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Thursday 31 December 2015

Sunday 27 December 2015

Christmas Drinking...

Well, I did my drinking at the Dolphin, Rock-a-Nore, Hastings this Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, and on the 24th, the Dolphin had 5 of its 6 ales from Sussex. There was the ever-present regular Dark Star Hophead (3.8%), my usual drink at the Dolphin, and what I drank on Christmas Eve too, and one of the local guests was Franklins Explorer (4.7%), with a deep amber colour, fruity, a bit sweet at first taste, then drying out...      

Of course, there was the regular Sussex Best from Harveys (4%), and the third regular, Youngs Special (4.5%) from north of the Thames; no need to comment on them!  

The other two guest ales were 1648 Gold Angel (5%), a golden bitter, as you'd expect, with a citrus aroma and flavour, and from the excellent newish Sussex brewery, Downlands, their 5% porter Devils Dyke; a reminder of one school trip in my youth, though I didn't drink porter then, we just visited the Devils Dyke.... 

The Devils Dyke and Gold Angel ran out that day, and were replaced by 2 excellent pale hoppy ales I was spoilt with for my Christmas Day lunchtime session, ie the always excellent Oakham Citra (4.2%), pale, hoppy, citrus, just what the Citra hop does for the ale, and I have to admit, all the Oakham ales I have drunk have never disappointed me, quality always!  


Finally, from a Swansea brewery I had never sampled an ale from before, the rather superb Waen Mousse Warning! They describe it as "hellish good beer", and it has Citra, Cascade and Centennial hops, so, like a much more fuller bodied Citra, but with a deeper intensity in the flavour, a bit more dry and bitter too, gorgeous!    

Anyway, if I don't write again before, Happy New Year, cheers!

Thursday 24 December 2015

Merry Winter Ales!

The FILO Our Auld Ale, a whopping 6.5% and secondary fermenting, I'd imagine, is on for the third year at their 'brewery tap', the First In Last Out, High Street, Hastings. What can I say that I haven't said in previous years? It's mighty damn good!    

Also, at the Dolphin Inn, Hastings, I recently drank the Kent brewery, Old Dairy, Snow Top, a mere 6%, another excellent winter ale, tasting like a full bodied heavy old ale, as it should. I have drunk other winter/old ales recently, but these two stand out...    

Anyway, have a merry festive season, cheers!

Thursday 5 November 2015

Nice one, West Berkshire Brewery!

Congratulations to David Bruce and West Berkshire Brewery for becoming members of the Worshipful Company of Brewers (website); the Brewers' Company having received their first Royal Charter from Henry VI in 1438. David said that he is "delighted to be invited with Simon Robertson-Macleod to become a Liveryman of the Worshipful Company of Brewers." 

Sunday 1 November 2015

An Excellent Green Hopped Ale

I wrote a piece for my Hastings blog earlier, as, yesterday, I had finished off the 2 firkins of the excellent Dark Star Green Hopped IPA (6.5%) at the Dolphin Inn, Hastings, Rock-a-Nore Road... Well, I didn't drink the full 18 gallons, but I did have a few pints from both casks, not least the final 2 pints from the second firkin.

As you will probably be aware, a green hopped ale requires fresh hops, ideally, picked on the day of the brew. Dark Star Brewing (website) use "fresh English hops", ie Simcoe, in this very seasonal ale. Yet again, this year, this was an excellent ale, with a deep amber hue and fruity aroma, the taste is fruity, but dry, not particularly sweet, leaving a dry bitter aftertaste, exceptional, indeed, cheers!    

The Hillsborough Hotel - Fit for Business, indeed!

Further to my blog of 2 weeks ago, I can confirm that Tom and Brigitte have well and truly got the show on the road again at The Hillsborough Hotel, 54-58 Langsett Road, Sheffield S6 2UB (Tel: 0114 232 2100 - Twitter link). This was a pub I worked at whilst at university in Sheffield, but under an owner many times removed now. It is an away fan 'friendly' pub, with B&B (6 bedrooms), good locally sourced freshly cooked food, and just 2 tram stops away from Sheffield Wednesday's ground, and easy enough to get to Sheffield United from here by tram or bus too.  

