (on top of which, you can drink anything that is for sale downstairs, paying £1.25 corkage). If the staff can't surprise you with something – say, a Japanese Hitachino Nest Classic Ale – you've officially exhausted the possibilities of beer. Braver drinkers can try a yard of ale (£9) or a 25ml shot (£8) of the Dutch brewer 't Koelschip's 70% strength beer. Luckily, HoTM also serves gutsy, good-value food to soak up all that alcohol.
If that all sounds a bit crusty for you, a bit Time Team, you may prefer the nearby Sotano (Little Stonegate, 01904 620230), a chic, subterranean, late-night drinking den, which majors on tapas, cocktails, and, mainly US and British, craft keg beers. Which are served in two-thirds of a pint schooners (from £3.80). Get them.
• 48 Stonegate, 01904 640009, tremblingmadness.co.uk. Pint from £3.50
Ska Brewing, USA Vernal Minthe Stout - 5.8% (£2.70, 355ml can)
Ska Brewing are an American company located in California, perhaps best known in the UK for their India pale ale Modus Hoperandi, a deliciously hop-forward ale, however we recently received some more of their wares in-store, including this intriguing stout.
Now, yes it is in a can, but unlike those cheap plastic lagers the cans used by some UK, and many US, craft breweries tend to be filtered less aggressively, rarely pasteurised, and sometimes even retain their yeast sediment.
They’re easier to transport, light-tight so the beer cannot possibly be damaged by sunlight, and chill much quicker; perfect for when you need a beer sooner rather than later.
Vernal Minthe Stout is a robust stout brewed with cacao nibs and vanilla, nothing too ‘out there’ so far, and dosed generously with spearmint and peppermint. Pouring a deep chocolate brown, with a thick tan head, you’d struggle to not notice the mint: a strong aroma of wheetos and spearmint gum hits the nose immediately, with some underlying buttermilk crumpets suggesting the beer’s richness that lies beneath the adjuncts.
Light-bodied with a pleasing soft carbonation, this beer starts sweet, think after-eight mints to begin with, until the cacao’s bitterness and the roasted malts combine to give a suggestion of liquorice and tobacco. The overall impression is not dissimilar to menthol snuff; minty tobacco, at once revitalising and stimulating, coupled with a slight tang in the finish.
Recommended by Michael Bates
Bristol Beer Factory, Bristletoe, 5.5%, £2.85
Full points to the Bristol Beer Factory team in the 'forced pun' category; when you've got a word like 'Bristol' to work with, it's quite impressive that they managed to come up with anything at all.
Bristletoe is, the brewery say, a dark Christmas ale brewed with an emphasis on malt flavours, using a Belgian strain of yeast to really push those fruity, spicy esters to the fore.
Throwing a load of raisins into the brew pretty much cements this one in the 'fruity brown ale' category, with some coriander and ginger bringing the Christmas cheer to the party.
Pouring a hazy chestnut, a quickly dissipating butterscotch head gives off a flurry of peppery yeast esters, and oddly something reminiscent of thyme or marjoram rather than coriander and ginger. More herbal than spiced and fruity on the nose, then, but pleasing nonetheless.
Sweet tangerine and chocolate flavours give way to buttered rum, and raisin fudge. Medium-bodied, yet almost dry in the finish, the lasting impression is of vanilla ice-cream, touched by a slight fructose sourness.
Almost refreshing compared to all the richer, heavier, high ABV Christmas beers most brewers push out at this time of year.
Be sure to give this brew a go if you fancy a festive one that can be easily enjoyed without sacrificing character.
Recommended by Michael Bates, Trembling Madness, 48 Stonegate, York, YO1 8AS
Brass Castle’s Wallop (7.7%) comes in a gorgeous plump 750ml bottle with a wax seal on the cap. Retailing at £7.65 it's a great present for someone special, it's a limited edition with only 277 bottled, each bottle has a handwritten batch number on.
We are lucky to have a few left so hurry before the weekend and you may be able own one of these amazing beers . It's a traditional Stingo-style beer, brewed with treacle, made to a classic Yorkshire recipe in a traditional copper vessel and oak-aged in a port cask for 6 months. It’s a great beer on which to end a dark Winter night.
Schloss Eggenberg Samichlaus - 14%, 330ml, £4.95
What is there left to say about Samichlaus, really? It's been something of a mainstay in most good bottle shops and world beer bars for a long time indeed, and chances are that if you're reading this, you've probably tried it.
Once the world's strongest beer, this 14 per cent Doppelbok is brewed just once a year on the December 6, then fermented slowly for ten months or so making it lagered in the truest sense of the term.
Rather than creating a clean dry beer, however, the result is a sweet, complex ale with a rich flavour reminiscent of dried fruit and toffee apples.
Because of this, we've teamed up with the award winning Ye Olde Pie and Sausage Shop on The Shambles (who make the pub's speciality sausages) to create a limited run of Samichlaus sausages, to be enjoyed with a beer.
