Enjoy Playing Away From Home . . .

Tuesday 26 February 2013

The Dolphin, Hastings, and an excellent ale, or six…

I thought an update concerning my ‘local’, the Dolphin, was due, particularly as I drank here, yesterday, what must be my favourite ale for years, it stood out that much.  Also, a testament to Mark, the landlord, and all the family and staff there, that they have kept to 6 ales since the New Year, as their sales of real ales have kept up, so no need to have a month or two with just five ales as in previous years, as Mark always likes to ensure to his ales are served in best condition, quality!

On Thursday, the real ales included the 3 regulars, Dark Star Hophead (3.8%), Youngs Special (4.5%), and Harveys Sussex Best (4%), and three guests: Franklins Mama Knows Best (4.1); Milk Street The Usual, a 4.4% bitter, with a hint of roasted malt, and aroma of toast and marmalade, very interesting and very good; and a very drinkable pale ale, Orkney Scapa Special (4.2%).

By the 25th, the guest ales were all different, and I’ll start by describing the excellent ale mentioned in the first paragraph, sitting next to my regular favourite, Hophead, it was the 5.6% Ilkley Lotus IPA, a “wolf in sheep’s clothing”, to quote Ilkley’s pumpclip… As soon as you smell it, a citrus aroma fills your nose, very big on grapefruit in the drinking too, good body, dry, pale and bitter, what more could I ask for? All the way from Yorkshire and, although I had drunk this last year, as previously reported, it hadn’t stood out as much then, but yesterday, I loved it!  

2 other new guest ales too, both very drinkable: from a Sussex brewer, so much more local, Isfield IPA, a light beer, with a slight flavour of roasted malt; and a ruby ale from Plain Ales of Wiltshire, Intrigue, a full-flavoured 4.2% bitter.
If you want to taste the Lotus IPA, I’d suggest you get to the Dolphin very quickly, as I doubt it will still be available for much longer, despite 2 firkins, as it really is that good, and really is being drunken in quantity, otherwise, visit Yorkshire, cheers!

Saturday 23 February 2013

The Tower in St Leonards, Hastings (20-02-13)

I hadn't been to the Tower, London Road, St Leonards, Hastings, for quite a while, and not because it has a long address, but, well, I've been pretty busy, and a bit short of cash to boot! The Tower probably sells the best value good quality ales in the area, and you're pretty sure to get one of Dark Star's excellent pale beers, so the walk up to the Tower was a sensible move on Wednesday, and Lousia, the landlady, was present too... bonus!

So, what did they have to drink? 4 excellent ales were available, indeed, 2 from Dark Star and 2 from the West Country.  I started with Bath Ales Golden Hare, a 4.4% 'seasonal' full-bodied pale ale with a pronounced bitter aftertaste, very good. I then had a half of the St Austell Ruck & Roll (topical, rugby, see?), a slightly darker light bitter with a hint of nuts to the flavour.  Then a new member of staff arrived, the already efficient Jess, with her intricately painted union flag fingernails; worth taking the picture as I progressed to the Dark Star ales...   

I had a pint of the ever bitter, pale and hoppy, favourite of mine, Hophead (3.8%), at just the £2.30 a pint, can't get better than an excellent local ale at a very competitive price... then the improved (on what was already a very good beer recipe, presumably a variation of hops used) American Pale Ale (APA and 4.7%) at £2.40 a pint. I was a happy bunny on my way home, cheers to Louisa and Jess!

The Dolphin for my next blog...

Thursday 21 February 2013

The Bricklayers Arms in Putney, February 2013

So, 2 visits to the Bricklayers Arms in Putney in just a few days of February… First with my brother, the ‘Routemeister’, then alone-ish; but I’m never alone, obviously, as I chat so much.  As Dan says, this is MY local in Putney, not his, despite his living very close and me not. Always, up to 12 real ales available, unless a beer festival is in progress, or just ended, and then, well, the Pub’s your oyster… eg the current 'Yorkshire Beer Festival', 20th to 24th February (website), which should be a home from home for me, though I’ll, sadly, not be able to make this one.  

