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Showing posts from 2014

Adnams - Gunhill

What they say: A traditional dark ruby beer, delivering a full flavour. Full aromatic barley malts and an exquisite blend of hops combined to create a wonderful balance of sweet biscuit and subtle fruit flavours with a hint of chocolate bitterness. I do love these darker ruby beers, particularly in the colder months and once again Adnams have delivered a great beer. 4.0% A.B.V. December 2014

Adnams - Tally Ho Ho Ho

What they say: Brewed with pale ale, crystal and brown malts. Tally-Ho is dark mahogany red in colour with a rich, fruity aromas and a warming sweet raisin and biscuit palate. Again, Adnams delivers. A truly delicious dark ale, all that was missing was a roaring fire - a bit tricky in a caravan. Potent at 7.2% A.B.V and in 330ml bottles so not one to slosh back at will. December 2014

Adnams - Sole Star

What they say: A full-flavoured and great tasting pale amber beer, with a light floral/citrus aroma, gentle caramel notes and a good level of bitterness. I was well impressed with this. As they said - full flavoured but at only 2.7% A.B.V the taste really does belie it’s strength. Excellent stuff

Firebird - Heritage XX

What they say: Fresh, Hoppy, Full. A traditional Best Bitter brewed from Bill’s Great Great Grandfather’s original ‘Double X’ recipe. A pint of English Countryside! From over the border in West Sussex, this was a decent offering from this small relatively young brewery. Very tasty and full bodied. 4.0% A.B.V

Adnams - The Bitter/Southwold Bitter

What they say: Southwold Bitter is a beautiful copper-coloured beer, late and dry-hopped with Fuggles for a distinctive, lingering hoppiness. Brewed with the finest East Anglian Pale Ale malt barley, sourced locally to the brewery. We use Fuggles hops which we add late in the boil to preserve the herbal flavours of this traditional English hop. We add more Fuggles to each cask so that the flavour of the hops infuses into the beer. Now known as Southwold Bitter, I’ve had this before but Trev was doing the sampling on this occasion so I only had a sip but that reminded me what a great beer this is. Found in Long Melford, so it’s not had to travel far - not too strong so a good session beer but yet still flavoursome. Trev loved it and so did I. Make sure you try an Adnams ale if you’re in Suffolk. I don’t think you’ll be disappointed .

Goddards - Scrum

What they say: A harvest bronze Golden Ale, brewed with Challenger, East Kent Goldings and Fuggles Hops to give a fruity citrus bite of hoppiness with a palate of citrus notes and vanilla, leading to a long dry finish.   Found this on more than one bar when out and about in Suffolk but the The Bull in Long Melford was the where I saw it first. A good quality golden ale if that’s your thing - and judging by the number of golden ales around there is clearly demand. 4.0% A.B.V.

City of Cambridge - Hobson’s Choice

What they say: A light golden bitter with a pronounced hop aroma, contributing to the refreshing bitter aftertaste. Our second full day in Suffolk saw us descend upon Long Melford after a thirsty morning’s sightseeing.  We gave up waiting to be served in the Cock & Bell, but this was on offer at The Crown Inn . Too hoppy for me but it was great to see a beer from my home town. 4.2% A.B.V

Brewshed - Best Bitter

What they say: Our best bitter is a dark brown, full bodied, classic best bitter. It has a rich, malty, dried fruit character balanced with crisp bitter hops. Found at The Crown in Hartest, Suffolk, which is hardly surprising as both the pub and brewery are owned by the same people and brewed just a few miles away. I prefer my bitter a little more, well, bitter I guess but it was ok. In good nick and the serving temperature was good. 4.3% A.B.V.

Hare - Best Bitter

On the road again for our 2nd ‘Festive Threesome’ and our first port of call whilst in Suffolk was the The Hare Inn .  Nearby Bury St Edmunds is the home of Greene King - brewers of the excellent Abbot Ale. Once a regional brewer, but now seemingly intent on world domination this tasted remarkably similar to their IPA although the A.B.V was different. In good nick and served at the right temperature too.

