Enjoy Playing Away From Home . . .

Wednesday 31 October 2012

Dolphins - 3 of a Kind.

I thought about writing this type of blog a while ago now, '3 of a kind', and pubs called the Dolphin was an obvious first choice for me, for 3 main reasons.  First, I have frequented 3 Dolphin pubs at different times in my life.  Second, they are all crackin' pubs and are in the 2013 CAMRA Good Beer Guide. Third, the most recent is my current 'local', so had to be 'Dolphins'!

The first is The Dolphin Hotel, down at The Barbican in Plymouth, which I first visited when I lived in Devon in the 1980s.  My earlier memories are of a pretty basic pub, but selling the best Bass I'd ever tasted, served straight from casks stored and cooled behind the bar, I think they were kilderkins, which is still the case. Plus, they now sell up to 7 guest ales, and St Austell Tribute as a regular.  I cannot remember there being ales served from handpump when I first visited, only the gravity-fed beer, but, as I only thought of drinking the Bass at the time, that's no surprise.
My most recent visit was a few years ago, before going to a football match at Argyle, and not a lot had changed, and, apart from a sensitive redecoration, the GBG suggests the same still.  The walls are adorned by Beryl Cook paintings, many are of regulars at the pub, as she used to live in the area and frequent the pub herself.  You are very close to the waterfront, from where you may catch a ferry over to Turnchapel, where lies another old favourite pub, and ex-employer, of mine, The Boringdon Arms. The Dolphin in Plymouth, though, is a must visit, if you like real ale and old pubs, and are in Devon... and their Bass is to be savoured. 

The second is Ye Olde Dolphin Inne, close by the cathedral in Derby, the oldest and, allegedly, 'most haunted' public house in the city.  The building dates back to 1530, but the pseudo-Tudor additions to the exterior were made about 100 years ago, but it's still a great little building to investigate, with nooks and crannies in the unspoilt interior.  I first visited here in the 1990s, as I lived in Sheffield at the time, and Derby is very close, and I obviously had to investigate this nearby city with its wealth of good pubs.  More often than not, subsequent visits were in connection with trips to Pride Park, or made in conjunction with visits from friends or family.
Coincidentally, the first pint I had here was of cask-conditioned Bass, though served via a handpump here, but still very good, I've even seen cask-conditioned Worthington E here, very rare; Marston's now brew Bass for AB InBev, by the way.  Ye Olde Dolphin also sells a good variety of other regular and guest ales, which I've always found to be in good condition, including a 'house ale' (that I haven't tried, since it wasn't around at the time of my last visit) which is brewed for them by Nottingham Brewery, ie a 4.4% bitter, Dolphin 1530AD.  Again, if visiting Derby, which does have a great selection of pubs, Ye Olde Dolphin Inne should be on the list. 

The third choice is my current local, The Dolphin, situated at Rock-a-Nore opposite the fishermen's net huts and Stade, below Hastings 'Old Town'.  The situation means you do get fishermen, and retired fishermen, frequenting this pub, a sign of the great continuity here. There are also a variety of other regular locals, and visitors to Hastings too, a true diversity of regulars, male and female, young and old, professionals and labourers, I shan't go on, you'll get the point.  It's a real family-run pub, landlord and landlady, 2 daughters, and good regular staff, who may as well be family!
The Dolphin supports Sussex breweries, with many local beers served here (5 out of 6 on my last visit), having 3 regular ales, currently Dark Star Hophead, Harveys Sussex Best and Young's Special, a seasonal regular, currently Dark Star American Pale Ale (soon to be replaced for the late Autumn and Winter by Harveys Old Ale), and 2 guest ales.  On my most recent visit, the 2 guests were the new local Isfield Brewing Co Toad in the Ale, a 4.8% dark bitter with roasted malt flavour, and Harveys Bonfire Boy, another darker 5.8% ale.  I can only add that, like the other 2 Dolphins, definitely worth a visit if in the area, cheers!

Tuesday 30 October 2012

Friday 26th October - SW11, leaving London again...

I usually return via Clapham Junction, (ie in Battersea, for those who think it's in Clapham, oh no it ain't), which you've likely noticed by now, unless I'm north of the river.  So back to the Junction on Friday, and my first visit was to a pub I hadn't been to for years, The Northcote (website) along from Clapham Junction, on the corner of Northcote Road and Battersea Rise.

