Enjoy Playing Away From Home . . .

Tuesday 27 November 2012

Dolphin - Hastings seems a while...

Since I last wrote about the Dolphin, they've had a fine pale bitter called Once Bittern brewed by Woodforde's, and already mentioned elsewhere, but seemed better here. Also, tomorrow, there will be a return of Wednesday evening meals, 6-9pm, at the Dolphin, with special deals, similar to the fish & chip deal on Mondays, ie a pint, glass of wine, or soft drink, plus the meal all in at £7.95, always a good deal!

Anyway, at the moment, there are two good darker ales, Harveys Old Ale and the excellent Anchor Springs Black Pearl, a 5.2% dark dark porter, so dark I had to say it twice, full bodied, with a hint of chocolate, and dry bitter aftertaste, not often you see me knocking back a dark ale. it's that good!

Of course, I had started with a pint of the regular Dark Star Hophead, and the regular Youngs Special and Harveys Sussex Best are there too, together with the seasonal Wadworth Swordfish, 5%, a blend of 6X and Pussars Rum apparently, it's well liked in this neck of the woods!

Saturday 24 November 2012

Thursday 22nd November - Another real fire + new pub

First, a new pub for me in Hastings, just to prove I like to carry on searching out the ale and pubs, and another, very unique, real fire to boot! 

First, I climbed up Hastings West Hill, past the castle and admired the view from up there, before heading to the only pub open up there at the moment, The Plough.  It has a big airy room with the one bar, and, important to me, 2 real ales on, the ubiquitous Harveys Sussex Best, and Fullers London Pride at £3.20 a pint, competitively priced for Hastings, and in good form, my preferred drink of the two, nice one. I'll be back, cheers!

I then sauntered downhill to the High Street in the old town to the First In Last Out for a second Thursday in a row, and great to see the ebullient Elina behind the bar again, a very good signing for the FILO!  From the 5 ales on offer, I drank their own Crofters (3.8%) and Gold (4.8%), at 10p shy of and 10p more than £3 a pint respectively; a good session ale and a fine full-bodied golden ale. In addition to enjoying the ales and the lovely Elina's company, Tony, the manager and brewer, sat next to me, and we enjoyed good banter; nice, because it's been a long time since the two of us had a chat.

Also, the FILO has one of the most unique fireplaces I've ever seen, again, my photograph doesn't do it justice, but, here it is anyway.
Enjoyable day, cheers!

Friday 23 November 2012

Tuesday 13 November 2012 - Icklesham and real fires again.

More real fires and real ale in Icklesham this time, a dreary day, so a good reason to seek out real fires, and where better than this East Sussex village?  First stop the Queens Head...

A few fires in here, but I only photographed the one below, it's not so easy to take decent photographs in old pubs away from windows, and with my mobile phone too; I'll have to remember to bring my camera with me!  Anyway, there were ales too, of course, including Greene King Abbot Ale and IPA, Rother Valley RWB (all ales I've already written about or that are well known), Long Man Long Blonde (3.8%, pale golden hoppy ale), and Harveys Sussex Best and Old Ale (4.3%, dark seasonal ale)  Both of the male staff members have joined in 'Movember' with impressive moustaches, good stuff, though unlikely to ever see me with one, though I have 'sponsored'. 

I also met someone here from Long Man Brewery, great to be able to put faces to brewery peeps!  Then I wandered back to the main road and followed it westwards to the Robin Hood, another delightful old pub...

...and I was very pleased to meet up with Fred, on this side of the bar, always a good conversationalist, and I'd been a bit worried about him, not having seen him for quite a while, a real fire, of course, and Darcy and Debbie behind the bar, always good too.

2 ciders from handpumps, Westons Old Rosie and Wyldwood Vintage Organic Cider, both at 7.3%, and five real ales. Available were Brains The Rev James (4.5%), Triple fff Pressed Rat & Warthog (3.8%), Wychwood Hobgoblin (4.5%), and the two I drank from Full Moon Brewery, ie Hop Dance and Red Pacific.  The Red Pacific is a 4.8% full bodied deep red coloured bitter, and the Hop Dance is an easier drinking pale bitter at 3.9%, both good examples of a seasonal ale and a 'session' bitter.

