A little light [beer] relief in a week we find our nation in a state of flux, one consistent beverage we can all rely on is a fine craft ale.
The recent phenomena and the dearth of micro brewers and privately / co-op managed ale houses is a good thing in my mind. The seasonality and historical regional flavours offers any visitor to the area an option to choose something made locally, with care and attention.
With the thousands of imaginatively named IPAs, stouts, amber ales and porters to choose from in my area of the country, it is often a challenge to find something that sticks out for the duration of the time at the bar or in a local bottle shop. This also is a good thing, long gone are the days of bland, insipid mass production brown liquid, offering only a guaranteed hang over from hell the next day, mainly due to all the additives and preservatives. Thankfully no more terrible TV ads for hooligan Lager full of cliches and less than clever macho strap lines.
Living in the convergence of both Manchester and Sheffield’s commuter belt, bordering the Peak District National Park, one would be happy to know we have dozens of local brewers hard at work each day making and mashing their delectable brews.
Having a small brewery on one’s doorstep is yet another reason to support local businesses that serve us with something so much more than the ambivalence we expect from many of the inner city hipster bars.
It is quite evident that these stalwarts of single mindedness, mavericks, revolutionaries and masters of individuality are the future of our brewing industry and with the current shenanigans in Westminster, exporting our wares will start to prop up the economy as much as our fading bars.
If you find yourself in the Peak District this year, make time to enjoy the new line of ales from Whaley Bridge Brewery, the innovative methods Mike (Master Brewer extraordinaire) explores with the finest hops and the excellent clear waters of the Peak combine to produce a very irresistible result.
You will be first attracted by the creatively designed packaging and labels, a nod to a much more contemporary rather than hairy eared trad design. Each beer is named after an area of this historical town and each offer a completely different flavour and gravity.
The two new ones to the growing collection are Crow Hill and Mount Famine. Crow Hill being a very fine American Amber Ale, offering an explosion of caramel maltiness, refreshing citrus fruits and the bitterness from the excellent hops Mike doesn’t scrimp on. So if its the hell or high watermelon you like in a lovingly crafted beer, using a combination of alchemy, science and experience, this newcomer to the market is for you. This ale is one for a lazy summer evening, swallows darting over head, enjoying the fading summer sun after a great day on the hill.
Mount Famine is a totally different brew – a little more lively ale that offers an instant hit of Tropical Fruits – including Passion Fruit (how he does this is beyond a laymen such as me) and more robust bitter notes, this triple hopped beer offers an excellent session ale for any occasion. I found to my delight it was a fine accompaniment to some Stilton and a borderline offensively ripe Brie.
They join the WBB family and can be found in a growing number of ale houses and pubs in the region.
Recently as this week, you can find all four of the collection in 500ml bottles at the National Trust Eyam Hall courtyard, The Eyam Real Ale Company, right next door to the Hartington Cheese Shop, to anyone living in the area and knowing the latter – a perfect match I am sure you will agree.
Goyt Wines in Whaley Bridge, The Tickled Trout, Barlow near Chesterfield, and as of yesterday, the Beer Dock in Crewe and Barley Hops in Congleton, Cheshire. With a pending launch event, the newest ale shop to populate the High Peak, Beer District in Buxton (4a Colonnade, Buxton) will be opening the first week of July, starring amongst others, the four Whaley Bridge Beers. Once they get the shop fitting complete, they will be offering a growing number of excellent beers and ciders to discerning locals and visitors to the Spa Town.
I would expect to see this collection of delightful beers in an ale house near you quite soon.
Remember, it is people like Mike that make the world a better place, a happier place, and for every pint of Carling not sold this week, we can all applaud those who get up at the crack of sparrows each day to pint-by-pint remove this despicable drink from our pubs and replace it with something made from simple ingredients, not stakeholder pension plans. Life is far too short to drink cheap beer.
If you have an event or wedding looming in the Peak District, do your bit to support a local trade and give Mike a call.
With the delights and demands of work and time spent away from home this summer, it has come as no surprise that I am not at all ready for the planned distance hike I am doing this month. So time to get the boots dubbed and waterproofs nik-waxed, find my tin cup and get the expedition tent out of moth balls.
