Enjoy Playing Away From Home . . .

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!