Having cleaned up and refurbished the cellar since taking over, Tom and Brigitte have 6 regularly changing, well conditioned, real ales served from handpump. There is an emphasis on promoting local ales, but they sell ales from further afield too. Today, they have some excellent local ales, from Sheffield and Yorkshire; ie the hoppy citrus flavoured 4.5% Exit 33 Hop Monster (website), 4.0% Wentworth WPA (website), 4.2% White Rose White Dragon, and the 4.3% Great Heck Voodoo Mild (website). From further afield, 4.0% Charnwood Vixen (website), and from Cornwall, the excellent stronger tasting hoppy bitter, the 5.7% Black Flag White Cross IPA (website). 

I look forward to my next visit to Sheffield, cheers!    

Friday 23 October 2015

Drinking Ale Beasts in Hastings!

Last week I drank the superb Burning Sky Aurora, at the FILO in Hastings, and now The Rutland Beast, brewed at Oakham in Rutland by The Grainstore Brewery(website)... Seven different types of malt and wheat are used for the grist, and three different hops in the brew, though Grainstore appear to be a little shy about sharing the names of the hops used! 

Also, I didn't really find it to be a "beast", but a well-balanced ale with a deep red colour and lovely to drink. OK, it's a wee bit strong at 5.3%, but with a lovely cherry beer aroma, and fruity strong taste and plenty of body, in fact, I'd describe it as an excellent strong 'ruby mild', but what do I know? I had this very recently at the Dolphin Inn at Rock-a-Nore, and the speed of it not being on any more provides evidence of what a good beer it is/was.

So I thought I should give notice of another 'beast' of an ale, this time from an East Sussex brewer, and due to come on at the Dolphin this weekend, and that is the very seasonalDark Star Green Hopped IPA (brewery website). Seasonal, because of the use of fresh (most brewers use hops picked within 12 hours to add to their brews of this type of ale) or green hops, rather than the dried hops usually used by brewers. Very different in style, a supremely dry pale bitter with a strong aroma and taste of citrus from the Simcoe hops used, and 6.5% of strength that you may not notice, unless you drink more than one pint! 


Thursday 15 October 2015

Hillsborough Hotel, Sheffield

A little birdie recently told me that the Hillsborough Hotel (Top Wellie) in Sheffield had closed, so it was great to hear from Tom Delaney that he and Brigitte have now taken over the licence there. To quote Tom, "after 10 years away they are returning to take over the reins at this well known hostelry. Unfortunately the brewery is no longer part of the set up, but the take is to try, at some point, to reinstate it. Brig and Tom would like to take the opportunity to welcome customers old and new to the Hillsborough!"

Good luck to them from Steve the Beermeister! 

Thursday 17 September 2015

"Gold" Champion Beer of Britain 2015

Having had a pint or three of this Gold Champion ale at the Dolphin Inn at Rock-a-Nore in Hastings 'old town' earlier today, I had to share my thoughts on this CAMRA Champion Beer of Britain 2015 (among its honours), that went on at lunchtime at the fine Hastings public house. The deep red coloured Titanic Plum Porter (4.9%), see website, has a rich fruity aroma that wafts straight up your nostrils and with a very fruity flavour too, as you would expect, plenty of body with a dry bitter finish, I liked it a lot; and they have 2 firkins, so it should last the weekend, cheers!  

Monday 7 September 2015

Crackin' Ales from across the Country!

I've had 2 excellent ales from Kelham Island Brewery, an old employer of mine up in Sheffield (website). Their Miami Pale Ale (5%) was a nice refreshing pale golden ale with a dry bitter finish, and their Atomic Blondie (nice pump clip!) was a more full bodied, though not as much as I expected, 6% golden, dry and bitter ale, incredibly dangerous, as very easy to drink!   

