Enjoy Playing Away From Home . . .

Tuesday 31 December 2013

Twas the season: Excellent ales in Sussex...

So, what excellent ales did I enjoy in the period leading up to, and including the festive period? 

First, at The Tower, London Road, Hastings St Leonards, where, as my previous blog commented on, before Christmas, they had 5 excellent ales on the same day, including old favourites Dark Star Hophead and APA, and Thornbridge Jaipur. Also, there was the new local brewery, 360 Degrees Pacific Pale, and Dark Star Critical Mass, a stronger, darker, and more seasonal ale you couldn't wish for, and 3rd in this blog's list of seasonal ales (though I haven't included pale bitters here, just the darker beers); 4 out of 5 ales all Sussex brewed... 

On Christmas Day itself I drank, from Somerset, the Cottage Full Steam Ahead (4.2%). Now I haven't had a Cottage ale for quite a few years, not sure how much I liked their ales in the past, but I liked this one; a deep amber coloured bitter with a hint of roasted malt, a very well balanced bitter indeed. Also, from Herne Hill in South East London, where the Florence Brewery produce 'Florence' beers for 'Capital Pubs', and a range of ales called "Head in a Hat Brewing", from which I drank GIN, a 4% pale-ish bitter which has been infused with "botanicals taken directly from the still" at the City of London Distillery, so you can guess what that means, yep juniper, amongst other flavours; I'm guessing the citrus comes from the hops used. I'm looking forward to drinking some more of Florence ales, whichever hat they wear! 

OK, exciting ales already, so what did the Albatross Club (RAFA) at Bexhill-on-Sea have to offer? Amongst others, there was Hastings Brewery "Handmade" Number 5, Galaxy hops being used for this one, and named Hop Forward Pale Ale; a 4.8% ale that I've mentioned before, which has an immediate citrus aroma from the hops, citrus flavour too, pale, dry and bitter, I do like this ale! Another local ale, Rother Valley Hoppers Ale was also tasted by me, a nice 4.4% light bitter, fruity with a nutty hint in the flavour, reminiscent of West Country ales.

OK, also, on Sunday, as it was a lovely day, I just had to partake in a 10 mile round walk to Bexhill again, and I met the new barmaid, Karen, nice to meet, and I'll only mention 2 of the ales this time (both of the others available have been mentioned before), again the local Dark Star Critical Mass (7.4%), already reported on, and very good. But an excellent Wessex Brewery (Wiltshire) Russian Stoat, a 9% VERY dark ale, with a rich full flavour, and a hint of liquorice... I have no idea what the joke is about the stoat rather than stout, but this was a wee bit sweeter than I'd expect a stout, personally, but still excellent, and second in the list of dark seasonal ales.   

The Dolphin, back in Hastings, down opposite the fishermen's beach, has had many great ales, as you would expect, the 3 regulars, plus, amongst others: Triple fff Old Dray, a 4.8% traditional best bitter; Wadworth Old Timer, a well-known 5% nutty flavoured old ale from the West Country; Wickwar Rite Flanker, presumably brewed for the rugby union season, a 4.3% bitter with a hint of caramel; and Rother Valley Holley Daze, a 4.2% pale-ish bitter with a hint of caramel and roasted malt. OK, the stand out bitter, though, was from the reliable Yorkshire brewer, Rudgate Volsung, another ale celebrating the Viking influence in this part of the country, 5% pale golden ale with plenty of body, hints of malt, and nice and bitter!  

But the overall seasonal ale award for this Christmas has to go to the very local Hastings Old Town Brewery, FILO, in their own pub, the First In Last Out, High Street, Our Auld Ale, a "Winter Beer" indeed! I could mention their other ales, but shall not this time, though I shall add that they now have 2 guest ales available, in addition to 5 of their own: including, on my last 2 visits, Adnams Ghost Ship and Bath Ales Barnsey, both 4.5%, and Milestone Maid Marian (4.3%). 

But Our Auld Ale, other than getting me 'merry' faster than usual due to the 6.5% strength and being too easy to drink, is a deep dark reddish brown colour, with loadsa body and hints of spice, excellent indeed! I do have to own up to writing some more notes, but I cannot read what I wrote, which says a lot, so maybe I'll have to return very soon and drink some more before they run out. 

See, I don't only drink pale hoppy ales, compliments of the season! 

Wednesday 18 December 2013

STOP PRESS! Naked Ladies...

I've been in touch with Twickenham Ales, many thanks for the response from them: here's the older pump clip, and the THREE naked ladies I remember were ONE naked lady and 2 horses! I'd be useless in a police identity parade...

So, always been called "Naked Ladies", but only ever been ONE naked lady pictured, here's the newer pump clip; glad that's sorted out! 

