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Friday 24 February 2012

Thursday 23 February 2012

Gardeners Arms, final Lewes pub 22 February.

OK, past the church of Thomas-a-Becket, near to Harveys, is The Gardeners Arms, another pub selling the ubiquitous Sussex Best, and also 5 guest ales, and a regularly changing cider, on my visit, Lilley's Crazy Goat (6.8%), a blended perry and cider!
As well as trying the cider/perry, I drank an ale from the Liverpool Craft Beer Company (never heard of them before, so had to give it a go), made with a new Zealand hop and called Tane Mahuta, it was a good 'golden' beer and quite bitter to finish.
Other guest ales included Nethergate Old Growler, Bank Top Jean Lafitte, and Harveys Sussex XXXX Old Ale and Kiss. I was assured the number of Harveys ales on sale was just chance, what was ready to serve, definitely not a Harveys tied house!
You will see the food menu above, not really a foodie pub, but a pickled egg with Peri Peri spicey flakes was shared with me for a treat by Russ the 'beer tester', cheers! In addition to the excellent company of Russ, I also enjoyed the company of many others here, including 'Mouse' and Lisa, the landlady. I felt quite at home, but had to leave sadly, but I shall return...
All in all, a great day was had in Lewes, thank you to all those who helped me to enjoy the day, CHEERS!

Snowdrop Inn in Lewes

Walking down South Street towards the Snowdrop Inn...

The Snowdrop Inn, a very interesting food menu, which I shall take advantage of sometime in the future, and 6 ales and a real 4.5% cider, Gwynt Y Ddraig Happy Daze, Welsh you will surmise correctly.
3 regular ales include Sussex Best, as you'd expect, and 2 Dark Star ales, usually American Pale Ale (APA) and Hophead. Now, I'd normally go for the APA, it's a crackin' ale, but a dilemma, as Thornbridge Kipling was among the guest ales, had to drink it, always did when it was available when I lived up in South Yorkshire!
The Snowdrop also has a good collection of bottled beers, nb Belgian beers (they have even had beers from Cantillon Brewery in Anderlecht here), and an interesting array of keg beers, eg Meantime Helles Lager, Hepworth Conqueror Sussex Stout and Brugse Zot. Great pub, to which I shall return, with very friendly staff too.
On the way back towards my ultimate stop, and then the station, I also passed this church, St Thomas-a-Becket, a replacement building for the late 12th century original chapel, from the 14th and 15th centuries, a bit modern ;-)

Elephant & Castle and Lewes Arms

So, from the Black Horse, I wandered back past the church and around the back of the castle to the Elephant & Castle in White Hill. Nice large bar, plenty of room, with green wood panelling up to about 3 or 4 feet along the walls, being refurbished as I drank there!
Another pub with interesting food menu and 3 ales and Old Rosie cider. 2 regular ales are the uniquitous, down here, Harveys Sussex Best, and Timothy Taylors Landlord! The third choice was Brains SA, which I drank, but they've also had recently Caledonian Deuchars IPA and Arundel Old.

I then wandered down the hill a bit to the Lewes Arms, a Fullers house, where I drank Fullers London Porter, had to, it is so good! They also had Bengal Lancer and London Pride. From the Gales range there was HSB and Seafarers, and guest ales include the regular Harveys Sussex Best and Adnams Bitter. Food is available from 12 noon until 8.30pm-ish.
Had to include a photograph of Harveys Brewery...

Lewes - Black Horse Inn

On my way to the Black Horse Inn, I passed, and investigated, the oldest church in Lewes, the 'Norman' Parish Church of St Anne, the earliest parts of which date from the early 12th century, ie the tower, nave and the south chapel.
Bit of memory time for me here now, the Black Horse Inn was my B&B when I stayed in Lewes in the late 1990s whilst attending a conference for a few days at Sussex University. This is still a cracking pub, with 3 ales on offer at any time, ostensibly a Greene King pub, B&B and food too, but the only Greene King ale on offer was the Hardys & Hansons Olde Trip, now brewed by Greene King, in it's guise as a new 'national' brewer (See CAMRA). They also had 2 Sussex ales on offer, Dark Star's Old Chestnut, and one of my new favourites, Hophead, which I drank here.
I enjoyed meeting and chatting to the barman (from Doncaster) and a fellow drinker (from Aberdeen). Great time, and fond memories stimulated, cheers!

22 February 2012 Lewes, Brewers Arms

The barbican below the castle in Lewes, and just round the corner from...

