Wilson Potter Brewery

OK, so there's a little admission to make regarding this visit. It wasn't on the bike.

Not that we weren't up for cycling to Middleton to see Wilson Potter, on the contrary, we were quite looking forward to it.

But fate was not to be on our side. My clumsiness was, however. 

Couple of nights before the visit I was servicing the brakes on my bike and, well, I managed to trap my finger in the front wheel breaking the tip of the bone and pulling off my fingernail in the process. Result was I ended up my middle finger in a rigid bandage rendering my left hand pretty useless.

So rather than postpone, we resorted to a (say it quietly) car to get to the brewery. Doubly frustrating as it was the monthly brew tap that day too - if public transport hadn't been so woeful, we could have made an afternoon of it.

Anyway, on arrival we were welcomed in by owners and brewers Amanda and Kathryn. The 6BBL brewery based on a small industrial estate on the outskirts of the town was set up by the former teachers in 2011, and they produce a wide array of full-flavoured session ales. Keep your eyes peeled for them on cask around Manchester, or grab yourselves some bottles - we recommend a visit to the brewery for a selection box!

Anyway, for the last time this year (more on that below), we'll hand over to Amanda (Kathryn went and hid!) to tell you more about Wilson Potter...

Music - Anitek 'Mannequins' www.soundcloud.com/anitek

By the way...
Last video blog of the year this one folks. We have actually got our visit to Brewsmith in the bag as well, but with that being a brewday, it's going to be a little different (and longer than usual) to the regular videos, and being honest, we haven't got the time before the end of the year to edit it! Few other bits coming up on the blog before the year is out though...


The Big Hop Newcastle - Out There Brewing Co

Here's an interesting fact to kick off our last instalment of our Newcastle visit...

Owner and brewer of Out There Brewing, Steve Pickthall, set up Microbar in London with his brother Jeff* in 2001, specialising in imported craft beers before the term ever existed. That's right, Steve and Jeff can be said to have brought the term 'craft beer' to the UK whilst creating one of the first true bars in which to get it. So ask them what the definition of craft beer is - it'll probably be the most definitive answer you'll ever get...

Only a short run from Almasty, Out There is located in Ouseburn, just a stone's throw from The Free Trade Inn, so very easy for us as our last call on what had been an amazing visit to discover some of Newcastle's indie brewers.

Steve set up his 2.5bbl kit in a cosy little unit in 2012 after a deciding to make the move into small batch brewing. The brewing equipment almost has the same retro feel to it as the superb branding (courtesy of designer Ben Murden), with a very 50's early space exploration vibe - along with some of the choice of beer names. 

Steve told us that before we interviewed him that we were going to be interviewed. A new one on us. Was Steve wanting to turn the tables? A brewer turned blogger? 

No, as it turned out he had had a call from local publication Cheers North East enquiring as to whether he had any news for the next issue. Clearly seeing an easy side step, he mentioned that we were popping down and that we might be something of interest to their readership? So, not long after arriving, we met editor Alastair Gilmour, who was kind enough to feature us in the September issue - fame at last, eh!

After our interview, Steve packed us off with a couple of bottles each, as well as a taste of an unlabelled matured specimen that he'd had lurking in the cold store for a while. I forget the name (I don't think Steve was 100% sure either!), but it tasted sublime.

As ever, we'll leave the real detail to the video, and our questions posed to Steve!

Interview starts at 2:10 if you're not so bothered about us and the Byker scenery. 

Music is 'Disclosure' by Anitek www.soundcloud.com/anitek

*Jeff is a member of the British Guild of Beer Writers, and there's not much he doesn't know about beer. Enjoy his blog over here, and also Pump Clip Parade - his exposure of the torrid world of sexist and tasteless pump clips!



The Big Hop Newcastle - Almasty Brewing Co

We were a little late getting to Almasty from Anarchy.

Not because we didn't know the way, no. 

Mainly because having stopped for a puncture repair on Nick's bike, I'd managed to drop my phone on the verge when I thought I was slipping it back into my rucksack pocket. That would have been fine, had I noticed. 