Whatever, Naked Ladies is a crackin' ale, enjoy it wherever you see it, cheers!

Tuesday 17 December 2013

Twickenham to Sussex via places up North...

Well, I did visit London, which is up North to me, plus some ales from much further North than London reviewed here. Anyway, I included a visit to the Eagle Ale House, off Northcote Road, and close to the Junction; I never thought it would happen to me and a girl from Clapham, you know the one! This is a decent ale house, though seems to have less of the pale and hoppy ales I prefer. On this visit, they did have a golden ale from Hackney Brewery, H3 (4%); Clarence & Fredericks Best Bitter (4.1%); Woodforde's Wherry (3.8%); and I thought I should try the resurrected Truman's Swift (3.9%), another 'golden' ale, with quite a rich flavour, plenty of body for a lower gravity ale, and nice and bitter. They now have their own new brewery in the East End, and I'd love to have one of their glasses! Anway, more about them @ their website, and good luck to them too.  

I also visited my 'local' in Putney, the Bricklayers Arms, which had apparently been drunk dry by Fulham and Villa fans over the weekend! Anyway, they did have 4 Twickenham ales on sale, sadly, just ran out of Naked Ladies too (I'm sure it used to be called 3 Naked Ladies, the landlady said they certainly had changed their pumpclips, and had a similar opinion to me, though others present didn't agree, oh well). Anyway, Twickenham ales they did have were Grandstand, a 3.5% session beer; Redhead, a 4.1% "red ale", believe it or not; a very nice 3.7% pale and hoppy "golden" ale, Sundancer; and a 4.4% winter ale, Winter Cheer, a not too bad darkish bitter with a mellow maltiness and dry aftertaste.     

I have to mention the Tiny Rebel ale (which is from way up North) Hank (4%), reported on before, and still very good, but this time drunk at the First In Last Out, High Street, Hastings 'old town', nice one, cheers! Of course, the FILO also sells 4 or 5 of their own ales, also well worth trying, of course, but they had the Tiny Rebel on, so... 

Back to the Dolphin, Rock-a-Nore, Hastings, and this time I did manage to have a pint of the excellent pale and hoppy Oakham Bishops Farewell (4.6%), see my recent blog about pale ales that mentioned Oakham too, I do believe. In addition to their regulars, Hophead, Sussex Best and Youngs Special, they also had Ilkley (see, from Yorkshire) Rye N' Dry (5%), a deep copper coloured bitter with a roasted malt flavour, and the more local Franklins Pudding Stout (4.2%), a bit sweet with a hint of coffee and smoky malt flavour, not bad either.  

At the Tower, London Road, Hastings (upper) St Leonards/Bohemia, a number of crackin' ales, including from Dark Star, of course, have been enjoyed recently. They have had Hastings 'Handmade' number 11, their Black IPA, which I've also had at the Albatross Club in Bexhill on Sea, and more to be reported on soon with a blog just about 'Black' IPAs, which sounds like an oxymoron, and also the very good Hopback Citra (4%), which has a very citrusy aroma, hint of malt in the flavour, more than usual in such a hoppy ale, and a dry aftertaste. 

Since then I have enjoyed the great array of ales in the photograph above, with the 'session' ale being the 4.7% Dark Star APA, still just £2.60 a pint! First, I drank the new local Sussex brewery 360 Degrees (websitePacific Pale #49, a 4.9% pale and hoppy dry bitter, a very good new ale indeed, and at £2.80 a pint, nice one, ta. Also, had a couple of pints of Thornbridge Jaipur, well you have to, don't you, when you can get this 5.9% Derbyshire ale for just £3.10 a pint? It was the best Jaipur I've tasted for a long time too, it appears more bitter and dryer than it used to be, what I always preferred about their Kipling, pale, dry and bitter; could be a good side effect of an accountant getting the grist reduced, so it is fermented out further to reach the strength... it's a thought? Oh! And Dark Star Critical Mass, which I have never had before. The reducing of the strength from 10% to the more manageable 7.4% was lamented by locals, but a darker roasted malt flavoured bitter (£3.20 a pint, usually up to £5 a pint elsewhere!), very good too.

And Louisa the landlady serving me on this visit too, cheers, and many thanks Lou! 

Friday 6 December 2013

My interests in Dark Star...

Some people must think that I work for Dark Star, or have shares in the company, so I must declare my interests, much as politicians should... The only interest I have in Dark Star Brewing is drinking their excellent hoppy ales! If I was living back up in Sheffield, I'd be talking about Little Ale Cart or Steel City perhaps, or if Magic Rock or Oakham ales were more available to me locally, I'd be talking about them... 