Amongst the many ales available on the Thursday were Front Row Collapsed (5.6%), a full bodied pale beer; Downton Dark Delight (5.5%), with a dark roasted malt flavour; Sarah Hughes Pale Amber, a 4% easy drinking pale beer; and Otley Rosie, a 4.3% redcurrant/berry flavoured ale.  On the Monday were ales including Downton Chimera IPA (6.8%) and Chocolate Orange Delight (5.8%), and Hobsons Old Henry, a 5.2% rich ‘auburn’ ale, Mild (3.2%) and Town Crier, an excellent 4.5% pale bitter!  
Then I walked back to Clapham Junction, but you, please do try to make the beer festival (me? Jealous much) - cheers!  

Thursday 14 February 2013

Monday 11th February, up the Junction and on to West London

So, back to London, via Clapham Junction, a bit dark and dismal, with a little snow too, however… My original plan was to be accompanied, but, sadly, alone again, consequently, rather than go straight through to Victoria, I decided to walk to Hammersmith from the Junction, via Battersea High Street, The Thames Path, and Parsons Green, first stopping at the Candlemakers in Battersea High Street.  My having gone to school in Battersea High Street, and now living on the coast of East Sussex, a pub in that road, that is linked to a Brighton brewpub, well, it had to be a stop for me, yet again, and, yet again, Freddie was working there, good to see a friendly face. 

5 handpumps on the bar, usually serving 4 real ales and a real cider, which on Monday yielded their regular ale, from their own brewery, The Laine Brewery Laine’s Best, a 4% bitter described before here. Also, 3 guest ales, Sambrook’s Pumphouse Pale Ale, a 4.2%, slightly sweet ale with a bitter aftertaste, and 2 from Dark Star, the excellent Hophead (3.8%), so often mentioned here, and, as only very recently mentioned on this blog, their excellent 3.5% The Art of Darkness, which, despite being near the end of the firkin, was still fresh, easy drinking, though maybe a touch more bitter than my last pint of it, very nice, thank you.

Next, I wandered along the Thames, over Wandsworth Bridge, past an old flame’s home to the White Horse at Parsons Green, and served by the enthusiastic and very friendly Australian barmaid, Brook.  They had 8 ales on, as usual, including their regular, Harveys Sussex Best (4%), and… Milk Street Mermaid, a 3.8% “malty nut brown beer” and Zig Zag, a 4.5% “dark chocolaty stout”; Adnams Broadside (4.7%); Moorhouses Black Cat (3.4%), a very well known dark mild; Windsor & Eton Conqueror, a 5% “black IPA”; the always excellent Oakham JHB, 3.8%, pale and hoppy, another favourite bitter of mine; and Hopfuzz Veteran, a 4.2% very pale and refreshing ale. Oh yes, and they also have about 30 Belgian beers, and a good number of ‘craft’ beers on keg too…

Then? Well along to the Dove, another favourite pub of mine (NB the close proximity to William Morris’s 19th century home) which nestles by the Thames, just to the west of Hammersmith Bridge on the north side of the river. Served by Lisa, who has been here for well over a year, though I seem to have missed her on my more recent visits, and I had a good chat to Matt, the manager here, the lucky lad having the opportunity to live above the pub!

So, a Fullers pub of great history and reputation, serving, ahem, Gales Seafarers, Fullers London Pride, Honeydew, and a new Fullers ale for me, the 4.2% Black Cab Stout.  I was very disappointed I had missed their London Porter, only recently available here, and probably my favourite regular porter, but the Black Cab was a very nice drinkable new beer for me, dark and quite light to drink, so not too disappointed! Oh yes, a Guinness Book of Records noted “smallest bar”, by the way, see above.

From here, it was a walk up to Stamford Brook station, and the Raven, which had 6 ales on, that regularly change, but usually from a short list of brewers. Monday, there was Sambrook’s Wandle and Junction, Marstons EPA and Pedigree, and Ringwood Best Bitter and Fortyniner, all in good form.  I also found out the Pope was resigning at the end of the month, whilst drinking here (it was on the tv), I thought it was a first, but my brother has since assured me it isn’t (pope to resign).

