Enjoy Playing Away From Home . . .

Saturday 24 December 2016

Merry Christmas Cheers!

With best wishes, and a promise to make 2017 even more beery, cheers!

Monday 12 December 2016

Christmas Ales in East Sussex

It's that time of year and, for the past few years, we have had available, down here in East Sussex, not only had the long-established Harveys (website) 7.5% Christmas Ale, but also the, Hastings brewed, FILO (websiteOur Auld Ale at 6.5%. This is a gorgeous 'Christmas Pudding' of an ale, well worth the visit to the First In Last Out in the Hastings 'old town' High Street, rich, but not too sweet, with a dry bitter finish... I had my first pint of the year yesterday, and it's at least as excellent as in previous years.

Enjoy your Christmas build up with good ales wherever you are, cheers!

Sunday 9 October 2016

A Great Bitter by the Beach!

My brother and I had a nice wee 7 mile walk to Cooden Beach, East Sussex, yesterday, and enjoyed this East Sussex brewed 3.8% Session IPA very much indeed! The brewers, Long Man (website), say this session ale is brewed using "the famous triple C hops", which I believe means, Chinook, Cascade and Columbus, 3 hops from the USA that usually mean plenty of citrus flavours and bitterness, particularly as this ale is 'dry hopped' too! And they're not far wrong, excellent, thirst quenching, with a hint of citrus (Dan, the Routemeister, suggested "quince", though I'm sure he was jesting, I caught more grapefruit and orange flavours), very bitter with a dry aftertaste, pretty damn good indeed, cheers Long Man!

And cheers to the skills of the cellar manager at the Cooden Tavern, part of the 1931 built Cooden Beach Hotel, built for the same gentleman, Earl De La Warr, who sponsored the construction of the rather splendid De la Warr Pavilion in nearby Bexhill, whilst he was mayor of Bexhill in 1935 (website). 

We supped up, then walked the 7 miles back home along the seafront, cheers!

Friday 23 September 2016

Cask Ale Week (22-09 to 02-10-16)

How did I nearly miss this?!? Cask Ale Week 2016 started yesterday! For information on events in your area go to the website, and enjoy, cheers! 

Wednesday 24 August 2016

Kelham Island Brewery... Another excellent ale!

Drinking in the Dolphin Inn, Rock-a-Nore Road, Hastings, as I often do, and yet another excellent ale imbibed earlier today, brewed up in Yorkshire, by the brewery I used to work for quite a few years ago when I was a postgraduate student up there... Kelham Island 45 R.P.M. (4.5%), brewed with hops from 3 continents! I have to share this, being the decent person that I am, as only 1 firkin available at the Dolphin, and, it did go on today, but will go very quickly, take my word for it...

My notes... the first sense used was smell, and what a gorgeous aroma! Citrus plus plus plus... this is a very dry bitter pale ale, plenty of citrus in the flavour, particularly citrus, mostly grapefruit, and my notes say "LUVVERLEY" which is what it is, and I drank more than just the one pint!

Sunday 21 August 2016

CAMRA Great British Beer Festival 2016

OK, I've taken a while to write this, but I can only say that I have quite a few other responsibilities too, well, that's my hogwash out of the way, so, to the beer festival, and ale! We were a wee bit concerned about visiting this year, mainly because of industrial unrest on Southern Rail, but we came up anyway by way of South Eastern, so to Charing Cross rather than Victoria, that is, Mark, Dermot and myself.

I'll start at the very beginning, and have to admit I pretty much enjoyed every ale, but, after collecting my Festival pint glass on entering Olympia, I first tried the Marble Lagonda IPA (5%) and eventual Bronze winner in the Golden Ale category, this was an excellent first choice! Nice body, grapefruit flavour, dry and bitter, my kind of ale!

People happy to be here, mostly!

From that bar, I moved on, my next ale was another quality brewer and ale, from the Welsh brewers of the 'Supreme Champion' last year, Tiny Rebel Juicy (4%), a brand new seasonal ale with "American" hops, which does what it says on the label, intense tropical and citrus fruit flavours and a lovely dry bitter finish; a brewer that continues to not disappoint!

