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Thursday 31 May 2012

Dripping down the Bohemia Road...

Bohemia isn't just in the West End of London, no... Bohemia is in Hastings too!  I first visited the Tower, 251 London Road TN37 6NB (01424 721773) - I literally mean it was my first visit ever here, hence the details. 

Chatted to Louisa, the landperson/landlady, who has convinced me that I need to visit here more often, not sure she was even trying, but, decent ales on, and at VERY competitive prices (no real ale more than £2.40 a pint at the moment).  4 handpumps that have developed to providing 4 different ales now, which, today, included Dark Star APA and Hophead, Batemans Triple XB and Wells Diamond Jubilee Ale at 4%. 

I drank the Hophead, much as I'd have loved to drink the APA, but too early in the day for a 4.7% ale. For the short-term, they also have a 2.8% English Ale from Tolly Cobbald coming on (forgive me, but I believe it may now be a part of one of the new 'Nationals', Wells?) at £1.49 a pint, not a lot of alcohol but crackin' price, and I am told it is quite hoppy, sadly, not on again for a couple of days!  I will be back ;-) 

Just along from the Tower is the Dripping Spring, and, well, fings change very quickly!  The managers are now... not there! Indeed, there has been an 'interim manager', for a week in the interim, from my last visit, and now a babysitting manager, Astra, who appears to have the job of keeping the pub going until the new publicans take over on 10th June, and getting rid of stock in the meantime! Not an easy job, but good luck to her, and her only colleague in this period, the always present and lovely Laura.

Real ales will, consequently, run out within the next few days, I'd imagine, so, if you cannot make it here before the end of the extended 'bank holiday' weekend,  they're unlikely to have much real ale on until after the new people take over on 10th June.  Today I had Wye Valley HPA (as I like it) and, the more local, Beachyhead Legless Rambler (5%) a medium coloured bitter. Also on sale was the ubiquitous Sussex Best, Broadside and Hopdaemon Skrimshander IPA (4.5%). 

So, still heading for home, and further down the Bohemia Road, I reached the Dripping Well for my last lunchtime ale (London Pride) and chatted to Nick, the landlord, and a few locals. Great pub, with a friendly atmosphere, selling 4 real ales, though the Pride may soon be a pump alternating between guest ales, in addition to the regular Directors, Henrys IPA and Southwold Bitter.  Please also note that the 2 weekly lunchtime (Sunday) jazz music sessions is being changed to monthly, so check up beforehand if you want to visit for the music.

Wednesday 30 May 2012

Tuesday 29th May

Had a fair old wander yesterday, taking the scenic route (more details on my personal facebook page), well, one of the possible scenic routes, to Icklesham, and the Robin Hood, seeing as how we got there too late to have a drink 2 weeks ago!

Debbie and Darcy working behind the bar yesterday, nice discourse, and with the regular I know, Fred (much more of a  regular visitor than me too).  On the bar were the usual 2 ciders from Westons and the 5 ales were Canterbury Foundry Red Rye (3.6%), Longman Best, Adnam Southwold Bitter, and the 2 I drank, Millis Dartford Warbler (4.3%, medium coloured bitter with malty flavour, very nice) and Triple fff Pressed Rat & Warthog (3.8%, apparently sold as a mild, but I'd suggest too hoppy to be a traditional mild, nutty, slightly burnt malt flavour, plus dry and bitter aftertaste, as I say, not really a traditional mild, but very tasty!).

 Anyway, so people know the opening times, and don't miss out like we did: Mon-Thursday 11-3pm and 6-11pm; Fri/Saturday 11-11pm; Sunday 12-4pm and 7-10.30pm.  Above is the bar with hop vines hanging from the ceiling, very atmospheric (see my photo from previous visit too).

On leaving the Robin Hood, I walked back to Hastings (cash at a premium, and single bus fare from Icklesham to Hastings is ludicrously expensive, at least a pint and a half), and got a bit lost, well, not really lost, but I went in the wrong direction...

Back in Hastings, I visited the Dolphin, well I'd got very thirsty, despite the temperature dropping, as a fog came in from the sea.  On sale, the usual Directors, Sussex Best and Hophead, plus the seasonal regular Dark Star APA and Harveys Elizabethan Ale (5% 7.5% in bottles!); awaiting the Longman Sussex Best clearing, so a spare handpump.  I drank the APA, excellent!

