NottsBrew Tips for the Nottingham Beer Festival 2011


Well, Nottingham CAMRA released the list of 925 beers click this text to view it!
So here are our runners and riders for the festival, after-all horse racing and beer festivals are very much alike, they’re always full of people who don’t really know what they’re doing, and some mare always ends up on its back.

We will be tweeting live from the Nottingham Beer festival 2011, get involved! tweet us your tips or ‘avoids’ to @NottsBrew or leave a comment here!

I’m not bothering recommending reserve beers as nobody knows when they will be on, but Hoppkins is, so there will be a couple in the mix but if there’s an obvious omission (ie last year’s winner Kipling) this may be why. A few perhaps ‘expected’ breweries are not represented this year at the festival, maybe some of them spent too much time calling everyone ‘scamp’ and constantly trying to sell them shares (even when like me, you’re already a shareholder!) Recent Sheffield festival 2011 winners Bradfield’s omission reminds us all we need to go to Sheffield now and again!

So without further ado, here are our sure fire ‘no lose’ tips on this once again world record breaking festival, (short printable list at the bottom of the page)

Milkmans’ Tips in Black Hoppkins’ Tips in Blue

Castle Rock

002 Harvest Pale 3.8%
006 Screech Owl 5.5%

Ok it’s entirely lame to recommend this beer really given that you can get it from pretty much most Nottingham pubs! (certainly all Castle Rock establishments) but it did win national beer of the year 2010, and for that reason it deserves a mention.

Nice and strong, very hoppy and totally excellent.

Brew Company

038 Cut Throat IPA 5.4%

Ah the Brew Company, one of Sheffield’s many fine breweries and brewer of one of my favourite beers of 2011, they only have 2 beers here, expect them both to sell out quickly.

Full Mash

078 Bhisti 6.2%

This very beer kicked my arse last weekend at the Portland Arms, deliciously drinkable (perhaps too much so) tread carefully!

Thats a lot of IBUs (International Bittering Units, basically how bitter the beer is) The average is between 40-75 I would say for regular beers and IPAs. One i will be trying for sure.


082 Dodgem 4.7%

Always loved funfair ales and dodgem is one of the best. Nice, pale and strong.


225 The Leveller 4.8%

Another one that’s quite easy to get round Nottingham but it’s a very accessible and delicious dark beer.

Blue Monkey

303 Infinity 4.6%
Guerrilla 4.9%
Big Blue 6.8%

Ah Blue Monkey with your cheeky new mini, both Infinity and Big Blue are freely available at the Organ Grinder (the blue monkey flagship pub) but make no mistake both are knock out beers, especially the Big Blue weighing in at 6.8%, as with Full Mash – Bhisti, take it easy!

Infinity is without a doubt in my top 10 beers of all time, grapefruity and refreshing! Guerrilla is one of the few darker ones I can quaff with reckless abandon.


314 Vixens Vice 5.2%

Had it fresh in the Fox and Crown, a delight with curry. Failing that fine without!


333 Golden Bud 3.8%
337 Golden Bud Speciale 5.8%

Speciale is one of my favourites and it’s good to see it back year after year, a delicious drink and if it’s a bit too strong for you try its younger brother.


366 Cleopatra 5.0%

Complex and fruity, one of few beers good in a bottle as well as cask, my favourite from the Derventio stable

Great Oakley

401 Wagtail 3.9%

Last year Wot’s Occurring was the best new beer I had tried at the festival, alas it doesn’t appear to have made it back! They do have 6 beers on mind (400 -> 406) I chose Wagtail because of the NZ hops. I wouldn’t blame you for trying more of their beers though!

Hook Norton

413 Hooky Gold 4.1%

Hook Norton do a steady range, Hooky Gold gets the tip of my hat for this one, edging the also consistently good Old Hooky.

Dancing Duck

442 Nice Weather 4 Ducks 4.1%

Described as fruit salad in a glass though I don’t personally think it’s quite that extreme, but if you don’t like fruit salad maybe give it a miss, unless they took the blacks out, or is that midget gems? I dunno.