I then had another seasonal ale from another of my favourite brewers, from Yorkshire, Ilkley Summer (4%), with Citra, Chinook and Galaxy hops from the USA, a fruity refreshing golden ale I could drink all day, but I couldn't this day, as I had so much more to choose from...

This bird doesn't look so happy!

After being chased off by the big bird, we went on to our first free drinks... I'll have to explain a wee bit about this first. Dermot and I had accompanied Mark, a local pub landlord to us down in Hastings, with free entry to the festival on the Trade Day, so many thanks to Mark for sharing with us, cheers! And our first free drinks were courtesy of Harvey's of Lewes, who had supplied us with the free trade passes, so many thanks to them too! The others had some darker ale, may have been the Dark Mild, but I had the hoppier golden ale, Armada Ale (4.5%), not as fruity as many of the golden ales, but nice and bitter, cheers to Harveys!

My next ale was from another Yorkshire brewer I trust to provide excellent ales, and they certainly didn't let me down, this was Salamander Blondie Pale Ale (4%), not Debbie Harry on the pump clip this time, sadly, though an interesting adaptation of Botticelli's Birth of Venus... This Blondie was another lovely dry pale golden bitter ale, true to West Yorkshire ales, indeed!

From one Italian job, to another Italian Job (5%) from Cornish brewers, St Austell, brewed with Sorrento lemons and Mount Hood, Waimea, Dr Rudi, and Pacific Jade hops from New Zealand, a pale new-style IPA with lemon in the aroma and taste, unsurprisingly. This was another free drink, luckily, Mark knows the local rep, cheers again to him, and to her!

On to an ale from Grantham in Lincolnshire, and a brewer I haven't drunk anything from for years, but only because I moved to where I don't see their beers, sadly. This one was Oldershaw Sorachi (4.2%), brewed with the Sorachi Ace hop, which was originally developed in Japan in 1984 for Sapporo Breweries Ltd! Another golden ale with a lemon aroma, (are you getting an image of what I like here? Though I usually prefer the 'grapefruity' hops), pale and quite bitter, nice...

But to my favourite ale of the day, and from the other side of the Pennines in Lancashire, Pictish Citra (4.5%), obviously brewed with Citra hops, hence the strong citrus aroma and lemon, grapefruit and peach in the taste. Another pale golden ale with a lovely dry bitter finish, loved it!

But it wasn't a nice pale dry bitter than won the CAMRA "Supreme" Gold award, nope, it was something much darker, hence my not having drunk any of it, but the Berkshire brewers Binghams Vanilla Stout (5%), you can guess, dark and infused with vanilla pods, congratulations to the Binghams lads! A quick mention for the overall Silver award winner, Kent brewers Old Dairy Snow Top (6%), a winter ale, so 'seasonal', just not this season; see an earlier blog of mine for my opinion, it's pretty good!

I can't believe I only drank 8 different ales at the beer festival, though we did sample some of each other's ales during the afternoon, but there was an excellent choice of food too, much more than I can remember from previous years (best was an amazing Game Pie!). I met some old friends from when I lived up in Sheffield and elsewhere, nice one! And, walking back to Earls Court tube station we did pass the last abode of Harold Laski, an old political and academic hero of mine, which was interesting...

If you've read my recent blog you'll know where we went drinking near London Bridge Railway Station, ie Borough Market, a good time was had, cheers!

Friday 19 August 2016

Wandsworth Council come up trumps!

Nice one Wandsworth Council... I have to admit to being a wee bit surprised, but where praise is due I'm happy to pass it on! 120 pubs and bars in the borough have been told they wil have to seek permission from the Council before they can change the use of the building or knock it down, as we have seen happen in recent years, this has been presented to the owners as Article 4 Directions (see website). 

Pubs include old favourites of mine, the Bricklayers Arms in Putney and The Falcon at Clapham Junction, and also 2 pubs I used to frequent that are not open at the moment, the White Lion in Putney and the Brewery Tap in Wandsworth, which has been closed for many years now sadly! 

Made my day, cheers!