Indeed, I love my hoppy ales... so let us begin with 2 Dark Star ales recently spotted at the White Rock Hotel, overlooking the beach and pier in Hastings. The Hophead (3.8%) is readily available elsewhere, and reported on lots by me, but I see the Art of Darkness (3.5%) much less, so I had to try another pint of it here, dark and hoppy, not easy to get too drunk on, consequently an excellent session ale, I love it! They also had Harveys Sussex Best (4%), and another interesting darker bitter from Rother Valley, the 5% Blues, which was bitter with a hint of coffee, and a dry finish, not bad at all.  

Of course, the Tower, London Road, 'higher' St Leonards/Bohemia, is another regular supplier of Dark Star ales for me in the locality, American Pale Ale (4.7%) being a regular on the bar, and Winter Meltdown (5%) a seasonal medium dark copper coloured bitter, a 'winter warmer' some say, but not up to the level of my old favourite ale of that style the Winter Warmer (5%) from Youngs, as was, which I was weaned on as a baby ;-) The Tower also recently had the very local brew, Hastings 'Vanilla' Porter, a special vanilla flavoured version of their 4.5% Porter at just £2.50 a pint! This has a roasted malt flavour, more what I would expect from a stout, with a dry aftertaste, not bad at all. Oh yes! A hint of vanilla too...  

Talking about Hastings Brewery, at the Albatross Club (RAFA club in nearby Bexhill on Sea), another regular supplier of Dark Star ales too, I recently re-tried the Hastings 'Handmade' number 5, the award winning (eg at the recent Eastbourne and York Beer Festivals) Hop Forward Pale Ale (4.8%). This is brewed with just a single hop, as the 'Handmade' brews are, in this instance 'Galaxy' hops, and like them all, plenty of hops are used too, which is likely why I prefer them to their regular brews. Number 5 is pale, very bitter, and very good too, so good that they brewed a lot more of it, and it is available in bottles and the recent mini-keg version of 'Party Sevens' (just in time for Christmas).

Talking about hoppy ales, the Dolphin at Rock-a-Nore, opposite the Fishermens beach and huts in Hastings 'old town', always has Dark Star Hophead on sale; my nickname in that establishment being 'Hophead Steve' unsurprisingly. However, also, recently, saw the return of Oakham Scarlet Macaw (4.4%), another excellent hoppy ale from Oakham, and this must be at elast the third time it has been on sale at the Dolphin, great stuff, cheers!

Monday 25 November 2013

West London Thames Path walk, Naked Ladies, real fires and ale...

A visit to my brother, the Routemeister, will more often than not include a long walk, usually 12 to 20 miles long, and a few fine ales, and, now we're approaching Winter, real fires... So why should this visit be any different? The evening before the walk we popped into the Bricklayers Arms in Putney, and also following the walk, before me returning to the Junction to catch a train home.

The Bricklayers (site) is a fine pub that I've written about many times, and they appear to work on getting 5 to 10 ales from a microbrewer at a time, so you usually find at least 3 or 4 from the same brewer when you visit, among their dozen ales on offer, often, 2 or 3 from the last brewer they selected too. Their last brewer appeared to be Hobsons, from whom they had their 3.2% Mild, 3.6% Twisted Spire, a 'blond' beer with a slightly nutty flavour, and the very good Old Henry (5.2%), a "rich autumn ale". 

Their next brewer is the Kent brewer Goody, with many "good this and good that"; over the two visits I tried the very good Good Heavens, a 4.1% 'best bitter', tasted like a typical bitter from the South East, nice deep copper colour. My second one was Goodness Gracious Me, a 4.8% pale bitter with a nutty aroma that reminded me of the Belgian lambics in a way, with a slightly sour taste, pretty good stuff too, apparently, a green hopped ale. 

We also sampled Mulberry Duck Amber Sparkle, a 4.1% light malty dry bitter, and Wildflower, a darker 4% bitter; and Red Squirrel Conservation Bitter, a copper coloured sweetish fruity ale, at first taste, with a dry bitter aftertaste, not bad at all. 

Our lunchtime 'port of call' was the Waterman's Arms in Richmond, a wonderful Youngs house (site), kept to a high standard by the Irish landlord and lady, which we used to enjoy Thai food at quite regularly, before cutting back on our expenditure due to necessity. The usual Youngs ales here, always kept in great condition, Special and 'Ordinary' Bitter, and the seasonal Winter Warmer, but their 'guest ale' outstrips sales of the pub company's own ales, ie Twickenham Naked Ladies

Naked Ladies is pretty much a local ale, certainly much more local than Bedford brewed Youngs these days, and pretty damn excellent too! I'm sure it used to be called "3 Naked Ladies", and surely the pump clip included the image of 3 naked ladies on it (all very tasteful of course), but now just the one on the pumclip, despite the plural in the name; maybe a modern day Mary Whitehouse complained or something? Anyway, this is a 4.4% pale bitter, very nice and bitter too, cheers!  