Some of you may already know, I received a call on the evening of the 13th of May a call we all dread to get, the call that someone you love is in hospital fighting for their life due to an accident.
When we first heard that my brother-in-law had been involved in an RTA whilst on his motorbike there was a lot of swearing, second guessing, jumping in cars and heading through the night to Nottinghamshire and that he was possibly driving without care (though that isn’t his style – not on a bike at least). Rushing to the QMC in Nottingham it unfolded that he was in fact the victim of the reckless act of careless driving, a driver had lost control and ran him over whilst he was stationary in traffic on his new Ducati motorcycle.
As my wife stared down at her oldest brother, whilst hooked up to every machine the NHS have at their disposal, saying to the Medical Team and Police that yes this was indeed her brother Karl. A terrifying situation and one she was unsure of what would happen next, distraught at the thought of him seeing this hunk of metal coming at him at speed and unable to do anything about it, and the horror and the colossal pain he must have felt.
He was unable to breathe on his own, with two punctured lungs, two broken legs, lacerated spleen & liver, broken elbow, wrist, collar bones, shoulder blade, nose, numerous ribs and untold brain damage, the prognosis did not appear good.
The important thing though was that he was there, in hospital, receiving treatment quickly because of the actions of the Lincolnshire & Nottinghamshire Air Ambulance Team (LNAA) – had they not been there to assist in his immediate and essential care, he most definitely would not be lying on the bed getting amazing 24 hour care from the team at QMC in Nottingham.
As the weeks went on we saw Karl progressively get better. From the first breath he took independently – which was as wonderous as watching our own children breathe for the first time, to the first squeeze of a hand, then onto the opening of eyes, the first look of recognition even though he couldn’t speak and then onto the random stream of words and slowly moving to organised speech, if only to be filled with profanity that would make a Merchant Seaman blush (but who can blame him?). The most special of days came when out of the blue on a visit he saw Rebecca, clung on to her and said how much he had missed her, asked about the children by name and asked where I was. I can’t describe the relief and joy after skype-ing Rebecca that evening from her Hotel room, he was going to be OK.
Nearly 4 months have passed and he is moving himself about in his wheel chair, working on walking independently (with a frame at the moment) and is nearly his old self again-just the memory of a preoccupied goldfish to sort out.
Now that he is out of the woods, so to speak and proving to us the wonder of medical science, the amazing staff at Lincs&Notts Air Ambulance, the diligence and phenomenal bedside care of the nurses and surgeons of QMC; and human spirit, it is time for us to give back.
It comes as no surprise that it costs to get this Helicopter up and saving lives, £3000 every time the air ambulance gets that call. With this in mind we’d like to raise as much as we can towards that figure so that others can be saved by such an unparalleled and selfless service.
Rebecca and I are undertaking a long distance challenge walk taking in the Derbyshire Peak District. 60 miles in 4 days (yes, that’s 60 miles) up hill and down dale, fording rivers and scrambling over scree; this is going to be a major undertaking as I am not as fit as I used to be, in fact if I were a horse, I’d be gluing your Sneekers by now; for Rebecca the challenge will be how to move past the ice cream shops and to not fall asleep in the stone circles.
This is not subject to the stunning weather we have had this summer, (discounting today’s floods and possible thunder storms) we have been honed from years of dashing up Mountains and carved from decades of rain strewn fells to let a little August rain hamper our progress.
If however you’d rather forgo the blisters and join us on a leg or two, map reading or just getting eaten alive by midges, please donate what you can to this great cause, anything you can give would be highly appreciated. We have received in the past three weeks an amazing amount of money, with only 23 donations we have almost hit the £600 mark. Such generosity is moving and inspiring in equal measures.
This accident was the act of carelessness, and has resulted in a long and worrisome time for my family – wrong place, wrong time. It could happen to anyone and knowing a service is out there that can make the difference between life and death is certainly one that we should all support. So if this valiant yet small gesture can raise enough to cover the cost of the life saving act back in May, we can all be rest assured that all of these services can keep flying.
If you wish to donate please follow this link to the Just Giving site –
Please CLICK HERE thank you.