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Category: United Kingdom

Hornbeam Top Hop Best Bitter, 4.2%, Manchester, UK


I can’t imagine many people have heard of Denton, let alone been there. Using the youth of today’s scale of rating places which goes as far as to ask the question ‘Does it have a Primark?’ the answer is no, although there is one in Stockport now which isn’t a million miles away from Denton. It does have a TK Maxx though, and it turns out, it also has a micro brewery called the Hornbeam brewery. Having spent a lot of my childhood in Denton visiting my Gran I was particularly surprised to find this out and also saddened at the same time. A quick Google search reveals that I drive past the brewery every Tuesday on the way to taking our little pesky dog to his training course; we even stop at the Sainsbury’s for beer amongst other things fairly regularly. I’ve never seen a bottle of Hornbeam in there and it’s right next door!

In 5: Vanilla, Cloudy, Amber, Citrus, Denton

In a world where it’s cheaper to buy something on ebay shipped in from China than it is to buy the same thing at the shop on the corner of your road this isn’t surprising. Perhaps the issue of the big supermarkets stocking real local produce is an argument for another day.

So how was the beer itself?

It poured nicely, even though it had been kept in the fridge instead of room temperature as directed on the label (not to self (again) read the label first!!!). It has a lovely vanilla nose with a cloudy outlook – a bit like the Manchester weather where it is brewed. It is amber in colour with a sharp yet palatable taste as the sweet vanilla aroma contrasts nicely with the citrus ever so slightly floral taste. If I had to categorise it I’d say it is somewhere in between an IPA and a best bitter and it was thoroughly enoyable.

On a side note, I really love the styling of the bottle and branding of the brewery, great work!

This article is copyright © 2014 


The quest for international beery goodness took us to Wales recently. Well actually, Wales was brought to us via a wonderful Christmas present consisting of a selection of beers from The Great Orme Brewery. What a perfect gift. For those of you not in the know, the Great Orme is a big rock in North Wales, with a tram, a dry ski slope and an amazing toboggan track (note; it was amazing when I was 12 and may now be in a horrendous state of disrepair). There’s some nice scenery and views too if you’re in to that sort of thing. It turns out there is also a Brewery, although not on the Great Orme itself it’s pretty close by.

In 5: Bright, Sweet, Rounded, Tasty, Citrus

A big fan of a pale ale this seemed like the most sensible choice for a first taste of the Orme “a refreshing blonde ale bursting with citrus notes” according to the fancy label. We certainly don’t disagree. It pours an amber colour and is bright and sweet from the off. The pale hops give a touch of bitterness and the citrusy high notes are quite something. It has a sweet and fruity flavour which give it a rounded finish and offset the bitterness just enough.

It’s a very pleasant beer and would be perfect to provide that much needed refreshing moisture in a beer garden on a fine summers evening after work.

This article is copyright © 2014 


Brewskie is back! Sorry for the gap in between reviews, life has rather taken over the last couple of months and although the drinking hasn’t necessarily stopped, the writing about the wonderful things we’ve been drinking unfortunately has.

In 5: Bitter, Sharp, Lively, Tasty, Satisfying

So now we’re back, we decided to come back with a bang and grabbed a bottle of Lakeland Gold off the beer shelf that we’ve been saving for a good few months for the occasion. We bought this flavoursome little number during our trip to the Lake District back in July. The guys at Hawkshead have done a truly wonderful job of opening up their brewery to the public in 2006. When planning our trip we did some research on Breweries in the Lake District and thought that Hawkshead looked like an excellent place to stop for a bite to eat and a jar to drink, we were proved very right. It has a great selection of home brewed ales as well as a selection of international beers and hand picked wines if you are that way inclined. I’ve posted some photos of the brewery below for you.

The Lakeland Gold is a lovely bitter brew with a very distinctive flavour. It is a little darker than a regular golden beer with more of a bitter bite than you get with the regular summery golden beers. But that’s not to say it doesn’t work, there is enough sweetness running through the flavour to keep it interesting and lively. Every mouthful is different and the more you drink the more you discover about its little nuances and it’s this intrigue that keeps you wanting more.

I bought a decent sized batch of bottles of this beer and although I generally only ever drink one of them in a session it’s one I know can be relied upon to give me that beery fix I need after a long day at work. It’s most certainly full bodied and would be particularly good with a curry, the hotter the better!

