What an interesting and varied year 2013 has been*! Looking at the photos I’ve taken in the last 12 months it seems I can recap this year by the interesting and varied beers I’ve partaken in**. Of course that means my review is biased to things where I had a beer, but you wouldn’t want to know everything about my year, would you?
Before I headed back to work after Christmas, we took a quick trip to York. Not our usual York Trip (see April), but it did end with a drink in the York Tap. The York Tap is York stations on platform pub, recently restored with a great selection of beers served from its central circular bar, check it out if you’re ever passing through and have a longish connection***.
At some point in 2012 (or maybe before) the Flower Pot in Mirfield was remodelled and refurbished inside. This was a pub which I’d been passed hundreds, maybe thousands of times, being right round the corner from where my Grandmother, Aunt and Cousin live, yet I’d never been in. Well that was remedied in February with a nice pint of a Red ale by Ossett Brewery.
Early in 2013 the people of Geek & Sundry instigated International Table Top Game day, a day for all those worldwide who enjoy board games etc to play games together… So on the day (30th March) Kim and I played a couple of games of Settlers of Catan whilst enjoying a Weissbier in front of the fire.
Every year Kim, her parents, my parents, occasionally one of the two James’s plus partner and myself head to York for a bit of a causal pub crawl/light shopping. This year we were also joint by my Uncle. Below are a couple of the drinks we had, the first a ‘Hoptimus Prime’ by Robinson’s which accompanied a late breakfast at the Punch Bowl Wetherspoons on Mickelgate. The second is a pint of Jever pilsner over lunch at the House of Trembling Madness on Stonegate. This is a great bar serving a good selection of international beers located above an excellent bottle shop.
During this pub crawl I was keeping note of the drinks I had had, but for some reason around drink 8 or 9 my notes end and are replaced with a quote from Milton’s Paradise Lost. “A shout that tore hell’s concave and beyond“. Enough said.
Later in April I attended the Modern Radio Universe conference in Bonn, Germany. A very interesting conference held in the Landesmuseum covering all facets of radio astronomy as it is today. I presented a poster on some work I continue to do with methanol masers by day. Out of conference hours a few beers were consumed, Kölsch being the brew of that region of Germany. In one bar, which was the German equivalent of what I’d call an ‘old man pub’ a few of us sat for a while discussing the finer points of the word ‘Sitzpinkler’ whilst drinking beer from tiny 20cl glasses, which were a revelation.
More work travel in May with a visit to Bologna, Italy, for a workshop on a project concerning a future receiver band for the ALMA telescope. Over two days of the workshop myriad applications of such a receiver to do cutting edge astronomy were discussed. As is required a meal and a few drinks were had between the two days of the workshop, being in Italy we quickly switched to wine but prior to that I had a pint of this weiss style beer of unknown name and origin, but gladly received after a days astronomy.
Travelling again, this time to the Isle of Skye for the annual ALMA Regional Centre retreat. This is where everyone who does my job (or at a more senior level) in the EU gets together to discuss the previous year supporting ALMA and plan for the coming year.
Despite being technically in the same country as the one I live in it took a *lot* longer to get to Skye than either Bonn or Bologna. That being said the scenery was well worth it, Skye is beautiful and I fully intend to go back, I’ll drive rather than take the train next time though! It was also worth getting eaten alive by midges**** to hang out in the converted barn that makes up the bar at Skye’s gaelic college Sabhal Mòr Ostaig and drink some of the local beer from the Isle of Skye Brewing Company, my personal favourite being the Black Cuillin (Sorry the middle image is so blurry, I blame the midges, but you can see their line up here).
On the weekend of the 22nd of June, it was my Grandparents Diamond wedding anniversary, so as a celebration that entire side of the family, (my Grandparents, my parents, my brother James, his girlfriend Bertie, Kim and myself, Aunt and Uncle, two cousins, and their dog!) descended on a great big cottage in Litton, in the Yorkshire Dales. The evening we arrived was gorgeously sunny and we all sat around the gardens chasing the Sun and having a beer or two followed by a big meal. While we were there we went walking at Malham Cove, then spent the rest of the time reading and lazing about the cottage, it was a great couple of days
On June 24th we got a new addition to the household, namely Scout the Dog… but as this post is a year in beer she won’t appear in photograph until she has her first pub trip.
Yet more work travel in July, back up to Scotland. This time to St. Andrews for the annual National Astronomy Meeting. We had an ALMA stall in the poster room and also held a session of talks on the final day. I borrowed on of the Jodrell cars and drove up all the gear, I really want an Astra van… is that weird? Only a couple of beers at this years NAM and only two photos. The Claverhouse Red was pretty good.
