Bunbury’s Rauch off and a dash through Chorlton

February arrived with a summing up of the last couple of days of January. Ended up in the Wilton Arms on Belmont Rd, Bolton on Saturday evening. They always have York brewery Guzzler on in the Wilton and I made enquiries as to the link. It turns out that the Wilton is owned by Mitchells of Lancaster who also own York Brewery. Turns out that I have been in quite a few of other Mitchell’s pubs in the Carnforth area as well as one or two in York. We are planning our next work’s do for York. May will mark our 3rd birthday trading at Farmers’ markets and a York should provide a good beer playground for a couple of days. I was in the York Brewery Tap over the new year and I am looking forward to heading back and exploring the city. In the meantime, my father-in-law happily dug into a pin to Guzzler. 3.8%, light and fresh. Good and reliable pint from their 20 Barrel plant near Mickelgate.


We then started on the Bank Top Flat Cap and Coniston Blue Bird. Most of our meal was then taken over with lively debate on county boundaries. We only sell Lancashire beer on our stall and include Coniston within the Lancashire boundary. We only recognise the proper boundaries which run from the River Mersey to the Duddon. Coniston Old Man is the highest point in Lancashire. Not a lot of people know that.


Coniston and Bank Top. Lancashire beer side by side

I ended up sending a case of Park Utd ale up to the north east. The lady who took them had come back for more and said that it was delicious and reminiscent of the beer she used to drink up there with her dad as a young woman.

Park Utd are a local junior team playing within the Halliwell area at Smithills. They have a long a distinguished history with old boys including Julian Darby and Terry Connor. My son now plays for them and Park was a beer we bottled to help raise a bob or two over Christmas. It was nice to send them over a healthy donation which will could help towards their planned tour this summer. Looking forward to it myself. I will be searching for little breweries in Ireland before we go. 12313990_670355646440713_8682035159189418346_n


On Sunday afternoon, I popped in to the Unicorn Coop in Chorlton. It is many years since I have been in and it was bustling. It reminded me of an organic store we go in when visiting family in Geneva. Funnily enough, quite a few of the beers seemed to be the same. The pool of organic beer seems to be small. As always, I was looking for something local and the nearest i could get was a Liverpool Organic Imperial Stout.


Across the road, is the Marble Beer House and it would be remiss not to pop in. Quick half of an Earl grey IPA on draft whilst settling in and then a Antipodean on keg. I thought I might grab a bottle to take home and asked for a Wild Beer Ninkasi. The till rang up at £10.35 for a 330ml bottle. £10.35. One for another day.


A bit of brewery business during the evening. It is a year since we received our license to sell online and the bill to renew came from the council followed by a BACs payment to Matt at Rammy Craft for the 8 cases I picked up a couple of weeks ago. We are slowly updating our systems to keep our brewing records online. Slowly, slowly but getting there. It will make life easier when we finally submit our accounts.


A colleague at work said that she had found a new pub that I might like. We went round the houses a bit and eventually it turns out that she has become a bit of a regular at Bunburys on Chorley Old Road. People seemed to know that Daryl is putting on a pin of Manchester Imperial Stout from Rammy Craft. ‘The strongest beer ever sold in Bolton’ is how they described it. I am not sure that is true but it is good. We have sold a few bottles of 24% Rammy EisBeer in our time. Freeze distilled in Ramsbottom and the key ingredient in Rammy Bombs.

Called into Bunburys on Friday. I was a day late for Daryl’s Rauchbier-off between DUB and Torrside. I still had half each and settled down after a long week at work. A good place to just sit for a while.

Daryl handing over a Torrside Franconia. It got my vote.

Daryl handing over a Torrside Franconia. It got my vote.

I enjoyed both smoked beers. One on keg and one on cask. In the end, the Torrside would have got my vote. The smokiness suited the cask rather than keg and was subtle and more in the background. I would have happily settled in for a few but I needed to get on, picking up a couple of bottles for later.


Bunburys – A good place to sit down for a while and choose a couple to take home for later.

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Park Utd – Bottled to support our local lads

It has been our great pleasure to support local junior football team, Park Utd who play their home games within the Halliwell area at Smithills.


Park Utd are a team with a long and distinguished history. From their website:

Anyone who grew up in Bolton playing or watching local amateur football from the early sixties through to the early nineties will have heard of or indeed played for or against the Institution that was the original ‘PARK UNITED F.C.’