This article is copyright © 2014 


So, weddingfest 2011 is officially over and the Brewskie family are back at home looking back on a summer of romance, holidays and most importantly, beer. We enjoyed the Cisk in Malta, the Kronenberg in France but by far and away the most fruitful beery destination was the good old Lake District. We visited the excellent Hawkshead Brewery (review to follow) and tried more of the local ales in the pubs around Windermere. But perhaps the most refreshing sight was the high street shops selling the local beers in abundance alongside the other local produce. So we filled out boots, well the boot of the car anyway!

In 5: Treacle, Hazelnut, Staycation, Nutella, Chocolate

So many beers, so little time, we needed to multi-task… As we opened our bottle of Lakeland Bitter we wondered if anyone else had ever drank it on the Eurostar? Probably not, but by golly we were glad we did!

A rich and deep nose is the first thing you notice, very much a rich treacle aroma. The taste follows suit, with a wonderfully complicated mix of flavours which attack your senses. It is very nutty, almost like a hazelnut liquor, with chocolate notes and caramel bites all flooding in without it being overly bitter; it is nicely hopped to balance the flavours. It really did fly down and the only disappointment was that we were on a train to France and couldn’t get any more of this lovely brew for a couple of weeks…

A big thumbs up from Mrs Brewskie too, who can’t quite believe that someone has managed to turn Nutella into a beer! In fact, this is only the 2nd beer to be given the 5 Brewskie pints, quite an accolade some (I) would say!

Hopefully the new wave of people having a Staycation can help this excellent brewery get it’s beers out to even more lucky punters, we will most certainly be stocking up on our next trip to the Lakes.

This article is copyright © 2014 


In 5: Sweet, Full-bodied, Fruity, Tasty, Grand slam

We most certainly aren’t alone in our belief that as a general rule Scotland is pretty pants at sport; unless you count competitive eating as a sport… Or the annual “most ridiculous thing to deep fry and sell in a chippy” competition. But lo and behold if you turn on the Beeb during June and July you will be confronted by an old Scottish man trapped in the injury-prone scruffy body of Andy Murray prancing about with a tennis racket on his epic quest to never win a Grand Slam. Well we recently discovered a beer just a rare as a Scottish wannabe champion, a lager brewed in Glasgow meeting the purity laws of Germany?!

We were equally as intrigued, so here is our tennis themed review of St Mungo (the Patron Saint of Glasgow if you’re interested).

Much like a Glaswegian on a night out who’s had a Drop too much and is giving you a Volley of abuse, this beer Smashes you in the chops from the off.

It has a Baseline full-bodied fruity nose and the explosively sweet-tasting Serve of Andy Roddick with the classy counters of a peppery Roger Federer. You really get a sense of the Germanic about it as like Steffi Graf the taste lingers long after you expect and it just keeps on winning you over. Once you make a start you will want to Turnaround plenty of bottles of St Mungo instead of your usual Deuce of choice.

Don’t put up with the Racket, simply sit back, relax and call Time on your day at work with this beer, best Served cold and, if unfinished, Return to the fridge.

Serving suggestion: With strawberries and cream of course.

This article is copyright © 2014 


In 5: Tangy, Royal, Average, Disappointing, Consistent

To celebrate/cash in on (delete as appropriate) the Royal Wedding of The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, or Prince William and Kate Middleton to those of you without an ordnance survey map of royalty, Castle Rock Brewery launched a special edition ‘Kiss Me Kate’ blonde ale, in honour of the beautiful brunette bride.

So is this a beer that is fit for a King? Or will Castle Rock need to deploy the archers to fend off the wrath of the mighty Wills?

It’s quite light in colour with a hint of ginger more akin to the best man’s barnet than anything else and with a lovely foamy head on top. So how does it taste? Well overall it’s largely disappointing to be honest. It’s just a bit of a generic ale with nothing special going on, unwavering from first to last while you patiently wait for something exciting to happen (a bit like the ceremony?!). We had to Wills ourselves on just to finish the bottle we had! It’s almost as if they’ve had a look around the brewery warehouse for a few old spare bottles knocking about and whacked a ‘Special Edition’ label on it. As is tradition.