We then walked up to Richmond Park, leaving the Thames Path, crossed the Park, and then crossed Wimbledon Common to visit one of two Youngs pubs, we gave the Hand in Hand a miss, mostly because last time we visited the Crooked Billet (fire therein above), situated in Crooked Billet, Wimbledon Common (site), a few doors down from the Hand in Hand, they had the Naked Ladies too, and we wanted to carry out a  taste comparison. 

Anyway, no Naked Ladies this time, sadly, but the usual Youngs Bitter, Special and Winter Warmer, Wells Bombardier, and Courage Directors, all brewed by Wells these days, of course. We had a pint each of the Special, and it was in very good condition, a nice pint indeed, which it still can be, many thanks, but not as good as the Naked Ladies, oh well...  


Tuesday 19 November 2013

Excellent Welsh Ales... TRUE!

I was reminded yesterday evening that I hadn't written a blog for a while, sadly, other commitments had filled my time, but I'm still here! 

So, to the subject headlined, and it is true! I've never found Welsh ales that much to my liking, excepting the odd one here and there, or ales from the Swansea brewer, Tomos Watkin, who do brew very good ales. The last time I drank Watkin's ales was before a match at the Millenium Stadium in Cardiff, at the 'Nationalist' Cayo Arms nearby.  Sadly, this is now a Marstons pub, so no more Watkin ales there then...  

However, ales from the Newport brewer, Tiny Rebel (website) have found their way to East Sussex, and I have been very pleasantly surprised, they do brew some very good ales, indeed! Yesterday evening, at the Tower, London Road, Hastings St Leonards, I had a few pints of their Hank, a pale and hoppy 4% bitter with a pronounced grapefruit aroma, very good, and competing with the excellent Dark Star ales, Hophead and APA, and competing well too. I've also recently drank Tiny Rebel Billabong, an "Aussie Pale Ale" (presumably Australian hops used) at the Tower, another excellent pale bitter, this time 4.6%, only £2.70 a pint, with more body, obviously, and peach, as well as grapefruit, flavours and aroma, cheers Louisa!

Of course, the new 2014 CAMRA Good Beer Guide entrant, has also been serving up more local ales too, and others from afar, including, locally, 1648 Gold Angel, a 5% pale golden bitter; Franklins Viva La Rye, a 4.3% very dry pale bitter with a hint of roasted malt; the very new Bedlam Hoppy Golden Ale, an ale that does what it says on the pumpclip, it's hoppy and golden, slightly sweet at first taste, but then becoming dry and bitter; oh yes, and they currently have Dark Star Six Grain, a 4.8% bitter, which is maltier than you would usually expect from a Dark Star ale, must be all that grain... and from afar? Well, in addition to the Tiny Rebel brewery ales, I have to add a comment of the Marble Beers, 5.9% Dubber, all the way from Manchester; and I have to add a further note, their pub, the Marble Arch on the Rochdale Road up there, is always worth a visit if you are in that area at any time, I love the place, interesting exterior and interior, excellent food as well as ales, and I have great memories of toons on the juke box too!   

Whilst we're talking about Tiny Rebel, I had the Billabong at the Albatross Club (RAFA) in Bexhill on Sea too (the local CAMRA Club of the Year), very recently, at £2.80 a pint, more good value; £2.80 being the price of all their ales since their recent price increase, whatever the strength! Also, Old School (OSB) Absent, a 5.5% IPA at their regular Thursday "new brewery" event, a pale bitter, which was much too easy to drink for the strength, could be dangerous if sticking just to that ale and having a 'session'. Also, recent ales have included Black Paw Dark Seam, a 5% VERY dark bitter, lovely roasted malt flavour, with a bitter aftertaste, and Liverpool Craft American Red, a deep red, full flavoured bitter.

I also heard the news here from Peter, before seeing it in the local CAMRA publication, Sussex Drinker, that a merger of Franklins Brewery, Brighton Beer Company and WithSoul 'Cask and Craft', a specialist wholesale supplier of real ale, has been launched, with a new brewery in the near future. Things will change, obviously, so keep an eye out for their "plan to embrace the attitude, ingredients and flavour profiles of the progressive beer styles from Belgium, North America and beyond... in a way that respects the character and historical integrity of British ale." I'm looking forward to that!    

