Sunday, 25 December 2011

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas everyone.

Today I would like to thank Hardknott Dave for my wonderful Christmas present - an IPad. I may now be able to write more blogs once I get used to my new toy. I hope this will be more than just a blog writing type writer. I may even start to learn about this wonderful world of technology and catch up with our children and Dave.

I have tried touch screen phones a couple of times but I didn't like them. I like my Blackberry and can type fairly fast with the feel of the keys. However, a month ago we had some American friends staying, Ted and Christi. Christi brought her brand new iPad with her which she had just bought less than a week before coming to England. I wanted to write a blog and she was kind enough to trust me with her new expensive toy. Amazing I found I could type quite quickly and enjoyed writing the blog. I wondered at the time about the sparkle in Dave's eye as his brain was Obviously beginning to hatch Christmas plans.

I'm actually the sort of person who really likes surprises, nice ones of course. However, no matter how hard I try not to guess or know what I am getting for Christmas or birthdays, I usually have a fairly good idea. This year was no different. I was suspicious I may be getting an iPad and Dave knew that too. What I didn't know was that it could be inscribed and has been. A special touch which really does make this iPad mine. Despite it not being completely a surprise I wouldn't change this present for the world. It's probably one of the best Christmas presents I've ever had.

What did I buy Dave I hear you ask? Not something as impressive as an item of electronic or even musical technology. A selection of beers which I don't believe he has tried before. Wrapped up in an empty wine box just to confuse him. Also a new wallet as he is always complaining I never give him any money. He hasn't even checked in it to see if I gave him any money. But then he hasn't been to the pub yet.

Monday, 5 December 2011

What are friends for!

A Hardknott life is a busy one. I can't believe it's a month since twissup.

On Friday 11th November we attended the Cumbrian Beer Lovers dinner. It's a pity the beer matching dinner was not the best we've ever been too. However at the end of the evening we walked in the moonlight to Neil & Sharon's house in Kendal. They had graciously offered us a bed for the evening to which we are very grateful for their hospitality. As we were traveling to Newcastle the following morning it seemed sense not to go home in the opposite direction.

On the Saturday morning 12th November we woke up with not much of a hangover and set off to Newcastle for a twissup. Hardknott Dave, myself, Hardknott Sooty, Brewers Union Ted and his sister Christi. A quick breakfast stop on the A66 we arrived in Newcastle at 11 o'clock. First stop was a visit to The Free Trade Inn. We needed to check the keg of Vitesse Noir was as brilliant as we hoped it would be. And it was. I was so looking forward to returning without the car so I could enjoy a few more.

After dropping Dave and Ted near to Bacchus where the twissuppers were gathering, Christi and I headed off on a little shopping trip to find some Chocolates. BeerreviewsAndy amongst others had suggested that I needed to bring the food match for the Vitesse Noir - Chocolate of course. After buying some boxes of chocolates Christi and I were summoned like a taxi to transport Hardknott Dave and BrewersUnion Ted, also Hardknott Alex and Steven Aletalk from Central Newcastle to The Free Trade Inn.

It was Time...Glasses of Vitesse Noir matched with gorgeous chocolates, but not for me yet. We still had to check in to our hotel and park the car before I could start drinking. As Jeff Pickthall arrived we made our leave, "just going to check in to the hotel", "Where is it?" he asked. I told him. I won't repeat his reply but it was not pleasant. Well Jeff and I don't usually see eye to eye so I wasn't worried.

After 10 minutes we arrived at the hotel. Well it seemed to be the right place. It looked like an old Victorian hospital and felt like one too. It wasn't Halloween but the male receptionist gave me the uncomfortable feeling of 'Lurch' from the Adams family. He tried to get us to pay but we were feeling very uncomfortable about the place and hoping the rooms were better. We asked to see our rooms first and were told to take a seat in a strange hallway. A dining room to our right looked like a school canteen and a spooky spiral staircase climbed in front of us.

Lurch shouted for us and his voice echoed in the bare stone corridor. We went after him up a back staircase. more for use by the portering staff than hotel guests. he showed us the first room and then the second. They were even worse than I had imagined. Christi and I took one look at each other and after a hurried apology for not staying escaped to the sanctuary of the car. We didn't know what we were going to do, but we agreed we were not staying there. Dave and Ted may not be happy about being told they had no bed for the night and I may not have been happy at the prospect of missing out on Vitesse Noir; but come hell or high water I wouldn't have slept if we had had to stay there.