This was a pretty stressful week away from home, where I learnt the one big lesson of the year… Don’t get a dog a week before going away with work for 5 days and abandon your partner to 24 hour-a-day puppy care, it is really not fair.
Suffice to say I got back to an exhausted Kim, took over puppy watch so she could sleep a lot and after that we slowly got used to our new pet. As the summer was pretty excellent we managed a few trips to our usual eating pub the Nag’s Head at Ainley Top where we could sit out with the dog and have a beer and something to eat. This picture is from Scout’s first trip, she loves beer and has done from an early age!
August saw the end of the transformation of a bunch of notes in my brew book into a drinkable beer known as Stouter, the tale of its creation can be found here.
August also saw a summer student we had in the ALMA office complete his project with us. By way of a thank-you he very kindly got me some beer. I can really recommend the Iron Maiden beer, another Robinson’s brew, it is almost as good as the song it is named after. The Ashes beer was also pretty good, but I guess with the recent result they aren’t selling much of it right now*****.
I could only find one beery picture from September, and that is of the selection of Nook brewhouse beers we picked up at Holmfirth Food and Drink festival. I’ve never seen Nook beers outside of the Huddersfield postcode area but if you ever see one, get one they are brilliant. Red is easily my favourite with the Oat Stout a close second. Better still if you’re visiting Holmfirth for any reason (following a Whippet perhaps?) then go to their pub, the Nook which is pretty close to (if a little hidden) the Last of the Summer Wine cafe.
In October Kim’s parents went on holiday, so we took the opportunity to pop down to their house one afternoon and brew ourselves a wheat beer. I won’t go too much into detail as the recipe for that brew is another blog post in itself, but it worked out well and has seen us all through this Xmas holiday. Here it is after the boil.
November saw us travelling for work again, but this time for Finest Imaginary Kim’s jewellery business, who were selling at Renegade Craft fair which was on the 9th-10th of November. We spent some frantic weekends before hand getting ready, laser cutting ALL THE THINGS! But as it always is, Renegade was great******, we got to visit Five Guy’s burgers with some crafty friends, popped into a Ripper pub and took a day to wonder round London, making for an awesome weekend. So it was rather sleepily that we embarked on the train ride home that Sunday night. As a reward we got a beverage each from M&S for the train, mine being the London Porter pictured below.
At the end of November, Kim’s brother James became a Dad for the first time! I know this has nothing to do with beer so to keep on theme, Kim and I did open the Port barrel conditioned Glendronach whisky we’d been saving for a special occasion to celebrate (and whisky and beer start out the same really).
Exhausted from big deadlines in ALMA astronomy land and from big sales in Finest Imaginary land the Christmas break couldn’t come quickly enough, but eventually it did. Once it had we managed to achieve a nice goal which was, now that she’s old enough to walk that far, walking Scout down to our favourite pub, The Grove******* and sat for a couple of drinks. Scout has been in and out of the Grove since she was old enough to go outside, as we’re slowly turning her in to a good pub dog, but being old enough to walk there means there is no need to stick to the low ABV beers and small measures. The picture shows Kim finishing off her Ringmaster and me about to start my Chipotle Chocolate Porter, both by Magic Rock brewery (which brews less than a mile from my house). The porter has as the name suggests a bit of fire to it and the Ringmaster is a great session beer, both recommended but I’d get the porter as a half to make sure you like it first.
Finally for beery pictures look what we made with the laser cutter that lives in our garage!
This is one of three we made with changeable beer names for the three hand pumps which live in Kim’s parents kitchen, (now known as The Lawler Taps). They formed part of Graham’s Xmas present and were ready and installed for the three beer barrels he’d brewed for over the holidays!
Well that was 2013, as viewed from the beers I’ve tasted. Hopefully 2014 will provide as much tasty beer and a few less stress inducing days, most of which I have left out of this post anyway!
*’Interesting’ in the Chinese proverbial sense sometimes.
** This time interesting in its usual sense.
*** Or if your first train is delayed soooo much that you miss your connection entirely. Its happened to me more than once… grrr trains… grrr!
**** We were near the water at the height of midge season and apparently I am irresistible to the little buggers!
***** This summers result was much better, especially as an Aussie friend and colleague was visiting Manchester.
****** and profitable!
******* I occasionally feel heavenly music should play when the words “The Grove” are spoken aloud.