Hunters – Pheasant Plucker

What they say: Spicy aroma with hint of caramel….Luscious balance of grain and hop in the mouth, bitter sweet finish with delicate caramel taste……. Warm, rounded yet surprisingly delicate dark strong ale, definite mans pint. Another guest at The Spanish Lady , this time from the south west and suffering from the usual issue of being served to cold but otherwise a great winter ale. A touch too sweet for my taste but I’d have certainly had another if it wasn’t a ‘school night’. 4.3% A.B.V.

Robinsons - Indulgence

What they say: This fantastic mahogany coloured winter warming ale hits all the right notes with aromas of roasted malt and fruity hops; a perfect balance of bitterness and aroma. Using the Slovenian wild hop Celeia, this is a drink to be savoured, not rushed, on a long winter's night. A seasonal special from the north west and the latest to guest at The Spanish Lady – our usual Thursday night haunt. Again, served too cold and I sloshed it back rather too quickly to fully appreciate the rich flavours. Hope to try it again sometime. 4.4% A.B.V.

Harveys – Sussex Best Bitter

What they say: A superbly balanced bitter with a prominent hop character. Our most famous and popular brand – it makes up over 90% of our total brewing capacity. It was only whilst writing up the last beer – Otter Ale – that I realised that I had not yet featured the consistently excellent Harveys Sussex Best. So, it’s fitting that this great local beer is the 100th beer to be featured this year. A cracking bitter, and as a permanent feature in our local watering hole The Rottingdean Club, it sets the standard for any guest beers that may feature. 4.0% A.B.V.

Otter – Otter Ale

What they say: “….. Otter Ale is a very well balanced beer that delivers the flavours of quality floor malted barley and finishes with a combination of fruit and some bitterness. Its nose is a balance of malt and fruit .” The latest guest in our local The Rottingdean Club and my 99th new beer this year. The malt seemed to edge it taste wise and the strength of the beer was clear from the taste. Enjoyable but  a couple was enough, although the occasion dictated that I had three! 4.3% A.B.V. The club always has Harveys Sussex Bitter on and it is always excellent so litmus test for any guest beer at the club is whether I would stick with the  guest or go back to the Harvey’s. This time around the Harvey’s wins – but not by much.

Hydes - Bitter

What they say: A truly classic highly popular English session ale made with Best Pale Ale and medium colour Crystal malts.  Bitterness is well balanced using English Fuggle and Wye Challenger hops to give a fruity and spicy palate.  Like all Hydes classic ales, Original is still dry hopped to the cask at racking with Fuggles to add further aroma and depth. Not sure about the fruity spicy bit but nevertheless I really enjoyed this. Bitter but not to hoppy, this was guesting at what is becoming our regular Thursday night haunt, The Spanish Lady . Again, just a little too cold but otherwise excellent and reasonably priced too – for the south-east anyway! 3.8% A.B.V so a great session beer.

Redemption - Hopspur

What they say: Amber Ale with some citrus fruit aromas, chewy biscuity malt flavours, slight sticky sweetness and grapefruit piney hop flavours. Well balanced with hop flavours to the fore and an easy bitter finish On offer at the lovely The Bank micro pub in Willingham from this North London brewery and as with the Solus Simcoe , poured straight from the cask. A little too fruity for me but The Portly Partner enjoyed it. 4.5% A.B.V

The Star Brewery - Solus Simcoe

What they say? Well, nothing that I could find as at the time of typing they don’t have their own website however the good folk at reckon this: Next in Star's Solus series, Simcoe is something of a cult hop amongst American Craft Brewers. It is closely associated with IPA styles and is highly aromatic, often described as both fruity and having an herbal, earthy, pine fragrance The last few days of our Autumn half-term break saw us in Cambridgeshire to catch up with family and friends and staying on a site near the village of Willingham - although sadly not within walking distance. An unexpected - and sadly rather late - find was The Bank micro pub offering half a dozen ales poured direct from the cask. Sadly we only got to try one each but a return visit for Christmas - along with the services of a local taxi - promises more ‘research’ opportunities. As you may have guessed from perfect pint’s description, this golden ale from this young (2012)Lincolnshi

Long Man - Scary Man

What they say: A full bodied Malty Monster of a beer, with undertones of molasses and oozing fresh hoppy aromas from an all British blend – Scarily Good! The latest beer to guest in our local The Rottingdean Club from just 12 miles away in Litlington and available only in October. A little too malty for me but I had a second pint just to make sure. Always good to see local beers on offer though. I hope Long Man are represented again soon as they rarely disappoint. 4.3% A.B.V. Rottingdean, East Sussex, November 2014