The club was founded at a local hostelry ‘The Park Hotel’ Bridgeman St, Great Lever in 1964 and from those very humble beginnings they became the most successful local football club over a thirty year period in both the Bolton Boys Federation and the Bolton Combination until time was sadly called in 1993.

Park was a huge part of the ‘Winrow’ family football life and was responsible for so many happy memories and lifelong friendships along the way.

The club philosophy was ‘Be successful but in doing so enjoy yourselves’ and when we first discussed forming the team this immediately came to mind and from then on there was only ever going to be one name……..


Park United F.C . ( Revived 2012)

Jon Winrow


We bottled an old and Parkuliar ale to sell to at Farmers markets and locals over the Christmas period and were pleased to be able to make a donation to help the team make ends meet. The lads are a credit to everyone involved and have exciting plans for the summer.



Symbiotic relationships in Hindley and beyond

Tuesday saw me wandering around the Hindley area of Wigan looking for a decent pint. A good few pubs to choose from but most have standard fare and they are about something other than beer. That is fine by me and the average punter by the looks of things. It is a shame. I would like every pub I walk into to have a row of hand pumps and interesting beer from close to home but it just isn’t the case. I entered a couple only to do wander out out again. Thank the Lord for the Hare and Hounds where I settled in the end. Started off with half a Chinook from @EllandBrewery and watched the first half of the Liverpool game. I was the only person in for a little while and this, I believe is to do with the chinese chippy across the road. When it is shut on Tuesdays, trade is quiet. When it is open again, people combine the two. A good symbiotic relationship. I would choose a chippy so that I could pop in for a decent pint whilst waiting.


That symbiotic relationhip is something that Phil and I often chat about. Sue’s chippy in Bolton and the Bank Top Tap is a classic example. They feed off each other. I was also pleasantly surprised when Angelos opened up in Egerton. It is next door to the Masons Arms and didn’t have a license. We walked in and booked our table. It was then suggested that we might like to wait in the Masons and the waitress came and got us from there. Brilliant.

The chat all started through Wilf’s Cafe and Hawkshead brewery in Staveley (Still Lancashire)I have been going into Wilf’s with my dad for years. After a days walking, we would often stop off at Wilfs on the way back through. Imagine our delight when they knocked a doorway through into the brewery next door. Two superb providers (Wilf’s food is very good) and Hawkshead. We now tend to order our food and go and sit in the brewery and the food is brought through to us.

The line up of pumps in the White Lion was interesting and I plumped for a half of ‘Rule of 72’. Nice and hoppy and I was tweeting happily about it when the phone went behind the bar. It was the owner of Allgates chatting about an order and asking who the bloke was in the bar sitting tweeting. The great thing abut twitter is that it often gets you straight to the person in charge. I like it in the Hare and Hounds and if I am looking for an interesting pint, I will be back.


Wednesday was another League cup match and I sat at home and grabbed a bottle of Rammy Craft’s Coconut Porter. Now to be honest, when I reach for a bottle, I tend to let my hand find its way towards whatever I fancy at the time. Plum, Blackberry and Sloe stouts and porters seem appealing but the thought of a coconut porter doesn’t have me licking my lips and reaching for it uncontrollably (It does happen).

I tend to like all Matt’s beers and we have a case of this for our next market and it is important to know what you are purveying. I am glad that I did. It was really good and hit the spot. It is rich and slightly sweet with a hint of coconut without being overpowering. It reminded me of something I really enjoy but couldn’t nail it down. Sort of a grown up bounty but that doesn’t do it justice. It wasn’t too sweet or cloying. It was much more subtle than that. Another winner from Matt.


On Thursday, I called into the Brewhouse (Dunscar). It is a while since I have been in for a pint and I was pleasantly surprised about the range. It has gone more eclectic. A range of local hand pumps and a Tiny Rebel from further afield. Reedley Hallows, Bank Top, Tiny Rebel, Moorhouses and Prospect were either on or settling. All we need now is a couple of local keg beers and it will be a real destination. Enjoyied a @tinyrebelbrewco Cwtch.  A red ale made from 6 malts and 2 hops. 4.6% and bags of aroma. Maybe too much for some. Hopheads drink. 12645145_1543902122588860_4763499849806478062_n

Then a Winter from BowlandBrewery. Straw coloured, light and fresh. Not the heavy ale I was expecting. Should read pump clips more carefully.


Always nice to let them know I appreciate their beers via twitter and Facebook.

You can keep unto date with our brewery and stall news by following us on twitter and liking our Facebook page.