Wednesday 10 August 2016

Pre-Sequel: After the Beer Festival 2016

On the way back home from the 2016 CAMRA Beer Festival yesterday evening, we had our last pints (and shared a cheeseboard), before catching our train back to Hastings, at the Market Porter in Borough Market SE1, where I drank a pint of G2 Brewing (website) Vella, a 4.2% golden "blonde" bitter, not too bad, with a dry finish. Beforehand, we'd drank at a bar I personally prefer in the area, though with only 3 ales at a time, a more interesting selection usually, though, plus all sorts of cask and craft beers, where we had our penultimate pints...

ie The Rake (website), on the other side of Borough Market, which has a nice view of Southwark Cathedral, and which was where my great-great grandparents were married before it became a cathedral many moons ago! Here we'd all drank the 4.2% Crouch Vale (websiteYakima Gold (4.2% also), named after the Yakima Valley (which was named in turn after the Yakima Nation, whose reservation is on the east side of the Cascade Mountains), here is where the Amarillo hops used for this ale are grown. Indeed, 77% of all U.S. hops are grown in the Yakima Valley, and many grape vines too! I've had Yakima Gold in many different bars and never had anything but a great pint or three, samples of my notes say "fruity, quite bitter, excellent"; "refreshing and very pale, fruity bitter with peach aftertaste, very good"; "genuine pale bitter, lovely stuff indeed!"

Another wonderful thing about drinking here was that, despite my mate telling me I'd paid £1.05 a pint more than I had (!), and I apologise for anything I may have said detrimental following our many ales imbibed beforehand, we were served a quality ale by quality bar staff, in this instance, the very wonderful, patient, and beautiful Alex, at about 17.15 (09/08/16), please give her a pay rise (!); and I understand there is more than just the one Alex working here!

Anyway, more to come about the beer festival itself, very soon...

Friday 5 August 2016

South East Sussex POTY again!

Congratulations, yet again, to Louisa at the Tower, London Road, St Leonards, Hastings, for winning the local CAMRA Pub of the Year again! I've made 2 trips there recently, just to make sure, of course, nothing to do with excellent ales at good value prices, oh no... Anyway, both trips 6 ales from handpumps, none more expensive than £3 a pint, can't be bad, and all in good nick too!

The ales are mostly from local brewers, her 2 regulars being the excellent, and Sussex brewed, Dark Star (website) Hophead (3.8% and £2.80/pint) and American Pale Ale (APA, 4.7% and £2.90/pint). Other local-ish ales were Gun (website) Scaramanga (3.9%) an extra pale refreshingly light bitter, Long Man (websiteCopper Hop (4%), a more typical bitter which I have reported on a few times before and very good, and Pig & Porter (website) Skylarking (4%) a refreshing pale golden bitter hopped with Ella and Galaxy, so hints of exotic fruits.

And, from further afield, Derby brewer Shiny (website) Pail (4%) brewed with Ella and Cascade hops, pale and lovely and bitter, Yorkshire brewer Ilkley (website) Rombald (which was £3 a very fair pint and 4.6%) a hoppy 'American' amber ale brewed with Cascade, Chinook, Nugget and Columbus hops with a biscuit malt flavoured base, and, from even further afield in Scotland, Fyne Ales (website) Maverick (4.2%) a reddish copper coloured bitter brewed with Bramling Cross and Challenger hops, always good ales from Fyne Ales!

But, not only did the Tower win the POTY for ales, but for Ciders and Perry too, nice one! Ciders included Orchard Pig Explorer (4.5%), Biddenden Bushels (6%), a favourite of a Scottish mate Jeff, Westons Old Rosie (7.3%) and Old Badger (I think, can't read my own writing! 4%), and their Country Perry (4.5%), and priced between £3.10 and £3.40 a pint... I can remember paying 25p a pint at the old Cider Bar in Newton Abbot in my youth!

Oh yes, and ales shortly to come on, if not already available, include excellent ales from Oakham Ales (Endless Summer), Fyne Ales (Highlander), Downlands (IPA), and Franklins Citra, enjoy them if you see them, you lucky people!

Sunday 24 July 2016

More than an off licence with great beers!

I only recently discovered Borough Wines, Beers and Books, in Hastings Robertson Street (website), the only shop they have outside London, many thanks to Becky for advising me of its existence, though it has been there since last year! Many who know me will realise I have a close affinity, and familial ties, with Southwark, particularly with Borough Market and its environs.