Coronado - Mermaid’s Red

What they say: Mermaid's Red™ bucks the shallow mid-range red ale stereotype. Loaded with Cascade hops, it delivers a fresh floral aroma and sharp bitter notes, all while delivering a solid kick of roasted malts that fades seamlessly into a rich, chocolaty finish with hints of clove and caramel. Our last pint in Warwick was this offering at Wetherspoons and brewed by Wadworths in Devizes. Another alcohol loaded ale from across the Atlantic - too strong for a session and a bit syrupy in my opinion. 5.7% A.B.V. Warwick - October 2014.

Purity - Pure Gold

What they say: “………is a refreshing golden ale with a dry and bitter finish. Brewed with English Maris Otter, Caragold and Wheat malts, plus Hallertau Northern Brewer, Bobeck and Hereford Goldings hops. Winner of nine awards.” A true golden ale so not really to my taste but it WAS refreshing and I would look forward to a pint or two on a nice warm summers day. 3.8% A.B.V. so session strength too. Warwick - October 2014

Purity - Pure UBU

What they say: “UBU (4.5% ABV) is our strongest and darkest beer: a distinctive, full flavoured beer with a sweeter finish. Brewed with English Maris Otter, Crystal, Black and Wheat malts, with Hallertau Northern Brewer and Cascade hops.” Named after  a dog on site allegedly called ‘Useless Bl**dy Urchin’ and a real tasty offering from this Warwickshire brewer established in 2005 and found in the Rose & Crown in Warwick town centre. October 2014

Byatt’s - Big Cat

What they say: Big Cat is a pale bronze ale with a nice touch of biscuity sweetness. Light fruit, spice notes & very refreshing. The Fourpenny was a frequent halt during our stay in Warwick thanks to their range of real ales. This wasn’t one of my better choices however - there was nothing wrong with it, but regular readers will know it wasn’t for me. 4.0% A.B.V. Warwick - October 2014.

J. W. Lees - John Willie’s 100

What they say: John Willie’s 100 has been brewed to commemorate the centenary of the First World War. The pump clip features ‘Little Willie’ one of the first tanks or ‘land boats’ used in battle that shares its name with our founder. Like the illustration the beer is robust, with plenty of Challenger hops to give it flavour. The crystal malt blend makes it a more flavourful beer with a toasted mild sweetness. Another offering in Wetherspoons International Real Ale festival and a great tasting bitter. Enjoyable and at 4.2% A.B.V. flavoursome but not too strong

Sixpoint - Bklyn Bitter

What they say: "... with an abundance of American hops, imparts a floral, citrus aroma and a spicy flavour, overlaying a decent malt backbone ..." Another offering at Wetherspoons International Real Ale Festival whilst we were staying in Warwick and brewed by Adnams in Suffolk for Sixpoint in Brooklyn. 5.5% so not one for sloshing back unless you're a masochist and like headaches. It accompanied a large mixed grill but I wouldn't want more than one - grill or beer! Wetherspoons, Warwick - October 2014

Caledonian – Trojan Horse

What they say: Black beer with citric floral & herbal aroma bittersweet dark malt & citric hop What better than a black ale for the Blogger in Black? – and this seasonal offering from the makers of Deuchars & 80/- was VERY black. The aforementioned ‘citric floral & herbal aroma’ was not overpowering. Strong stuff at 5.5% A.B.V but a great winter warmer. Wetherspoons:  Warwick – October 2014.

Hook Norton - Hooky

Our week in Warwick brought with it yet more research opportunities helped in no small part by the town being within walking distance of the caravan site. Coincidentally Wetherspoons were running their International Ale Festival as well, so the local branch did quite well out of us, but there were other pubs too offering plenty of ‘research’ options. Found this in The Lazy Cow What they say: A subtly balanced, golden bitter, hoppy to the nose, malty on the palate - the classic session beer, eminently drinkable. Yep, agree with all of that. Not as well known perhaps as ‘Old Hooky’ but very agreeable and at only 3.5% A.B.V, easier on the body too.

