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Wednesday, 24 August 2016

Kelham Island Brewery... Another excellent ale!


Drinking in the Dolphin Inn, Rock-a-Nore Road, Hastings, as I often do, and yet another excellent ale imbibed earlier today, brewed up in Yorkshire, by the brewery I used to work for quite a few years ago when I was a postgraduate student up there... Kelham Island 45 R.P.M. (4.5%), brewed with hops from 3 continents! I have to share this, being the decent person that I am, as only 1 firkin available at the Dolphin, and, it did go on today, but will go very quickly, take my word for it...

My notes... the first sense used was smell, and what a gorgeous aroma! Citrus plus plus plus... this is a very dry bitter pale ale, plenty of citrus in the flavour, particularly citrus, mostly grapefruit, and my notes say "LUVVERLEY" which is what it is, and I drank more than just the one pint!

Sunday, 21 August 2016

CAMRA Great British Beer Festival 2016


OK, I've taken a while to write this, but I can only say that I have quite a few other responsibilities too, well, that's my hogwash out of the way, so, to the beer festival, and ale! We were a wee bit concerned about visiting this year, mainly because of industrial unrest on Southern Rail, but we came up anyway by way of South Eastern, so to Charing Cross rather than Victoria, that is, Mark, Dermot and myself.

I'll start at the very beginning, and have to admit I pretty much enjoyed every ale, but, after collecting my Festival pint glass on entering Olympia, I first tried the Marble Lagonda IPA (5%) and eventual Bronze winner in the Golden Ale category, this was an excellent first choice! Nice body, grapefruit flavour, dry and bitter, my kind of ale!

People happy to be here, mostly!

From that bar, I moved on, my next ale was another quality brewer and ale, from the Welsh brewers of the 'Supreme Champion' last year, Tiny Rebel Juicy (4%), a brand new seasonal ale with "American" hops, which does what it says on the label, intense tropical and citrus fruit flavours and a lovely dry bitter finish; a brewer that continues to not disappoint!

I then had another seasonal ale from another of my favourite brewers, from Yorkshire, Ilkley Summer (4%), with Citra, Chinook and Galaxy hops from the USA, a fruity refreshing golden ale I could drink all day, but I couldn't this day, as I had so much more to choose from...

This bird doesn't look so happy!

After being chased off by the big bird, we went on to our first free drinks... I'll have to explain a wee bit about this first. Dermot and I had accompanied Mark, a local pub landlord to us down in Hastings, with free entry to the festival on the Trade Day, so many thanks to Mark for sharing with us, cheers! And our first free drinks were courtesy of Harvey's of Lewes, who had supplied us with the free trade passes, so many thanks to them too! The others had some darker ale, may have been the Dark Mild, but I had the hoppier golden ale, Armada Ale (4.5%), not as fruity as many of the golden ales, but nice and bitter, cheers to Harveys!


My next ale was from another Yorkshire brewer I trust to provide excellent ales, and they certainly didn't let me down, this was Salamander Blondie Pale Ale (4%), not Debbie Harry on the pump clip this time, sadly, though an interesting adaptation of Botticelli's Birth of Venus... This Blondie was another lovely dry pale golden bitter ale, true to West Yorkshire ales, indeed!

From one Italian job, to another Italian Job (5%) from Cornish brewers, St Austell, brewed with Sorrento lemons and Mount Hood, Waimea, Dr Rudi, and Pacific Jade hops from New Zealand, a pale new-style IPA with lemon in the aroma and taste, unsurprisingly. This was another free drink, luckily, Mark knows the local rep, cheers again to him, and to her!


On to an ale from Grantham in Lincolnshire, and a brewer I haven't drunk anything from for years, but only because I moved to where I don't see their beers, sadly. This one was Oldershaw Sorachi (4.2%), brewed with the Sorachi Ace hop, which was originally developed in Japan in 1984 for Sapporo Breweries Ltd! Another golden ale with a lemon aroma, (are you getting an image of what I like here? Though I usually prefer the 'grapefruity' hops), pale and quite bitter, nice...

But to my favourite ale of the day, and from the other side of the Pennines in Lancashire, Pictish Citra (4.5%), obviously brewed with Citra hops, hence the strong citrus aroma and lemon, grapefruit and peach in the taste. Another pale golden ale with a lovely dry bitter finish, loved it!


But it wasn't a nice pale dry bitter than won the CAMRA "Supreme" Gold award, nope, it was something much darker, hence my not having drunk any of it, but the Berkshire brewers Binghams Vanilla Stout (5%), you can guess, dark and infused with vanilla pods, congratulations to the Binghams lads! A quick mention for the overall Silver award winner, Kent brewers Old Dairy Snow Top (6%), a winter ale, so 'seasonal', just not this season; see an earlier blog of mine for my opinion, it's pretty good!