Over from Somerset, ie from RCH Brewery (website) of Western Super Mare, came another excellent 4.5% pale golden ale, their THIRTY POINT SIX, brewed with Bodicea hops, a dry citrusy bitter, enjoyed muchly too!      

And from Oakham Ales of Peterborough (website), I've very recently had 3 ales, always a dependable sight on the bar! Their 4.2% Citra, very pale with a citrus aroma and taste that smacks you in the cheeks, making them go cold, a gorgeous dry bitter! Their 4.4% Scarlet Macaw, grapefruit, but a bit more subtle, again, pale, dry and bitter! Also, their ever lovely 4.6% Bishops Farewell, I've written about this fruity dry bitter so often, I shan't bore you again, sorry! Impossible to get bored drinking Bishops Farewell, cheers! 

Wednesday 2 September 2015

Crackin' East Sussex Ales!

Crackin' pale bitter from the FILO Brewery (Hastings Old Town Brewery), PIRATE GOLD, drinking it as I write! What can I say, pale, dry, bitter, strong, probably more than 6% by now! We'll likely never see it again, as brewed by chance, AWESOME...

Another great and old faithful trusty ale, Dark Star American Pale Ale (4.7%, website), much written about by me before, pale, hoppy, consistently quality!  

Finally, for today, and I have many other crackin' ales, from outside Sussex, to report about very soon, but my brother and I had this 5.5% 'monster' of an ale at the Albatross Cub (RAFA) in Bexhill, recently, Franklins New Zealand Indian Pale Ale  (NZIPA, 5.5%, website), brewed with New Zealand Rakau hops. OK, as I wrote it down, "not too fruity, quite bitter, good body, dry, with a bitter finish - Nice one!"  

The NZIPA arrived, from the supplier, at the Dolphin, Rock-a-Nore, Hastings Old Town, today, so expect it on there within the next week or so... I shan't miss it!  

Tuesday 25 August 2015

Best/Interesting Pub Names?

If anyone knows a publican, or three, who believes his/her pub has an excellent name that may fit the criteria to win the Best Business Name Competition (there are prizes!), then have a look at this website by the end of August... 

 This sort of name comes to mind... 

Good luck to anyone who takes part, cheers! 

Thursday 13 August 2015

Congratulations to Tiny Rebel!

Congratulations to Tiny Rebel and their 4.6% Cwtch for not only winning Gold in the Best Bitter category in the CAMRA Champion Beer of Britain awards, but also for winning GOLD for overall winner!   

All Results: 

Champion Beer of Britain 2015
CAMRA are pleased to announce this year's Champion Beers of Britain as follows: 
Supreme Champions
Supreme Champion Rosette - Gold
Tiny Rebel - Cwtch
Kelburn - Jaguar
Dancing Duck - Dark Drake
Mild Rosette - Gold
Williams Brother- Black 
Rudgate - Ruby Mild 
Great Orme - Welsh Black
Best Bitter
Best Bitter Rosette - Gold
Tiny Rebel - Cwtch
Highland - Scapa Special 
Joint Bronze:
Barngates - Tag Lag
Salopian - Darwin's Origin

Speciality Rosette - Gold
Titantic - Plum Porter 
Joint Silver 
Kissingate - Black Cherry Mild 
Saltaire - Triple Chocolate 
Hanlons - Port Stout
Bitter Rosette - Gold
Pheasantry - Best Bitter

Acorn - Barnsley Bitter

Joint Bronze
Purple Moose - Madog's Ale
Timothy Taylors - Boltmaker  
Golden Ale Rosette - Gold
Kelburn - Jaguar
Adnams - Explorer 
Blue Monkey - Infinity
Strong Bitter
Strong Bitter Gold
Dark Star - Revelation
Salopian - Golden Thread
Grain - India Pale Ale
Champion Bottle-Conditioned Beer
Bottled Beer Rosette - Gold
Harveys - Imperial Extra Double Stout
Fyne Ales - Superior IPA
Mordue - India Pale Ale

Thursday 30 July 2015

Smiling again!