Old Dairy - Red Top

What they say: Relax and enjoy this classic English ale brewed with Maris Otter, Crystal, Brown and Chocolate malts. Savour the delicious toffee flavours with a hint of coffee, perfectly balanced against the fruitiness, spice and hints of citrus from East Kent Golding, English Cascade and Challenger hops. Goes particularly well with meat or fish. Another guest at our local - I can’t say I recall the coffee or chocolate but it was very tasty nonetheless and went very well with a cheese & onion toastie. From  a young (2010) brewery in Kent but without the distinctive taste of Kentish hops and at 3.8% A.B.V not too heavy either.

O’Shea’s - Traditional Irish Ale

Brewed by the Carlow Brewing Company for Aldi stores who also brew O’Hara’s - our favourite Irish Red - and also available for less than €2.00. Not only that, but the A.B.V was the same at 4.3% Hmm!

Bru - rua

What they say: “….Brú Rua is a hearty, robust Irish Red Ale made using Irish malts. The backbone of Brú Rua is a conventional caramel and red berry but overlaid with New World hops, providing juicy tangerine top flavours. This beer was named after the mythical warrior Cú Chulainn who was born by the River Boyne at Newgrange, in County Meath….” A tasty offering from this very young Irish brewery only established in July 2013 and discovered on our trip around Ireland in the summer of 2014. 4.7% A.B.V.

Kenmare - Irish Red Ale

Another bottled Irish Red from our summer in Ireland. Cannot find a website for the brewery so cannot give you their tasting notes. It’s been a while since I had this but I would say it’s a typical Irish Red - a lovely colour and a nice warm flavour but overly gassy. Didn’t enjoy it as much as O'Hara's

Long Man - American Pale Ale

What they say: Made using only the choicest U.S. hops this triple-hopped American Pale Ale has a pleasant citrus fruit aroma and characteristic robust bitterness. Our second choice on our recent visit to The Spanish Lady and couldn’t have been more different to our first ale - Wadworths Blunder Buss. Fruity and hoppy, so not really my thing and again too cold in my opinion. Nice to see local breweries getting a look in though. 4.8% A.B.V.

Wadworth - Blunder Buss

What they say: A rich red autumn ale, bursting with red berries & spice drawn from rye crystal malt, Fuggles, Golding & Bramling Cross hops & a touch of elderberry. This full body rolls gently into a decisive finish from late Cascade hops.   Back in the Spanish Lady for our Thursday night meal out and their ale festival continues with this seasonal ale from Wadworth in Devizes. It's name is apt, there's nothing subtle about it but perfectly acceptable, although sadly served too cold. 5% A.B.V.

Everards - Pumpkin Ale

What they say: “…a rich ruby beer full of all the flavours you would expect for the spookiest time of the year including pumpkin! A burnt, smoky character is balanced with light citrus flavours from Styrian Dana hops and there is a lingering bitter finish.” Found this seasonal ale guesting at The Spanish Lady in Saltdean as part of their beer festival. It’s fair to see that previous visits to the ‘Lady haven't been very fulfilling beer wise mainly due to the ale being kept too cold. This was very good though, and from the makers of the excellent Tiger , I wouldn't expect anything less. Very enjoyable and at only 3.8% A.B.V easy on the head too!

Hurst Brewery - Founders Best

What they say: “Founder's Best Bitter is our signature ale. Named after the founder of the original Hurst Brewery, George Thomas Saltmarsh, it is nutty brown in colour, has a rounded malty taste and is suffused with subtle caramel flavours.” Brewed just 15 miles up the road in Hurstpierpoint this was another guest in our local, The Rottingdean Club. Not too hoppy, not too sweet. My sort of beer and even better that it’s local too. Look forward to another pint sometime. 4.1% A.B.V.

Moorhouse’s - Pride of Pendle

What they say: “An exceptionally fine balance of malt and hops give the beer and long dry and extremely satisfying taste”     The latest guest at our local, a lovely traditional bitter. I really liked this. 4.1% A.B.V.

Shepherd Neame – India Pale Ale

What they say: A glorious showcase of the distinct, heavily hopped beers for which Shepherd Neame is famed, India Pale Ale delivers potent bitterness, offset with generous amounts of pale ale malt to deliver a balanced, yet uncompromising brew. A big thanks to Alison at Twittercamp for giving my the chance to sample this again.  A proper strong IPA but as you can see from the label it’s powerful stuff. Nice but go easy and you wont be disappointed – well I wasn't anyway!