Kiss Me Kate? We’d rather kiss Pippa thanks.

This article is copyright © 2014 


In 5: Hoppy, Bitter, Oasis, Straw, Tarty

Hailing from these parts we were always going to be slightly biased with our opinions of a beer brewed in the capital of the North. With plenty of water around you would have to be in a real Shambles not to be able to put together a quality beer. So does this beer make a City United, or will there always be those loyal to the Red and those detracting Bitter blues?

Well for starters it is a bottle-conditioned ale, something we really need to start paying a lot closer attention to. The sediment started to escape from the clutches of the bottle after we got a little overexcited pouring – the welcoming aromas coming from this simple yet stylish bottle were too much to handle.

Once in the glass it’s more of a light straw colour than an Ian Brown with a lovely foamy head that alludes to the lively nature of the brew. A single sniff and you quickly Cotton on to where the taste is going as it hits you with a bright hoppy punch. There is a real bitter taste to this tarty little number which is raw and borders on the uncontrolled but it’s brought just back into check by the Oasis of citrusy undertones. It’s nowhere near as fiery as some beers that hit you like a steam train on the world’s first passenger railway line but it certainly packs a good punch.

So if you are Alan Turing around the country and fancy a pint, grab a bottle of Manchester Bitter from Marble and you can be guaranteed a Haciending.

Show your love for Manchester on the I LOVE MCR Facebook page.

This article is copyright © 2014 


In 5: Refreshing, Smooth, Organic, Malty, Mellow

We picked up this funny little misshaped bottle of beer on an educational trip our local Waitrose – to see how the other side live. It is brewed on the site of a medieval hall from water they pull out of the ground on the brewery site itself, which is always nice, considering beer is pretty wet and water is by far the largest constituent ingredient. It is also organic and approved by the Soil Association… Yes, there is something called the Soil Association. Apparently the worm wasn’t so sure but the ants ganged up on him and made him vote yes and no one likes the slug so they didn’t tell him when the vote was.

Back to reality… When you get yourself one of these beers obviously the first thing that strikes you is the shape of the bottle. After drinking so many beers from round bottles we didn’t even realise the shape was like an old medicine bottle until we go it home and into the fridge. Apparently the bottle is a copy of one from Gibbstown, near Philadelphia which dates from c. 1770. There is no real explanation why they copied this exact bottle shape but who cares, it’s different and it’s pretty cool.

So enough waffle, what’s the beer like?

Well firstly it’s got a lovely amber colour to it. There is a lot going on with the aroma too, fruity with a hint of something sweet. When we finally tucked in we were thoroughly impressed with how it tasted. It’s a lovely mellow brew, which is both refreshing and smooth. It has a slight malty undertone to it and as an organic beer the flavours could be a little too strong, and although the beer occasionally borders on the wild side it is just about kept in check with a delicate balance.

This is a real easy drinker and one of the better organic ales we’ve come across. St Peter would definitely have this coming out of the taps in his Basilica if he were still around.

This article is copyright © 2014 


Who’s this beautiful amber beer with a lovely head? It’s not Annie Lennox, it’s Directors Bitter.

Knowing me Brewskie, knowing you Directors bitter. A-HAAAAAA!

Warning: If you haven’t religiously watched Alan Partridge over the years you may as well stop reading now!

In 5: Back of the net, Jackanackanory, A-HA, Cashback, Jurassic Park

Can I shock you? I like wine. Fortunately for us however, Alan Partridge’s favourite tipple is Directors Bitter, he’s got it coming out of his taps don’t you know. So if you’ve just dismantled your Corby trouser press or you’ve been clearing your cellar of a couple of bikes, some smokeless fuel and a bag of cement – gone hard. Sit back, and relax, in Brewskie’s deep bath of Directors bitter and enjoy our Alan Partridge tribute review.

Brewed on the thighs of a virgin this lovely nutty beer really gets you by the jaffers as soon as you let battle commence.  This is most certainly the best ale we’ve had since Gary Wilmot’s wedding. If you can stop smelling cheese for a minute and inhale slowly into your pint you will find that Directors has a lovely fruity nose to it. Not too dissimilar to a microwaved apple pie that’s hotter than the sun and if squeezed would expel a jet of molten bramley apple that could go your way, it could go mine. Either way, one of us is going down.