Thomas Paine lived here for 6 years in the 18th century, a revolutionary thinker of his time, literally! But, he lived next door to....

OK, I'm not sure how old this pub is, but, the Brewers Arms, High Street, Lewes (www.brewersarmslewes.co.uk) is a very good freehouse, serving 7 ales and a real cider. I drank a bitter golden ale, Cheddar Ales Potholer, 4.3%; pretty good. They also have a very interesting and full menu.
The only thing that spoiled the visit was one of those very noisy people that sit at the bar, speak with a very loud voice, because everyone in the whole world wants to hear everything they have to say, obviously. If he hadn't been present, I'd give this a big thumbs up... I presume he's not always there, so still worth trying a visit ;-)

Saturday 18 February 2012

Brighton visit and last 2 pubs

The Basketmakers Arms, Gloucester Road, Brighton:
The Basketmakers is a cracking Fullers pub, that sells the whole range of Fullers and Gales ales, plus guests from other breweries, eg an old favourite of mine was on sale yesterday, Butcombe Bitter. There is also a great menu, whiskeys galore, loadsa real ale, friendly, but a lot busier inside than all my other visits of the day.
I took my pint of Fullers Bengal Lancer (5.0% India Pale Ale) outside, when I couldn't really find anywhere to settle properly inside, I just seemed to be getting in the way of others, who were mostly eating too. Decent sized pub too, so they must be raking it in!
Anyway, drinking the very tasty Bengal Lancer outside, and I found myself chatting to a teacher named Emma, who was drinking Fullers ESB, and used to live in Cambridge before moving down to Brighton. As most people who like real ales will appreciate, we can be a bit boring, but far from it, lively discourse was the order of the day, and Emma provided me with significant information about drinking in Cambridge too. Consequently, I shall soon be adding a Cambridge page to my website.
Many thanks to Emma for her company and information provided, always welcome to join me for a drink in Hastings, or elsewhere on the coast, cheers!
Final stop before catching my train home was the always reliable, The Evening Star, Surrey Street, near to the station, and I was not to be disappointed.
The Evening Star is the 'tap' to Dark Star Brewery, being its first pub, and continues to provide excellent ales, specialist beers, Belgian beers, and real cider too. The Star has 4 of Dark Star's own ales on sale and 3 guest ales from other breweries.
On their own side of the bar was Dark Star Revelation (5.7%, and it was a revelation too, cracking beer!), The Original, Hophead (a regular beer I drink in Hastings, great stuff too!) and Winter Meltdown. The guest ales too show a findness for pale hoppy ales, all being versions of pale ale/IPA, the first was a collaboration with Thornbridge Brewery, from up my previous neck of the woods, PUJA (6.7% and reyt interesting), Magic Rock Curious (3.9% pale ale) and the excellent 6.0% IPA from West Yorkshire, the Summer Wine Brewery Diablo, too good and too strong to carry on with, I'm afraid... I was going to have another pint, but common sense won me over, that was my last drink before leaving Brighton.
Interesting coincidences again, the manager would be drinking up in my old haunt, ie round Kelham Island and Shalesmoor in Sheffield, and at my old regular pubs, including the Wellington, drinking pale hoppy Little Ale Cart Brewery ales. Also, they've done collaborations with other brewers too, eg Brodies, a brewery I'm very interested in, and were advertising their Easter Beer Festival at their 'tap', the King William IV in Leytonstone, East London, 6-9 April 2012. All ales at £1.99 a pint at the festival, in line with Brodies pricing policy!
Anyway, a cracking day for me, and many thanks to all those who helped that be possible!

The Hampton Arms, Brighton

A bit difficult to find, but not so hard for me, The Hampton Arms is another great freehouse selling local ales, with very friendly staff too, many thanks to Amy for her great service.
To find this pub, you either need a map, or go up North Street, find Argos, go up the road to the left of it to Upper North Street, turn left, and you will see the Hampton along on the left. Not that impressive an outside, but a real pub inside, with a real fire too.

Usually 5 ales on sale, though has 6 handpumps, but uses the extra pump to enable line cleaning and keeping 5 ales on at most times. Again local ales, I actually drank the Arundel Special Bitter here, it's 4.5% of traditional bitter, very nice. I tried the Brighton Blonde too, but found it not quite hoppy enough for my taste, but it certainly would be a great session beer. The other 3 ales included Brighton Best, Dark Star Festival, and Arundel Black Beastie.
Food is also served here, a bit more expensive than at the Victory, and includes similar fare, sandwiches, soup, burgers, beer-in-batter fish and chips, sausage and mash etc etc... 12-3 and 5-9pm Monday to Thursday; 12-9pm Friday and Saturday, 12-6 on Sundays (selection of roasts available).
A cracking second place for my visit... will it last?