Cheers :-D

Saturday 19 May 2012

17th May 2012 SW London

Had to revisit Clapham Junction so that I could get to the Eagle this time (opens 2pm), crackin' real ale pub just off the Northcote Road, in Chatham Road. Had a great chat with the landlord too, Dave, who is very knowledgeable about ale and brewers.  They have up to 8 ales on, on Thursday, there were Surrey Hills IPA (4.6%), Saffron Littlebury Lighthouse (4.2%), Redemption Trinity (3%), Pilgrim Weald Ale (3.6%) and Woodforde's Wherry, and the ales were in good form too.  I shall return. 

Before we visited the Eagle, we had walked along the south embankment of the Thames from Putney Bridge, well, I did; I met my bro in Wandsworth Park. Consequently, we passed the Ship, near Wandsworth Bridge, a pub that neither of us had visited for years, and I mean years!  This is a Young's house, so serves up Special and 'Ordinary' bitters, but also had 2 Sambrook's ales, Wandle (3.8%) and Pale Ale (4.2%).  We tried a pint of the Pale Ale, which it certainly was pale, but a bit lacking in hops for my taste, not very bitter, thus easy enough to knock back.  Very friendly young staff, and we sat overlooking the river, and one of the remaining industrial parts of London. 

In between these 2 pubs, we visited The Castle in Battersea High Street, which holds its 'wake' today (Saturday), as the licensees are being evicted by the landowners, who want to build flats on a site which has been occupied by a pub since 1600! The present pub is from the mid 1960s, and, as they're getting rid of stock, there was only Doom Bar for us, which was just about OK.  Good luck with the continuing campaign, which can be followed on the facebook page - The Castle Pub Battersea.

We ended our ale drinking at Le Gothique, previously reported on by me, and this photo is actually from our first visit with Kieran.  On Thursday, they were serving Shepherd Neame Whitstable Bay (4.1%), Skinners Keel Over (4.2%) and RCH East Street (5%).  We had a good time, though, chatting with one of the locals in particular (a Cork man, who lives in the building, so he had a long walk home).   

Wednesday 16 May 2012

Tuesday 15th May 2012

So, another day out walking with my brother, to start we walked up onto the East Hill above Hastings and up above the cliffs, heading east.  Surprise surprise, it rained, was windy, but not straight into our face this time, and not as heavy rain or strong winds, easy!

After 2 hours 30 minutes from home (11.00 hrs), we walked down into the Smuggler Inn at Pett Level (website), a great pub overlooking the sea.  The photo is from the roadside, looking slightly east of south, the beach behind the pub.

Usually 3 ales on sale these days, with Sussex Best and London Pride as regulars, plus a guest ale.  We had the Pride, and very nice it was too.  Good food here, lunches and evening meals, but the breakfasts from 09.30 are no more, sadly, not enough custom to continue with them!  This is a great stopover for us, used regularly, ie whenever we pass this way ;-)  

From Pett Level, we headed due east along the beach to Winchelsea Beach, up into the medieval village, which is built on a grid system and has an excellent church remaining from Henry VIII's vandalism of the Abbey during the 'Reformation'.  From here, we carried on back eastwards to Icklesham, with its own Norman church (website), and the Queens Head Inn. 

The Queens Head (website) is a 17th century inn, known for its good food and good ales, whatever day I've been in here has seen a large number of people eating, but don't let that put that off if you just want a pint or two, because it sells a good range of real ales too! Yesterday were Knots of May Light Mild (3%), Greene King Abbot Ale and IPA, Taylord Landlord, Rother Valley Level Best (4%), TSA (Traditional Scottish Ales) Red Bush - a 4.8% raspberry beer, fruity and like drinking liquidised alcoholic and beer flavoured raspberry ice cream! Finally, we also drank the Dark Star Sunburst, a 4.8% golden ale, not as bitter as some of the Dark Star ales we've recently drunk, but still very refreshing.

I wanted to show Dan the Robin Hood, but I'd forgotten it closes at 3pm, so missed that, we therefore headed back to Hastings by bus (£4.70! I won't be doing the single fare again when it's only 50p more for a return... I'll be walking back next time), where we stopped in the FILO for a pint of their Gold ale and a pint of Hophead at the Dolphin.  Cheers!

Tuesday 15 May 2012

Monday 14th May

My brother came down to visit on Sunday, which mostly consisted of watching the football on the tv in a pub I just cannot recommend, sorry, I was only there for the football, and it only sold Harveys, and not in that good condition!  So, yesterday, we went for a circular walk from and to Lewes, strated fine, but rain and wind meant it was a bit of a trying day! 