Tuesday 20 November 2012

Sunday 11th November - St Leonards

OK, Sunday, afternoon, and a chance to get to The St Leonard, London Road, St Leonards, just a little way up the hill, on the left, from the seafront.  Why "a chance" then?  Well, this new addition to real ale drinking on the South East Sussex coast currently opens only Wednesday to Saturday evenings, 5-11pm, and Sunday afternoons/early evening, 12-9pm.  This is quite an airy room inside, on two levels, with one bar, bare floorboards, 'traditional' pub furniture, and an art deco feel about the decoration. 

So, what was on offer?  Well, I've seen Hopback Summer Lightning on offer before, which I love, but the pub was closed that time I walked by, sadly.  The St Leonard also appears to be regularly providing ales from the very local brewery, Hastings, this time their Best Bitter and Blonde were on the bar, both discussed before, and very good ales to have on sale; I've drunk them before, reported on them before, but they also had on an ale I haven't tried before (please don't call me a 'ticker', I just wanted to try a pint of an ale that was new to me). 
So I drank the Woodforde's Once Bittern, a 4% bitter, which I presume a portion of the profits goes to the Norfolk Wildlife Trust, which they support.  This was a bit more expensive than the usual local prices, £3.50 a pint, but had to be tried.  So, it was new to me, plus I'm a member of the Sussex Wildlife Trust, and fraternal feelings took over too!  A decent ale, like all Woodforde's ales tend to be. Nice one.

I then walked up the hill, intending to take advantage of the Dark Star ales that usually adorn the bar of The Tower, a 10 minute walk further up London Road, and I wasn't disappointed.  I also got to watch some football and have a bit of banter in a decidedly more busy local. In addition to the 3 Dark Star ales was Bass Bitter, now brewed by Marstons; I've given much time to Bass recently, nb the 3 Dolphins blog, so, though I was very tempted, there were much more ales to my taste on offer.
So, the 3 Dark Star ales were ones I can happily drink, the APA, not my favourite, but very hoppy, a little too sweet for me, the Hophead, probably my favourite among their regular brews, and the 5.7% Revelation, at £2.90 a pint, a bargain! What can I say about the Revelation that I haven't said before, full bodied, pale, in your face hops... I can only add I ended up a wee bit 'merry'.  Cheers! 

Saturday 17 November 2012

Saturday 10th November - Fires and pubs, Pett, East Sussex

The Routemeister had visited me for the weekend, so Saturday meant a fairly long walk, this time across the top of the cliffs and Hastings Wildlife Park, a fairly arduous trek to Pett Level, where we hoped to drink at the Smugglers, which we had sat outside looking at the beach virtually a year ago to the day. Sadly, it's temporarily closed, but soon to re-open, I have been reliably informed by one of those taking over the pub, when I spoke to her this Tuesday, there being just a few technical problems, so, fingers crossed!

Addendum and update, even, The Smugglers deal has fallen through, it is now rumoured to not be re-opening before Easter at the earliest! 

Anyway, we headed uphill, through fields (along a right of way) to Pett Village, only a mile or so away. Our first port of call there was the Royak Oak, which has 3 or 4 ales on at a time, today was Hopback Summer Lightning, Morlands Golden Hen and Harveys Sussex Best; a little disappointed that we just missed Triple fff Brewery's Jabberwocky coming on, which was soon to replace the Summer Lightning.  All these ales are either well known and/or already reported on by me, so I'll get onto the fires...

We sat right in front of the smaller fire, note our Beermeister caps drying out and warming up in the photograph above, we had been walking through rain for about 3 hours by now!

The larger fireplace is pictured above, though we'd have been hogging a table nearer to people eating if we'd sat there, so we relaxed in front of the previous fire, well away from people, though two older women did come and sit to the left of that fire; we're obviously not intimidating people.

We then walked along the main road to the Two Sawyers, a favourite of my brother's I believe, and one of mine too.  Here was Ringwood Fortyniner and Harveys Sussex Best, both well reported ales, and Harveys Trundle Bitter (3.5%) and Isfield IPA, a 4.2% pale bitter, with a biscuity flavour and dry aftertaste; from this you can guess this is what we drank there, and I've been reasonably impressed by the ales from this new brewery so far. 

Of course, it being a cold and wet day, a fire was lit at the Two Sawyers too.  Cheers!

Wednesday 14 November 2012

Thursday 8th November - Hastings

Visited by the 'Larkmeister', a Mackem today, so, we had a few pints over the course of the day, first at the First In Last Out (FILO) in Hastings Old Town, (High Street).