Brighton Friday 17th February 2012 Victory Inn

A visit to Brighton, for a serious purpose in the morning, had to include a bit of research for my website, so lunchtime began at The Victory Inn, Duke Street, just up from, and along from, the 'Lanes'....
The Victory sells 4 local real ales, regular being WJ King's Brighton Best, plus I had Hepworth Iron Horse too (4.8% of pale, slightly bitter sweet, honest!), the 2 others being Dark Star Meltdown and Arundel Special Bitter.
They also sell 2 'real' ciders from handpumps, I saw Thatchers' Heritage and Cheddar Valley.
They also sell food from 12.00 to 'late', about 8pm to 9pm, I believe... Reasonable value, and looked good (I'd eaten my pre-packed lunch sitting looking at the beach about 11.40 ish). For example, Beer-battered fish and chips for £7.50, Lasagne £7.95, stews, steaks, sandwiches, sausage and mash etc etc...
Friendly, and ale knowledgeable staff too... good start to my Brighton visit...

Thursday 16 February 2012

My 21st wedding anniversary

OK, my 21st Wedding Anniversary... Yay! Celebrations... only, we've been living apart for over 10 years and half of those 'celebratory' years, consequently, aren't real anniversarial years...
BUT!! We're still friends, which I am very happy to share... So definitely worth sharing, and celebrating, not that I need an excuse.
So, what did I do today?
I walked a bit, and drank a bit, first at the White Rock Hotel, virtually opposite the pier in Hastings, where, as usual, they had 4 real ales, all from local breweries, on sale for £3 a pint, not a bad price for a hotel, and one in a seaside resort to boot!
The weather's improved, but don't hold your breath, and I enjoyed a pint of the VERY good Hepworth Classic Old Ale at the White Rock Hotel, a bit different to yesterday, when I had their cooked breakfast and a pot of coffee, impressive too, though! Not that impressed with the Red River though...
This Old Ale is a very tasty dark ale, and, ranks up there with my favourite winter beers, so was a great start to my celebrations... Winter time, so coldish, and the ales at the Hotel are good to drink at this time of year (I wouldn't recommend this as a Summertime place to drink as their ales are usually too warm then).
From there, eastward, along the beach, towards the Dolphin...
The Dolphin only has 5 ales on at this time of the year, only, I say... the usual 3 regulars, Dark Star Hophead, Courage Directors and the ubiquitous Harveys Sussex Best, with 2 guests (up to 3 available depending on the time of year and circumstances), Joseph Holts Two Hoots (4.2% of pale, but not outstanding ale) and Wychwood's Dirty Tackle (4% of more interesting ale).
Of course, and those who know me well will appreciate, I here drank the Hophead, a cracking pale, bitter, dry, and very hoppy ale... my 'usual' actually, and a few too many, but who's counting... I'm not in a real marriage now, yay, and...

Saturday 11 February 2012

Le Gothique - Final couple of pints...

So, we came to our final drinking post of the day, Le Gothique, Royal Victoria Patriotic Building, off Windmill Road. Neither Dan or me had ever known of this place until I read about it in CAMRA's Good Beer Guide, yet it's a well established restaurant, open for many years, within this amazing Victorian gothic building, which was originally an orphanage for dependents of troops lost in the Crimean War; Queen Victoria laying the foundation stone in 1857. It has since had various uses (I remembered it as a school), including an interrogation centre for the British 'Intelligence' services during WWII, near to Wandsworth Prison, but with its own cells, and excecutions!

It is now includes a 'French' restaurant see www.legothique.co.uk - together with a bar that serves real ales...

Dan and Kieran endulging in friendly, lively, and very interesting, discourse with the landlord, above.
We had a couple of pints here to end our perambulation of the Common. They have 3 ales served from handpump, usually an ale from each of Sambrooks, Downton, and Shepherd Neame. Sadly, for me, as I live somewhere dominated by Sheps, there were 2 of their ales on, Kent's Best and Late Red (just the circumstance of beers in the cellar being ready to serve), and we drank Downton Baltic Red, quite appropriate for the prevailing weather conditions outside!

