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Wednesday 29 August 2012

The St Leonard and Hastings Brewery

The St Leonard, London Road, St Leonards, Hastings (a fair old address) has recently reopened under this new 'badge', and shows signs of great promise...

Still only open Wednesday to Saturday evenings, and Sunday, during the day, The St Leonard has opened with real ale to the fore, and a gradual introduction of food at varying levels... now, I have to own up, I haven't had an ale here yet, indeed, I haven't had a drink here yet, but that time will come soon! 
I was passing this morning, and had a chat to a bloke working on the main door to the pub, who gave me my updated news about this pub... I also saw a Hop Back Summer Lightning pump clip over his shoulder, which is why I particularly say, "great" promise ;-) 
Why is this glass empty? LOL

However, the first time I found out about this pub was when Hastings Brewery recently tweeted about them selling their ales, so Hastings Best and Blonde may also be regularish, if not regulars, we shall see! Indeed, if you want to know where to find Hastings ales on sale go to www.hastingsbrewery.co.uk/find/ 

Good luck, I drink the 'Best Bitter' at The Dripping Well and Frank's Front Room, cheers!

Tuesday 28 August 2012

Norwich via Liverpool Street

Reports back from Paul, Tom and Graham about the Gardeners Arms in Norwich ("The Murderers"), which has good Woodforde's Wherry on sale, only to be expected really, they also visited the Compleat Angler, very much a football fans pub! 

Paul also says he had a good pint of Kelham Island Pale Rider at Woodins Shades, a Nicholsons pub in Bishopsgate, near to Liverpool Street Station.

Cheers lads!

August Bank Holiday 27-08-12

No wandering too far today, so just off to the old town in Hastings, and the Dolphin, which I reached before it opened, but, luckily, the stall selling 'fishermen's rolls' had just started producing, and I was first in line to enjoy one of their wonderful sandwiches/baps, with 2 filleted fish (usually a dab and a plaice, bap sized), cooked in olive oil and seasoned with pepper and lemon juice... Only £2.50, very good quality and excellent value!

Anyway, I only had a few minutes to wait after I had finished eating the sandwich, and entered the Dolphin, where 2 new guest ales were on sale, including Stonehenge Ales (Bunces Brewery) Heel Stone...

Thanks to a taster from Mark, I found the 4.3% Heel Stone to be a golden ale, fruity, with an easy bitterness to it, though not quite bitter enough for my taste, so, before my usual Hophead, I also had a taster of the RCH Pitchfork, also 4.3%, and then a pint, as it was pretty good.  It's a paler golden colour, and a very easy to drink bitter, which can also be found in bottles.
The name comes from the last battle to be fought on British soil during the English civil wars, in 1685, when James II was on the thrown (the Monmouth rebellion).

Anyway, the usual 3 ales were on sale, Hophead, Directors and Sussex Best, and the summer regular, Dark Star American Pale Ale too, making it 6 good or excellent ales at the bar, and, as usual, I drank a few pints of the Dark Star Hophead, this in the convivial company, earlier, of Mark the landlord.   Working behind the bar were, early on, Laura and Louise, and Fraser, Joe and Debs appeared too, as did Mo.  Later, after Mark had left, there were also Dave, Kevin and Al to chat with at the bar, a nice afternoon, indeed, with the family and friends...

Links for Stonehenge (link) and RCH (link).

Monday 20 August 2012

Albatross Club Beer Festival

OK, I made it to the 2nd Albatross Beer Festival eventually, so missed out on trying a few ales, it being the last day of the festival, though I did manage a few, despite having not slept for over 30 hours...

It would be easy to list all the ales and 'tasting notes', but I'll only talk about the ales I actually tasted myself. I started off with drinking halves, first, Mallinsons Aramis, a 3.9% very dry pale bitter with the aroma of the aramis hops standing out, very nice, and I only just managed to get a drink before this ran out. 

Not having many weaker ales, and, as the poster said "NO BLAND BEERS", I moved on up to Ascot Ales Red IPA, 5.5% of a darker bitter, hard to describe the aftertaste, I wish I could have worked out the hops used, but couldn't today.  I then moved on to the 'in your face' hops of the 6.5% Stringers Hop Priest, this was dry and bitter and lovely.

Then came the 6.6% Summer Wine Diablo, my favourite ale of the day, a dry hopped pale bitter, incredibly, with a tropical fruit aroma!  The I moved onto the one below, brewed by Dave ''Unpronounceable' and his mate in the brewery behind my old Sheffield local, na zdrowie!  Steel City Hopfenstraube, a 4.5% wheat beer, cloudy, as you'd expect from the type of beer, and oozing hops and bitter, as you'd expect from Steel City's ales, and a hint of orange in the bitterness, nice one...   

