Beer Cocktails and Reggae Pie at Hereford’s Latest Pub for the Craft Beer Connoisseur

The May Day Bank Holiday in the Hereford city centre was taken over by the annual Hereford River Carnival, which attracts tourists from afar with it’s unique and colourful celebrations.

The liveliness and atmosphere of the Carnival carry on into the evening at the various nearby pub restaurants and music venues who offer up an interesting variety of live music and dance music, some until the wee hours of the morning. It seems to have become a tradition, or perhaps more of an opportunity for the pubs to entertain the carnival goers who are wanting to carry on with their merry celebrations and benefit from the trade.

Firefly Hereford, Craft Beer, Local Herefordshire Cider and Ale, Bohemaian and Urban Uk Pub Vibe, Beer Cocktails
The Firely is located at 16 King St
Hereford, Herefordshire  Tel: 01432 358252

 

“Marcin Zachara has recently inherited the position of manager and is working on expanding the cocktail menu by curating his own unique beer cocktails that consist of spirits he infuses on the premises with either fruit, almonds, coffee, vanilla pods and other interesting additives”

I was one of those carnival goers looking to carry on where I left off, which in my case was co-hosting an acoustic live music stage at De Koffie Pot for the carnival. Don’t ask me where I found the energy, but I had compiled a list of various planned stops at all the venues hosting music and decided to begin in the Firefly on King Street. Well, I never left, I stayed until 3 a.m. deploying all my favourite reggae and dancehall dance moves, or perhaps they were ones I had invented in the moment – I really couldn’t leave and I really couldn’t stop dancing.

The Firefly Hereford just celebrated one year of trading and is the second location outside of the original location in Worcester, which is known for its quality craft ales and live music. The Hereford location received a warm welcome from the moment its doors opened and has developed a loyal clientele who enjoy the aesthetic of the pub created by owners, Mathew Pugh and Ray Velasquez, and the continuously fresh selection of incoming craft beers and ciders that make each experience one of inquisitive beer sampling leading to a pint of something to ponder over with your newly acquired craft beer knowledge.

STEERING THE SHIP

Firefly Hereford, Craft Beer, Local Herefordshire Cider and Ale, Bohemaian and Urban Uk Pub Vibe, Beer Cocktails
Photograph: Marcin Zachara

Behind every great pub is an experienced manager and friendly, willing bar staff to support the ideology of the venture. Marcin Zachara has recently inherited the position of manager and is working on expanding the cocktail menu by curating his own unique beer cocktails that consist of spirits he infuses on the premises with either fruit, almonds, coffee, vanilla pods and other interesting additives.

Marcin was fortunate to be given an opportunity to train with some of the countries best bartenders during his time at the Malmaison in Newcastle and is a true mixologist with an expansive imagination and flair for creating complementing alcoholic fusions. Myself along with two very discerning foodie friends were introduced to his beer cocktail fusions one lovely evening last week and I think we all still fondly savour them in our thoughts.

BEER COCKTAILS

Beer Cocktails at the Firefly hereford
Snail’s Cup Cider Cocktail Photograph: Catherine Jennings

We began with a ‘Snail’s Cup’ Cider Cocktail. Marcin combined gin he infused with lemon peel and cinnamon, the very tasty Herefordshire Snail’s Bank Pineapple & Pink Grapefruit Cider, (regularly available on tap), and topped it off with an extra crisp Prosecco. This cider cocktail was reminiscent of the summers one spends sipping on Pimms & Lemonade, but this cocktail has a bit more zest and edge to it. It receives a definite push as a summer favourite. This cocktail was priced at £5.

Beer Cocktails at the Firefly hereford
Kentucky Wonderland Photograph: Catherine Jennings

Then we bravely went on to try the ‘Kentucky Wonderland’ Porter/Stout Cocktail. This already looked like a proper gentlemen’s drink served in an old-fashioned bar glass with an orange peel. For this rather snazzy concoction, Marcin infused Woodford Reserve Bourbon with orange peels, coffee beans and vanilla pods. What a beautiful marriage of flavours! He then adds Thornbridge Brewery’s popular Cocoa Wonderland Porter  and tops it off with a splash of Coke.

The Cocoa Wonderland Porter has fast become a favourite of many and has a creamy chocolate taste with a hint of coffee bitterness. This cocktail was stunning and was not as rich as I expected it to be – it was balanced by the Bourbon and Coke. The selection of Beer Cocktails on the menu will change regularly, which in a way gives them an aire of exclusivity. I recommend you pop in soon to try one.

REGGAE PIE

So of course, on this River Carnival evening, I joined in on the Reggae Pie DJ Night and was mesmerised by the selection of reggae albums being played and the dancehall and ska that had me busting out my one of a kind dance moves (laugh with me readers). Reggae Pie is a collective of DJ’s who come together with their unique personal vinyl collections of previously mentioned musical styles and put on a pretty fierce night.

Early on in the afternoon, there were sets from Dr. Nico Demus Puffalot and Ally Baba in the beer garden, followed by live music from singing electronic keyboardist Regor followed by a beatboxing session from General Jams with whom audience members Mark Turner and Leo Bell joined in for some brilliant impromtu rapping. Once the music was moved inside due to cooling conditions, Owen Culture took over on the decks followed by BDS of Last Tree Squad. Finally there was the Idris Sound System trio with AshberB who came over from Aberyswyth.