I'm very impressed with The Northcote, not really the pub of my memories, though, as it is, quite frankly, not a 'spit & sawdust' pub anymore, no doubt due to the area being more 'upmarket' than it was in my youth.  Anyway, I met the manager, Tom, who's very interested in his ales it appeared, and was served a pint of Dark Star Hophead by the friendly, keen and knowledgeable (I'm running out of good adjectives to use) Ruby, who passed on a lot of useful information to me, many thanks. 
There are 4 ales on sale at any one time, on Friday they were the very local Sambrook's Junction  (4.5%), brewed in Battersea; ex-Wandsworth brewer, Young's Bitter, called 'Ordinary' in my regular Young's days (3.7%), now brewed by the new national Wells & Young's in Bedford; Sharp's Doom Bar (4%), now owned by the global giant, Molson Coors; and a brewery more local to me in East Sussex, and a personal favourite, as you'll know if you've read just a few of my blogs, Dark Star Hophead (3.8%).
I could have drunk a more local ale, and my brother would have, no doubt, but if I like a beer, why should I drink one of the others, and I have drunk them all many times before, so it was Hophead for me, and in very good condition too, cheers! Though they regularly change their ales, they do like to have an ale from Sambrook's and one from Young's at any one time; they also have ales from Adnams quite often too.  Oh yes, and the food looks pretty good too, served 12-15.00 and 18-22.00 weekdays, and all day at weekends.  I'll be back...

Up St John's Hill, from Clapham Junction, and you reach The Beehive, (website) one of the few Fullers houses in Wandsworth Borough, and, I believe, the only one in Battersea? I may be corrected. Whatever, this is a very good pub, and I have mentioned it before. So, Fullers ales, including Gales Seafarers (now brewed by Fullers, of course), ESB, London Pride, and the excellent Bengal Lancer; oh, how I'm enjoying this 'seasonal' ale from Fullers, cheers.  In addition, they sell food from 12.00 onwards every weekday. 

Finally, that fantastic old monster of a pub on the corner at Clapham Junction, a regular last stop for me when leaving London, The Falcon (website), a Nicholson's pub, that is the proud owner of the longest pub bar in the UK, which, consequently, has a vast array of handpumps around that bar.  The Falcon sells mostly ales from micro-breweries, near and far, I shan't mention them all, but they have got a house ale brewed for them by St Austell Brewery in Cornwall, Nicholson's Pale Ale (4%).
I had a good chat with a Southern Railways employee, who had finished work for the day, and was imbibing before happily heading off for home, but I only had one of the ales on offer, I had a train to catch, ie I tried one from the West Yorkshire brewery, WharfeBank, the 3.6% Verbeia Pale Ale (VPA).  My notes say "pale, light & refreshing", coincidentally, the notes in CAMRA's Good Beer Guide say "A pale golden session ale with a citrus, fruity taste. Light and refreshing." There you go then!
Some other ales, from among the many, on offer, included Sambrook's Junction, Kelburn Cart Noir (4.8%), Great Heck Angel (3.9%), Ramsgate Brewery Gadd's No5 (4.4%), and Sunny Republic Huna Red (4.2%). Oh yes, food is served 10-22.00 Monday to Sunday!


Save Your Pint! CAMRA campaign.

The campaign still continues, with the debate to be held in Parliament later this week, keep tabs at the website @ http://saveyourpint.co.uk/ 

Strange, this photograph, used by CAMRA, has 2 lasses with two halves... That's a pint, I suppose, and worth saving, therefore!

Monday 29 October 2012

Thursday 25th October - an intermission, of sorts...

It was a strange day on Thursday, visiting 2 pubs that I'd be unlikely to, but for the circumstances; first, The Old Garage, Replingham Road, Southfields, SW18.  The reason to visit a Greene King pub? My stepdad was buying me lunch, and you should rarely turn down a free lunch!

