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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.