At the Dolphin in Hastings 'Old Town', Rock-a-Nore Road (the local CAMRA Pub of the Year), excellent ales keep on being served too, including the ever-excellent Stonehenge Ales Danish Dynamite (5%); Franklins Grumpy Guvnor (4.5%); Wadworth Blunder Buss (5%); the darker Old Knucker (5.5%) from Arundel brewery; Ramsbury Kennet Valley a 4.1% pale bitter with a slightly sweet aftertaste; and the very good pale 4.2% pale bitter Nuptu'ale from apparently always good Oakleaf Brewery.     

That's it for now, Hastings and East Sussex may not have the huge range of free houses and microbrewers that I used to be spoilt by when I lived in South Yorkshire, but in no way does it lack, as can be seen from above... so, enjoy your ale, cheers!

Wednesday 6 November 2013

More great ales and sunny too!


Memories! A walk along the seafront, westwards, 5 miles-ish, and I get to The Albatross Club, (RAFA) in Bexhill, and open to CAMRA members too, for a nominal entrance of £1, as are all guests, and to RAFA members free as well, obviously, (both of which I am a member of, by the way), and 4 lovely ales, usually, at a decent price, was £2.60 a pint; but from this week, £2.80 a pint, apparently...

I shan't mention the other, very good, ales on offer, but 2 excellent ales here! I have gone on about both a bit, particularly, the Green Hopped IPA from Dark Star (6.5%); so more can I say?!? And the Cascade hopped, Hastings 'Handmade' APA, a lovely pale, grapefruit flavoured bitter, and one from the local imbiber, and Hastings brewer, who recently won the "beer of the festival" in Eastbourne, nice one, and nice one...

Oops, thinking of 'champion brewer' Brett and Hastings Brewery, up t' Tower! They did have the excellent Oakham 20 Years (5.8%) on, which I have already reported on, surely... and Dark Star APA, at just £2.50 a pint, etc etc... but I have been back again (it's a hard life), and these were the ales on offer the second time,,,

Dark Star Hophead and APA, virtually 'regulars' and 2 great ales I regularly commend, and 2 other interesting ales too, the first of which was (for moi) Brighton Bier English Garden (3.8%), a "golden ale", that was very nice, and tasted like a 'typical South East England 'best bitter'. Also, Cottage Normans Conquest MM (5%), another 'traditional' tasting ale (the name appears to be more to do with the brewer's surname than Hastings!), though darker, a "Strong Premium Ale"; the name appears to be more to do with the brewer's family name (not 1066), and a full-bodied, darker ale, not bad!

Cheers for now!

Thursday 31 October 2013

Brighton, and 2 new pubs for me, but should have been 3!

A visit to Brighton following St Jude's 'storm', and I attempted to go to the much heralded Craft Beer Company, however, despite the CAMRA Good Beer Guide stating their opening times as 12.00 every day, from this week (my life!) Monday to Wednesday, they will be opening at 3pm for the Autumn/Winter. Damn! So I wandered further down Upper North Street...

... and I revisited The Hampton, which changed hands early this year, so is missing from the 2014 Good Beer Guide, but it remains a fine establishment selling local real ales and some very interesting food, notably burgers extraordinaire! Had a long chat with one of the landlords, I believe, David, a Scot who left that country many years ago for the gentler climate of the south coast... Anyway, a real cider, sorry I missed the name, and 5 real ales, from the 6 handpumps.

Laine's Best (4%), more about later, Kings Poacher's Moon (4.1%), Dorking Number One, Pin Up Beers Red Head (4.2%), and the quite excellent Dark Star Art of Darkness (3.5%), yes, I've mentioned it before, and it is only 3.5%, but what a great light dark bitter with hops+++! So I had 2 pints of it, no Craft Beer Co, so extra time for me...

Then, off to The North Laine, Gloucester Place, a brewery in a pub... Among their ales were Laine's Best (4%), amusingly, brewed for Laine's by Kings (too high a demand for this ale apparently), and a stout, Black Rock (4.5%), Brighton Brau (5.2%), Summer Lovein (3.5%), and the two I tried... an attempt to compete with Fullers, I'd guess, ESB (4.8%), a not bad darker bitter, and India Pale Ale, a 5% nice pale bitter. You can order mini-kegs of their ales (9 pints, I believe) for less than £16, not a bad deal, email northlaine@drinkinbrighton.co.uk for more information. 

Round the corner in Trafalgar Street is The Prince George, a pub specialising in vegetarian food, and very good the food looks too! Also, another establishment selling local ales, served very ably, this day, by Claire. a friendly and knowledgeable lass, including Dark Star Partridge (4%), 1648 Laughing Frog (5.2%) and Festival 30 (3.8%), and the one I tried, Hepworth Sussex Traditional Pale Ale, a 3.5% pale bitter. This weekend, 31st October to 3rd November, they are holding a beer festival, with 6 ales from handpump, and another 6 on stillage by the bar; again, all local ales; go to their website for more information. 