I can't believe I only drank 8 different ales at the beer festival, though we did sample some of each other's ales during the afternoon, but there was an excellent choice of food too, much more than I can remember from previous years (best was an amazing Game Pie!). I met some old friends from when I lived up in Sheffield and elsewhere, nice one! And, walking back to Earls Court tube station we did pass the last abode of Harold Laski, an old political and academic hero of mine, which was interesting...

If you've read my recent blog you'll know where we went drinking near London Bridge Railway Station, ie Borough Market, a good time was had, cheers!

Friday, 19 August 2016

Wandsworth Council come up trumps!


Nice one Wandsworth Council... I have to admit to being a wee bit surprised, but where praise is due I'm happy to pass it on! 120 pubs and bars in the borough have been told they wil have to seek permission from the Council before they can change the use of the building or knock it down, as we have seen happen in recent years, this has been presented to the owners as Article 4 Directions (see website). 

Pubs include old favourites of mine, the Bricklayers Arms in Putney and The Falcon at Clapham Junction, and also 2 pubs I used to frequent that are not open at the moment, the White Lion in Putney and the Brewery Tap in Wandsworth, which has been closed for many years now sadly! 

Made my day, cheers!

Wednesday, 10 August 2016

Pre-Sequel: After the Beer Festival 2016


On the way back home from the 2016 CAMRA Beer Festival yesterday evening, we had our last pints (and shared a cheeseboard), before catching our train back to Hastings, at the Market Porter in Borough Market SE1, where I drank a pint of G2 Brewing (website) Vella, a 4.2% golden "blonde" bitter, not too bad, with a dry finish. Beforehand, we'd drank at a bar I personally prefer in the area, though with only 3 ales at a time, a more interesting selection usually, though, plus all sorts of cask and craft beers, where we had our penultimate pints...


ie The Rake (website), on the other side of Borough Market, which has a nice view of Southwark Cathedral, and which was where my great-great grandparents were married before it became a cathedral many moons ago! Here we'd all drank the 4.2% Crouch Vale (websiteYakima Gold (4.2% also), named after the Yakima Valley (which was named in turn after the Yakima Nation, whose reservation is on the east side of the Cascade Mountains), here is where the Amarillo hops used for this ale are grown. Indeed, 77% of all U.S. hops are grown in the Yakima Valley, and many grape vines too! I've had Yakima Gold in many different bars and never had anything but a great pint or three, samples of my notes say "fruity, quite bitter, excellent"; "refreshing and very pale, fruity bitter with peach aftertaste, very good"; "genuine pale bitter, lovely stuff indeed!"

Another wonderful thing about drinking here was that, despite my mate telling me I'd paid £1.05 a pint more than I had (!), and I apologise for anything I may have said detrimental following our many ales imbibed beforehand, we were served a quality ale by quality bar staff, in this instance, the very wonderful, patient, and beautiful Alex, at about 17.15 (09/08/16), please give her a pay rise (!); and I understand there is more than just the one Alex working here!

Anyway, more to come about the beer festival itself, very soon...

Friday, 5 August 2016

South East Sussex POTY again!


Congratulations, yet again, to Louisa at the Tower, London Road, St Leonards, Hastings, for winning the local CAMRA Pub of the Year again! I've made 2 trips there recently, just to make sure, of course, nothing to do with excellent ales at good value prices, oh no... Anyway, both trips 6 ales from handpumps, none more expensive than £3 a pint, can't be bad, and all in good nick too!


The ales are mostly from local brewers, her 2 regulars being the excellent, and Sussex brewed, Dark Star (website) Hophead (3.8% and £2.80/pint) and American Pale Ale (APA, 4.7% and £2.90/pint). Other local-ish ales were Gun (website) Scaramanga (3.9%) an extra pale refreshingly light bitter, Long Man (websiteCopper Hop (4%), a more typical bitter which I have reported on a few times before and very good, and Pig & Porter (website) Skylarking (4%) a refreshing pale golden bitter hopped with Ella and Galaxy, so hints of exotic fruits.


And, from further afield, Derby brewer Shiny (website) Pail (4%) brewed with Ella and Cascade hops, pale and lovely and bitter, Yorkshire brewer Ilkley (website) Rombald (which was £3 a very fair pint and 4.6%) a hoppy 'American' amber ale brewed with Cascade, Chinook, Nugget and Columbus hops with a biscuit malt flavoured base, and, from even further afield in Scotland, Fyne Ales (website) Maverick (4.2%) a reddish copper coloured bitter brewed with Bramling Cross and Challenger hops, always good ales from Fyne Ales!