Pouring a glowing chestnut, with red highlights, and no head to speak of, Samichlaus smells, frankly, like pear drops and acetone. It won't win anyone over on scent alone, sadly, but the flavour is incredible: sweet, dark treacle, walnuts, bananas, a swelling of alcohol warmth and a tangy, burnt-toffee finish.
As the bottle says, this would work fantastically well with rich fruity puddings, hearty savoury dishes, or as in our case, in some hand-made locally produced sausages.
Recommended by Michael Bates, Trembling Madness, Stonegate, York.
Whisky Advent Calendar Save £50 - 1 week only!
Behind each of the 24 windows lies a different 3cl sample dram of delicious whisky! This year, be sure to count down to Christmas in style! As each calendar is the same you'll be able to discuss the dram that's revealed each day, whether it be a single malt Scotch whisky or some other treat from around the world, with other proud owners of one of the very best things ever.
Ginvent Calendar Save £30 - 1 week only!
Behind each of the 24 windows lies a different 3cl sample of fantastic gin, as chosen by Olivier Ward. There are market leaders and artisanal treats alongside new brands and even some hard to find gems, but we won't give it all away just yet... You may wish for it to be a surprise!
Limited Stocks so hurry!
Beavertown Brewing, London – Black Betty,
Flying Dog, U.S. – The Fear, 9% (£3.75, 355ml)
Bold, precise beers with an eye towards quality and impact, their attention-grabbing Gonzo aesthetic goes so far as to their amazing label designs, courtesy of the fabulous Ralph Steadman.
The Fear, the brewery’s pumpkin ale, is business as usual: explosive packaging, containing an exceptionally good pumpkin ale.
Where most pumpkin beers take the form of a golden or tawny bitter with a touch of spice, Flying Dog’s offering fits much more keenly within the Hallowe’en aesthetic: dark and brooding in the glass, with a boozy nose.
All-spice, nutmeg, toffee apples, and treacly tobacco ooze out of the glass from a dense butterscotch head.
Sweet throughout, yet remarkably light-bodied for a beer of such strength and complexity, initial flavours of bananas and walnuts make way for toffee apples and treacle.
Finishing with a dusty clove and cinnamon flourish that coats the tongue, The Fear leaves delightful alcohol warmth in its wake.
Not only have Flying Dog managed to make a unique pumpkin beer, they’ve united the flavours, scents, and sensations of autumn with every sip.
• Recommended by Michael Bates, Trembling Madness, 48 Stonegate, York, YO1 8AS
Moor Beer Co, Somerset Revival - 4%; £4.35, 660ml
Moor is one of the most vocal advocates of unfined and unfiltered brewing in the country. Eschewing finings, additives designed to clear the beer, means that its ales are vegetarian and vegan-friendly in cask, bottle, and keg, while retaining a beautiful natural haze, fuller body, and a depth of flavour that is hard to preserve once any finings are added.
It is a simple, and effective, message: cloudy beer is real ale in its best condition. There’s a wealth of explanatory information on the company’s website that helps clear the issue up, so head to moorbeer.co.uk/unfinedbeer for the full rundown.
Revival is the brewery’s pale bitter pouring. Unsurprisingly, it gives a hazy tangerine hue with a loose dollop of white head. The aroma is delicate and fleeting, giving up wet leaves, cut green apples, and a beguiling hint of warm rice pudding.
The flavour is light and gentle at first, smooth pears and white grapes give way to a white-grape note that cuts through a beautiful vanilla custard, topped off with freshly cut flowers. The body lies at the fuller end of moderate; it is weighty and substantial in the mouth, and yet a substantial hop bitterness kicks in, preventing it becoming cloying. The finish is dry and herbal, leaving a lingering bitter tingle on the tongue.
Complex and drinkable, this is session beer as it should be.
Recommended by Michael Bates, Trembling Madness, 48 Stonegate, York
Wild Beer Co., Somerset, Solera - 4.3%; £3.15, 33cl
Making changes to other parts of the process, and using unconventional ingredients in unconventional ways, has seen them make good on this promise: apple-infused saisons, spelt beers, and oaked old ales are de rigueur for this brewery, not the domain of expensive limited edition brews.
Solera is a child of this latter process, influenced by and named for the process of aging and fractional blending by which each batch is made: barrels of aged beer are blended with the new product to create a consistent flavour, with fresh beer rejuvenating the older stocks. The aim is to create a unique beer that has the complexity of aged beer with the delicacy of fresh beer remaining intact.
Pouring a cloudy, deep amber, the nose offers lemons, cloves, damp wood and a hint of bubblegum. The flavour begins with a sharp lemon acidity, suggestive of older, soured ale, backed with a sharp sap and dry wood flavour. The body is fairly thick and yet the beer remains dry on the palate, with a refreshing astringent finish broken up by strong carbonation. Undeniably complex, this is certainly a unique beer with a character all of its own.
Recommended by Michael Bates, Trembling Madness, Stonegate, York
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Thanks to Rebecca Wright for her superb picture above.