I used to live down the road from here when I was a kid and into my teens, when it was a garage, the pub is pretty new in itself, and I have to admit to having a pint or two here before visiting my mum a couple of times before she died (RIP), but it is Greene King, and, quite frankly, I'm not their biggest fan, taking over other brewers and becoming a 'new national', and serving up a bland session ale, though I do like their Abbot Ale, a fine stronger bitter.  So, 4 ales, including their IPA (3.6%), Old Golden Hen (4.1%), Ruddles County (4.3%), and Abbot Ale (5%), all brewed by Greene King. I had a couple of pints, the 'County', not as good or as strong as I remember from my past samples at the Hand in Hand, Wimbledon Common, when it was a Ruddles pub (not the Youngs house it now is) and the Abbot Ale, which still lives up to it's promise, and has to be their 'flagship' ale, very good, and a decent meal too.

Then, in the evening, following his arrival back from foreign parts, the Routemeister and I went to see my niece, his daughter, receive her school award for music up in the West End. We arrived early, so dropped into The Golden Eagle in Marylebone Lane, W1, for a quick pint.  My outside photo, taken by a mobile phone, doesn't do the pub justice, so here's the bar, which is small, and within a small pub really.
This is a free house, with a quite mixed clientele, though mostly people on the way home from work, as you'd expect in the early evening up here, and felt convivial enough. There are 4 ales on sale, 2 regulars, Fullers London Pride (4.1%) and St Austell Tribute (4.2%), and 2 guest ales, today was Sambrooks Wandle (3.8%) and, from another new 'national', Marston's, Wychwood Hobgoblin (4.5%).  All reasonable enough ales, we each had a pint of the Pride, and I would definitely return, should I be in the area again, cheers!

Sunday 28 October 2012

23rd October - W6 and W4

So, to The Raven (apparently, currently building their website) at the Stamford Brook end of Goldhawk Road, following Blake's advice, and it is right by the tube station, though I walked there.  This has a newish, to this public house, landlord, and friendly staff; on Tuesday I met the highly efficient, and, considering she's only recently started working here, very knowledgeable, Ann behind the bar.  They have 4 regularly changing real ales served from handpumps; Tuesday was a good selection, Batemans Original Victory Ale (5.9%), Sambrooks Junction (4.5%), Marstons Pedigree (4.5%), and I had the Ringwood Best Bitter (3.9%), not sure I've ever drunk it before, but a pleasant session ale, cheers Blake... and cheers Ann!

Not far up the road is the Duchess of Cambridge, on the small roundabout where the road bears right towards the Bush, a pub I've already talked about on here.  For more information, look at their website. Up to 15 real ales, continental beers, a plethora of ciders, including spiced cider and mulled wine, and food, something for everyone! Below was the selection of ales available for me on Tuesday, served by one of the guvners, Simon, apart from his concerns over missing an important key, great company too. 

I can't keep on going on about everything they serve up at the Duchess, look at their site, or better still, visit the pub! Anyhow, I tried Windsor & Eton Guardsman, a 4.2% medium to dark bitter, Hepworth Pullman, again 4.2%, and very bitter, and By The Horns Hopslinger, a powerful 5.7% 'American Pale Ale'. I have to say that I was particularly taken by one of their barsnacks, 'Beef Dripping on Toast', memories, though I can't promise I'll have some on my next visit, but I may! Also, these 2 pubs, and even the next one, could easily be incorporated into a pub crawl to Shepherds Bush or Loftus Road, just a thought... 

My final West London pub for this weeks visit was The Tabard, near to Turnham Green tube station, I'd noticed this pub when I was searching for The Lamb a few weeks ago, interesting building, but I also saw it listed in the most recent CAMRA Good Beer Guide 2013, so I had to make a visit.  This is a Taylor Walker house (see website) with a theatre upstairs! The theatre's site.  Anyway, 8 changing ales and 2 ciders are served from handpumps, including Wychwood Hobgoblin (4.5%), O'Hanlon's Port Stout (4.8%), WJ King Red River (4.8%), Red Squirrel Mr Squirrel (4.3%), and I had to drink the Titanic Iceberg (4.1%), I'd forgotten how good it is, and it reminds me of Stoke and, specifically, Port Vale and the Bull's Head in Burslem, another crackin' pub! 
Anyway, The Tabard, memories of The Canterbury Tales, and, because a lovely Irish lass from Belfast came in as a customer with work colleagues, I presume, memories of an old friend I haven't seen for years... oh! Just memories, cheers all!

