Shameless Fictional Beer

The bril­liant Muse­um of Sci­ence and Indus­try in Man­ches­ter has an area put aside for dis­plays about spe­cif­ic com­mu­ni­ties in the city. When we vis­it­ed (this week­end – we’ve just got back) it was Wythen­shawe’s turn. Because the Chan­nel 4 show Shame­less is filmed there, they had a dis­play of cos­tumes and props from the show, includ­ing some bril­liant fake beer cans.

Any­one fan­cy a Stel­berg Louis or an Ash­bury Export?

We’ve writ­ten about fic­tion­al beer before and we’re not the only ones who are fas­ci­nat­ed by this kind of thing.

Lots more on Man­ches­ter to fol­low in the next day or two.

JW Lees, at last

We’ve been want­i­ng to try some or any of Man­ches­ter brew­ery JW Lees’ beers for a while now, but they don’t turn up in Lon­don much. This week, I (Bai­ley…) final­ly got the chance, tak­ing Tan­dle­man’s rec­om­men­da­tion of a trip to the Nether­ton Hall near Frod­sham, Cheshire.

It’s been refur­bished in the last month and is now a very classy, very cosy flag­ship JW Lees pub. There’s a por­trait of Mr Lees him­self over the fire­place, which is nice. It’s obvi­ous­ly also a with its eye on din­ers, but not in a way which is like­ly to be an issue for even the most sen­si­tive gas­tro-pub hater (there was an uncom­fort­able look­ing skin­head­ed lad who’d been forced into a pair of slacks and a shirt pre­tend­ing to be a wait­er, but that was about it).

The beers on offer were the plain­ly named Bit­ter (4.0%) and two sea­son­als – Autumn Glow (4.2%) and Plum Pud­ding (4.8%).

Autumn Glow was a nice starter, served with a creamy sparkled head and pleas­ant­ly soft around the edges. It was rem­i­nis­cent of anoth­er beer, but the sim­i­lar­i­ty took a few sips to pin down. Fuller’s Jack Frost? Maybe – there was some black­ber­ry flavour there, amongst the crys­tal malt. But no: with eyes closed and imag­i­na­tion engaged, it could have passed for a very light-coloured Ger­man fes­t­bier. At any rate, very nice and quite com­plex.

Plum Pud­ding was a stun­ner – very fruity, but not at all sick­ly. A bit tart, if any­thing, and rem­i­nis­cent of Lief­mans Fram­boise. The best and most bal­anced Eng­lish fruit beer I’ve ever tried, any­way, and one which Boak is now keen to have a crack at. it would mull nice­ly, too!

Drink­ing these in com­plete­ly the wrong order, it was Bit­ter to fin­ish. Is it a dull, or was that just the con­trast? It got bet­ter when the head had was out of the way, start­ing out as bor­ing Bom­bardier or Spit­fire but fin­ish­ing more bit­ter and fruity, like a less in-your-face ver­sion of Plum Pud­ding. But who knows for sure? My taste­buds were shot by this point, and I’d failed to bring the pre­scribed dry bread, bot­tled water and spi­toon…

Read Tan­dle­man on Plum Pud­ding here. Oh -- and Lees grip glass is very pecu­liar, like some­thing an alien would drink out of.