They sell a great variety of beers, in bottles and in cans, from near and far, from East Sussex, London, across the UK actually, and from abroad, with a good selection of Belgian beers to help to quench my thirst for the odd Tripel or two...

They also have a fine selection of wines, and you can bring your own bottle to fill from red and white wine casks, or they can provide you with an empty resealable bottle that can be brought back and refilled whenever you wish. They also sell books! So you can buy something to read whilst you knock back a glass of wine, or quaff a glass of beer, what an excellent idea, something that could be extended to pubs, perhaps.

To the beers I tried...

2 pretty excellent beers were enjoyed, both in cans! First the 7.2% Beavertown Bloody 'Ell, a "blood orange IPA". Beavertown Brewery is based in North London (website), and their Bloody 'Ell was brewed to celebrate Halloween a few years ago; an IPA infused with blood red orange zest and juice, together with Magnum, Citra, Simcoe, and Amarillo hops, this has a powerhouse of flavours. From my tasting notes: "A very fruity aroma, plenty of body, citrus+++, dries out with a lovely bitter finish." What more can I say? Fabulous!! 

The second, rather more sedate 5.5% beer in a can was, Huddersfield in Yorkshire based, Magic Rock High Wire Grapefruit (website). This is a grapefruit infused version of their West Coast Pale Ale, High Wire, and includes a flavour inducing blend of 6 hops in the brew, Cascade, Chinook, Centennial, Citra, Colombus and Magnum! Consequently, plenty of flavour, back to my notes: "Grapefruit++, hint of mango and peach, with a lovely dry bitter finish. Has to one of my 5 for the Day!"

I'll be trying more beer from here, what a great start, cheers!

Friday 22 July 2016

Free Beer! Who am I to refuse?

So, free beer, however, a lager, though a "new wave craft lager!" Well, my brother only had a voucher from Fullers Brewery (website) for a free beer at the excellent Salutation in King Street, Hammersmith, whereas I had a voucher for here, and at another local pub... So we had to have what we had to have, or pay for something else, so what did we drink, free 'n' all?

This was our free offering at the Salutation, Fullers Frontier (4.5%), and, as it was the hottest day so far this year, and we had been walking for quite a few hours up and down the River Thames Middlesex and Surrey towpaths, it was incredibly refreshing! It was certainly hoppier than your usual bog standard lagers, and I have to admit to quite enjoying the taste; £4.55 a pint for those who had to pay...

I had another voucher for The Dove, down by the river, still in Hammersmith, a pub I love for its history, ambience, and for sentimental reasons, memories of friendships with previous staff members and others. However, Fullers have whacked up the prices here, OK for tourists, with a weak £sterling, and, it would seem, many wealthier local people (Hammersmith and its environs has gone up-market price-wise, beyond my means now, sadly), so I rarely visit now, but great to take advantage of the free voucher, cheers! Same lager, but £5.05 a pint, 50p more expensive (and a half would be marked up to £2.60, I guess, scandalous!), and, as my brother didn't have a voucher, I shared the cost with him of his pint, I'm nothing if not fair...  

I was also recently fortunate to meet up with the local rep for the Salzburg brewery, Stiegl-Brauwelt (website), who gave me a bottle of their Stiegl Bier (4.9%), a very decent lager, nice flavour, I remember (I have to own up, I've lost my tasting notes, sorry, but I did enjoy drinking it!). This is on draught at my local, the Dolphin Inn, Rock-a-Nore Road, Hastings, at the moment, at £4.10 a pint, better than London prices! But, remember, Mark, the landlord there, tends to change round the 3 crafty kegs/lagers he sells, but I'd be surprised if it doesn't return once sold out. 

Anyway, a change for me, but cheers for the free beers!

Monday 11 July 2016

July: and Bitter May!

I'll start by saying, sorry this is so late, but I really wanted to celebrate CAMRA's annual Mild May Month, or whatever it's called, but saw not a drop of Mild! So, I thought I'd mention what I consider were the better bitters I quaffed during May...