456 Hoppit 3.5%
457 Hullabaloo 4.2%
459 Bamboozle 4.8%

Boy do I like Loddon beers, consistently superb and the 3 above I have had on numerous occasions yet they have never disappointed, just great and unfortunately hard to get here in Nottingham, be warned, they usually sell out quickly for this reason.


475 Raspberry wheat beer 5.6%

Potentially hit and miss, when its good…its good when its not…well you get the idea


483 Responsibly 4.4%

I touched upon this beer earlier in the year, it’s a top pint and well worth checking out, I look forward to reminding myself just how good it is!


498 Potbelly Best 3.8%
502 Crazy Daze 5.5%

Potbelly are another firm favourite of mine and their entire beer range is generally excellent, and be warned, these also tend to sell out very quickly!


513 Rebellion IPA
514 Rebellion Mutiny 4.5%

Another favourite making a triumphant return, as with the other popular excellent brewers these sell out very quickly!


536 Iceberg 4.1%

Years back I thought this was rubbish, turns out I had a bad pint, even in bottle form this is a wonderfully crisp beer, razor sharp and thirst quenching.


573 Sequoia 4.5%
579 Jaipur 5.9% (if you’re new to this and have never tried it)

Oddly last year’s beer of the festival Kipling is on the reserve list, it’s pretty much a sure fire bet that this area will be sold out by Friday unless they have reserve barrels (likely) I love and hate Thornbridge, they’re the Manchester United of real ale.


583 Knights Tale 3.9%
587 Dolphine 1530AD 4.4%
588 Legend – 4.0%
590 EPA 4.2% 

Supreme? no they still don’t brew it, swines! So I suppose we all have to ‘make do’ with the rest of their range. They will bring back Supreme someday though, infact if you buy a Nottingham beer ask them to brew it again! (supreme that is, not the beer you just bought)

EPA as always a firm favorite of mine. Pale and delicious, Legend is one of those greats you can just drink and drink, always worth a go and increasingly hard to find.

Magic Rock

676 High Wire 5.5%

Magic Rock are already making waves despite being a relatively new brewery, I’m hoping to try some of their other beers, but High Wire is definitely one to recommend.


711 Alma’s Brew 4.1%

The sublime Heavenly Blonde would have to be on bloody reserve wouldn’t it, oh well ‘make do’ with Alma’s Brew, which I tip as slightly better than the often spotted round Nottingham Old Boy.

Prior’s Well

718 Gardners Tap 3.8%

I had no idea these guys where from Nottingham, I have only seen their beers sold in Sheffield! Regardless I have had Gardners tap twice and it’s a top drink, they have quite a range on so give the others a try too.

Steel City

743 Westby Rant 5.2%

Where the hell is Steel City’s superbly named Masters of the Spooniverse!? gutted, I could have a rant about that, but instead you can try a Westby Rant, terrible link and I’m off to hang my head in shame.


911 Quantum 4.5%

I have had numerous Acorn beers and they have all been excellent, I have yet to try Quantum but unless it tastes of the dishwasher powder of the same name, it’s a safe bet.

Dark Star

913 Hophead 3.8%

A very popular brew this and it’s not hard to see why, this is there only beer on at the festival so expect it to sell out pronto.

NottsBrew no lose super beers in printable form!
Milkman = Black – Hoppkins = Blue