Finally, one just has to stop at The Evening Star before catching the train home, only a few minutes walk from the station too. 3 ciders/perries, and 7 real ales, all served from handpumps, including Dark Star ales, being the brewery tap, despite the distance. I started off with the excellent Revelation (5.7%), already reported on, and full of flavour, plus they had Hophead (3.8%), American Pale Ale (APA, 4.7%), and The Original (5%). Also, from the Norwich-based Fat Cat brewery Wild Cat, a 5% "ultra hop monster", very nice, but could have done with a few more hops, IMHO, Loch Ness Dark Ness (4.5%), and a big 7% Bristol Rock from Art Brew, which had plenty of flavour, but again, could have done with more hops. Oh yes, and another 'green hopped' ale for me, Downlands Fulking Green Hop, 4.4%, pale-ish, not bad... 

Cheers, maybe the Craft one next time!

Monday 28 October 2013

Excellent ales back down by the windy coast!

So, back to the coast and some excellent ales!

On my way home from London, I dropped off at Bexhill-on-Sea and visited the Albatross Club, where they had a dark ale called Privateer Dark Revenge (4.5%), a rather nice and bitter Wentworth WPA ("Woppa" was the nickname when I lived up North), only 4%, but a lovely pale bitter ale, Jeff, the Manager, obviously likes to bring in ales from there because his surname is Wentworth... Also, Caveman Hunter Gatherer (3.2%), which has much flavour for such a low gravity beer, pale, hint of smokiness, sweet at first taste leading to a dry bitter aftertaste, and Dark Star Green Hopped IPA (6.5%), I cannot add much to what I've already said about this, excellent ale indeed, but even better, I think, for being left to settle in the cellar for 3 weeks before serving up, as I said, excellent, cheers Jeff!

Back to Hastings, the following evening, and the Dolphin, Rock a Nore, with 6 real ales on sale, Dark Star Hophead (3.8%), Harveys Sussex Best (4%) and Youngs Special (4.5%) being the regulars. Seasonal regular Harveys Sussex Old Ale (4.3%), and their very seasonal Bonfire Boy (5.8%), and the one I drank, after my obligatory pint of Hophead, Loddon Bamboozle, a 4.8%, too easy to drink "strong pale ale", light pale colour, nice body, bitter, oh yes, it hits the spot, ta Mark!


Sunday 27 October 2013

Greene King

I visited a Greene King pub for a change, meeting up with a whole lot of friends from my youth at the Old Garage, Replingham Road, Southfields, London SW18; unsurprisingly, this used to be a garage. 

The food wasn't bad, and they didn't have their IPA on, but the 3 ales that were on included Greene King Abbot Ale (5%), not bad, Morland Old Speckled Hen (4.5%), OK, and Ruddles County (4.3%)... None of these ales are like what I remember them from years past, and all brewed by Greene King now, sadly. Memories of drinking very good Ruddles County at the Crooked Billet come to mind, and much stronger too, like the Old Speckled Hen of the not so distant past, oh well...

Fings change, and not always for the best, but the craic amongst our quite large group was very good, cheers!

Friday 25 October 2013

Lewes and The Rights of Man, and Women...

So, a return to Lewes in East Sussex, the home of Harveys Brewery, and, in past times, some quite important people, eg Anne of Cleaves and Thomas Paine, the author of Common Sense and The Rights of Man.

My first pub of the day was the Brewers Arms, right next door to where Paine used to live (his previous abode is to the right of the pub, as you look at the photograph). This is a good 'free house', which was serving Sussex ales, the ubiquitous Harveys Sussex Best (4%), and Sussex Old Ale (4.3%), and the very good Dark Star American Pale Ale (APA, 4.7%), and from afar, Theakstons Old Peculiar (5.6%) and Ordnance City Brewery Detonator Pale Ale. The Detonator Pale Ale is a 3.8% very easy to drink pale-ish bitter from Somerset, worth a try if you see it, but definitely a session ale.

I also tried a half of their cider from Kent, Riddenden Cider, an amazingly pale, crisp cider, and at 8%, much too easy to drink! 

Back to Mr Paine, the Rights of Man, along the High Street and near to the Courts, is the newest Harveys pub in its chain. Very nicely done up, a little too bright for me, but the ales were in good nick, all of which were from Harveys, of course. Sussex Best, Sussex old Ale, Armada Ale (4.5%), were all there. However, I tried 2 I hadn't drunk before, Sussex Wild Hop, a 3.7% "blonde beer", pale, dry and quite bitter, though a little thin, as would be expected from the strength. I also tried the much more interesting Star of Eastbourne, an "East India Ale", 5.5%, quite crisp and bitter, pale-ish, not bad for a paler ale from Harveys, who tend to excel with their darker ales. I also have to mention the landlady, 'Tash', a very interesting woman indeed!