This was what the Alchemist, at 225 St John's Hill, SW11 1TH (near Clapham Junction/Wandsworth Common), looked like before it closed down a couple of years ago, very nice, and with more than a hundred years history behind it...  

This is what happened to it! Like the Carlton Tavern at Maida Vale (reported in my blog of 29th April this year), it is another London public house to be demolished, but without planning permission! 

Like the Carlton Tavern, the owner has been ordered to rebuild the Alchemist, brick by brick, using original materials! The Council said that "the demolition was a serious breach of planning rules which can only be right by the complete rebuilding and reconstruction... using the same materials and to the same architectural design."   BRAVO! 

See the Standard for more.       

Sunday 19 July 2015

Biddenden's Bushels Cider!

I realise that I haven't written much here for quite a while, and I do have many ales, and not a few pubs, to report on, but I'm slipping in this report of my drinking the very nice Biddenden's (website) Bushels Cider (6%) at the Dolphin, Rock-a-Nore, Hastings. 

The Bushels was lovely and clear, not quite the same as some of my past experiences of drinking cider straight from Devonshire farms, together with whatever lumps and debris was left in them (always an experience!), or the rougher ciders enjoyed at the Cider Bar in Newton Abbot. But I don't live in Devon anymore, so this one is now a reasonably local cider to me (from Kent), and certainly had to be tried, as Mark, the Dolphin landlord, purchased 5 firkins for this, definitely a local pub to me! 

As you can see from this photograph, a nice bright cider, at a decently cool temperature, "flat" say Biddenden, but it certainly has life, with a sweetish apple flavour at first, but drying out very nicely, thank you! The say "medium dry", I'd say much drier than I expected, nice one. Mark had brought in 2 firkins at first, but, as both sold out within a few days, the extra 3 firkins were ordered very urgently! 

Indeed, all 5 firkins sold out pretty quickly, but I'm aware that Mark has already ordered 2 or 3 more firkins, so shall be available at the Dolphin again very soon, which I'm looking forward to... Oh yes! And I've ales to report on too, so expect another blog soon, I'll not be so tardy again, fingers crossed, cheers!    

Thursday 18 June 2015

Waterloo, Wellington, and Hastings!

Coming from an Anglo-Irish family, Major General Sir Arthur Wellesley, perhaps better known later as the Duke of Wellington, was born in Dublin in 1769. His family bought him a commission in the British Army in 1787, as he was not that interested in furthering his education after school.
He was Knighted for serving a very successful posting to India from 1796 to 1805. When he returned to England he was then posted to Hastings on 25 February 1806 to take command of a brigade of infantry. His troop was based locally and he first stayed at 54 High Street, which was used as his headquarters.  
The Swan Inn (no more)
The Swan Inn (which was situated opposite 54 High Street, but is now a garden following its destruction from WW2 bombing) was used for a public dinner in his honour, soon after his marriage to Kitty Packenham in Dublin on 10 April 1806. She had been brought back to Hastings, where they lived at Hastings House, a Palladian Mansion at the North end of Tackleway. The plot where Hastings House and gardens once stood is now occupied by Old Humphry Avenue.
Wellesley was MP for Rye 1806 to 1809; he had before sat a couple of terms as MP (for Trim) in the Irish House of Commons in the previous century. 

This Thursday, 18th June, is the 200th anniversary of his famous victory over Napoleon at Waterloo, and Harveys have brewed a special beer in honour of that achievement, Waterloo Rye IPA (6.1%). Rye malt from Belgium has been used in the brew, whilst French bittering hops were added to the wort, and the casks are dry-hopped with hops from Britain and Germany; Belgium was the site of the battle, and France, Britain and Germany were the 3 main protagonists. 

Waterloo Rye IPA should be a very interesting ale to drink, which I am looking forward to drinking, this lunchtime, at the Dolphin Inn, Rock-a-Nore, Hastings old town, cheers!     

Sunday 14 June 2015

Celebrate with beer tomorrow, because...

