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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!