I texted Dave. "The hotel from hell". Jeff is right and we are not staying there. Christi and I were very hungry now. It was early evening and the twissuppers had been for an Indian, well some of them had anyhow. Christi and I found China town. The first priority was food. If I had to drive back to Cumbria well so be it. The food was great and they brought us some fortune cookies. I snapped mine in half and read it. Someone will give you some good news. Instantaneously my phone buzzed and we both laughed. That'll be the good news then. A message from Dave. Steve Pickthall had heard about our misfortune and offered all four of us a bed for the night. Well actually three beds. We returned to The Free trade Inn to finish the chocolates and make a greater hole in the keg of Vitesse Noir.

As they say "What happens on twissup stays on twissup". Well not this time. I would like to say a big thank you to Steve & Jayne Pickthall for their kind generosity and hospitality in coming to the rescue of two Hardknotts and two Americans who were in a fix with no abode. And an apology to Jeff for not believing him about the hotel from hell.

Friday, 18 November 2011

Manchester epic

On Monday 8th November Hardknott Dave and I set off to Marble Arch to meet with Ted from Brewers Union 180 Oakridge, Oregon and his sister Christi. They had arrived in Manchester that afternoon from America, returning for their first visit since the relocating of Hardknott brewery to Millom. After meeting up at the Marble Arch an impromptu brewery tour of Marble brewery, thanks to James, was Ted's first brewery excitement after his arrival. Next stop was a quick visit to the Font bar. By now it was 7pm. We arrived into Marlborough Street. There were lots of cars parked on Marlborough Street. It was a single yellow line but it was after 6pm and there were no signs on the wall to give allowed parking times. Well surely this many cars wouldn't be wrong would they?

We went into the Font where we were greeted well and bought ourselves a beer. Half an hour later after only one drink we returned to the car. On turning the corner we found the road was completely bare. Not a single car. I looked at Dave, this was the right street wasn't it? Panic set it. I Couldn't believe it. Had the car been stolen? I phoned the police 999 and explained that our car was gone. The helpful police gave me a phone number to ring which was difficult to remember but between the four of us we managed to memorize it. I phoned the number which apparently was the local council and informed them my car was missing. After giving the registration number they told me they had towed the car away. If I wanted it back we would need to collect it before 10pm and pay £140, they gave me a post code.

 We were in a strange city we had no idea where to go neither did the taxi driver. £10 and 20mins later we arrived at the pound. Luckily I had our driving licences in my bag otherwise they were not going to return the car to us at all. £150 lighter and less than an hour since we parked the car we were eventually on our way again. All of us feeling very upset and deflated. What did we do so wrong to have the car towed away less than half an hour after parking it on a single yellow line at 7pm.

Well apparently we were 2 weeks late. Since 1999 until 2weeks ago we could've parked there without even a fine. Unfortunately the local council decided in their wisdom to change the parking times to 8pm instead of 6pm. No fine or warning just tow the car away. How to make visitors feel welcome. So be warned if you visit Manchester. You are not allowed to park on a single yellow line between the hours of 6pm and 8pm anymore or they will tow your car away!

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

Great Northern Beer Festival

The Society of Independent Brewers or SIBA for short, hosted the Great Northern Beer festival in Manchester last week with help from Greater Manchester CAMRA.

A collection of 250 casks and 100 bottled beers from the Northern region were gathered together in a hotel in Manchester. Hardknott Brewery were responsible for 2 of the cask beers Continuum and Infra Red and one of the bottled beers Queboid. Not many I hear you say. Well this was the first time we had entered beer into a SIBA competition and we weren't really sure what to expect.

Knowing how Hardknott Dave doesn't like to miss anything (can't keep his mouth shut) he also volunteered our services to help on the day of the competition. I received an email telling me I was running for 3 hours. I don't do running!

After an interesting journey of driving around Manchester and delivering beers to The Font and Port Street Beer House, followed by walking, buses and trains I eventually found the entrance of the hotel with the help of Dave. Luckily I grabbed some lunch on the way in as I was too late for any food.