... and I tried the Ilkley Lotus IPA too, 5.6%, slightly dry aftertaste and bitter, and other good ale, then the Bristol Beer Factory Southern Conspiracy, 6.5% of a pale ale, finishing off with a pint of 7.2%Redwillow Ageless, and I have to own up, I think I mixed up my own notes, so shan't say anything more about the final ales, well, I had gone about 34 hours without sleep by now, and a few ales...

Anyway, good choice of ales at only £2.60 a pint, or equivalent, I like the Albatross Club and would visit more often if it were closer to home; pleasant company, good banter, pretty damn nice time overall, though knackered by the end of it, cheers!  

Sunday 19 August 2012

Albatross! Beer Festival in Bexhill...

17th-19th August 2012, Beer Festival at the RAFA Club in Bexhill-on-Sea, the 'Albatross Club' (see previous postings)... OK, I'm a bit late, sorry, but, well, I have to own up, I completely forgot, what with the Hastings Carnival Week, and my visit to London earlier this week, a 'Bampot' moment, as my bro, the Routemeister may say...

So, I'm going on the last day, ie very soon, as it is open from 11am to 7pm today, if you are around. No doubt I'll have a reduced supply of different ales, but I'll probably be able to let on what I've missed!

Anyway, I'm off to Bexhill soon, and will provide more feedback, cheers!

Thursday 16 August 2012

Wednesday 15th August, great ale and disappointment too...

We were thinking about another long walk today, ie 15th, but only managed about 6 miles or so in total... the rain put us off...

But, not before we stopped at the excellent, as ever, Dove, by the Thames in Hammersmith. I love this pub, probably in my Top Ten of pubs, a Fullers house, where we drank the excellent 4.5% Wild River, sat overlooking the Thames out the back, well, generally enjoyed ourselves in a very laid back fashion.

We also went inside for a while, and this is a very atmospheric older pub, but my brother, the 'Routemeister', decided to take an amusing (to him) photograph, cheers Dan!

From The Dove, we went to the other great Fullers pub in Hammersmith, the Salutation in Kings Street, where we drank more of the excellent Wild River, well, you have to when it's on, as, apart from the London Porter and darker ales, this is, in my opinion, the best bitter they brew... There! I said it, I even prefer it to London Pride.

I also love the front of the Salutation, and the tiling inside, which gives it a unique decoration. From here, though, we headed back along the Thames to Putney and we made our first ever visit to The Cat's Back, a Harveys house in Wandsworth!

Now, as you'll realise, even though I live in Sussex, I rarely drink Harveys, but this meant I had to. We tried the Olympia Golden Ale (4.3%) at first, a golden ale, but sadly, about to go off... so, the wonderful Natalie, the landlady, poured us out some Tom Paine (5.5%), an ale the Routemeister said I should drink, my respecting the man himself an' all... A very good darker ale, though not tasting too heavy, but quite bitter, nice one!

Oh, by the way, they also had the ubiquitous, at least down in Sussex, Sussex Best and Sussex Dark Mild, though they do change their ales regularly. We'll be back...

From here we returned to the Bricklayers Arms, as described yesterday, still had the Fyne Ale on, so happy to appreciate that again, and it is crackin'!

I had a pint of Kelham Island Pale Rider at the Falcon, Clapham Junction, just before I caught my train back to Sussex; having brewed this ale myself, I hardly recognised it! It's either had a recipe change, big time, or they'd served up the wrong ale from the pump in error, or, frankly, something had gone wrong? Drinkable, but not the Pale Rider I remember... Dave Wickett would be turning in his grave RIP.

When I got back to Hastings at 22.30, sadly, Frank's Front Room wasn't open, looking like it had just closed, so I dropped into Pissarros, where another lovely barmaid, Lucie, served up a pint of Long Man Long Blonde, and I met my neighbour, Robert, to have a chat with.  Now, I've appreciated Long Man ales so far, but this wasn't great, I suspect it was on the way out... not completely my day today then!

Oh well, next time... Cheers!

More than 20 miles...

Tuesday 14th August started off with a very long walk along the Thames from Putney to Brentford and up the Grand Union Canal/River Brent, first stop, and very thirsty we were too, was The Lamb in Norwood Green, which only sold one ale, Fullers London Pride, but we were in West London after all! Crackin' pint, lovely friendly barmaid, Doulla (a Greek name, I think), who managed to either ignore my flirting, or just didn't realise I was, love it!

Doulla pointed us towards 2 other canal side pubs nearby, but a combination of them not looking great, and being too close anyway, meant we carried on... for ages!