Allgates Sloe Stout in the White Lion, Leigh

I found myself back at Bunburys (Chorley Old Rd Bolton) for the 2nd Friday on the trot. Good way to catch up local beer scene and chat with owner Daryl. Sitting on the bar there is a half a Hook Island Red (Five Points Brewing Co) which Daryl had on keg. 6% Red Rye Ale made with Chinook, Columbus and Simcoe hops. I get a call from Phil whilst in there asking to pick him up 3 beers for later so chose a couple of Blackjack (Manchester) and a MadHatter (Liverpool).

CYx4N7vWcAAroLwGood chat with Daryl about the history of Bunburys. We are deep in Halliwell territory here and I can remember this shop being many things before he picked it up and turned it into a cool micro pub and bottle shop. He had been out on a bottle buying spree visiting Chorlton Brewing Co and Beer Nouveau and we swapped tales of visits and beers drunk.

Daryl had also dropped in on Marble and come away with a nice selection for his shelves. He isn’t the first to stock Marble in Bolton though, he said. Marble told him that that honour went to someone called ‘Crafty-Ales’. Nice to be first at something. Marble always goes down well on our Lancashire Beer stall. He had picked up a few bottles of a Swedish/Marble collaboration with All Grain Brewery.


Called innate Phil’s on way back to drop off his beers and ended up sampling. The All Grain Collaboration. One sniff and transported to…….e did it independently of each other and both came up with same word. Brewdog. It took us both back to a long night in Brewdog as we gradually worked our way through their stronger beers. I will be back to see Daryl soon for a bottle of Marble Earl Grey IPA. As good a beer as there is.


We loaded up ready to brave the weather for January’s Houghton Tower market but the snow got the better of us. Lucky that beer keeps well in the bottle. Not so good for our friends with fresh produce who turned up only to find the market cancelled.

A Tuesday evening found me visiting the White Lion in Leigh for a chilled out hour. I am gradually getting to know the pubs in this part of the world and had hard about the White Lion through a few twitter posts. I was the only person in for a while and enjoyed a half of 7.2 Sloe Stout (Allgates -Wigan). Deep, rich and moreish. Excellent. Then a quick half of 3.8% California (Allgates again). £1 for half. I will be back. Spent a pleasant hour, reading and watching Emmerdale.


Wednesday found me having pint of Bad to the Bone (Bank Top-Bolton) in the Finishers Arms (Church Rd-Bolton). It is a popular, busy pub in a residential part of north Bolton. Halloween again. I used to walk past every day on my to school. It has just benefitted from a refit and has beers from Thwaites, Bank Top and Blackedge on year round. It was pleasant to sat for half an hour reading Jon Ronson’s Shamed in the corner.


Saturday and I tapped our test brew of Really Bitter. Made to please my dad. He likes a bitter bitter and this does the job. made with Pale and black malts and bittered simply with East Kent Goldings it does what is says and it is what it is. 4.5%.



The first pint went down well. That bitterness brings you back for more and the second pint went down just as well. A good sign so doing your way soon.

You can keep unto date with our brewery and stall news by following us on twitter and liking our Facebook page. 



Bunburys. A good place to just sit down for a while

Started off with a trip to the Bank Top Brewery Tap on Belmont Rd on a very rainy Thursday evening. No matter what time I go in the Tap, it always seems to have a bit of a buzz going on and tonight was no different with Dave Sweeney in his place at the end of the bar keeping things ship shape. I am always surprised at the demographic in the Tap. Not sure why but the place always has a good atmosphere of chat and laughter. No juke box. No TV. Just conversation.

CYIv6u0WwAArlBi.jpg-largeI plumped for a pint of JB (Juniper Berry) and very nice it was to. Got involved in a bit of twitter chat with Dave. Whinberries are the thing in this part of Bolton. Some say that Winter Hill is a derivation of Whinberry Hill. A good pub discussion. They also say that Sharples and Smithills are derived from Sharp Hills and Smooth Hills too. Dave says if I can pick enough, he will brew it. Fair play but if I can pick enough, I will be brewing it myself. I like in the Tap and will be back soon.

Next day found me in Bunburys (Chorley Old Rd, Bolton). I know this area well and people kept telling me about Bunburys but I ended up googling it. I had driven past a few times. It is so unassuming. A bit higher up than Morrisons on the left hand side. I liked it straight away and settled for a pint of OffBeat Kooky whilst perusing the shelves. Took home a FUBAR, A MadHatter, Sorachi Face Hugger and a DUB Fire and swapped numbers with the guy behind the bar.