The first is a wonderful golden amber bitter from Franklins Brewing Company of East Sussex (website), their 5.5% North Shore IPA. Regular readers will be aware I love my dry hoppy, citrus and fruit flavoured bitters, and the drier and more bitter the better, and this hasn't let me down whenever I've tasted it, great stuff! It is a single hopped ale, with the New Zealand hop, Rakau, and a more in-depth citrus fruit flavour, with hints of peach and apricot, and a great dry aftertaste, excellent.

The second ale to be considered, from Raw Brewing Company of Derbyshire (website), their 4.5% Nid Welsh, a collaboration with The Pigeon Fishers, also of Derbyshire (website), and The Waen Brewery (website) and Hopcraft Brewing (website), both of Wales. Called a "Red IPA" in the literature, but more of a bronze colour, with a strong fruity aroma, and mango in the flavour, dries out with plenty of bitterness, the dry hopping doesn't hurt, I'd imagine. I noted "very good" in my tasting notes, which means what it says!

Next, from Navigation Brewery of Nottingham (website), their 5.5% Apus American IPA, named after the 'Bird of Paradise'. Lager malts and American hops are used, providing for an extremely refreshing lovely citrus hoppy bitter, very nice indeed.

And, what can I say?!? 2 more excellent ales sitting side by side, and from 2 of my favourite breweries... From the Scottish Fyne Ales (website), their consistently excellent 4.5% Avalanche, brewed from Maris Otter Pale and Wheat malts, and with Cascade and Liberty hops, a great combination. A pale straw colour, and this has citrus running up your nose as soon as you reach for the glass, dries out into a lovely bitterness, you couldn't ask for better, but...

Along comes this tribute to Joe Strummer and the Clash, from my old employer in Sheffield, Kelham Island Brewery (website), a 5.3% delight of an ale, London Calling... A deep amber colour, and a very dry bitter, and I mean very dry, using 4 English hops, Phoenix, Bramling Cross, East Kent Goldings, and a regularly used hop by the brewery in my time there, First Gold. I loved this, cheers!

Sunday 10 July 2016

News: Mild May, Brewery Update, and Doris R.I.P.

OK, this shows how little I have written lately, but, do not fear, I shall become much more prolific again very soon, I promise... But CAMRA's Mild May Month passed me by, I didn't see a single mild down here, and didn't travel during May either, so I've decided I shall write my next blog about May, a month of ales, but mostly pale hoppy ones! 

The interesting brewery news, in my opinion, because 165 year-old St Austell Brewery used to be my local brewery when I was working at St Lawrence's Hospital in Bodmin, is their takeover of the much younger West Country brewer, 21 year-old Bath Ales

St Austell, having recently boasted an increase in annual turnover, selling 28.8 million pints of beer in the last accountable year, and a 7.6% increase in operating profit, are obviously looking to extend their beer range and increase their pub estate. The deal includes the Bath Ales brewery, with their founder, Roger Jones, reported to be continuing to play a key role, and their 11 pubs, to add to St Austell's 167 pub estate. Interesting times in the West Country! 

The Red Lion in Snargate I have written about quite a few times, a listed pub, a virtual museum, that continues to exist in a remote village on the edge of Romney Marsh, and reportedly with a population of just 112, although you wouldn't believe it when visiting the pub, where all that is obvious is the pub, a farm next door, and a Norman church opposite, St Dunstan, built circa 1200. This pub has been in the family of the husband of Doris Jemison for over 100 years, and she continued to run the pub, together with their daughter, Kate...

Sadly, Doris (to the right in this old photograph of mine) passed away, aged 87, and the Red Lion stayed closed for over a month until reopening recently with her daughter Kate (behind the bar in the photograph) at the helm. Our condolences to Kate, family and friends, and best wishes for the future. I need to make a visit soon...

Doris R.I.P.

Tuesday 14 June 2016

National Beer Day!

Celebrating National Beer Day 2016 (website) at the Dolphin Inn, Rock-a-Nore Road, in Hastings with a pint, or three, of excellent Dark Star Hophead, cheers! 

Sunday 22 May 2016

CAMRA's National Club Champion, the Albatross Club!