002 Harvest Pale 3.8%
006 Screech Owl 5.5%
038 Cut Throat IPA 5.4%
078 Bhisti 6.2%
082 Dodgem 4.7%
225 The Leveller 4.8%
303 Infinity 4.6%
304 Guerrilla 4.9%
306 Big Blue 6.8%
314 Vixens Vice 5.2%
333 Golden Bud 3.8%
337 Golden Bud Speciale 5.8%
366 Cleopatra 5.0%
401 Wagtail 3.9%
413 Hooky Gold 4.1%
442 Nice Weather 4 Ducks 4.1%
456 Hoppit 3.5%
457 Hullabaloo 4.2%
459 Bamboozle 4.8%
475 Raspberry wheat beer 5.6%
483 Responsibly 4.4%
498 Potbelly Best 3.8%
502 Crazy Daze 5.5%
513 Rebellion IPA
514 Rebellion Mutiny 4.5%
536 Iceberg 4.1%
573 Sequoia 4.5%
579 Jaipur 5.9%
583 Knights Tale 3.9%
587 Dolphine 1530AD 4.4%
588 Legend – 4.0%
590 EPA 4.2%
676 High Wire 5.5%
711 Alma’s Brew 4.1%
718 Gardners Tap 3.8%
743 Westby Rant 5.2%
911 Quantum 4.5%
913 Hophead 3.8%

I ain't tried these, roit?

Tips from the world of Twitter

@Davomanic  @NottsBrew why are there no @BuxtonBrewery beers on the recommended list? Wild Boar and Axe Edge are sublime! Ah well, I’ll drink ‘em…
(Wild Boar is 347 and 5.7% Axe Edge is 348and 6.8%! POW!) 

@bluemonkeybrew Just tasting the Guerrilla Whisky Cask – @nottinghamcamra Beer Festival goers are in for a treat – it’s awesome!
(a Blue Monkey Guerrilla special in a whisky cask then!)

@simonhjohnson @NottsBrew Hopshackle Aniseed Porter and Resination, especially the latter. Fantastic West Coast USA-style IPA
(108 for the porter, and 109 for the Resination, 7.0% though!)

Beers I am suggesting purely on speculation or a good name! (I have yet to try these and will be working my way through myself!) at least you can tweet us your thoughts if you try any @NottsBrew


047 Mad Dogz IPA 3.8%

As a life time Notts fan ‘Mad Dog’ Martin Allen has been a breath of fresh air at meadow lane, will his namesake be as good here? A dry Golden IPA suggests so.


055 Billy Nomates 4.8%

Oh Billy, sitting in the corner alone, IPA with New Zealand hops suggests this will infact have quite a few mates.



A Die hard reference! I don’t really care that it has strong fruity floral aromas, ‘next time you have a chance to try this beer, don’t hesitate’ – ‘thanks for the advice!’


144 Goldilocks & the 3 beers 3.6%

A cheesy name with 3 malts and is a refreshing golden ale, sold!

North Riding

149 Pedros Shorts 3.7%

Nelson Sauvin is a green light for me, as is working with a man called Pedro who recently had to stop wearing shorts due to a company clothes policy, couldn’t make it up!


549 Honnibal Necter 5.0%

Honey, citrus and bittersweet assumedly no cannibalism is involved.


640 Sonic Encouter 4.0%

The program notes say this ‘A new beer, brewer has no idea of taste!‘ what kind of idiot sends a beer without a clue of its taste? A BALLSY ONE THATS WHO, and that’s why I am recommending this, so what if it transpires to actually tasting like balls.


716 God’s Own Ale 4.2%

Blimey don’t be subtle about it! you’re like one of those overly proud parents to toot your horn like that, unless you’re referring to the 1991 amiga game by the bitmap brothers, I tell you what I’m just going to pretend you are and recommend it.

Exclusive : Inside Blue Monkeys new powerhouse, The Organ Grinder

The Organ Grinder opens this Friday at 4pm, with free pork pies assumedly while they last!

Organ Grinder

There’s been a lot of talk, and given our web stats a lot of interest in Blue Monkeys new flagship boozer The Organ Grinder; head honcho John Hickling himself was kind enough to let us have a nosey round and answer a few questions this afternoon.