Our first port of call was the intriguing, and over 500 years a hostelry, the Ram Inn in Firle, a great old building, excellent garden, smashing small wooden panelled bar, and a dark and eerie interior, quite grey and dark (see their website for photographs).  A rather charming young lass served us, and, in addition to the 2 less exciting ales, TEA and Sussex Best, there was a gem from Dark Star, Golden Gate (4.5%) - Yes, you guessed correctly, it's golden in colour, certainly a bitter, and rather sharp and refreshing, loved it!  The Ram also had Westons Country Perry (4.5%) on sale, which was a bonus.  This was the last time in the day we were actually dry, as it strated tipping down soon after our departure, but the Ram Inn is certainly somewhere I will return to.

Following our soaking from the persistent rain and horizontal wind up on the South Downs Way, we managed to return to Lewes without drowning... We immediately headed for the Snowdrop Inn, one of Dan's favourite pubs down here already, as well as mine, particularly, because it always seems to have either/and a Dark Star stronger ale, and something from Thornbridge.

We drank a couple of pints each of Dark Star Revelation (5.7%) and Thornbridge Kipling (5.2%), two of my current favourites, both full of hops, pale and bitter, with sweetness hinted, but dry finishes, crackin'!!  They also had RCH Brewery Steam Showers Bitter (4.8%), Dark Star Ruby Mild (6%), Knots of May Light Mild (3%) and Sussex Best, well, this is Lewes!

Our final visit, before returning to Hastings, was to the Gardeners Arms, Lewes. Another good real ale pub, though none of the people I usually chat to when here were here yesterday, but, as I wasn't alone, that wasn't a problem. On sale were Rother Valley Mild (3.8%), RCH Steam Showers again, Tring Death or Glory (a whopping 7.2%), Lytham Epic (4.4%), a pale-ish dry bitter with a slightly sour aroma and aftertaste, and, from Scotland, The Smart Brewing Company's Wild Thing (4.0%), named after Gareth Ainsworth, beloved by Blades fans (OK, a joke there ;-) - pale and dry, but, unlike Ainsworth, not a lot of strength or taste.

OK, I'll report on Tuesdays visit to Pett Level and Icklesham soon, cheers!

Saturday 12 May 2012

Friday 11th May

Had a wander round the countryside close by Icklesham this Friday, bit of research, so had to drop into the Robin Hood Inn before returning to Hastings...


It's becoming a bit of a regular for me now, chatted to Ollie behind the bar, and Fred this side (it was his birthday on 10th, HAPPY BIRTHDAY! (Belated)  A Wells & Young bitter was rebadged with his own pump clip produced, "Old Git Ale" at 3.6% (Youngs 'Ordinary' Bitter).  There was also, the more local(e) Hastings Best Bitter and, a newer locale brewery, Longman Best Bitter at 4%, which did what it said on the label, it is a bitter of copper colour, typical South East bitter style, I would say, and pretty good too!

There were also 2 Welsh ales on the bar, Brains SA and, another newer brewery, Bragdy Conwy's Rampart, another bitter, 4.5%, slightly sour taste and bitter aftertaste, I liked it ;-)


I caught the 100 bus back to Hastings (leaves Icklesham at about 5 minutes to the hour) and first visited the Dolphin, Rock-a-Nore, down by the fishing beach, opposite the net huts; you'll have probably guessed by now that this is my 'local', in effect, though there are some very good other local public houses too.  I had some chips and Dark Star Hophead here, giving their APA a miss today, bit strong...  


I then crossed The Bourne to the High Street and visited the First In Last Out (FILO), which usually serves 4 of its own ales and a guest ale, which today was an old favourite, Harviestoun Bitter & Twisted, had to be drunk first, good bitter!  Chatted to Tony, the manager and brewer, and also chatted to Mike (landlord) and his wife, Sharon (landlady and chef) too, always nice people to meet up with.

I drank their own FILO Crofters, their 3.8% 'session bitter', a very drinkable ale: they also had their own Cardinal Sussex Porter (4.6%), a very good porter; Churches Pale Ale (4.2%); and Old Town Tom (4.2%), their 'ginger' flavoured ale, which used to be called Ginger Tom, but threatened legal action from Robinsons Brewery (they have copyright of the name it appears), who mix their Old Tom with 'ginger beer' to make their own 'shandy' version of Ginger Tom, meant a rename for the FILO real ale version... You couldn't make it up!   

Cheers one and all, crackin' day :-D 

Wednesday 9 May 2012

"Albatross!" - Revisiting Bexhill

As I travelled to Bexhill-on-Sea to undergo training this morning, and the training was over by 12.00hrs, it felt reasonable to visit the Albatross Club again, the Royal Air Force Association's club, down by the beach near the De La Warr Pavilion; which is open to RAFA members, and CAMRA members too, hence my ability to gain entry. 

