January round-up and a guest blog

It may have escaped your notice, but the year changed. We skipped from a number to another and celebrated with due mayhem. And as customary, when we were living up the last minutes of the year, we all reminisced the past 12 months and how they affected our lives, and planned (even if we did so in secret or only ‘ironically’) the next year with wistful dreams of success and better times.

For the Chester Beer Scene, last year was pretty amazing. It saw some new and old legends behind the bar reappear to where they belong, the rise of a new city based brewery, several successful beer festivals, new beer bloggers and beer clubs and countless pints of extraordinary beer emerging from different venues. Indeed, 2013 was a remarkable year all around.

We here at CBB HQ especially enjoyed the return of the prodigal son, Aki, to the Cellar bar. We’ve always raved on about how much we enjoy their brave take on the beer selection and more often than not you’ve found us hanging on the bar for dear life after tasting too many. But after Aki’s return, the beer has become even more outrageous and more rare and carefully selected treats have made an appearance. Tom’s favorite moment was when Marble Brewery’s Earl Grey, a tea based brew appeared on tap, and we all remember the consequences of this as well. When asked about how Aki would sum up last year, he exclusively revealed to us that “this is just the beginning”.

Alex and the brewery
Alex and the brewery

Another great event which got our beer antennae twitching was Redball Brewery launching in the revered Kash Bar. For a long time, Pied Bull Brewery dominated as the only city based brewery, only to now be challenged by a new and potent competitor. Alex, owner and head brewer of Redball and the original Blueball brewery didn’t see that as a negative aspect. “We make different kind of beer. Pied Bull concentrates on traditional English beer whereas Redball’s inspiration comes from the states.” With the location right in the bar, Alex also gets to return to what he loves the most, which is brewing exceptional beer. Having launched Kash22 in Frodsham earlier in the year and running another successful bar in Chester, it’s obvious that it might take his eye off the ball (see what we did there) and give him a plateful of things he needs to concentrate on, but placing his new brewery to the heart of his business (where its goods are consumed) gives Alex the chance to concentrate on his craft.

New beers!
New beers!

Alex also appreciates the diversity of the Canal Quarter, the residence of the ale giants of Chester, Kash, Artichoke and the Cellar. “We all have a different market.” He said. “None of us do the same thing, we don’t really compete with each other for custom. We all have out own niche and we all do it very well. It’s also great for the customer, there is something different on, for every taste.” With the launch of Redball, we will also see special feasts with carefully matched beers take place in Kash, and later in January the winners of competition to name the new tipples will be announced. Pair this up with the possibility to join Alex as he brews the beer in his bar and learn about the brewing process and you’ve got a certain hit. “Nowadays people are more interested in where the beer comes from, how it’s made and what ingredients you’ve used. This gives them the opportunity to really get involved in the process.” Said Alex. We most certainly will be taking him up on that.

We did ask Nev, head of the ever steady quality beer supplier Artichoke what did he think of last year and what did he want to see in the coming one, and his response was “Wish I had made more Lego chairs, next year, will make more Lego chairs.” We didn’t take him seriously until he showed us pictures of Lego chairs. So, there is that to look forward to, too.

New and old beer clubs have also brought joy to many a beer lover during last year. The rebirth of CBAS was a welcomed event and seeing it steadily head the beer appreciation around Chester was something that was sorely missed while the club took a hiatus. But 2013 also saw the rise of a new beer club, with a different take on beer tasting and presentation. Underground Beer Club took the cellar of, well, the Cellar by storm and provided a different kind of experience to those craving for unique beers. We also saw new beer bloggers emerge and are happy to announce that despite rumors, there is no bitter rivalry between us. We all have a common goal, which is to promote and celebrate Chester’s unique beer scene and work together to achieve that.

So, what are we looking forward to during the coming year? With this solid of a foundation to expect great things, we can only hope thing get even better. We hope to welcome more people to the folds of beer lovers in 2014 and raise a pint to the year just gone.

But now to something completely different. We were unable to attend Beer Without Fear II due to work commitments, and therefore shamelessly recruited our official mascot to slave… we mean blog the event for us. Below is the account of Vikki the Vamp, notorious beer lover and guest blogger extraordinaire. Enjoy!

How to banish the post-christmas blues

Beer Club Tubed ll

Having attended beer club in December and being introduced to some superb ales, Christmas ale by Anchor being my personal favourite, I was looking forward to the second event with great relish and our Hosts the Andrews sisters did not disappoint the beers varied in style tastes and strengths.

First half gifted us with some sublime flavours from @sirencraftbrew Aussie sound wave IPA @drinkmoorbeer  Hoppiness IPA interesting note this is brewed without finings so has a natural cloudy appearance which  does nothing to detract from the sublime taste (don’t send beer back because it has a cloudy appearance) And @redchurchbeer Great Eastern IPA  all great beers.

Just feel the love

Half time we treated to  some mighty meaty morsels from Adam Prior his scotch eggs are legendary, you can get them in the bar in The Cellar,  he also offered up  ‘man quiche’ (with credit to his missus for the concept)  with mass amounts of bacon and apparently black pudding  by this time I was a lil too tipsy to notice. Keep an eye out for Priors Pies in the near future they’re sure to be epic.

The (un?) Holy Trinity of the Second half

The second half we had the delights of three beers from the @WildBeerCo all very delish and very different and apparently very limited and not available over the bar as Yorkshire Aki has his personal stash and isn’t sharing 😉 and dear reader I do not blame him my personal favourite was the Ninkasi Premier Cru and as the name suggests it has more than a hint of Champagne about it, very easy drinking at a lethal 10% a beer to savour not to down.

One question that the evening raised for me was why so few women? I feel this needs addressed, it’s all well and good being awarded a metaphorical beard by the Andrews Sisters but dammit girls where are you? We need to represent! Beer is good y’all and far from the Tetleys/John Smiths of old… There’s all kinds of beers these days  including  tea based beers (Marbles Earl Grey is a mighty brew)  in fact one of the ones for #beerwithoutfear ll had hints of champagne about it come down on the 10th of February and let your taste buds try something different and shake off the ‘glass of wine for the lady’ image 😉

It was great to put faces to names for some of twitters Chester Beeratti some of whom I’ve been talking to for months via twitter so thank you to Andrews sisters for another great evening I look forward to Beer without Fear lll with beery anticipation and baited breath.

Much Loves from @vikkithevamp aka The Mascot x

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