Blue Monkey Organ Grinder bar

8 pumps, beers facing away on the corner right are the regular Blue Monkey beers BG Sips and Guerilla

4 Blue Monkey beers will be available, 2 rotating and 2 regulars. The other 4 being proper guests, not just sourced from around Nottingham. John himself was enthusiastic about the selection, with beers and lagers (more about that in a moment) coming from all over the place backed up by a landlord with over 30 years experience, 2 of which running the award winning Crown at Beeston, it’s not hard to see why!

Money is being talked about more than ever, if you want a cheap pint Batemans XB is always on at £2.20 a pint, it’s a steady drink, and that’s a good price for the budget conscious, Blue Monkey beers vary in price but the excellent session beer Original will be £2.50 a pint, again a reasonable price, and if you can’t get a good pint of it here I don’t know where you will.

Lager lager lager...

A highly polished (literally) section of Lagers and speciality beers accompanies the ale selection. And yes, that's Jaipur on nitrokeg, somewhat of a wild card! Be warned though, typical speciality beer prices.


Constantly rotating cider and perry.

Being a freehouse allows you to do what you wish with your drinks, and it’s nice to see such a fine selection of lagers, ciders, and fruit wines, these are often overlooked by other pubs. The saying goes you can’t please everyone all of the time, but they’re giving it a go! They’re even going to be doing tea and coffee…

A proper fire

Yes that burner works, and will be on "as soon as it's cold enough"

Work was still ongoing during our visit, but it looks set to be easily one of the best pubs in Nottingham and is likely to be the jewel in the crown of a canning circus pub crawl that must be looking more and more tempting than ever!

Doors open Friday 24th June, 4pm

Address: 21 Alfreton Road, Nottingham.  NG7 3JE.

Opening hours: From Midday every day.

Manager: Angus Clark

Click for official site.

Blue Monkey to open flagship real ale pub, “The Organ Grinder”

View our exclusive look inside by clicking here


UPDATED PIC AS OF 25th May 2011

Looks like The Organ Grinder is coming along!


Recently on the way to work I noticed a certain closed down pub near Canning Circus (*COUGH* The Red Lion) had a familiar logo in the window as below:

Ok, its blurry…I was in a bus so sue me…if you need a further clue as to which brewery is taking over this pub how about this

If you need more clues then you must be colour blind. I dont mind hiding i’m totally stoked about this being a huge fan of the Blue Monkey Brewery…

Blue Monkey have taken over ownership of the red lion pub near canning circus and are totally rennovating it into a real ale haven. John from Blue Monkey kindly shared this press release with us.

Stay tuned for more news as we get it and obviously stay tuned for a review of the pub as soon as it opens!


The Organ Grinder Comes to Canning Circus!

You may well have heard the rumours about Blue Monkey opening a pub in
Canning Circus, and we can officially reveal that they are true. The Red Lion
at the bottom of Alfreton Road (opposite the Running Horse) has been bought
by the brewery. They have renamed it ‘The Organ Grinder’, and are investing
a significant amount of money to totally renovate it and turn it into a Mecca for
real ale fans. The new pub looks set to build on Canning Circus’s cracking
reputation for real ale, and should be a real boost to the area.

Blue Monkey’s John Hickling said “We’re currently doing all the structural
stuff that’s been neglected for years, such as re-tiling the roof, sorting out the
electrics and installing a new heating system. Next we’ll be moving on to the
décor, which needs a lot of work. We’re aiming for a proper ‘pub like’ feel to
the interior, but with a modern twist – anyone who knows how grotty the pub
was when it closed six months ago will be in for a pleasant surprise! I love
real fires in pubs, so we’ve opened out the old fireplace and fitted a lovely cast
iron log burner, which will be roaring away come Autumn.”