So, I walked along the seafront to Bexhill-on-Sea from Hastings, a nice little 10 mile 'round trip', plus or minus, depending on which part of Hastings you start and finish at, because I hadn't been here for a while, and they have come first in the country, out of over 28,000 entries!

I am a branch associate member of the Royal Air Forces Association, Albatross Club, although CAMRA members are also allowed to enter. Non-members of the RAFA are asked to make a £1 contribution to the club, which, considering their ales cost just £3.10 a pint, is fair enough.

They have a regularly changing 4 ales served from handpumps at any one time, with a board at the back of the bar showing what else is to come on soon! This visit, their 4 ales included Sussex brewers, Rother Valley (website) Well Sprung (4.3%), which I didn't try this time, but my first drink was from Somerset brewers The Wild Beer Co (website) Bibble (4.2%), an unfined, so slightly hazy, pale dry bitter, pale gold, with a very fruity aroma, the result of the Mosaic and Amarillo hops used in the brew, no doubt, very nice too!

The third ale, which I didn't try either, was again local, from Sussex brewers Downlands (website) Devils Dyke (5%), described as "salted caramel!" But I did enjoy the very good Derbyshire brewers Shiny Brewing (website) Affinity (4.6%), which I'm sure I've drunk before, less obviously fruity than the Bibble, but a citrus aroma all the same, with a hint of honey, a wee bit sweet at first but drying out bitterness, another nice one!

Taking a photograph of the award wasn't so easy, as you can see, with lights on, lights off, using flash, not using flash, anyway, you get the point; I probably need a better camera! Oh yes, and the Albatross Club also has 2 real ciders and some bottles of Belgian beers too, well worth a visit!

Again, congratulations to the Club and staff!

Friday 29 April 2016

Hastings Jack in the Green Festival

Well, this weekend is going to be very busy in Hastings, with the Jack in the Green Festival (website for more details and its history). We are going to be blessed with 2 special ales for Jack this year, from Lewes brewer, Harveys, is Bogie Man Ale (4.3%), which will be available over the weekend, and at the start of the procession on Monday, at the Dolphin Inn, Rock-a-Nore Road (opens at 09.00 on Monday).

The second ale, brewed by Hastings brewery, FILO Brewing Company, Thirst of May (4.1%), will obviously be available at the First In Last Out (FILO) pub, High Street, over the weekend and on Monday too, of course (opens at 10.00 on Monday), and also at various other pubs, including The Crown, All Saints Street, and...

The Albion, George Street, is having another beer festival this weekend, starting Saturday evening! Ales available will be pretty similar to those available at the St George's Day festival (I blogged detailing ales last week!), but will be including the FILO Thirst of May and Harveys mild for CAMRA's Mild May Month, Knots of May (3%).

I'll report back once tasted, cheers!

Saturday 23 April 2016

St George's Day Festival of English Ale in Hastings

The Albion, in George Street, Hastings, is holding a Beer Festival this weekend, together with fun, music and food... 

In addition to their regulars, including an excellent favourite of mine, Dark Star Hophead (3.8%), which I had a pint of there yesterday, a crackin' ale indeed, Harveys Sussex Best (4%) and Timothy Taylor Landlord (4.3% ), you might just be able to imbibe up to 10 other ales from near and far!

From Sussex brewers, there will be Dark Star Sunburst (4.8%) website, Beachy Head Legless Rambler (5%) website, Rother Valley Chocolate Porter (4.2%) website, Harveys Armada Ale (4.5%), and their pertinent Georgian Dragon (4.7%) website; and from Kent, though the brewer himself comes from much closer to home, there will be Pig & Porter Red Spider Rye (4.8%) and Skylarking (4%), a session pale ale: website.

From further afield will be Adnams Mosaic Pale Ale (4.1%) website, from way up int' North, an early pioneer with their unfined and unfiltered ales, and excellent unique pub where they used to brew, the Marble Arch (website), one of my favourite pubs ever, Manchester brewery, Marble Pint (3.9%) website, and across from Cornwall, and now brewing more fine ales than when I lived nearby in the 1990s, St Austell Spring Fever (4.1%) website.

Have fun, and a Happy St George's Day to you, cheers!