Saturday 27 October 2012

23rd October - SW6 and W6

Two blogs about Tuesday, one covering Parsons Green and Hammersmith (this one), and one to come to cover Stamford Brook and Turnham Green (tube station), ie W6 and W4. I'm starting at The White Horse on Parsons Green for this blog, a pub with good memories, particularly when I popped in before visiting my mum (RIP) many years ago. At that time, they regularly had Traquair House Ale (7%) served as a cask ale, not an easy ale to find as it's usually only available in bottles and still available in bottle here. Anyway, the gentleman behind the bar at the time said "Sorry, it's not on yet, but, if you don't mind, I can bring it up from the cellar", I snapped his hands off! I'm always happy to have ale straight from the cask, and it was absolutely gorgeous, so I had 2 pints; this pub has always been one I like to visit, sadly, not often enough!

Good lad behind the bar today too, very interested in his ales, and good chat. Can I get away from it though?!? Sussex Best was here! Anyway, a number of other ales too, 6 in all, including one of my old favourites, Oakham JHB (3.8%), and they'd just had Dark Star Smoked Porter (5.4%) on too. The White Horse is having an Old Ale festival on 23-25 November for those lucky enough to be in the area, with the restaurant being converted into a 'festival' hall bearing over 60 ales! See the website for more information.

2 excellent Fullers pubs in Hammersmith, as you'll be aware of by now, down by the river, The Dove, with the usual London Pride and ESB on, plus Gales Seafarers, which appears to be regular here now rather than Chiswick Bitter, and one of my favourite Fullers' ales, the 5% Bengal Lancer, excellent! Great service from Blake behind the bar, I just escaped as a coachload arrived (well, it seemed like it, though you'd never get a coach down here), met the manager, Matt, very briefly too, and Blake suggested a pub I'd never been to before in Goldhawk Road to visit, The Raven, cheers for the specific info Blake.

I then went on to Stamford Brook, more in my next blog, but towards the end of the day, also visited The Salutation, Kings Street, Hammersmith, my second favourite Fullers pub, and both in Hammersmith! The above photograph is of the entrance hall, it's certainly a building with interesting architecture, and particularly wonderful tiling outside and here.
Sadly, Amy has moved on, and is now managing elsewhere, good luck to her, I'll miss her! The manager is now Mary-Francis or Fiona, I believe, but the manager wasn't around today, not sure about my notes, but I think the other name is of the person who is now her deputy! Anyway, ESB, London Pride, and the crackin' Bengal Lancer on here, and, yes, I drank the Bengal Lancer, have to take advantage whilst it's in season, cheers!  

22nd and 24th October - The Bricklayers Arms, Putney

OK, I stayed near the Thames in Putney this week, hence, I had to revisit The Bricklayers Arms at least twice, first on Monday, with the lovely Annet behind the bar again, and the regular lad this side of the bar, John (we're becoming near-drinking buddies now), and quite a few other gentlemen this side of the bar too, of course.

I tried 3 of the ales today, Oakleaf's 3.9% pale blonde bitter Some Are Drinking, a decent summer ale, though it's now the Autumn, a refreshing ale; Cairngorm's Trade Winds, a 4.3% dry, pale bitter, described as being a "Citrus, Wheat and Elderflower", though I didn't get these flavours myself too much, but enjoyed it; and Triple fff Brewery's Jabberwocky, a 5% 'black IPA', a very dark bitter with hints of licquorice, very enjoyable, see, I don't just drink pale bitters! Also, many other ales, of course, give it a visit, though I shall mention a few from my next visit... 

OK, I returned on the Wednesday, sadly, no Annet, but hey! John was in his usual position this side of the bar, and Alan AKA 'Jock the Postie', this side of the bar.  There were some of the ales on from Monday still, eg Rudgate Battleaxe (4.2%) and Broughton Exciseman's 80/- (4.6%), and two new ales I drank. These were Plain Ales Innocence, a refreshing golden bitter, and my favourite of the week, Milk Street Brewery Beer 5%; now, I was a little confused over the name from the pump clip, but I checked up on the brewery's website, and that's what the name appears to be, says what it is on the pump clip, 5%, described as a 'bitter sweet' ale, personally, I describe it as an excellent bitter, that starts with a brief hint of sweetness at first, then a dry and bitter aftertaste, pretty damn good!