From there, it was up to the Lewes Arms, a Fullers house, though it always seems to have a guest ale, in addition to the Fullers, Gales, and Harveys Sussex Best. This day, it was Navigation Golden (4.3%), sorry, I didn't try it as Fullers own London Porter was available, which I had to drink, it has to be one of my favourite darker ales, a 5.4% very dark ruby beer, rich, body++, full of flavour, including a hint of liquorice, love it!

I then ventured to the Snowdrop Inn, another great pub, OK 3 Harvey ales on sale, plus Dark Star APA, and some from further afield, including Oakham Scarlet Macaw (4.4%), a very good ale I have written about before, and Magic Rock Curious (3.9%) "Original Pale Ale", I made the probably overused joke and found this to be a nice pale bitter, can't say much more than that really. I ate here too, olives, home-made humus and pitta bread, a nice starters. 

I had a cheese and onion pasty for my main meal at The Gardeners Arms, back in the High Street, another free house that sells many lovely ales, amongst which were Sussex Best and Dark Star APA. I started with Ilkley Pale (4.2%), a very good ale I have written about before, very pale and bitter, nice one, and I also had the Black Iris Black Mountain, a "Black IPA", dark, full bodied, hoppy, gorgeous!

Then I returned to Hastings, more of which soon... Cheers!

Wednesday 23 October 2013

Beer Festival at the FILO

I missed the beer festival at the First In Last Out (FILO), High Street, Hastings this weekend just passed, but! There were still some ales left by the Sunday evening, and at only £3 a pint for all festival ales still available, or £1.50 a half for me, and Daniella, the wonderful Londoner of Italian descent, mother of Big Mike's Grandson, and Adam's wife, behind the bar, what could be better? 

I only tried 3 of the ales on offer, though had 3 halves of the last one. First, I tried the Roosters Fort Smith, a 5% pale bitter, advertised as an IPA, and named after Rooster Cogburn's residence; and I thought he was just a fictional figure! Anyway, Chinook and Citra hops from the USA are used to create a fruity and rather good bitter, and it was bitter, nice one. Also, I tried a half of Burton Bridge Hardy's Kiss, a 4.5% 'golden' ale, Admiral and Aramis hopped, that was more bitter than the description of "citrus flavours with a floral hint" hinted at, not bad either. 

Finally, 3 halves of the excellent Dark Star Green Hopped IPA, brewed with Simcoe hops with "fresh green Target hops infused into the slowly conditioning beer". 6.5% of an "extreme" hopped pale bitter, loved it, Dark Star, eh?!? 


Monday 21 October 2013

Sent to The Tower... and more Dark Star ales!

My most recent visit to The Tower, London Road, Hastings St Leonards, with the sky just darkening early evening as the Winter draws ever closer, and a very pleasant chance to meet up with the landlady, Louisa. 

Yep, of course there were excellent ales from the East Sussex brewers, Dark Star, available, all at a very reasonable price too. Their Hophead (3.8% and £2.40 a pint), American Pale Ale (APA, 4.7% and £2.50) and the 'seasonal' Indian Summer IPA (6% and just £3.10 a pint). I'm sure I've already commented about the Indian Summer, not just the decent weather we've had up until very recently, but the ale... It has mucho body, a lovely fruity aroma, and is a deeply delicious bitter, love all 3 actually!  

...and not just Dark Star ales, but Two Cocks Brewery's 1643 Cavalier, described as a 'golden ale', which is a quite pale golden bitter, and very easy to drink, thanks for yet another ale and fun filled evening, Louisa, cheers! 

Tuesday 15 October 2013

Strolling, and drinking, in London. SW15 to SE1 and back to SW11, along the Thames...

So, the Routemeister and I left Putney early-ish, heading for Tower Bridge, a lovely walk along the river, and no rain! The inclement weather was the day before, thankfully...

Our first port of call was The Rake, by Borough Market, 2 ales from Dark Star brewery of Sussex, and, as you'd expect, I had to drink the Revelation (5.7%), loadsa hops, and, well, I've gone on about it enough before, love it... Also Dark Star's Partridge 'best bitter' (4.1%), and Dan went for the Cumbrian brewer, Hardknott's Cool Fusion (4.4%), which he liked a lot, reminding him of his regular visits to Belgium really. This was lambic-like, strong citrus, sour and sharp; we were both happy with our choices, thank you very much!