“I’d like to think that Blue Monkey has a great reputation for brewing
consistently good beer, and I’m absolutely determined that we’ll carry that
forward into selling and serving beer in a first class pub. So the first job was
to rip out all the beer dispense equipment which was filthy, and start from
scratch. Unusually, we’re paying for all the cellar and dispense equipment
ourselves, so we’ll not be in any way tied to a particular brewery or distributor
– it will be one of only a few genuinely free houses out there. The plan
is have the best range of ales in Nottingham, kept and served in perfect
conditions. I think we’ll launch with 8 ale handpulls, maybe 10 if I’m confident
that the turnover of beer can justify it. The pub has a massive cellar, cut
deep into the sandstone, so it’s perfect for a real ale pub – having plenty of
storage space we’ll be able to make sure the beer is really well conditioned
before it goes on sale. Obviously we’ll have plenty of Blue Monkey beers
on, but also about half the pumps will be given over to other great breweries
from near and far. I want to make the ale range really distinctive, so we’ll be
going to quite some effort to bring in beers that you won’t find anywhere else
in Nottingham. As for other drinks, we’re still finalising the details but we’ll
definitely have several unusual real ciders and perries available, a distinctive
range of keg beers that you’ll not find elsewhere and a quality wine range
available for the non ale drinkers.”

All being well, the pub will be opening in late June. At the time of going to
press, a manager is still being sought for the pub so anyone with solid pub
management experience, a great personality and a passion for real ale should
get in touch with John at Blue Monkey if they fancy a new challenge.




Interview: Blue Monkey Brewery

The Blue Monkey Brewery are a small and relatively new  microbrewery originally based in Ilkeston but whom have now moved to newer and larger premises in Giltbrook, Eastwood.

Blue Monkey

They have already wowed the brewery community by winning no less than 3  medals in the 2009 SIBA awards for:

Overall Champion of the Competition with “Blue Monkey – Guerrilla” (Gold)
Porters, Strong Milds, Old Ales & Stouts with “Blue Monkey – Guerrilla” (Gold)
Strong Bitters  (5.1 – 5.5%) with Ape Ale, Strong Ale” (Bronze)

I was fortunate enough to get an insight into how Blue Monkey came about and a bit about them from John @ Blue Monkey

1) When did you first start brewing?

What kind of brewing was it? Was it a kit? How did it go?

When did you switch to mashing and what made you switch over? How did that turn out?

I started brewing about three years ago in my kitchen.  I did all grain right from the start, as the point for me was to learn the full process and to try to make better beer then I was buying elsewhere.  I don’t think you can do that with kits.

2) What made you pack up the IT business for brewing?

I was just bored of sitting at a desk all day doing something that didn’t particularly interest me.  I found myself sitting at my desk at work daydreaming about my next brew rather than working, which led me to wonder whether I’d be better of brewing for a living!

What was the biggest challenge of starting up Blue Monkey?

Getting the funding together, and taking the big step of quitting a good job to do it.  After that step, everything else falls into place simply because you have no choice.

3) How did your family react when you told them you were opening a brewery?

I think they thought it was just another ‘scheme of the week’ until I actually quit my job.  Then they thought i was nuts!

4) How have you coped with the recession, increases and other misfortunes of the economy?

We’ve had no problems at all.  I started the business right at the start of the current recession, so it’s all I’ve known.

5) How are you finding the new premises?

Brilliant.  We were so cramped in the old place, so it’s great to get some breathing space!

6) Any tips on novice brewers hoping to move into the world of microbrewing and replicate your success?

Brew great beers and get the branding right, and you’ll be OK.  It’s surprising how many start-ups don’t seem to get this.  Also, it’s not as cheap as you think it is to set up a brewery- I’ve had a lot of people come to visit me who want to get a brewery up and running, and they all have totally unrealistic budgets!

7) How do you view other similar sized microbreweries? As competition? Or allys against the evil forces of huge commercial breweries?

A bit of both, really.  It’s a very friendly industry, and whilst other small breweries are very much our competitors we also help each other out.

8 ) Whats the farthest afield one of your beers has travelled?

I know a few have gone to Norway, but thats about it.  We dont do bottling yet, so we are limited to how far a cask can travel.

Keep your eyes (and Bananas) peeled for more news on the Blue Monkey Brewery here on Nottsbrew!

For more info on Blue Monkey you can goto their website here Blue Monkey