Before leaving West London for Putney, I had to drop into the Bree Louise’s sister pub, at the Stamford Brook end of Goldhawk Road, the Duchess of Cornwall, where they gladly offer a 50p a pint discount to us CAMRA members, nice one, thank you muchly! I also met up with Simon, the landlord, again, and had a great first chat to the landlady too, Ruth, who has plans, though not yet fixed, to start brewing on the premises herself, which has to be looked forward to.   
As mentioned before, there are 6 handpumps and the potential for 9 ales straight from the cask, though, being a Monday and early in the week, just the 5 gravity fed beers available, plus those delivered from handpumps. There were a number of rugby union inspired beers, including Milestone Luck of the Irish (4.8%) and Scotland the Brave (4.1%), but I settled for a pint of Plain Ales, a brewery I’d first experienced beer from at the Bricklayers in Putney, Arty Farty Firkin, a good 3.9% pale hoppy bitter.  As usual, I look forward to returning to these pubs in West London very soon…
However, I then finished drinking at the Bricklayers in Putney, and this day’s and last Thursday’s visits there, will have a blog all of their own, very shortly… cheers!

Wednesday 13 February 2013

Thursday 7th February - Isleworth

Oops! I thought I'd already posted this, but blogger hadn't saved or published it, so, here I go again, let's hope my memory is up to scratch!

Walking along the Thames to Isleworth with Dan, my brother, the 'Routemeister', we usually visit the London Apprentice, but on Thursday, we had a different goal, ie visiting two new pubs to us in Isleworth, the first, the Victoria Tavern on the corner of Worple Road, where we were warmly greeted and served by the knowledgeable and very lovely barmaid, Sam(antha). The Victoria has 2 rooms, we settled for drinking in the room shown below, which was tasteful, and comfortable to sit in. 

Ales? 3 on... Sambrook's Wandle, which I've discussed sufficiently before; Sharps Cornish Coaster, a 3.6% pale bitter, not that hoppy, thus very easy to drink; and Belhaven Robert Burns, a 4.2% darker "Scottish Ale", typical Scot's ale, indeed, if they called it '80/-', you woodnae be surprised!  

We then wandered down to the Red Lion, a 10 minutes walk away, and a much bigger pub in Linkfield Road, apparently run by the daughter of the Victoria's landlord, and a regular in CAMRA's Good Beer Guide. This has 3 rooms, a large room with impressive stage at the back, where there are regular gigs, and two rooms to the front, including the one below, that could be someone's front room, if it were a wee bit smaller!  Up to 10 ales on sale here, of which we drank the 3.8% Twickenham Grandstand Bitter, a very nice pale bitter, and I have to say, I haven't yet been disappointed by Twickenham Brewery and their ales. 

So, what other ales were there? Hogs Back Snout, a 3.8% 'dark winter stout'; Cottage Plunge (4.6%); Guilsborough Nobby's Virtue (4%); Ringwood Old Scrumper (4%); Hardys & Hansons Olde Trip (4.3%); Adnams Lighthouse (3.4%); 1648 Ruby Mild (3.6%); and Vale Black Swan, a 3.9% dark mild.
We then wandered back alongside the Thames to Putney and the Bricklayers Arms, more of in my next blog... Cheers! 

Tuesday 12 February 2013

Tuesday 5 February 2013

Weekend 2-3 February and surprise 3.5% Ale!

I watched football on Sky tv at the Tower, London Road, St Leonards, Hastings, and found they had 3 Dark Star ales on sale, the 5% 'winter warmer' Winter Meltdown, the excellent 4.7% pale ale, American Pale Ale and The Art of Darkness, only 3.5%.  They also had Tring Moongazer, a 4.3% lightish ale with "All American Hops".  The Moongazer is a light coloured ale, with a hint of caramel in the aroma, and a little sweet to start with, but with a bitter aftertaste, nice.

But the surprise was The Art of Darkness, Dark Star adding a whopping amount of hops to make this session beer, by strength, a "full flavoured black beer"... Not too bad a description, but the colour was more a deep dark red, and the flavours were certainly there. Yes, full of hops, refreshing, with a dry aftertaste, and I was very happy to drink more than just the one pint, excellent!  

At the Dolphin in Hastings, I again enjoyed the full flavoured 5.5% CITRA IPA from Franklin's, which does what it says on the label, this new brewery from Bexhill certainly is brewing some decent ales very early in its existence.  In addition to the CITRA, there were the Dolphin's usual regulars, Harveys Sussex Old and Sussex Best, Youngs Special and Dark Star Hophead, and there was also:

The Dolphin's first foray into ales from Kent Brewery, which shouldn't be their last, as this is another reasonably local brewery, in adjacent Kent, that brews some very good ales. The 4.1% Cobnut is a dark ruby ale, with a nutty flavour, and reminds me of a stout, very nice.  Cheers!