After a quick lesson I learned that running was more like quick walking up the stairs into the cellar to collect jugs of beer for the judges blind tastings.My first table of judges were judging the third round of specialist beers in cask. This included beers such as fruit beers and ginger beers. After a few trips up to the cellar all of the beers had been delivered and the voting papers collected in.

After a short break it was time for the final judging. There were only two tables. One judging the best of the best cask beers and the other judging the best of the best bottled beers. I was running for bottled beers this time. Luckily it wasn't too far. Back wards and forwards to the stage which was the location of the bottled beers. However, judging the best of the best is much more difficult. How can you easily compare a stout against a bitter against an IPA against a ginger beer. I had a good few trips refilling the jugs while the judges contemplated amongst themselves. Eventually all the judges were satisfied and the forms were handed over. With tables cleared I could join Hardknott Dave with Becky & John from Stringers Brewery for a beer or two.

The full list of winners can be found on the SIBA site here. So I don't want to duplicate it. However, I would like to continue with the story from my perspective.
The winners were announced in reverse order. The following awards were for Cumbrian breweries. 
Bottled bitters
A Gold Award for Cumbrian Legendary Ales Langdale 4.0%,

Bottled bitters greater than 5%
Silver for Stringers IPA 5.5% and Gold for Coniston Infinity IPA at 6%
Nothing for Queboid but at least it was beaten by 2 good friends and 2 good beers.

Bottled old ales and stouts next

Silver for 9.3% Mutiny from Stringers.

Cumrian Legendary Ales were awarded Bronze overall for Landale in the bottled beers.

Lots of Cumbrian winners for bottles and lots of Cumbrian smiles.

Then it was time for the Awards for cask beers. By this time we had been joined at our table by Alex from Hawkshead brewery. Just in time for the commencement of the cask awards.

Standard Bitters
Bronze for Watermill with Collie Wobbles 3.7%
Silver for Prospect with Whatever
Gold for Hawkshead for Windermere Pale 3.5%

2 more awards for Cumbrian Breweries

Best Bitters  next with
Bronze for Cumbrian ledendry Ales Langdale 4.0%

But alas no award for Hardknott Continuum. Oh well at least Continuum was beaten by our good friend Roger at CLA.

HardknottDave with disappointment written all over his face, disappeared off to the bar. That was that. His hopes for Continuum were over. Nothing left now except to have a few more drinks. However, I knew we had one more beer category to listen to and I was enjoying lots of our Cumbrian friends winning awards.

Dave returned just as they were starting to announce winners for Strong Premium Bitters over 6%

Bronze for 3rd place was awarded to Hawkshead for NZPA. my heart skipped a beat. Well at least that was our greatest Cumbrian competitor in this catagory out of the way and one less in the running for the final 2 places.

Silver - Awarded to Hardknott brewery for Infra Red !

You did it Dave! His face taking on a happy but amazed look he bounded up on to the stage with chuffed pleasure returning with a certificate for all to see.

Gold was awarded to Elland for their 1872 Porter.

Two IPA's beaten by a Porter in the Premium bitters - I obviously don't understand beer categories. Nevermind.

All in all Cumbrian Breweries did very well with Hawkshead brewery winning over all with Windermere pale.

I would like to congratulate all of the Cumbrian Breweries in their Successes.

For me personally I needed a drink. After scanning down the list of 250 cask beers and trying some tasters I found there wasn't any beers strong enough to appeal to my beer enjoyment. So after numerous visits to the bottle bar in anticipation of them selling any remaining bottles I was eventually able to purchase a bottle of Queboid, Furness Abbey and Croglin Vampire for my nights drinking. Being reprimanded by HardknottDave for buying beers which we have in our own brewery. However, he was drinking Continuum and we have that in the brewery too!

Despite my comment that there wasn't any beers strong enough for me, my favourite beer of the night won the Gold award for the best bottled beer. I had been told about this beer only a week previously by Hardknott Andrew on twitter but hadn't yet had the pleasure of trying it. I managed to buy the only remaining bottle of Peerless brewery's Ninja Jinja and really enjoyed it. For me the bottled range held the greatest.

See also HardknottDave's post

Sunday, 30 October 2011

Beer Versus Wine or Hardknott Dave versus Tim Atkin

We weren't sure we would make it... Dave needed a good excuse to drive hundreds of miles to satisfy his ego... I convinced him we needed to deliver beer to London and and collect empty casks. After all London isn't that far away from Manchester and its a lot closer to Essex...