Mike, the landlord, was at the bar when we arrived, but was not staying for a drink, however, as usual, he's great company, and always a good conversation, although only brief today. However, the lovely new Latvian barmaid, Elina, was there for when Mike had left, not so bad company either to be honest, and a good pint puller to boot, thanks for the ales Elina! 
Four of their own beers were on sale, and Harveys Hadlow Bitter (3.5%). The 4 FILO ales were Crofters Best Bitter, their 3.8% session ale, Old Town Tom (4.5%), if you haven't visited for a while this is a renamed ale due to another brewery's threat of prosecution over its old name, Cardinal Sussex Porter (4.6%), and Gold, a 4.8% Premium Bitter, which I rather enjoyed, nice and pale, quite bitter, with a good body. 

From the FILO, we wandered over The Bourne (now a road, not a river anymore) and walked down All Saints Street, enjoying the medieval buildings; I make a reasonable tour guide, I hope.  Anyway, we wandered down to the seafront and westwards to the White Rock Hotel, near the pier, which has a reasonably priced bar with 4 real ales, always sourced locally, not so bad for a bar very close to the centre of Hastings.
The 4 ales were Hastings Best (4.1%) and Pale Ale (4.7% and using American hops), Harveys Sussex Old Ale (4.3%, not bad, but not a patch on their 4.5% Old Ale, more of which another day), and the 4.1% V S Old Ale from 1648 Brewery. I had to try the 1648, as new to me, the ale, that is, not the brewery, and it's a very decent seasonal ale with a hint of licquorice, like many of these darker ales.

Now we were a wee bit hungry, so wandered back to the Old Town and visited what many locals regard as the best Fish & Chip shop/restaurant in Hastings, the Life Boat Restaurant, where we enjoyed our meals, and the Larkmeister even 'supersizing' his meal up to a large piece of cod for just 20p extra, and it was a huge piece of fish too, he even ended up leaving some food! Anyway, I stuck to a normal sized piece of fish, which was fairly large in itself, and we were served by an enchanting young woman, originally from Eastbourne, I believe her name was Jess, but regret, for once, not making a note of her name, sorry if I'm wrong, Tess/whoever, I'll buy you a drink...

Our final port of call was the Dolphin, for the Thursday night quiz, which was a great laugh as ever! I shall update details of the Dolphin's ales very soon, in another blog, as I was there a few times in the following days.

Tuesday 6 November 2012

Real Fires in Pubs - The Dolphin, Hastings.

I thought I'd add a photograph of any real fires I see in pubs this Autumn/Winter, so starts with the fireplace in the Dolphin, Hastings.  Ales on? Haven't changed much since my last blogs, the two guest ales are currently, Harveys Bonfire Boy (5.8%) and Nelson Powder Monkey (4.4%), already mentioned when drank at the Bricklayers in Putney a few weeks ago. 
Soon to come on is Wadworths 5% Swordfish, which has Pussers Rum added to 6X, apparently, and a seasonal ale much loved in these parts, certainly went down well last year...

Saturday 3 November 2012

1st November - The Bricklayers Arms, Putney

A trip to London, mostly to help out my brother, but we managed to slip in a crackin' couple of pints at his/my new Putney local, The Bricklayers. 

As I've no doubt said before, The Bricklayers has 12 ales and a cider served from handpump; incidentally, there were ciders and perries left from the small cider festival held here at the weekend, and a spare handpump, so just the 11 ales to chose from and loadsa cider, 'just'.  I'll mention Potton Brewery in Bedfordshire, because they had 4 of their ales on, and I've never had an ale from there before, hadn't even heard of them actually: Penny Bitter (4%), Potton Gold Bitter (4.1%), The Village Bike (4.3%), and Shannon IPA (3.6%). Of course, there were quite a few other ales on, so we had to try a couple...

... and these were the 2 we drank, not because they were next to each other, so easy to photograph, that's just a coincidence, but because I felt they were the obvious choices for my tastebuds, and the Routemeister went along with my advice. We started with Moorhouse's Blond Witch, a 4.5% pale golden ale, with a hint of malted biscuit at first, and a dry aftertaste, very tasty!
We then tried an ale from a microbrewery very close to where I live in East Sussex, Franklin's CITRA IPA, a 5.5% pale bitter with plenty of body and a fruity aroma, I noted 'peachy', certainly a more subtle fruity taste too, and a lovely dry finish, loved it, cheers!