I didn't though. Not until we'd had to stop again, 3 miles on to properly repair Nick's puncture. After a frantic (as you might imagine) search through all my rucksack pockets, shorts, jersey and every other conceivable location upon my person, I concluded it must have fallen out somewhere on route - but definitely since we'd previously stopped as I'd been looking at my phone. So back through Wideopen we pedalled (a place name now forever branded in my memory), looking hopefully in the gutter and roadside for what I was sure was no doubt the smashed remains of my poor phone.  

There was nothing.

Until we got right back to where we'd stopped and there, face down in the grass lay my bloody phone. The stupid hunk of electronic uselessness.

Still, a couple of extra miles in the legs, and  slightly raised blood pressure never did anyone any harm, did it?

Anyway - grovelling lateness text sent ahead, and back on course we made it to Almasty, based just outside of Newcastle city centre about half an hour later, to meet owner and brewer Mark McGarry.

Almasty is probably the 'newest' brewery we have visited, in terms of how long it's been up and running, with it's official launch only a month prior to our visit  - in the form of a soft launch of two of the beers on tap at The Free Trade Inn.

Almasty is a one-man operation. That one man is Mark, former head brewer at Tyne Bank Brewery (and prior to that Mordue Brewery). We were very grateful that Mark had offered to take a break from his very busy schedule to have a chat with us - no mean feat when you are responsible for literally everything in the 10bbl brewery and everything that comes with it!

After our chat with Mark, and a sneaky taste of his Session IPA (mind-blowingly good with a great citrus punch to it) we got out of his way as quickly as possible. We offered a pathetically small bit of assistance to his huge workload by taking a couple of the coveted Almasty pump clips to the Free Trade Inn for him on our way back. These screen printed slices of tree trunk (see picture above) really are things of beauty, apparently frequently disappearing from pubs all over Newcastle!

Anyway, over to Mark, and his experiences of setting up a new brewery...

We heartily recommend seeking out any of Almasty's beers should you be up in that neck of the woods. Bang 'on trend' (for want of a better description), big flavoured, bold brews. Favourite for us had to be the Sorachi Saison which we sampled in Dat Bar - a solid, honest to goodness example of exactly what a saison should be.

Ride detail available here. Part of our route from Jesmond out to Morpeth and back.

Music - 'Contact' by Anitek - www.soundcloud.com/anitek

The Big Hop Newcastle - Anarchy Brew Co

So here we are on our third stop of our Newcastle brewery tour - Anarchy Brew Co in Morpeth.

If there was an ideal and idyllic location to cycle to to visit a brewery, this was it. Once we were out of Jesmond and into the Northumbrian countryside, the sun came out and so did all our fellow cyclists. Plenty of quiet country roads complete with chugging tractors and rolling fields. It was definitely our highlight of the cycling on this trip, and a gave us great taste of the cycling that's on offer in Northumberland. 

All that said, sadly it was only a relatively short ride of 16 odd miles to the brewery so having only just got into the groove, we were no sooner arriving at the Whitehouse Farm centre, with the 10bbl brewery nestled amongst the shops, cafe and farm zoo!

We were warmly greeted by Andrew, with whom we'd arranged to meet and interview in the absence of the brewery owners Dawn and Simon, who were taking a well earned holiday. Andrew gave us a quick tour of the brewery, before lining up a couple of beer samples whilst we set up for the interview. He informed us that Anarchy started life in 2012, and now produce a staggering number (13 according to the website!) of big flavoured beers, ranging from their citrus based session 'Blond Star' up to the face-slapping 10% 100 minute IPA 'War Head' in cask, keg and bottle. Our favourite had to be 'The Algorithim', a super Belgian wheat beer brewed in collaboration with a French band called, you've guessed it, The Algorithim, which hid it's 6% strength far too well. Good job we only had a third...

Now, with Andrew not being the usual subject of brewer or owner in front of the camera, our line of questioning was a little different than the norm but we're sure you'll enjoy it as much as usual - Andrew is extremely knowledgable and enthusiastic about all things beer. Check out his blog Oh Beery Me (especially his Beer366 project...)

On to Andrew then, and his wise words:

Hope you watched it right to the end...

The ride is part of our three brewery circular day trip, Anarchy being the first out in Morpeth. GPX available here.

Music - Antiek 'Dogma' www.soundcloud.com/anitek