The morning after the night before (which is another blog altogether) we sneaked out of Dave's uncle's house (where we had sneaked in at 1am when everyone was in bed), leaving behind only an apologetic bottle of Vitesse Noir on the table as evidence that we had actually been there.

We quietly (NOISILY) started the van and headed for London. lots of boxes of beer to deliver to Utobeer warehouse somewhere in the heart of Bermondsey. Then setting the SATNAV for Thatchers Arms Mount Bures somewhere in the Essex countryside we headed East. Hardknott Dave is now getting excited. He is wound up and raring to go for the night ahead. Driving right past the hotel straight to The Thatchers Arms. He need to get there to psych himself up for the night ahead.

WATCH OUT! I'm sure that was Adrian Tierney Jones we nearly wiped out in the dark. Apparently so, according to twitter and his accusations at HardknottSooty.

A few weeks earlier Dave had written to the BBC complaints commission which resulted in a twitter attack on Saturday Kitchen for their lack of consideration to beers in the program and their continual recommendation of wines with food. The result being that Mitchel Adams from The Thatchers Arms invited Tim Atkin from Saturday kitchen to attend a beer versus wine food matched evening. Adrian Tierney Jones offered to take the opposing side of the table with beer.

The evening was in aid of Charities selected by Tim and Adrian. Solebear from Adnams was also there as Adnams offered to provided the beverages in support of the event. However, there had also been recent heated discussions between Solebear and Dave over beer duty for beers over 7.5 so this was looking like a night of fists and fireworks.
Early introductions went well and despite Mitch's attempts to keep Dave and Solebear in separate corners all aforementioned culprits took their seats alongside MrdrinknEat with HardknottSooty keeping control.

First course commenced
Carpaccio of Venison loin 7 Beetroot with port & Mustard Viniagrette
Tim's choice 2008 casa Rivas carmenere gran reserva 14.5% Chilean
Adrian's choice Duchesse de Bourgogne 6.2%

Tasting first the venison with beer and wine in turn and then the beetroot I had a dilemma, this was not so easy. I found the venison went well with the beer and the beetroot with the wine, though I believe others disagreed. There was the option of voting for both or neither if one was not obviously a better choice than the other, so I found myself voting for both beer and wine with the first course.

Mitch returned to announce the winner was BEER  phew!

Second course
Smoked Mackerel with pickled Samphire and lemon dressing
Beer from Adnams Explorer 5%
Wine 2010 Telmo Rodriguez Gaba do Xil 13.5%

Well, both were interesting but for me it had to be the beer. But I was needing some water, I realised that I maybe getting a little too much alcohol.
Mitchel returned with the vote BEER had won again.

Third Course
Delicate Sri Lankan red Chicken Curry with cardamon Rice & poppadoms
Beer Schneider Weiss 5.4%
Wine 2008 Cape Barren Estate Grenache /Shiraz/ Mourvedre 15%

An interesting course with interesting discussions. For me and those who are less keen on spicy food, the beer had a lovely calming affect on the tongue between tingly mouthfuls of spicy curry, however for mrdrinkneat and the spice lovers the wine intensified the spiciness. let voting begin...

Mitch announced BEER was the winner.

hooray it was all over 3-0 to beer.

Whoa wait...

There was an error in the second round and actually it was wine which had received the most votes, it was all still to play for at 2-1.

Fourth course
Lemon Tart with Raspberry coulis
The beer was Adnams Solebay - a champagne style beer with pilsner malt nelson Sauvin hops and Lavender
The wine a 2009 Fontanafredda Moscatod'Asti a sweet Italian dessert wine

For me there was no doubt about this course at all. It had to be the wine which was backed up by the voting.


Things were very tight with only one course to go. Everyone enjoying themselves and no arguments only lots of discussion.

The Finale
Dark chocolate Petit fours
served with Harviestoun Ola Dubh 12yr 8% and
Lustau San Emillion PX 17% award winning sweet rich sherry from Spain

First I tried the dark Chocolate with the beer and the wine. The beer definitely had it. well that's it I thought beer has won.

Best just check the White chocolate just to be sure. To my amazement the white chocolate was better with the wine. Oh no I would have to vote for both.

The votes were so close on the final course Mitchel demanded a show of hands to check for cheating. Unbelievable he declared the event a draw.