But, not only did the Tower win the POTY for ales, but for Ciders and Perry too, nice one! Ciders included Orchard Pig Explorer (4.5%), Biddenden Bushels (6%), a favourite of a Scottish mate Jeff, Westons Old Rosie (7.3%) and Old Badger (I think, can't read my own writing! 4%), and their Country Perry (4.5%), and priced between £3.10 and £3.40 a pint... I can remember paying 25p a pint at the old Cider Bar in Newton Abbot in my youth!

Oh yes, and ales shortly to come on, if not already available, include excellent ales from Oakham Ales (Endless Summer), Fyne Ales (Highlander), Downlands (IPA), and Franklins Citra, enjoy them if you see them, you lucky people!

Sunday, 24 July 2016

More than an off licence with great beers!


I only recently discovered Borough Wines, Beers and Books, in Hastings Robertson Street (website), the only shop they have outside London, many thanks to Becky for advising me of its existence, though it has been there since last year! Many who know me will realise I have a close affinity, and familial ties, with Southwark, particularly with Borough Market and its environs.


They sell a great variety of beers, in bottles and in cans, from near and far, from East Sussex, London, across the UK actually, and from abroad, with a good selection of Belgian beers to help to quench my thirst for the odd Tripel or two...


They also have a fine selection of wines, and you can bring your own bottle to fill from red and white wine casks, or they can provide you with an empty resealable bottle that can be brought back and refilled whenever you wish. They also sell books! So you can buy something to read whilst you knock back a glass of wine, or quaff a glass of beer, what an excellent idea, something that could be extended to pubs, perhaps.

To the beers I tried...


2 pretty excellent beers were enjoyed, both in cans! First the 7.2% Beavertown Bloody 'Ell, a "blood orange IPA". Beavertown Brewery is based in North London (website), and their Bloody 'Ell was brewed to celebrate Halloween a few years ago; an IPA infused with blood red orange zest and juice, together with Magnum, Citra, Simcoe, and Amarillo hops, this has a powerhouse of flavours. From my tasting notes: "A very fruity aroma, plenty of body, citrus+++, dries out with a lovely bitter finish." What more can I say? Fabulous!! 

The second, rather more sedate 5.5% beer in a can was, Huddersfield in Yorkshire based, Magic Rock High Wire Grapefruit (website). This is a grapefruit infused version of their West Coast Pale Ale, High Wire, and includes a flavour inducing blend of 6 hops in the brew, Cascade, Chinook, Centennial, Citra, Colombus and Magnum! Consequently, plenty of flavour, back to my notes: "Grapefruit++, hint of mango and peach, with a lovely dry bitter finish. Has to one of my 5 for the Day!"

I'll be trying more beer from here, what a great start, cheers!

Friday, 22 July 2016

Free Beer! Who am I to refuse?


So, free beer, however, a lager, though a "new wave craft lager!" Well, my brother only had a voucher from Fullers Brewery (website) for a free beer at the excellent Salutation in King Street, Hammersmith, whereas I had a voucher for here, and at another local pub... So we had to have what we had to have, or pay for something else, so what did we drink, free 'n' all?


This was our free offering at the Salutation, Fullers Frontier (4.5%), and, as it was the hottest day so far this year, and we had been walking for quite a few hours up and down the River Thames Middlesex and Surrey towpaths, it was incredibly refreshing! It was certainly hoppier than your usual bog standard lagers, and I have to admit to quite enjoying the taste; £4.55 a pint for those who had to pay...


I had another voucher for The Dove, down by the river, still in Hammersmith, a pub I love for its history, ambience, and for sentimental reasons, memories of friendships with previous staff members and others. However, Fullers have whacked up the prices here, OK for tourists, with a weak £sterling, and, it would seem, many wealthier local people (Hammersmith and its environs has gone up-market price-wise, beyond my means now, sadly), so I rarely visit now, but great to take advantage of the free voucher, cheers! Same lager, but £5.05 a pint, 50p more expensive (and a half would be marked up to £2.60, I guess, scandalous!), and, as my brother didn't have a voucher, I shared the cost with him of his pint, I'm nothing if not fair...  


I was also recently fortunate to meet up with the local rep for the Salzburg brewery, Stiegl-Brauwelt (website), who gave me a bottle of their Stiegl Bier (4.9%), a very decent lager, nice flavour, I remember (I have to own up, I've lost my tasting notes, sorry, but I did enjoy drinking it!). This is on draught at my local, the Dolphin Inn, Rock-a-Nore Road, Hastings, at the moment, at £4.10 a pint, better than London prices! But, remember, Mark, the landlord there, tends to change round the 3 crafty kegs/lagers he sells, but I'd be surprised if it doesn't return once sold out. 

Anyway, a change for me, but cheers for the free beers!