As I had other responsibilities that day, I could not take advantage of the Cider and Perry Festival, with 9 ciders and 3 perries, and I do like a proper perry as they aren't that common, but should you be in the area this weekend, get there, I would, have a perry for me please. See the website for more information.


Saturday 20 October 2012

18th-19th October - Hastings

As you would expect, the guest ales keep changing at the Dolphin, down opposite the fishermen's net huts at the Stade, Hastings. The female section of the host family were in attendance Thursday evening for the weekly quiz, always good to see, and I had a good chat to Mark at the early session Friday lunchtime.  

So, which ales have changed? Well, there will obviously be more changes, probably the Sussex Pride will be changed this weekend, but, already, the Britannia has been replaced by Whitehorse Saracen IPA, a 4.5% ale, a little darker than my usual choice Hophead, but I had to try a pint on Thursday, and on Friday too, just to be sure of my analysis.  The IPA has an immediate caramel flavour coming from, presumably, the roasted malt, with quite a dry aftertaste, very nice, but I returned to my Hophead to finish the sessions both days, unsurprisingly, and we didn't do too well in the quiz, oh well, can't win all the time.   

I'm not one to regularly visit Wetherspoons pubs, but I've been quite impressed with The John Logie Baird, Hastings version, and their choice of local ales, so thought I should make a point and pass this information on, good luck to them, I say!  I'd just missed Keisa going off shift, shame, but the equally interesting and efficient Chrystal was behind the bar Thursday afternoon. The manager of this pub does seem to employ interesting young women, who are also very good at their job, another plus for the pub.
So, the usual ales you see all over the country were on sale, but there were 4 ales from local microbreweries, excellent!  2 ales from Longman, Sussex Pride and Long Blonde, both of which I've reported on before, so I tried the 2 from WJ King.  King's India Pale Ale (IPA) was a not very bitter ale, quite nice, but with less body than I expected it to have at 5.2%, but the Autumn Mist, at 4.1%, was a very good ale, a typical 'Autumn' style, darker, like an 'old ale', I liked it very much. The IPA was £2.15 a pint (less my 50p CAMRA token/discount = £1.65) and the Autumn Mist £1.99 a pint, though I only had a half of it, bargains.  

Wednesday 17 October 2012

Tuesday 16th October - Bexhill and back...

A 10 mile round trip today on foot along the seafront, first eastwards to Hastings 'Old Town' to drop something off for a mate, then westwards to Bexhill-on-Sea, to the De La Warr Pavilion, no longer sporting a bus falling off the roof (work of art, apparently)...

To the RAFA Club, The Albatross, with it's 3 ales on sale, a slight mix up, but soon sorted out, the good company of Jeff, the 'steward' and purveyor of fine ales, and many others, including Jonathan and Tim, who both bought me a half, and I shall have to remember the mutual round on my next visit, many thanks, gentlemen! Jonathan had also told me about a local 'get you home' service he's been using, where someone turns up on a wee bike, puts it in your boot and drives your car home with you in it, see www.booterscooter.co.uk for more details; this branch is obviously for the Hastings and Bexhill areas in East Sussex, but I've heard of similar around the country.

So, what were the ales this Tuesday? Well, it was there, so I had to have a pint of it... Dark Star Hophead, love it! But, to prove I'm not just a 'Hophead', I had to try at least a half of the other two ales, both from Rother Valley Brewery. So I had a half of each, the Ruby Wheat Beer (RWB), a 4.4% ruby wheat ale, does what it says on the label, though more a brown colour than ruby red, but who's quibbling? The flavour is distinctly of toasted walnuts to me, Jonathan suggested another nut, but we agreed this must be from the use of the wheat in the recipe, whatever, very nice.
But, to the Northiam IPA, a 5% IPA, you may not be surprised to read.  Now this was excellent! I can't believe I wanted to drink more of this rather than go back to the Hophead, but I did, how can I describe it? It was refreshing, though full bodied, a crackin' dry pale bitter, I loved it, and, frankly, as it was 5% I did get a wee bit merry, cheers lads!  And so, back eastwards, walking very much on the beach as the tide was a fair way out...