Convivial chat, good value food, and crackin' ales.  Todays ales included Dark Star Old Chestnut, as I drank this yesterday (see Pissarros), I gave it a miss today, but 2 excellent paler ales on too. Blackwater Monkey Business, 5.2% of pale beer with a hint of malt and dry aftertaste; this would have been good enough to drink anywhere, but they also had the, even better, in my humble opinion, Salopian Hop Twister.  This was 4.5% of even hoppier ale, pale, dry and bitter, with a 'fresher' taste, excellent!

Feeling suitably refreshed, I walked back along the fron to Hastings, nice walk, great ale and chat, cheers!

Tuesday 8 May 2012

May Day weekend

Sunday was weird, had an early pint of Dark Star Revelation at the White Rock Hotel, prices have gone up here now too, £3.40 for this, but most ales are on sale at £3.10, the usual price now.  Other ales were Arundel Stronghold (4.7%), Hastings Best Bitter and Harveys Olympian

Tried to get a pint in the Dolphin later, but jammed packed full! Gave up, and even the Cinque Ports was rammed!  So walked back into town and reached the Dripping Well, which had, apparently, just emptied...  Here I had London Pride and Directors, whilst enjoying a chat with the landlord, Nick, who came over to our side of the bar whilst Pinar served, lovely couple :-)

Yesterday, Monday, the official May Day, but we all know it should really be the 1st of May, was mad in Hastings... 'Jack in the Green' being the new 'old' traditional revived day :-)

Met up with Bernie at the Dolphin (finally) after a very busy time for him trying to find me... I was there all the time ;-)   They had opened a bit earlier than usual to cope with the processions etc, so I got in there at about 10.45, sadly plastic 'glasses', following police request, not great, but Dark Star APA was on sale, so forgiven as a crackin' ale!  Have to admit I did drink Hophead too, or I'd have been dead, but the APA finished me off... 'merry' is the word!

Finished off by visiting Pissarros today, the usual 2 ales on, the uniquitous Harveys Sussex Best, and the very good and drinkable Dark Star Chestnut, or whatever it's called!

Thursday 3 May 2012

Lincoln Green

When my brother and I got to Lincoln, we walked uphill from the railway station, up ‘Steep Hill’, with historic buildings all around, passing the cathedral on the way up, which has one of the most impressive frontages of buildings in the UK, awesome! 

We had an early lunch at the Victoria Inn, 6 Union Road, just below Lincoln Castle.  This is a Batemans’ house that, in addition to their own XB, sells Castle Rock Harvest Pale and Timothy Taylor’s Landlord as regular beers, and guest ales too, up to 7 ales in total, as well as ‘real’ cider from the cellar!  The Victoria has a comfortable feel about it, some very interesting artefacts, a true pub, and good value food to boot, sandwiches with chips on the side, soup and bread roll, ploughman’s lunch, the usual pub fare, yes, but good quality. 

Walking around the castle, we reached The Strugglers Inn, 83 Westgate, this has a long main room and a smaller ‘snug’, but we sat out the back in the garden, which was a warm and protected place to sit.  The Strugglers has up to 6 real ales, including Greene King Abbot Ale and Rudgate Ruby Mild, among the regulars, plus guests, and I had a couple of pints of Salamander’s Golden Salamander, which went down a treat.  Lunch is served here too, reportedly very good value too, by the Good Beer Guide, but we had already eaten, so I cannot pass an opinion. 

I came back downhill, walking round to the east and south, Dan went to visit the cathedral, leaving me alone to visit The Jolly Brewer, 27 Broadgate, a ‘rock’ pub with regular live music.  The exterior doesn’t look too inviting, but don’t let that put you off, as the bar staff are warm and friendly.  The interior is ‘green’, with lighting helping to augment an art deco feel to the main room, look at my photo and you’ll know what I mean.  Work adorns the walls by local artists, so, should you fancy purchasing an original, there you are.  Westons’ Perry and Broadoak Moonshine cider were on sale, and up to 6 real ales are available, with Young’s ‘ordinary’ Bitter and Courage Directors the regulars, and often 2 locals among the guests, I enjoyed Leila Cottage Lincolnshire Life and Grafters’ Over the Moon

Further south and getting closer to the station, I met up with Dan again at the Green Dragon, Magpie Square, Broadgate, a 16th century timber framed inn, with 10-12 regularly changing real ales on sale throughout the pub.  Henry VIII dined here a few years ago as a guest of the, then incumbent, Duke of Suffolk, so we were drinking in the company of very famous ghosts (the Good Beer Guide suggests “quality food” is available, but I still wasn’t hungry).  We sat outside, enjoying our drinks sitting by a peaceful side road and the canal (you can just see the back of my brother in the photograph).

I enjoyed visiting Lincoln.  Cheers!