...to Greenford and The Black Horse, as you can see, a Fullers house! Here, the very lovely Valerie, who had a great knowledge of West London pubs and Fullers ales, served us up a few pints of the refreshing Gales Seafarers, very welcome indeed... 

We then walked on to Scrubs Lane, Wormwood Scrubs, and caught a 220 bus back to Putney, a welcome relief after walking over 20 miles, thank you! 

Before ending our rather long pub crawl, we dropped into The Bricklayers Arms in Putney, a previous CAMRA champion pub of London, and certainly a great real ale oasis, with loadsa ales on sale!!  OK, I can't be bothered to name them all, but suffice to say over a dozen ales served up by the lovely Sarah, including bitters and stouts etc; nb Moorhouses Pendle Witches Brew, which the Routemeister had a couple of pints of, and Fyne Ales (all the way from Scotland) Jarl, a crackin' dry, pale and hoppy (very) bitter, at only 3.8%, but what flavour!

Great day, great walk, great ales, great pubs and barmaids, loved it :-)


Monday 13th

Strange as it may seem, the quickest way from Hastings to London, Clapham Junction, is via Hampden Park...

...but I've got used to the travelling.  On Monday, the Routemeister and I walked from Putney Bridge along the River Thames to Southwark. and, first stopping at The Charles Dickens in Southwark, before our intended visit to the Globe Theatre.

The Chuck Dickens has 6 real ales on sale, regularly changing; today had 2 milds on sale (there's a rarity anywhere, but especially in London) Mighty Oak Oscar Wilde 3.7%, pretty tasty despite the low gravity, and Nethergate Priory Mild.  The 4 other ales were Downton Flaming Games (4.1%), Chichester No 1 (4.1%), Itchen Valley Aley Thompson (4.8% and a poor attempt at a pun), and Hogs Back Summer Ale, which we drank, a 4.2% pale bitter, with very little aroma hop involved, sadly.  Great pub, though, but we chose the wrong ale to drink.  They also sell a real cider gravity fed, which was the 6.5% Dog Dancer from Gwynt y Ddraig.

We then went to the theatre, ie the Globe, a 2 thirds replica of Shakespeare's original Globe Theatre in Southwark, and tried the organic Hepworth Blonde Lager, which was very enjoyable!

We then went to see The Taming of the Shrew, but that's another story to be told elsewhere...


Saturday 11 August 2012

Dolphin update

Back to the Dolphin yesterday, lovely weather...

The usual 3 regulars, Dark Star Hophead, Courage Directors and Harveys Sussex Best are available, plus the seasonal regular, American Pale Ale from Dark Star. They're still selling Harveys' Lewes Castle Brown Ale, and have already ordered more from Harveys, as it is going down very well, and the Elsie Mo from Nottingham based Castle Rock Brewery has been replaced by Moorhouse's Pendle Witches Brew.
A note regarding evening food available, the fish supper deal remains on Monday evenings, but the Wednesday 'sausage night' is no more.

Wednesday 8 August 2012

From Frank's Front Lounge to The Tower!

Obviously, I started at Frank's Front Room, central Hastings and very close to the Railway Station (and to my home). Still quite new to me, indeed, still new to Hastings!  Clean, bright, and, quite frankly (sorry for the pun), very woman/younger person/older person/food seeker/ale drinker friendly... 3 ales - Hastings Blonde and Best Bitter, and, not so local, Sambrook's of Wandsworth Wandle.  I do come from Wandsworth, so maybe... but no! The local Best Bitter for me, decent ale, indeed.

On my way up to St Leonards, and not so far from the centre of Hastings, the Dripping Well. 3 ales on here too, including Hastings Best Bitter, which I again drank, thanks to Steve the Fireman for the beer :-) Also, they're still selling Henry's IPA and Directors, but I do prefer the Hastings Best. So, now up Bohemia Road...

...to the North Star, which still has good ales and friendly bar staff, 5 ales on here, but I only drank one of them, the Sunset Blonde from Cross Bay Brewery, a 4.2% dry, pale bitter with a pleasing aroma, though lacking a bit on the flavour hops, but very easy to drink, I thank you!  Also, on the bar, were Young's Special, Landlord, the ubiquitous Sussex Best, and Shepherd Neame's Whitstable Bay (4.1%).

Round the corner to drop off books at their 'book club' (though I'd already offloaded most at the Dripping Well to another customer there) and the Dripping Spring... Still a good pub, good ales, and friendly company, and not just the landlady... I drank Rother Valley Northam Imperial Pale Ale (NIPA), at 5% a very tasty pale bitter, with good body; I do like Rother Valley ales. I also drank the Ringwood Boondaggle, a 4.2% 'blonde' ale, with a nutty flavour. I spoke to a bloke who'd lived in Wandsworth before, and a Devonian couple and their daughter... I got a bit homesick, I have to admit ;-)

Also available were London Pride, Sussex Best, Hastings Best, Greene King's London Glory (their attempt to emulate Fullers Pride), and Marston's 5 Hops.

