Enjoy Playing Away From Home . . .

Wednesday 24 December 2014

Seasons Greetings!

I believe in sharing my best wishes... To care about others, to acknowledge and respect those who work in the Emergency Services at this time of year, at all times of the year... to want to use such a 'season' to be good to each other, this is, above all else my thoughts... 

Best wishes to all! 

Saturday 20 December 2014

A Seasonal Dolphin in Hastings!

This is an updated and topical version of my first article published in the Hastings Independent many months ago (expect many more), now on the 'Steve on Hastings' blog too, and I chose the family-run Dolphin pub at Rock-a-Nore, because it had been named the South East Sussex Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) Pub of the Year for 2 years in a row. The local CAMRA people do not consider pubs after they have won twice in a row, so we may have to wait for a bit longer before it becomes pub of the year again. Shame they don't just chose the best pub, rather than handicap their choice in such a way, but, hey! CAMRA has some very strange ideas, and members, and I should know, being one... 

So, a 'seasonal' photograph from the Dolphin's balcony, OK, we're very unlikely to see snow for a while, if at all, this winter, but I do like this photograph, which I took a couple of winters ago.  

Apart from considering the quality of the ales, how else does CAMRA chose their 'best' pubs? Importantly, they take into account how their 'champion' integrates with the local community. In this respect, the Dolphin raises thousands of pounds every year for local charities, is closely connected to Hastings Fishermens' Museum and has been instrumental in the refurbishment of the Stacey Marie, their retired fishing boat sited opposite the pub (more of very soon), members of the RNLI regularly visit for social events, the pub gets involved in old town festivals such as Fat Tuesday and the Pram Race, and is at the start of the Jack in The Green May Day procession, opening earlier than usual on that day, to provide refreshment for participants and observers, and local musicians regularly play here, do I need to go on? 

Indeed, there is a variety of live music performed here 3 nights a week, Tuesday, Friday and Saturday evenings, and a quiz for charity on Thursday evenings. Food is served every afternoon, and on Mondays the kitchen reopens at 6pm for a 'Fish Supper' deal, where the price of the fish (from Hastings fishing boats whenever possible), hand-cut chips and mushy peas, includes either a pint of beer, glass of wine, or a soft drink. 

Of course, the Dolphin also sells liquid refreshments, soft drinks, wines, 'mulled' wine for December through to the end of January (Mark the landlord's own recipe), spirits, numerous keg beers, including 3 of the newer 'trendy' craft ales, and, of course, what I'm keen on writing about... It sells 6 cask-conditioned ales, and what better way to write about finding such beer in Hastings than visiting the recent champion public house? The Dolphin sells 3 regular ales, 2 from East Sussex brewers, Harveys Sussex Best and Dark Star Hophead, and Youngs Special.   

There are also 3 regularly changing guest ales, very recently these have included Sussex brewer King's Wonderland, a "Winter Pale Ale", a 4.1% very pale bitter with a fruity aroma, good body and a dry finish, not bad at all! Also, from further afield, ie Devon, Hanlons Snowstorm Festive Ale, a 5% "strong winter ale", with a deep amber colour, similar taste to a typical 'old ale', slightly sweet maltiness, plenty of flavour, and a dry finish. Or, if you're very lucky, they may just have a few pints left of either the West Yorkshire brewers, Saltaire's Winter Ale or award winning (though not so seasonal) Cascade Pale Ale.

There are a number of brewers who continue to produce ales of quality regularly, and a few of them in Yorkshire, including Saltaire Brewery. The Winter Ale is a 4.9% darkish amber ale, they say with "toffee accents", but I have no idea what that means! Though I could detect a slight caramel flavour from the malt, and a hint of spice from the Challenger and Brambling Cross hops, all in all, a very good beer of its type. I tried their Cascade Pale Ale yesterday too, which uses Centennial hops as well as Cascade hops, and is described as an "American style pale ale"; good old Saltaire do provide much information on their pump clips! Whatever, it is a 4.8% pale golden bitter, with a fruity aroma and flavour, but more peach rather than the grapefruit I expected, pretty damn drinkable too... 

All of this is why the Dolphin is regarded as a fine example of a community pub, and why it won the CAMRA award twice in a row, and why I commenced my search for beers of and in Hastings and East Sussex here. Before I go on, I'll add that Harveys Sussex Old Ale is currently on sale at the Dolphin too, and shall be for the next couple of months. Anyway, I trust I do still have your interest, because I shall be looking at local pubs and the local brewing industry more over the coming months and years, though I have already written quite a bit about the area on this blog before.


Monday 15 December 2014

Updated Liverpool page!

Updated Liverpool page published! 

This is the excellent Vernon Arms, more Liverpool pubs @ The Beermeister website - all very decent real ale pubs, but many others exist there too, indeed, too many for my website or this blog. Go and have fun there...