Loka Polly Tap Takeover Review:
Despite only coming into existence at the beginning of the year the Welsh brewery Loka Polly have made quite an impact in the craft beer world. Based in deepest, darkest rural Mold in North Wales the small team have created a range of tasty beers with the minimum of fuss, naming their beers after the seasonal hops and ingredients they use. This straightforward policy is already reaping benefits with the brewery being rated number one on the beer drinkers favourite app Untappd.
So highly regarded has the response been to Loka Polly that their beers have been reaching the length and breadth of the UK from Edinburgh to Cardiff, not bad for a brewery that isn’t even half a year old yet – one of their beers was even award worthy at the Chester Beer Awards. Therefore it is not surprising that a tap takeover at Kosmonaut would be upcoming.
Four beers were on tap, offering something for the discerning beer drinker. Starting off with the Simcoe Small IPA which is a perfect introduction to their beers. At 3.5% you wouldn’t really expect much but this Small IPA is a flavoursome session beer; starts off quite dry and is really quaffable – a great beer for the summer.
Next up was the Simcoe Waimea XPA which followed in the former’s footsteps as being another easy drinking beer. It has a slight citrusy lemon taste from the hops with loads of flavour for 4.3% beer, very smooth and light – again, another great beer for a hot’s summer’s day.
Star of the show for me was the Citra Simcoe DDH Pale Ale. This has lovely, well-balanced hop bitterness with some maltiness on the finish. Good juiciness to the fore with loads of juicy and spicy citrus upfront. Surprisingly the beer is only 5.4% ABV as it contains as much hop flavour as some higher ABV DIPAs. A fantastic beer.
To finish off was Azacca Mosaic India Pale Ale. A good quality IPA with the Mosaic hops to the fore (as you would expect). Fruity at first from the hops, with a dry, almost chalky, finish, with a good lingering bitterness at the end. At 5.9% again it packs a lot of flavour which you would normally associate with higher ABV DIPAs. This was my drinking companion’s favourite. Either way, I think there is a lot more to come from Loka Polly and you should definitely give their beers a try.
By Stephen Wilson
There’s a strange disconnect between what people think the Northern Quarter is like, and what it’s actually like. Outsiders might dismiss it as full of penny farthings and regrettable tattoo sleeves, but take a walk down the main strip on a Saturday night and it’s more Magaluf than Michael Gondry, full of lairy revellers in packed-out bars blasting out hip hop and house.
Thankfully, Kosmonaut has been fighting the good fight since 2012. Setting up shop in the then run-down end of the Northern Quarter, or as map-makers prefer to call it, ‘Piccadilly Basin’, it soon became a haven for middle-class millennials searching for their own little Williamsburg. Decked-out with the now-standard exposed brickwork and repurposed furniture, it gradually expanded, now consisting of three large rooms, each with their own bar. You’ll also find irregular comedy events and exhibitions from local artists – although, it must be said, peering at a canvas over a booth full of people drinking does tend to detract from the experience.
The bar is well-stocked, with an especially good whisky selection and extensive range of wine. The cocktails are, in the main, refreshingly simple, though crackpots can opt for the ‘Camping In Collyhurst’ which contains the curiously-unspecific ‘spice’ and fig. The beer selection is a cut above the usual thin corporate brands, featuring the ever-present Brooklyn Brewery (what else?) and a rotation of guest beers.
The venue is laid out well, with enough booths and tables to suit big groups and couples. There’s even a couple of vintage barber chairs. Why? Who knows, but they look nice enough. Kosmonaut were also an early adopter of the ping pong phenomenon – irritating as hell for those around you, but great fun for the grandstanding table tennis enthusiast. Night times can get busy, but the firm-but-fair door-staff do a decent job of keeping gangs of lads and ne’er-do-wells at bay.
A haven for middle-class millennials searching for their own little Williamsburg
As with most bars of this ilk, the main annoyance is the service. While the staff are cheery and chatty, it can take a frustrating amount of time to get served. Understandable on a busy Saturday night, less so on a quiet midweek afternoon. Is it a staffing problem or an annoying side effect of the laissez-faire attitude? Either way, for all their drawbacks, at least the more mainstream bars make the booze-money transaction as quick and painless as possible.
In the true spirit of gentrification, Kosmonaut brought a fresh vibrant feel to this neglected end of the city, and other equally-good bars and coffee shops, such as The Whiskey Jar, Takk and Pen & Pencil, soon popped up nearby. Recently, slow-on-the-uptake journalists from London and New York have proclaimed the Northern Quarter as the next big thing, but as newcomers, they fail to see that it’s more like a couple of Northern Eighths. The Kosmonaut end versus the Ibiza-lite end. Choose your poison.