Proof that beer is definitely as good as wine and wine as good as beer.

Come on Saturday Kitchen time to do your bit!

Wednesday, 10 August 2011

GBBF - Why Size Matters.

What size would you like?

The first question and answer at GBBF.

After queueing on trade day for not too long, we past the ticket scanning area and I headed for the first table. the first most important decision at GBBF:

What size glass would you like? Pint, half pint or third of a pint goblet.

The half pint was the most colourful and attractive but the third pint goblet was most sleek in its shape. Although for quantity what you really want is the pint!

My decision was made before I even reached the table. A half pint glass for Hardknott Dave would be sufficient, after all it was a beer festival. He wouldn't need to drink by the pint as there were already too many beers for him to chose from.

For me - well if you read my previous blog you already know the answer. I never drink beer by the pint or even the half pint. I knew if there were any beers that I was going to get excited about they would definitely have an abv over 6% and a third of pint glass would be perfect to enjoy the aromas and flavours of a strong beer.

Right, my job was done. Glasses in hand now to find Dave. He had proceeded to search out a suitable location. I knew where to look. Somewhere between Bieres Sans Frontieres, Fullers and Pork Scratchings. As I arrived he quickly disappeared with the glasses volunteering to find the first beers.

On his return he offered me first, the half pint glass. Mmm lovely. He obviously put the beers in the wrong glasses. This was a delightful 8% Allagash - Flexus 2011French Style Farmhouse Ale. This would do very nicely for a start. However, I was soon to learn that this was his first choice and my beer was indeed in my third pint glass. Wow- absolutely gorgeous. He knows me so well.

What is it I asked him?

He couldn't remember its name all he could remember was its strength. I searched the program but was unable to find it. After a visit to the BSF bar W1, I identified the 15% beer to be Godzilla brewed by Lowells Beer Works USA.

The first choice was the only beer I needed. Although I did try one or two others just to be sure. Including Fuller's Reserve no.3 and an unofficial bottle of Hardknott Queboid which Hardknott Sooty had sneaked in. Both of these were enjoyed over an impromptu beer and cheese tasting session with Fiona Beckett the winematcher whom I met as a result of the #SaturdayKitchenCampaign.

When it was time to depart GBBF there was only one thing to do. A half pint glass and a third pint glass in hand, I returned to the BSF one last time. Please could you fill these both with Godzilla I smiled.  That done, I filled my now empty water container with my special take home beer, for a few hours further enjoyment later.

So my favourite beer was from the USA. Unfortunately I didn't get to try Ted's beer 'Wotcha' from Brewers Union 180 as it wasn't available on trade day. I'm very pleased to hear it won an Award.

Sunday, 7 August 2011

Does beer matter?

Does beer matter to you?

Last year, Pete Brown asked "Why does beer matter?" Mark Dredge was one of a number of people who wrote an article about this very subject. If you had asked me 5 years ago I guess I would have said "yes" it does matter. At that time we were running the Woolpack Inn in Eskdale. We only sold good quality locally brewed craft beers from six of the best Cumbrian micro breweries. Before we began brewing Hardknott we sold an offering of Cumbrian brewed beers alongside kegs such as Guinness, Carling and Grolsch. But after we began to brew Hardknott beers we sold a lot more Cumbrian cask and a lot less regular keg. Hardknott outsold other Cumbrian micro brewed beers and we became a lot more choosy about which other beers we sold, as well as not selling the afore mentioned kegged beers anymore. We did sell some kegged beers - Timmermans Kreik, which I had my regular nightly pint of, also Lindeboom and Flensberger for the nominal lager drinkers who may frequent the pub.

We also brewed a hardknott beer with lager malt and Saaz hops. This went down very well especially in the summer. Occasionally it was served extra cold through the gassed font as an alternative to the lager options. Not surprisingly it sold very well there too.

Now although Hardknott Dave brewed some very good beers I never drank them. They were obviously on tap 24 hours a day. Sometimes they even needed checking for quality assurance purposes, or so I was led to believe, but even so, I never even tried them. Why? Because I don't like beer!

I didn't like any beers at all and I didn't know if they were good or bad because they all tasted horrible to me. Well, except for the pink stuff. That was ok.

