Thursday, 26 April 2018

Where the magic happens

I've been very lucky in my life so far to travel to some great places and enjoy some pretty awesome experiences but there are some wonders in this world that, have so far eluded me; Machu Picchu; the midnight sun, the Temples of Angkor, Tottenham beating Chelsea at the Bridge in the league and, until a couple of weeks ago, the Magic Rock Tap.

It may have taken us nearly three years since they first opened their doors, but the long Easter weekend meant the the Ewing and I finally had the opportunity to make the short detour down the A642 to Huddersfield, while en route to my aunt and uncle's in Leeds. And, after all the anticipation, I'm damned if I'm not going to write something about it despite the beer making things a little fuzzy (don't worry, I wasn't  behind the wheel...)

While it may have been a short detour from our usual route, sitting in slow moving traffic through all the 'smart motorway' roadworks on the M1 hadn't left me feeling very clever. So hooray for beer, the  cause and solution to all life's problems (credit to Mr Simpson), that made the snaking traffic of a bank holiday weekend seem like a distant memory, We even got a bonus group of rowdy accountants enjoying their office party, who were pretty amusing once they moved out of my way to the bar.

As you might expect, there's quite the selection to ponder over, with 10 keg lines and and five on cask plus a variety of limited edition tallboys and core range cans in the fridge. I fancied something frothy and refreshing to start, so kicked off with a pint of hat trick on cask. Described as a 'town pale ale', it's brewed in association with Huddersfield Town to commemorate their three league titles and is only available locally. While it remains a difficult subject in the 'craft' world, I like cask beer, and Magic Rock make some of the best.

The Ewing went straight in for one of the big boys with a third of Hedonic Escalation; a tropical IPA released only a week earlier that's 'judiciously hopped with Simcoe, Ekuanot, HBC 438, Huell Melon and Motueka and fermented with Brett Trois', a complicated description for a beer that was simply excellent, with all the tropical fruit flavours that hop heads love.

They also serve food, with a commendable section of crisps and snacks behind the bar and a Tap Yorkshire ploughman's with Bolster Moor Farm pork pie, honey roasted ham, Wenslydale cheese; or vegan curry and samosas served from Tuesday to Thursday and homemade pastries also available of Wednesdays. 

At the weekends there is a ever-changing selection of vendors who pitch up in their yard but, being as it was Easter, Sabroso Street had rocked up a day early with their jazzy ex-horse trailer serving Mexican-inspired street food.

To start we shared some freshly fried tortillas with guac, soured cream and pickled jalapenos. A tried and tested combo that makes the perfect foil for a coldie. I also tried the chicken tacos; Mexican shredded chicken with guacamole and a lime salsa; that were a little underwhelming, even with a good shake of chipotle sauce and more chopped chillies on top.

The Ewing's pambanzo - a broiche bun stuffed with shredded confit pork, pink pickled onions and more guacamole - was back on the money. Salty, smoky, fatty, spicy; perfect beer fodder. I'm hoping she might put a comment here and elaborate on her dinner a little better than I can as I was well into my ale by this point.

Amongst the other beers we tried, I liked the Chronostasis; a classic west coast inspired IPA with a hefty lick of bitterness; and another newbie, Mind Control; a DIPA mashed with oats and wheat for a smooth and creamy mouthfeel that belied the 8 per cent abv.

The Ewing also couldn't resist their Engine Engine Number 9 on keg, their take on a berliner weisse flavoured to taste like cherry cola; a fascinating a beer I've had before on can and which tasted even better here. Hiding in the background are a couple of extra cans I picked up for my uncle and cousin. While it was pretty tough to part with them, there were plenty of cold beers in the fridge ready for us on our arrival in Leeds.

Fortuitously, in a twist I hardly dreamt possible, not only did we have a Great Friday with our visit to the Tap but less than 48 hours later, I got to watch Spurs (alas not in person, but on the sofa at my Aunt and Uncle's, beer in hand, which is the next best place) finally stick it to The Blues in their own back yard. A mere 28 years since Gary Lineker scored the last winner. Even Jesus would struggle to pull off a miracle like that for Easter Sunday.

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