The music carried until 3 a.m. and the Firefly soon was filled with like-minded punters joining in on the dancing, many who I recognised and realised were in a similar jolly state. Hereford has found its heart again and it is beating strong thanks to talented promoters like Reggae Pie and new establishments like the Firefly who bring their own kind of investment into our local culture, in this case, a pub with an urban and bohemian vibe that caters to people from the ages of 18 to 80. I don’t know if that is because Hereford is so isolated but young and old mix beautifully which is a sign of an intelligent, friendly and forward-thinking community. Who knew!

Happy drinking and dancing!

Visit the Firefly Facebook and Twitter Pages to find out more.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Last Tree Squad 2017 EP Launch at the Booth Hall Filled the House

 

LAST TREE SQUAD EP LAUNCH LIVE AT THE BOOTH HALL HEREFORD

17 March 2017

Review by Gavin Brown

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Heading a lineup of fresh talent of varied musical styles, Last Tree Squad brought the good-time vibes to The Booth Hall for the launch of their new EP. The crowd inside were witness to an almighty example of energetic live performance throughout the night, culminating in an impressive display of musicianship, charisma and moving the crowd from the headliners.

 

Last Tree Squad 2017, the Booth hall, Hereford
Last Tree Squad

REGGAE PIE

Upon arriving at The Booth, we were treated to the sounds of the Reggae Pie DJs who were reliably dropping dub, reggae and jungle bombs in a fashion that really set the scene for the night ahead with the bass rattling, exactly as it should be.

COOSIE

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With the bass still resonating through the walls of The Booth, local MC Coosie from Verbal Highz took to the stage and dropped a concise but effective set of beats, rhymes and life that showed off his lyrical prowess with knowing mentions of everything from Shrek to Madeline McCann and adding effects with a little toy horn, he demonstrated a wry sense of humour throughout the set. Coosie definitely got the live aspect of tonight’s show off to a flying start.

ESKE FORTE

Eske Forte, Last Tree Squad 2017, the Booth hall, Hereford

As the interim dub classics erupted and then subsided, it was time for Esk Forte to take the stage for the next portion of live entertainment. Armed with a guitar, saxophone and a sublime voice, she was reminiscent of Laura Marling in her early days but with a lot more attitude and vigour, and captivated the audience with that spellbinding voice. Alternating between playing the songs with the guitar and the saxophone showed how talented she is and the set was a joy to watch, the only thing wrong with it was that it wasn’t longer.

RUCKA SMALL

Rucka Small, Last Tree Squad 2017, the Booth hall, Hereford

Following Esk Forte wasn’t an easy task but Rucka Small proved himself to be more than up to the task with the rappers double-time style of emceeing going down a storm, a style that reminded me of one of this country’s finest rappers, Skinnyman, partly because of the double-time style but also the delivery and lyrical content, which bordered on the humorous at times, especially when he declared he’s got “bite like Tyson” in a hip hop moment straight out of 97 that still sounded fresh!

Rucka Small was joined towards the end by Last Tree Squad man BDS to hype the crowd up a little more, which definitely worked as he rattled off his quick-fire rhymes to serious applause and ended a great set on a high.

CUT LA VIS

Before the night’s headliners took to the stage, the man that is Cut La Vis demonstrated his formidable DJing skills as the bass heavy cuts kept coming in fast and heavy; this proved to be the perfect opening to Last Tree Squad kicking out their jams.

LAST TREE SQUAD

Wasting absolutely no time at all, the six-piece (featuring Esk Forte among their ranks) raised the energy levels even further with an enthusiastic approach to their craft and those energy levels stayed risen for the remainder of the night.

Wasting absolutely no time at all, the six-piece (featuring Esk Forte among their ranks) raised the energy levels even further with an enthusiastic approach to their craft and those energy levels stayed risen for the remainder of the night.

Blasting out memorable tracks from the EP as well as other cuts, Last Tree Squad proved how good a live band they are with every member of the band firing on all cylinders, ably led by BDS whose passion on the mic was suitably impressive and constantly hyped up the crowd.

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Last Tree Squad’s BDS 

Between the music, the stage chatter was constant with usual suspects, Theresa Dis-May and Stig Trump (as BDS put it) were ridiculed with the frontman declaring it as being “like Thatcher and Reagan all over again” to mass applause and sending a message of good vibes over war and hate as well as a closing impassioned rant against the manufactured music industry and all the X Factor rubbish.

Last Tree Squad put on a hell of a show, and their sound, one that takes in reggae, dub, hip hop and jungle, delivered with an infectious lust for life that was so enjoyable to listen to and the enthusiasm of the crowd was testament to this.

Seek out the brilliant EP, and seek out Last Tree Squad live as it is an experience not to be missed out on, one that was rapturously received tonight at The Booth accompanied by a strong supporting bill. It is nights like this that are needed to keep live music alive.

Images: Booth Hall Photography, Nick Vidal-Hall

You can also pick up a printed version of this interview in April’s Slap Mag (Free)

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