I really should explain you see. I was brought up in a tea total household. My parents, grandparents and family never drank alcohol of any kind. except maybe a sherry on Christmas day or a sip of a wine at a wedding. My great uncle used to go the pub on a Saturday for a shandy. but even that was frowned upon by my grandmother (his sister).

My first experiences of alcohol involved Liebfraumilch in my early 20s. For the next 15 years or so I may have had an odd glass of white wine and occasionally a Malibu, mixed with pineapple juice of course. I think I may even have stretched to a glass of Rose once.

Then one day a mad entrepreneur by the name of Dave decided we should buy a pub. I don't really remember when I first tasted Kreik but I guess that's what happens when you've had too much of something.

In October 2009 Dave and I attended the Barley wine seminar at Thornbridge Hall. Here the Beer Justice wrote an excellent review so I need say no more. I was surprised to find I liked quite a few of the beers on offer. By the end of 2009 we bottled our first edition of Granite. 10.4% dark, strong syrupy beer.

This was the beginning of my introduction to BEER!

I still would not buy a beer by the pint or even the half pint. I have been known to buy a third of a pint of cider at a beer festival. So.....

"Does beer matter?"

It matters to me because it's my livelihood. It's what I am surrounded by day after day. It's what all my friends and followers talk about every minute of the day.

But what matters to me is that it is over 6.5%, comes in 1/3 of a pint or less, or if it's more, in a bottle so I can savour it over a few hours and not down it in half an hour. My enjoyment of beers has grown and my choices of beers are many. But size and strength are what are important to me when chosing a beer. That's what matters.

Monday, 25 July 2011

How it all began first posted 11th May 2011

Social media is a very useful tool in communicating with people all over the world in just a few seconds. Its faster than telephone and carrier pigeon, snail mail, trains, planes and automobiles and what is even better, you don't know who you are going to communicate with. The one thing you do know is that you have something in common with them. In our case it's a love of beer or a love of communicating about beer.

Only 14 months ago I was a lowly landlady of the Woolpack Inn in Eskdale. The Inn is located in a very remote valley on the western side of the Lake district, over an hour from any motorway and only one long coastal route from Cockermouth to Kendal, North to South. There are no roads East to West, well except for the Hardknott Pass. Three in one hairpin bends, very steep and narrow with not many passing places. Therefore the pub was rather quiet between November and February, plenty of time to have a long relaxing holiday.

However in November 2005 Dave (aka HardknottDave) had other ideas. Lets build a brewery and start making beer. The first beer was racked on Christmas Eve - well what else do you do on a Christmas Eve! Ready for drinking on New Years Eve.

We worked very hard from 1st February to 31st October every year with hardly any time off. Running a pub is very hard work and all pubs have their advantages and disadvantages. On 31st October 2008, another season was over. The Laa'l Ratty was having its usual Halloween trains and our children were off to help Grandpa in one of the stations. They loved to dress up as ghosts and witches and jump out to scare the passengers as the train slowly siddled through the station. Not Dave however, he had other things on his mind. He heard about this thing called blogger. While the children were out, and the guests had all gone, there was beer to drink up and some partying to do and Dave had to write his HardknottDave's Blog.

Already, in just a couple of weeks from starting to write, Dave was reporting to me about other blogs and bloggers and his need to post comments and writing blogs in reply was so addictive, he would be quiet for hours. (hard to believe, I know)

By the end of 2009 Dave had began tweeting regularly and somehow enticed me to join in too. Before I knew it, I had daily communications with a lot of people I didn't know. Then one day he said, "we're going on a Twissup", "a whatup?" I said, " A twissup" says Dave, "Where you can meet some of these people from twitter." Ok, sounds exciting, but how will we know who anyone is I thought. The day arrived in January 2010. We travelled to a recently opened bar on Sheffield Station, I guess you've heard of it - the Sheffield Tap. It was about lunchtime, but no food. It was also quite busy, lots of people with rucksacks, all buying beer. Suddenly everyone was introducing themselves to each other, they were all tweeters who had come on the very first beer twissup. There were 30 strangers all enjoying beer and breweries and chatting and having fun. But not much tweeting. We had an excellent day with some very good locals who kept us in check, well at least until late. We returned home with 30 new friends and followers.