We love it’s spicy, fruity and nutty flavour, and not just in a way. When you finally dost venture south it’s like a breath of fresh air. It would be a great companion to a curry but don’t forget the keema nan on the side… ooooooo mince.

The best thing I ever did was getting thrown out by my wife. She's living with a fitness instructor, he drinks that yellow stuff in tins... He's an idiot!

It’s brewed by Courage, but not in big sheds that nobody’s allowed in with 20ft high chickens, and these chickens are scared because they don’t know why they’re so big, and they’re going, “Oh why am I so massive?” and they’re looking down at all the little chickens and they think they’re in an aeroplane because all the other chickens are so small. I digress…

Safety announcement: While you sip on your fat shot of Directors Bitter please remember the breathing techniques from tape one. Try to keep your nostrils clear and be careful not to get it all over the valance (the skirt that goes round the bed).

If you can ever accept the fact that they’ve used a collective term for a single drink and tried one, you can be sure you’ll be grabbing more from the fridge and putting them on the slate down your local minimart – a scaled down supermarket that fits inside a petrol station, sells pies, anti-freeze…  Don’t forget to store it below room temperature though or you may invalidate the warranty and always, always order it with a gin and tonic, and a Bailey’s. The Ladyboy chaser. Maybe a scotch egg on the side, but leave it a while to break down before you breathe on anyone or try to kiss your mildly cretinous Romanian girlfriend with an addiction to Snappy Snaps (she almost likes it as much as George Michael).

Tell me about the ladyboys.

Directors Bitter has been described as lovely stuff. Not Brewskies words, the words of Shakin' Stevens.

Directors Bitter is cheaper than a monkey, more expensive than a mouse and you can buy a whole load of Directors for a pony and a bag of hooves, cash in hand of course. You could even get your PA to buy you some when her dead mother’s money starts to come through to supplement her £9,500, so long as she hasn’t spent it all on her hair do that is.

Be careful not to spill the Sunny Delight as you banish it to the fridge, I can’t think of a more suitable drink to enjoy a Bond marathon with than Directors. Anything else would be demented. Just try not to get Bond wrong, or tape over it with America’s strongest man, and If you’re enjoying a few pints round at the house of your new best friend, who just so happens to be a fantastic man, make sure you check their credentials, they may be sex people looking to be appalling. If they invite you round try not to be sucked in by the promise of a Buck Rogers toilet, or their static caravan which can clean up half a pound of mashed up Dundee cake in its chemical loo.

Next time you are at the bar ignore the tea or coffee, tea or coffee, and get that Directors “into me!” Even better if you’ve got a scam going on with a big glass, but just be careful not to have too many or you may end up in a hotel kitchen cooking all the food or legally in control of a vehicle after committing cone theft. Cone’t you take a joke?

Not my words, Carol, the words of Brewskie.

Ideas for Brewskie;

  • Swallow – A Norwich-based drinking series which would put Norwich on the map.
  • Youth Drinking – with Chris Eubank.
  • Brewing in Prison – Needs a bit of fleshing out.
  • An ale amongst the Pigeons – The opening could be me in Trafalgar Square feeding the pigeons real ale.
  • Monkey Beer Pong…

PS. If you’re one of those commuters with your computers you could even buy some online and get yourself some cashback!

This article is copyright © 2014 


In 5: Sour, Fruity, Honey, Bitter, Tinny

This was another beer we picked up from the Micro Bar in the Manchester Arndale and we were hoping for great things as there were obviously only a few carefully selected beers on offer. Unfortunately we were a little disappointed by this fruity brew.

We were promised a ‘zesty aroma and a fruity flavour’ and I suppose we did get this to some extent but for us it just didn’t seem to work so well. We got the high notes from the fruits and a little bit of honey to bind it together but there was something not quite right. It left us feeling a bit bitter about the whole experience and particularly sour too. There was a slightly metallic or tinny aftertaste that lingered and annoyed like sitting next to a music class full of year 9 kids with the xylophones out.

We were drinking this with a wonderful home-made vegetable curry and tarka dal that Mrs Brewskie lovingly prepared for a house party. So maybe it’s not a great one with a curry and that interfered with our experience somewhat, we hope so, because we were expecting more.

This article is copyright © 2014 

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