Daryl wasn’t in so I came back the next day! Took Phil with me, met Daryl for a good chat and sat listening to the Bolton/Eastleigh cup match with a few worried locals. Good place to spend the afternoon and pick up a few more bottles.


Returned home with a few ready to get on with the brewery accounts. We have been trading as a brewery for a year and needed to get things in order, Ampulla and Red Bank invoices in evidence amongst many others.


Thirsty work and it was good to test the MadHatter Facehugger against a Rammy Craft Nihon Hanna. Loving the Sorachi. I gave the face hugger to Phil blind and asked him to identify it. No mistaking that distinctive Sorachi taste.


The following Wednesday, I met Matt from Rammy Craft in the Hare and Hounds, Holcombe for a swift half. Good to catch up and chat about the battle that the small brewer faces against the might of the big boys who fill up cellars by offering deals on multi buys. Also had a good chat with his brewery liaison officer from CAMRA and picked up 8 cases of different beer. A good trip all round. A new one for me was his Extra Strong Oat Mild. It has that Oaty stout thing going on without the bitterness so pretty much exactly what you would expect from the name. Good drink.


Cracking our first ever bottle

We bottled our first ever commercial brew a week ago and since then there have been 6 bottles staring at me from the corner of the room. I managed to create a rationale for opening one today. We think that it needs a month or so in the bottle before we begin to sell it but it will be interesting to see how it changes over time.

Phil called in on his way home from Morrow Bros where he had been picking up our first firkin and we cracked our first bottle.

There was a slight fizz as the cap went off and we were pleased with the conditioning after just a week. It is a ruby coloured mild and we were aiming for 5%. We made a basic error and diluted to achieve an OG of 1.060 rather than wait until after fermentation to make the adjustment. We had a 1.070 OG beforehand and would have achieved the 5%abv no problem.

In the end we have a 4.7% mild and first impressions is that it is immediately quaffable. Slightly sweet and toffee notes, slight bitterness and decent mouthfeel. The finish is non-existent and it will be interesting to see how that changes over time. Looking forward to brewing this again with a bit more punch.

The birth of a brewery

The decision to start our own brewery has been a little while in the making. Since starting to get to know a multitude of Lancashire brewers we have been chatting about it on and off  and then it all came about quite suddenly. Once the decision was made it was about the process of being legal and above board.

It seems such a big and complicated thing to do but really it is just a set of hoops to jump through.

We were determined to make this self-funding from the outset. No cash injections allowed. We intend to learn and grow organically. We are in no rush and want to enjoy the ride. We have been selling local beers at markets for around a year and a half and in that time have built up a bit of knowledge about the things that people like and we have made enough friends to help us out if we hit a stumbling block or two.

You go through the whole licensing requirements. Being a personal license holder was a requirement for our market stall. Then there is the premises license process. If you intend to sell your beer direct to the public at any point then the point of sale needs to have a premises license. I ended up sending the same license application off to 9 different departments within the local council on the same day as well as putting a notice in the local paper. Not a cheap exercise.

Then there was the requirement to register as a food producer with the local council complete with inspection and food hygiene rating etc. Registering with Customs and Excise is also a requirement in order that you pay the correct amount of duty on the beer you produce and sell. Then there is getting your head around all the records that they expect you to keep.

Preparing a HACCP plan (google it) and Standard Operating Procedures to ensure that your customers are safe are also required.

It has been quite a learning curve but one that can be done if it what you really want to do. In retrospect, we are glad that it is difficult otherwise everyone would be doing it.

At every point we have been met with generosity from the fantastic brewers of Lancashire. We have every intention of carrying on promoting beer from the whole of Lancashire through our Lancashire Beer Stall

We are about a fortnight away from putting on our first brew which will be a good old fashioned mild. Come and see us on our Lancashire Beer Stall.

You can keep unto date with our brewery and stall news by following us on twitter and liking our Facebook page.

The Lancashire Beer Circle is a Facebook group aimed at connecting Lancashire Brewers with Lancashire people. The chat is warm and friendly. Come and join in, you will be made very welcome.



The Holy Well Inaugural Pin is born

Great excitement as I picked up our first pin from Morrow Brothers. I was there to see it being banded and plated.

IMG_2530IMG_2522A big moment for us. It makes us feel proper. Something about having your name plate spot welded onto the pin. Looking forward to filling it with our first brew.