A very interesting, and bountiful, statue commissioned by the landlord, by the large screen tv.
We joined an interesting list of previous customers to Le Gothique, that includes Skin of Skunk Anansie, Billy Piper, Sir Alex Ferguson, Rachel Hunter, Aimee MacDonald, and many more; a very interesting visitors book...
Anyway, that finished our day, and what an excellent time we had. Kieran journeyed back to Watford, Dan to, much closer, Southfields, and me back to Hastings, cheers! 


The Roundhouse - Penultimate stop today (10th)

The Roundhouse, Wandsworth Common North Side, is another old haunt of mine, had a few beers here, and seen a few groups too, and it remains a place for gigs, but also is an eatery, and has been done up winebar-ish, nice though. The food looks good, available lunch and evenings, apparently a great roast on Sundays; not the cheapest prices, but reasonable for the area, and around the Junction is a bit more upmarket than in my yoof!
The place was packed with young things along the left as you come in, leaving the right hand side vacant for us, and some others that came in soon after us.
There were 3 ales on offer, the Wandsworth brewed Sambrooks Wandle (regular), Hogs Back TEA (virtually a regular, apparently on about 80% of the time), plus a guest, for us it was Purity's Pure Ubu, a cracking 4.5% golden ale!

County Arms, Wandsworth Common

Another Young's house, that was no doubt a coaching inn, or something, a hundred to a hundred and fifty years ago. Big old pub, typical Victorian pub/inn, on the main road coming from Wandsworth Bridge, and sitting just in front of the prison!
We all drank the excellent Young's Winter Warmer, best I've tasted this winter, and I've had a few pints of it at various pubs too. They also served Young's Ordinary, Special, and Wells' Bombardier.
At the back is an enormous eating/restaurant part of the pub, and a cracking beer garden too, if a bit too close to a very busy road these days.

Kieran doing a bit of pole dancing within the County Arms ;-)

The Nightingale, SW12

The Nightingale, Nightingale Lane, a little along from Wandsworth Common railway station. A cracking Young's pub that my brother had never visited (he mixed it up with the Surrey Tavern). Great pint of Special, Kieran had a bottled Young's Double Chocolate Stout (and what an amazing beer that is!), and they also had 'Ordinary', Bombardier, Sambrooks Porterhouse Porter, and Addlestone's for cider drinkers.
I do have an anecdote from working for Securicor CIT, but that's for another day...

Disappointment - Eagle Ale House

I really wanted to visit the Eagle, renowned real ale house I'd never visited, but doesn't open til 2pm during the week, we were there about 5 minutes early, but didn't realise it was about to open... bad luck!
Surely the bloke inside would have noticed us and pointed out it was about to open, but no such luck. We gave up and walked on for our perambulation of Wandsworth Common, next, to an old favourite of mine, the Nightingale in Nightingale Lane, a Young's house I hadn't visited for years...

Friday 10th February 2012 'Wander'

Met up with Dan and Kieran at Clapham Junction, hadn't had a drink for a while together, but, as I arrived first, despite a strangely diverting rail journey to the Junction from home, I had a pint of London Pride in the Windsor Castle, St John's Hill.
Hadn't been in the Castle for a while, great building, the bar at the back is barn-like, wooden panels, and with a high roofed ceiling with beams, further back. The front bar is less impressive, worth going straight to the back room (via door at the side of the pub).
Also had Thwaite's Wainright and Sharp's Doom Bar on the bar.
Gave the Falcon a miss today, despite their holding a beer festival, as we wanted to get to the next pub, the Eagle Ale House, so shot past Debenhams (Arding & Hobbs, to those who haven't been here for a while) up to Northcote Road...

Wednesday 8 February 2012

Seasonal Pub - Bath Hotel, Sheffield

The Bath Hotel, Victoria Street in Sheffield has to be the friendliest pub in central Sheffield; also having a carefully restored interior that ensured it finding its way onto CAMRA's National Inventory of Historic Pub Interiors.
You get a selection of well-kept ales, including regulars Tetley Bitter, Acorn Barnsley Bitter (one of the Barnsley Bitter rehashes) and an ale from Abbeydale, usually Moonshine, plus up to 3 guest ales and continental beers. Reasonably priced pub food is served at lunchtimes during the week; you can get a very strong chilli with baked potato, if your mouth is up to it!
Brian, the landlord, is a gem in himself, forever cheerful, ready to chat with regular customers and visitors alike, providing a great atmosphere. The Bath also has music nights, specialising in the 'blues', I've enjoyed many a night here.
My good friend, and sometime Beermeister advisor (also excellent with advice for single malts), Rick, with Brian, in the part of the bar where customers are often confused with staff. Rick sent this photo to me to make me jealous a while ago. Cheers!