To the White Rock Hotel, virtually opposite Hastings Pier, and Johnny the bartender here this afternoon, good chat inbetween other customers, cheers, good service. As ever, 4 local ales; one of the good things about both the White Rock Hotel and The Albatross is that they sell local ales from the smaller breweries, great support! 1648 Britannia (4.1% and reported before); W J King Kings Old Ale, a 4.5% darker ale for the Autumn, presumably, the norm for this time of year; Weltons Sussex Pride, a 4% pale-ish bitter; and Dark Star English Pale Ale, a 4.5% ale made from "100% English malt and hops", plenty of body and pale, very nice again, as I sat on the veranda quaffing my pint and completing the sudoku in the Metro.
A very enjoyable day, cheers!

Monday 15 October 2012

Friday 12th October - Hastings, and a new pub too!

Below, posing outside the Dolphin, Rock-a-Nore, Hastings in my alias as 'Snoopy' on the facebook 'Steve the Beermeister' page (link), Friday was a foray into a few central Hastings pubs too.
The Dolphin had the usual Hophead, Sussex Best, Youngs Special and Dark Star APA; together with guests 1648 Britannia, a pale, dry and fruity 4% ale, which early in the barrel was almost apple or cider like, but as it carried on conditioning, was even better, maturing into a very good bitter; ale doesn't fail to surprise me at times!  The other ale was Long Man Old Man, which has since been replaced by Long Man Sussex Pride, what I would call a very decent traditional bitter, 4.5%, and very pleasant, it has certainly improved since I first tasted it, Long Man are fast becoming a very consistent brewer, excellent news for Sussex.
As ever, great company in the Dolphin, Mark the landlord in fine fettle, mostly on our side of the bar, and the landlady's daughters, Laura and Louise, behind the bar, always pleasant, cheers!

From the Dolphin, in the 'Old Town', I walked back into the town centre and, at first the General Havelock, which lies between Cambridge Road and Havelock Road; in fact, there's an old 'right of way' through the pub, indeed, there used to be an alleyway, which can be noted quite easily! 4 ales on, and Westons Old Rosie, the real cider available. Ales included Hophead, Doom Bar, Landlord and the ubiquitous Sussex Best; I of course, chose to drink the Hophead, tasted good, as it should, and well served by the lovely Ellen, who has worked behind the bar since the pub reopened (not literally). Food looks good, especially the paninis, and the chips looked excellent, only £1.50 a bowl (LARGE portion) and £1 as a side dish, good value. 

I then ventured round the corner/across the road to The John Logie Baird, Havelock Road, the 'spoons of Hastings, which also features Old Rosie as it's real cider, and millions of ales, well, quite a few, including London Pride, Abbott Ale, Youngs Special, Bishops Finger, Deuchers IPA, Hook Norton Old Hooky, and my choice today, Elgood's Greyhound.  The Greyhound is a 5.2% bitter, pale, it was slightly hazy, not as great as I'd expected, but not bad, certainly at £1.45 a pint (priced £1.95, but with my CAMRA 50p off voucher, thank you Mr Spoon). Very happy to see the interestingly adorned Tash working behind the bar again, always a pleasure. 

Finally, I visited a new pub, for me, under new management, which has been a Shepherd Neame pub, The Fountain on Queens Road.  I believe it is now a freehouse, but still getting their beers from Sheps; a bit confusing the status! The only ale they had on was Shepherd Neame Master Brew, though there are 2 handpumps, so room for variety as they develop their new regulars.  The ale was very good, actually, well conditioned, and much better than I remembered, though I hadn't drunk it for a while.
The barstaff were friendly, though it was very quiet for a late Friday afternoon, and the pub was quite bright and 'airy', ie quite large and well served by good sized clear windows.  I got the feeling of a bar for younger people as my first impression, and they do have live music at weekends.  Good luck to the new management, we could do with better ale houses in this part of town.

Saturday 13 October 2012

9th & 10th October, still in London.

Thursday evening, the 'Routemeister' and I drank in his new local, though he likes to say it's MY local in Putney, The Bricklayers Arms, (website) which had had a Kent beer festival very recently, and was still selling just ales brewed in Kent... A sort of home from home for me these days!

Anyway, we had a choice of Kent beers that included Downton's German Pale Ale and Quad Hop; Old Dairy Soft Top, a 3.5% dark mild; Kent Brewery Cobnut, a 4.1% ruby ale; Nelson Brewery Powder Monkey, and a few others...
We drank the 2 Downton ales, we both had the German Pale Ale, a 4.2% pale bitter, and I also tried the Quad Hop, which I'm sure I've had before, a 3.9%, even dryer and more bitter pale ale. Both were very drinkable, thank you!

