Magic Rock Tap
To be honest, we aren’t that knowledgeable when it comes to Huddersfield. It’s hilly, has a train station, and isn’t too far from Manchester. Most importantly, it’s the home of Magic Rock brewing - producers of some of the greatest beer in the North of England.
2015 is a big year for these guys; they’ve relocated their brewery to a new site in “Huddy” with double the brewing capacity of their previous home. They’ve ceased bottle production and have installed a canning line, with tinnies to be available in the near future. The really big news is the opening of a brewery tap on their new premises, where you can get your hands on ‘Magic From The Source’. There are nine keg lines and two cask on show, with growlers for those who simply MUST drink Magic Rock at home RIGHT NOW.
We jumped on the Transpennine express to fill up a the tap. Unlike the Buxton Taphouse, Magic Rock is a genuine tap - an offshoot building from the main new brewery, part of a business estate a short walk from Huddersfield train station. The outside area is spartan, with German style beer benches arranged neatly under a few gazebos. Miraculously we visited on a clear day, and managed to catch the last rays of sun over the Pennines as we sat down for our first drinks.
We started with Dark Arts, a ‘surreal stout’ with clean red fruit notes and a dry crisp finish. Rapture was tasting great on cask, mellow and malty with spicy notes. It made Jack, our photographer, remember why he loves beer so bloody much.
Oh yeah - food vans. Friday and Saturday nights at the tap come with an outdoor street vendor, which seems like a pretty neat symbiotic relationship. On the night of our visit, Manjits kitchen brought us some tasty and cheap Punjabi flavours in the jazzy van pictured below. The spicy, oily and filling chana masala, onion bhajis and naan on offer were a welcome antidote to all the tasty beer we were forcing ourselves to drink.
Inside, the taproom is pretty industrial looking. Think clean lines, exposed brick, steel shutters, metal and glass, long benches. There are also playful touches, such as the beer bottle light shades and repurposed beer barrels. There’s plenty for beerios to look at, too. From the taproom you can look in to the brewery itself at the fermenting vessels and other gadgetry inside, almost suggesting that the beer is actually brewed into the keg line. Everything is tied together by slick branding, the entrance and toilet signage in particular.
The open plan, fixed seating encourages conversation beer hall-style. We got chatting to a bunch of people just through sharing a table; firstly some diehard beer nerds, and later a group of Huddlesfield locals who just came to drink some tasty beer. Unfortunately the number of seats is quite limited, so we had to wait a while to find a good spot to sit.
Once inside we moved swiftly onto Clown Juice, a much raved about India Wit Ale. This 7% brew combines the distinct aromatic flavours of a beer made with Belgian yeast with floral US hops. It’s a mad mishmash in your mouth of sweet orange and banana milkshake backed up by a big boozy body.
Next, Grapefruit High Wire. Maybe its testament to this particular batch, or the freshness and optimum condition of beer straight from the brewery, but this beer has a massive grapefruit aroma, which comes through in the initial tart flavour. The beer finishes like a drinkable US pale, with a good level of bitterness on the end. 13.5/10.
Towards the end of the session we paced ourselves with a few pints ofSimpleton. This is a 2.6% pale which tastes a lot bigger, with super crisp tropical fruit flavours. It was also priced surprisingly well at £2.80 a pint. In fact, all the beers were affordable (£2.50 cask, and only the big guns coming in at over a fiver a pint).
Affordable great beer can be a debilitating thing, however. It explains why I found I LOVE CANNONBALL scrawled in my notebook the morning after.
Is the Magic tap worth a half hour train from Manchester? Yes. Will we be returning? Well, the Tap is hosting the Northern Launch of the Transatlantic Rainbow project tomorrow, which goes to show that it has fast become a hub of beery happenings in the north.
Future visits seem inevitable.