From there, we wandered up to Tower Bridge, had a sandwich, then headed for Simon the Tanner in Long Lane, close to where the old tannery used to be, where we met the very interesting Julie (the barmaid) of Greenock in Scotland. Apart from interesting bar staff, there were also ales to drink. Of the 4 handpumps, one is dedicated to a real cider, in this instance, Gwynt Y Ddraig's Black Dragon (7.2%), and one was in the middle of being changed, so 2 ales for us. There was Redemption's Trinity, I'm guessing 3 hops, or was it to do with the strength? Anyway, only a 3% ale, bitter, but, not unexpectedly, a bit thin. So we went for the other London brewer, Portobello Pale, a 4% "refreshing golden ale", a very easy to drink, and pleasant pale bitter.

We then headed back to Pimlico and the Cask Pub and Kitchen, with its 10 handpumps, from which we sampled 2. The very easy pale hoppy bitter of Mallinsons, HPA, only 3.7%, but packed with flavour, fruity and bitter, we liked it a lot, but I cannot remember ever being disappointed with an ale from Mallinsons. I also had a half of Blue Monkey Infinity Plus One, a 5.6% deeply bitter pale beer, with plenty of body, a peachy aroma, and yes, very bitter, loved it. I know the brewer, Richard, and can say, "cheers!" to Richard.

I was heading back from Clapham Junction that evening, so our final refreshment was at The Candlemaker, in Battersea High Street, just 10 minutes or so from the station. Only 3 ales from their 4 handpumps that evening, a busy and friendly establishment just down the road from where we went to school. All 3 ales were from East Sussex too, amusingly, though their own Laines Best (4%) is always on, I believe, and 2 from Dark Star, Hophead and American Pale Ale (APA), and you should know by now what I think of Dark Star ales... we went for the Hophead, cheers!

Sunday 13 October 2013

Back to the Bricklayers Arms, Putney, always a pleasure...

Visited my brother, Dan the Routemeister, so a trip to the Bricklayers Arms was merited, and many crackin' ales from their handpumps...

Dark Star Hophead was receiving a walloping from the locals, deservedly so, great ale, but I couldn't go there, it's one of my regular supping ales anyway, and there was a fair choice of other ales too, so... we started with the Ilkley Pale, a 4.2% very nice pale bitter, as I expected. Packed with flavour for a 4.2% ale, grapefruit flavour, nice and dry finish; Dan stayed on this, but there were 3 ales from Blackjack Brewery, from Manchester, I do believe... 

And the fire was lit too! How the weather has changed. Anyway, they had Black Jack's Stout (5%), "Chocolate and liquorice notes", says the blurb on the pumpclip, and the 2 I tried; their Aces High IPA, a 5.5% rich and complicated pale bitter, claims to grapefruit, but not so much as the Ilkley Pale, despite more strength. I also tried their Four of a Kind (6.2%), you get the theme ;-) Four hops used, all with names beginning with C, so you can guess the flavours that came through from Cascade, Columbus, Chinook and Centennial hops... Citrus and fruit galore, the ale tasted a wee bit darker than it looked, but pretty decent to drink, indeed...

Always a pub to visit if in the area. Cheers! 

Friday 11 October 2013

Meeting a Caveman (nearly), and at the Albatross too!

No, really! A lovely walk along the coast to Bexhill on Sea, and pop into the Albatross Club (RAFA), the regional CAMRA Club of the Year 2013; a must for a CAMRA member, who also happens to be an associate member of the RAFA and the Club, it would be rude not to.

4 pumps, awaiting a fifth, and 2 from my (not so) old favourites Dark Star Brewery, the APA and Hophead, both much written about by me, another from the Hastings brewery, FILO, their Cardinal, a very good 4.6% "Sussex Porter", and one from Kent, the Caveman Mesolithic, a 4.5% pale, refreshing bitter, with a hint of dark roasted malt in the flavour. Oh yes, and the 2 Sussex ales from Dark Star both were changed as heavily drunken by regulars, so another 2 came on! 

Another FILO ale, The Churches Pale Ale (4.2%), pale-ish, as you would expect, and I'm sure I've reported on this before, though didn't taste this one today, and one I did sample, the only non-local ale, from the Potteries, Titanic Engine Room, a 4.6% pale dry bitter, very nice! 

So, meeting the caveman? Not quite, but I met the brewer's parents, who run the George & Dragon pub in Swanscombe, Bob and Bron. A very pleasant chat ensued, and good to see them taking their time off in East Sussex, and hence, how Jeff at the Albatross Club has got hold of the Caveman ales recently, Bob and Bron deliver them, nice one.

The two that came on, above...

So, I've not written much lately, thank goodness some may say, but I do have a lot of work on at the moment, but I shall carry on sharing my, and friends' experiences regarding ales, pubs, and yes, even going to football matches, now and then, cheers!