We returned to The Bricklayers for our Wednesday late lunch, having done a bit of work in the Routemeister's flat into the afternoon.  Now, they don't do meals here, but we sat outside with sandwiches we'd brought with us, which they were happy for us to do, swilling even more ale; Dan sticking to the German Pale Ale we'd had a few pints of the evening before, but I progressed to a few pints of the Nelson Powder Monkey, a 4.4% even dryer pale bitter! Loved it...
Just to the left of the bar as we entered, the same bloke was drinking there who had been there with a mate the evening before, not sure if he'd moved, but, with the lovely Hungarian barmaid, Anett, very ably serving the ale today, I could see a good reason for being there that afternoon session too.

I returned home, late that evening, via Clapham Junction, and a drink at The Roundhouse (website) at nearby Wandsworth Common, and I have written about this place before.  Indeed, I used to go there quite often when I still lived in London, as they had a lot of live music in those days, but not so much these days, apparently.  
I had a good chat to the barman, a Scot from Stirling, and I drank the Hobsons Town Crier, another pale golden ale, 4.5%, with a slightly nutty hop character.  This was not even a 'Hobson's Choice' though, as they also had Sambrook's Wandle Bitter and a 3.4% Adnams beer Lighthouse
Then I walked the short distance to Clapham Junction Railway Station and caught the train home... Cheers!

Thursday 11 October 2012

Edinburgh, capital city of Scotland!

An interesting report from Marcus’ recent visit to Edinburgh, many thanks. I’ve not visited for a while, so very grateful for this.  He reported back favourably of 4 pubs in particular, including The Kenilworth, a Nicholson’s pub in Rose Street, originally built in 1789, but converted to a pub in 1904, The Kenilworth is tiled inside from floor to ceiling.  
Marcus pointed out 4 ales he really enjoyed, including, what appears to have been his favourite ale on this visit, ie Yakima IPA from Great Heck in Yorkshire, a 7.4% fruity ale with a slightly bitter aftertaste, that he drank at The 'Bow Bar', West Bow (aka Victoria Street), which serves an excellent selection of ales. A very friendly pub, and very nice, says Marcus, and good ales too, it appears!

The other 3 ales he enjoyed were all from Scottish breweries, ie Stewart Brewing Zymic from Edinburgh, a citrusy 3.5% light ‘mild’, that he found slightly bitter; Williams Brothers of Alloa Harvest Sun, a 3.9% fragrant, light, sweetish hoppy 4% ale; and Harviestoun of Alva Natural Blonde, a light, refreshing and “lovely” ale. However, it appears that drinking too many of them has effected his memory, so not quite sure at which hostelries they were imbibed! 
Marcus also recommends trying ‘haggis balls’ bar snacks (if that takes your fancy) at Dirty Dicks in Rose Street, which was established in 1859, a pub that sells 200 whiskies and fine ales, and is covered inside with thousands of 'random items'.

Finally, despite it not having real ale, Marcus suggests a pub to finish the evening at is the Jekyll & Hyde in Hanover Street, which is open until late, has “crazy chandeliers, false bookshelf doors, scary medical equipment, and ‘crazy’, but nice, customers!”    
Cheers Marcus!

9th October and 2 new pubs, and microbreweries, for me

2 'sister' brewpubs I heard about a couple of weeks ago, so I had to visit as I'd been given the opportunity!   

The first is The Lamb Brewery at Turnham Green, and please don't get confused like me and think it's near the underground station in the road called Turnham Green, because it isn't, it's actually at Turnham Green itself (I didn't realise the Green wasn't by the station, not one of my usual West London haunts, I confess).  This brewpub sells 6 ales from handpump, though has 12 handpumps in all, so potential for beer festivals etc. There was only one of their own ales on handpump Tuesday, Lamb Dark Ale, a 4% bitter with a strong aroma of honey from the malt, but a dry aftertaste, very nice.
They also had guest ales, such as Sambrook's Junction and Powerhouse Porter, and 2 of their own beers on keg, ie a 5% American Pale Ale, which I sampled, and was very tasty, plenty of flavour, and a 4.8% Pilsner. More information can be found at their website.