Tomorrow, Monday June 15th at 12.15pm, a nationwide communal "cheers" to beer has been planned, when beer lovers will be encouraged to go to the pub, or open a bottle of beer in the park or at home, and raise a glass to celebrate British beer (see website). 12.15pm relates to the year that Magna Carta was sealed, that is, 800 years ago to the day, and Beer Day will be held on the 15th June every year from now on...  

Clause 35 of Magna Carta states "Let there be throughout our kingdom a single measure for wine and a single measure for ale and a single measure for corn, namely 'the London quarter'." 

Please feel free to join in, and cheers!    

Tuesday 9 June 2015

Message in a bottle...

I can't believe how long it is since I have written on here, so I must apologise for my being sidelined by my other blog, Steve on Hastings, sorry! Anyway, here are some musings on 2 beers in bottles that my good friend Mark, from the Dolphin in Hastings, has shared with me... 

The first one was the excellent Fullers Vintage Ale, a whopping 8.5% (at least), and I have to admit to hounding Mark about this bottle, that had been sitting on a ledge in the Dolphin for many years now. I had been concerned that someone else may decide to purloin the bottle, as it was not screwed down, and he should take it home to drink it before such a catastrophe occurred... Finally, giving in to my suggestion, he actually shared the bottle with me, great stuff! 

This was the 1998 Vintage Ale! We marvelled, as Mark allowed me the honour of opening the bottle, and pouring out the nectar which it contained, very carefully, of course, as the Fullers Vintage Ales are all bottle-conditioned, and it came out in perfect condition, clear as could be, and with a perfect head. I should have taken a photograph before we had each tasted it, but we couldn't wait. Here's my notes: "Rich, slight malty aroma... Creamy, fruity (damson), slightly sweet, but dries out in the finish... GORGEOUS!" There you are...   

The second beer that Mark shared with a few of us (he had more bottles than just the one this time), was the Greene King Double Hop Monster IPA, a mere 7.2%... OK, not bottle-conditioned, this one, but not so bad either, though not quite living up to its name. A golden colour, a bit fizzy, as you'd expect, less aroma than I expected from how the label described the late hopping. There was a hint of malt in the flavour, and a nice dry bitter finish.  

That may seem to be putting down the IPA, but I don't mean to, it was a very nice beer, and I would certainly love to try it 'cask-conditioned', but it appears it is only planned to sell it either in a bottle, or as a 'crafty keg'. I think the message in a bottle here is, that the mighty Vintage Ale came first in the tasting contest, but a bit unfair of me to compare the two really, a brand new beer versus a 17 year-old bottle-conditioned colossus! 

Many thanks and cheers Mark!     

Wednesday 6 May 2015

ALBATROSS! A return visit...

It's been a while since I've walked the 10 mile round trip along the seafront to the Albatross Club (RAFA) in Bexhill, but great to return! Following Geoff's departure, it is now run by Head Steward Karen, with Peter as her very able assistant.

4 real ales on still, and all at £3 a pint. 2 I drank on the day, and 2 I didn't, though 1 of those I have had a few times before, ie the very easy to drink pale session ale, Franklins English Garden (3.8%). The other was the 4.9% Weltons Red Cross Mild, close to St George's Day as it was...

The 2 I enjoyed on the day were the 4.5% Boadicea Ale from Rother Valley, a very good golden beer with a hint of caramel from the malt, and nice dry and bitter finish; I had more than 1 pint! Also very good was the dangerous 6% Pig & Porter Disgraceful Behaviour (not a portent on the day), smooth, rich, loadsa body, very very dark, with a dry coffee/nutty aroma and flavour, and a dry finish, nice one! 

They also sell a good range of ciders in bottles and 'real' from boxes too, cheers!   

Wednesday 29 April 2015

It made me smile... The Carlton Tavern!

No! This didn't make me smile, but the fact that the firm that owns the Carlton Tavern in Maida Vale has been told to "recreate in fascimile the building as it stood immediately prior to its demolition." That is, they have to rebuild the pub, brick by brick, to look like this:  

Nice one! They shouldn't have thought they could ignore planning regulations... See the Standard for more information.