So, to my last pub of the session, the Tower, and Louisa, the landlady, was here today, yay! (I trust she's not been avoiding me on purpose), later, Linda took over behind the bar. Good chat to Louisa, a continuation of the good service from Linda, and the bloke who'd lived in Wandsworth was here too! Good chat with other regulars and Olympics events on the screens too, and also 4 ales, again dominated by Dark Star, ie Festival (5%) and Summer Meltdown (4.8%), and Hylder Blonde (4.2%), which I drank, after a pint of Island Brewery's, from Newport in the Isle of Wight, Wight Gold, a 4.0% pale bitter, very easy to drink. The Hylder Blonde was excellent, allegedly tasting of elderflower, but definitely a fruity taste, grapefruit even, which I'm guessing comes from the hops used.

Then I came home... Cheers!

Tuesday 7 August 2012

Lewes Castle Brown Ale

Had to add today, as, from my previous post, I suggested Harveys Lewes Castle Brown Ale would be on sale very soon at the Dolphin in Hastings... well, it already is, as can be seen by the photograph below, admirably served, adorned even, by Laura...

The Lewes Castle Brown Ale is 4.8% of full bodied, dark, rusty red coloured, ale.  I was given a taste as soon as I entered the pub, and, quite frankly, if it hadn't been 4.8%, and I'm aiming to return this evening as well, I'd have drunk it for the lunchtime session... Instead, I watched the male British Triathlon brothers win Gold and Bronze at the Olympics, our 19th.

Great day, cheers!

Hastings Carnival Week... last week!

OK, I haven't written much for a while, other things are happening, and I've only been drinking in Hastings, though I do have plans for drinking further afield in the near future...

I have to admit to mostly drinking at the Dolphin, Rock-a-Nore, Hastings, the last couple of weeks, partly because of the dirth of £s in my pocket.  They've had an ale on from Nethergate Brewery, Vixen, 4.3% of a rather too easy to drink 'smooth' bitter, not too bitter, and I'm wondering if this is an attempt to drag 'smooth' drinkers back into the bitter ale fold?

They've also had their usual 3 regulars, Hophead, Sussex Best and Directors, their seasonal regular, Dark Star American Pale Ale, and yesterday had a familiar (for me, having lived closeby to Nottingham for years) Castle Rock Elsie Mo, 4.7% pale golden bitter, a little bit sweet, but with good body.

Also, very soon to come on the bar, is Harveys Lewes Castle Brown Ale (4.8%) - following some research by the brewery, this beer, normally found in bottles, was found to have met a niche market with very favourable reports back from pubs, including the Dolphin (how did I miss this?!?).  So, I am very much looking forward to trying this out, fingers crossed I won't miss out again, but I believe Mark has more than one firkin, so I should be reporting on this bottled beer, now a cask-conditioned draft ale, very soon!

So, what have I been doing during Hastings Carnival Week? Helped out on the 'Pram Race' night with questions for competitors; it would take a long time to explain, but the week is geared up to supplying charities with mucho money, plus competitors have a great time, dressing up, etc, in the process.

Also, Louise, of the Dolphin, carried out a bungee jump for charity on Saturday, she raised a THOUSAND POUNDS STERLING!  Well done Louise, and, though I wasn't aware at the time, as I had to rush back to drink more ale, and having been away from the bar for too long, but Mark and Brandon, also of the Dolphin, both had jumps for 'fun', if you can believe it's fun ;-)

Anyway, Saturday included the 'big' event of the week, with the Carnival Procession being the focal point, but I also welcomed a couple of visitors from London, and also spotted, for the first time, a new genre of style and, well, another excuse for a booze up, I genuinely think, 'Steampunk'...  Now, I don't know what others know about this, but look at the link which should explain a bit more about it.

Sadly, I didn't take any photographs, but there's lots online, the lass above is an example of what you may see, and, although maybe not quite as 'glam', but incredibly attractive, I did have a chat to a lovely young woman of the genre about what was going on.  Great to meet her, sad no photographs, but hey, I had a good day... and then the...

Not a post box, well, it is, but more about that in a bit, but the Olympics, and that famous three quarters of an hour in the athletics, where Team GB won 3 Gold Medals, well done!  So, the box is the one painted Gold by Royal Mail, as it is for Jessica Ennis of Sheffield (my home for 16 years) - I do still feel a large amount of warmth for the place, and respect for Jessica, and the other competitors too, of course.

Back soon, I'm off to the pub, cheers!