From the outside, The Lamb didn't look very large, but it goes back a long way, and has a fair sized dining area to the side, near the back, too!  Apart from the gleaming brewing equipment which is in front of you as soon as you enter the pub, my image of the pub was very comfortable, clean, with varnished bare floorboards, wood panelling and glass. I liked the feel of this place a lot.

Also, the barstaff were very friendly, and the helpful barmaid gave me plenty of information about the microbrewery, ales, etc, and directions to their sister pub at Kew Green, The Botanist (website), which we walked down to via the Thames towpath.

The Botanist appears to concentrate more on it's own real ale, compared to The Lamb, with all 6 of the ales on handpump being their own brews.  We tried 3 of the ales on offer, OK Bitter, a 4.2% what I would call a traditional bitter from London and the South East, Q Gold, a more flavoursome 4.5% bitter that I thought would be paler than it was, and my favourite of the session, Maximus, a 6.2% hoppy, malty, amber ale, delicious! 

The overall feel at The Botanist was of an airy, clean modern bar, not really a pub feel to it, and it was enormous, stretching out through about 4 shopfronts!  Of the 2, I preferred The Lamb, but The Botanist had my favourite ale, maybe because it concentrated more on its own ales?
The ales were pretty good, nice flavours, and varied styles, but some beer at both pubs was a bit hazy, nothing wrong flavour-wise, but some customers may be put off by the presentation... Whatever, I enjoyed myself, so cheers!

Monday 8 October 2012

Old Man at the Dolphin in Hastings

OK, for me, a dark beer that I drank all lunchtime! Long Man's Old Man, an "original old ale", 4.3%, a deep red coloured bitter with a strong roasted malt flavour, delicious! Served by the lovely Laura, and great chat with Mark and others...

The other guest is still Oakleaf Brewery's Squirrel's Delight (4.5%), plus the Summer regular (no doubt to change soon) Dark Star American Pale Ale, and the regulars now, Hophead, Sussex Best and Youngs Special.

Saturday 6 October 2012

Friday 5th October in Hastings

Following a rather large brunch at Unwind, George Street, I started my wandering and drinking at the nearby Dolphin, where the wonderful sisters, Louise and Laura, were behind the bar.

I drank my usual Hophead from Dark Star Brewery, though I had tried a pint of one of the guest ales on Thursday evening, ie Oakleaf Brewery's Squirrel's Delight, 4.5%, medium coloured bitter, a bit sweet at first, with a roasted malt undertone and hint of coffee, well, that's what I thought.  There were also the other semi/regulars, Dark Star American Pale Ale (APA), Youngs Special, Harveys Sussex Best, and Sunny Republic's Dorset Cross (5%) is still a guest ale. 

I then walked west along the front and uphill at St Leonards to the Tower, London Road, where I still missed Louisa, I'll have to time my visits to this pub a bit differently, obviously, but Linda was there again, so still crackin' bar staff, and crackin' ales too! This is one of the best value pubs in the area, where you can get a pint of real ale for well under £3 a pint, I had my Hophead, of course, and tried a half of the 1648 Laughing Frog too, 5.2%, rather easy to drink, a bit sweet but with a bitter aftertaste. There were also Dark Star APA and Long Man Sussex Pride (4.5%).  After a good chat and drink there, I crossed Bohemia Road and entered the North Star.

Tasha was behind the bar at the North Star, always a welcome sight, some lovely barstaff around today!  The 5 ales today were Timothy Taylor Landlord, Sussex Best, Laughing Frog, Jennings Crag Rat, a 4.3% golden ale, and Rother Valley Ebulem, which I had a pint of, and which filled my loyalty card, meaning, a free pint on my next visit to either the North Star or their sister pub, the General Havelock in town. The Ebulem is a dark 'elderberry' porter, fruity aroma, and a dry porter/stout, really delicious.  I then wandered homewards and down Bohemia Road to the Wishing Well.

Although he wasn't working until later, I had a brief chat with the landlord, Nick, and then his partner, the lovely Pinar, took over the bar. As ever, good banter around the bar, and the usual 3 ales on sale, Courage Directors, Wadworth Henry's IPA, and Hastings Best Bitter, which I am happy to drink for just under £3 a pint, thank you very much!  I had started maudlin a bit, so I was happy to be cheered up and then go home to polish off some wine and cheese.