Saturday, 8 September 2012

First Offbeat Firsty Friday

After visiting every one of Crewe’s forty-odd pubs – well, the ones that open during the week, that is – I found precisely none of them offering beer from the town’s own microbrewery. Offbeat, which operates from an industrial unit next to the West Coast Main Line on Thomas Street, is run by Michelle Kelsall (hence “great beer brewed by a chick”) and has been brewing for less than two years.

It's all about this kind of thing ...

But the six barrel plant seems to sell everything it produces, and the beers have garnered their share of awards. So it was with no little expectation that I set out to walk over – best travel option when it involves beer – to the brewery for their very first open evening yesterday. The weather, which has been indifferent throughout the summer, could not have been better. And there was a barbecue. With food.

A modest entrance charge of £1 was made, the beers were between £2 and £2.50 a pint – yes, seriously – and food was thrown in. What’s the catch? Well, there isn’t one, unless you have a problem with plastic glasses or enjoying hot dogs containing sausages made partly with spent malt from the brewery itself. Plus you could do a tour of the brewery, not that it’s a long job.

... which is brewed in here ...

OK what of the beers? I sampled five, and let’s just say that they are definitely as strong as advertised, if not more so, especially the stout. I started off with Outlandish Pale, a 3.9% bitter which set the tone – well hopped and tasty. Then, following a swift hot dog – that’s swift as in consumption, folks – it was back to the bar for a Kooky Gold, yet another of those golden ales, which is brewed with Cascade hops.

The only beer I wasn’t so sure about came next: Unhinged Ginger is, to no surprise, flavoured with ginger, but unlike Hardknott Cold Fusion, there is no subtlety in its presence. It’s uncompromisingly ginger beer (as it were). The Out Of The Ordinary Stout was excellent, but with a strength of 6.5%, to be treated with respect, as was the Out Of Step IPA, a 5.8% brew which continued the well hopped theme.

... and then served in here

Somewhere among all of that was another hot dog, a chat to other visitors, and a listen to the band who were playing in the upstairs of the brewhouse. All too soon it was time for last orders, as the bar closed at 2200 hours, which on reflection was a sensible idea. There was more than enough opportunity so sample any or all the beers on offer, and then plenty of time to wend one’s weary way back home.

How many were there? Scores of them. It was only a pity that the folks from Chester couldn’t make it, but I had an extra one to make up for them. That’s my excuse and I’m sticking to it.

My thanks to Michelle and her team for a very generous reception, which hopefully will happen on the first Friday of next month. This kind of event deserves your support. Find any reason to be in Crewe and turn up. You know you want to.

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