To find out more about the day read

In September 2010 another twissup was planned. This time we're meeting in Picadily Sation at Manchester - oh no -not a pub. How are we going to find everyone in a train station? Luckily, Sooty decided he wanted to come too. He jumped into the rucksack and off we went. There we were in the station tweeting at people, but it was difficult to find everyone. No problem. There maybe lots of people with rucksacks in a station, but there's only one yellow Sooty bear.

Next thing, he was out of the rucksack and waving at everyone. This was fun. Breweries and pubs, trains and more pubs, then more trains. It was a tiring day. Sooty made lots of friends. Some suggested that he should have his own twitter account, and so HardknottSooty was born.

HardknottSooty Gets into Blogging posted 11th May 2011

This blog was first posted on 11th May 2011 as one of my first two blogs. Unfortunately blogger waved its magic wand and prevented me editing it ever since. Using the wonders of control C and control Z I shall endevour to doa littler magic and implant my missing blogs into my new blog.

here goes - Abra cadabra

"Sooty, the family Bear, accidently fell into a rucksack one day. The rucksack belonged to HardknottAnn and it was packed ready for a twissup adventure. Little did this yellow bear know what adventures he was about to embark on and the subsequent development of HardknottSooty and his beer discoveries. Now he is here to tell of his adventures on his own blog. From TV fame to twitter fame and now to blog fame...well maybe?

Meet @HardknottSooty

Checking out beer with @HardknottAnn and @HardknottDave at the Maltings, York Twissup.

Tuesday, 19 July 2011

How do you get beer to GBBF if you are British?

After reading Brewdog James' Blog about his unfortunate cancellation from GBBF, it reminded me of my visit to GBBF last year.

At Hardknott we have been brewing since 2005 but as yet have not to my knowledge been put forward for any consideration for sending beer to GBBF. I have been asked by a number of people if and when Hardknott beer will be at GBBF, the answer is I don't know.

I was recently informed by a local CAMRA member that there was one man in Cumbria responsible for deciding which Cumbrian beers will go to GBBF. I tweeted about this and received numerous replies indicating that this could not be true. I have no evidence to support this either way.

At GBBF last year, shortly after arriving, I visited the Cumbrian stand to check out the beer selection. I scanned the breweries exhibiting and was greatly disappointed. There were no beers represented from some of the best Cumbrian breweries. This surely gave a poor impression of what Cumbria had to offer.

I wandered away disappointed. I headed for the BSF bar where many fellow twitterartti had gathered. I consulted the program for inspiration and couldn't believe my eyes when I saw a beer was listed from a very small microbrewery. This particular brewery is set in a very small pub in a very small village in a remote area of Oregon on the most westerly coast of the USA.

What made the beer stand out to me was because we know the brewer so well. In fact Ted of the Brewers Union 180 stayed with us at The Woolpack Inn on numerous occasions. Not only did he visit us and help to brew but also bought a selection of handpulls and British pint glasses, in fact he filled a pallet of goodies to transport back to Oregon where he intended to buy a pub and set up a micro brewery.

We have since visited Ted and his pub and brewery where Hardknott Dave joined in with some brewing and made some Cumberland sausage for a Boxing Day speciality. We used to say Brewers Union 180 was like a sister pub to The Woolpack Inn and was the next best beer to find at GBBF after Hardknott.

But please can someone tell me how a firkin of beer from a small brewpub 5014 miles away from London be served at the Great BRITISH BEER Festival, when beer from Hardknott Brewery only 227 miles away, and which can be frequently found in London, but cannot be found at the GBBF?

I believe Ted's beer will be at GBBF again this year and better than that Ted will be visiting Hardknott brewery this year too to brew with Hardknott Dave. Maybe we could send some Hardknott beer to Ted in Oregon 5014 miles away and he could send send it back to GBBF for us under a pseudonym.

Blogger Technology Fail

Welcome to my second attempt at writing a blog.

My first attempt staring the Adventures of Sooty started out very well for the first few hours, but due to the magic of technology it appears to have trapped itself in limbo blog land. Apparently according to technology it technically belongs to me, it's just that I am unable to access it but luckily no one else can either. My google account doesn't know it exists.

If anyone can help me to join the two parts of me back together I would be very grateful, but in the frustrating meantime I've decided to start another blog to deal with frustrating and entertaining issues.

Best not tell HardknottSooty just in case he waves his magic wand again and freezes my blog.

Now due to the fail in transmission I have a back log of blogs brewing, so best start now.