White Gypsy - Ruby

What they say: Our Ruby Ale has a unique flavour profile. It has a caramel like sweetness, a medium body and is light on hops, with a toffee-roast flavour. An acceptable fuller bodied alternative to the much more widely available Smithwicks . We found this at a bar in Cahir, Co. Tipperary in July 2014. Stronger at 4.6% A.B.V.

Connemara – Pale Ale

What they say: Well, I’m not sure because I haven't as yet been able to find their website. Found this on offer at a bar in Cong, Co. Mayo, Ireland in July. On tap as pretty much all beer is in the Republic of Ireland – it was gassy (obviously) and too pale and flowery for me. An alternative if you get fed up of all the Irish Red ales but we didn’t see it offered anywhere else.

Oakham Ales - JHB

What they say: A golden beer whose aroma is dominated by hops that give characteristic citrus notes. Hops and fruit on the palate are balanced by malt and a bitter base. Dry hoppy finish with soft fruit flavours. Sampled at the Three Horseshoes Inn in Houghton, Cambridgeshire in August 2014. Regulars to Ale Archive will know from reading the above that it’s not my sort of beer. To me it was akin to drinking a vase of flowers. Nothing wrong with it, but the ‘Bitter’ in the name is a bit of a misnomer in my opinion.

Everards - Tiger

What they say: A true award winning best bitter with universal appeal. Tiger Best Bitter is a classic example of getting the perfect balance between sweetness and bitterness. Crystal malt gives the beer its rounded toffee character. Tiger is the Official Beer of the Leicester Tigers. Have come across this a few times and welcomed the opportunity to sample it again at the Duke of Wellington in Willingham, Cambridgeshire in October 2014. Couldn't agree more about the balance, this is a truly lovely pint.

O’Haras’s – Irish Red

Another ‘Irish Red’ from our summer trip to er, Ireland. Bottled beer in Ireland’s supermarkets is not especially cheap but we found this in Tesco’s for less than €2.00 which is pretty good. What they say: … an incredibly smooth malt body complimented by caramel tones and perfectly balanced in bitterness…. Couldn't agree more. We both loved this. Easily the best of the bottled beers we tried. Not too, gassy either but don’t over chill. 4.3% A.B.V.

Smithwicks – Superior Irish Ale

Readers of my blog A Load of Nonsense will know that we work as drivers for a private school and make the most of all the holidays. The summer break saw us in Ireland with our caravan and there was plenty of opportunity for ‘research’. Sadly in the seven weeks we were there we found not one single hand pump, so there was no real ale as such. What could be found in virtually every pub however – alongside Guinness of course – was this. What they say: a clear bear with a rich ruby colour and creamy head I really liked this – fantastic colour and great taste, although I found it too gassy for more than a couple (or three). A version on hand pump would be great I’m sure

Harvey’s - Bloomsbury Brown

What they say: Formerly known as Nut Brown Ale. Historically so called due to the flavour of the beer, whose roasted malt and caramel sugars produce the "nutty" palate of this dark, smooth ale. The last of the Portly Partners gift pack. Too sweet for me but then regulars will know that already. Like the Sweet Sussex nice and light though at just 3% A.B.V

Harveys – Sweet Sussex

What they say: A lush, sweet stout named after the county in which it is brewed. It was certainly sweet. Thankfully only half a pint – it came in a gift pack for the Portly Partner’s 60th Birthday back in march. Yes, I’m that far behind. There was nothing wrong with it, just not my thing 2.8% A.B.V.

Butcombe - Bitter

What they say: The West Country’s favourite beer derives from pure Mendip Spring Water…notably bitter, clean tasting, refreshingly dry and distinctive. It’s one of my favourites too - I’ve had it before but for some reason it hasn’t made it to the blog before - overdoing the ‘research’ perhaps…. anyway, it was good to sample again, this time at the Blue Raddle in Dorchester. 4.2% A.B.V.

Branscombe Vale - Branoc

What they say: Nose is light caramel and fruits. Flavour is of light malts, some fruits. Slightly bitter finish. Another offering at the Blue Raddle in Dorset, a pub that really excels in it’s ever changing real ale offerings. In excellent condition but a little too much of a fruity twang for my taste buds but great for the warm weather, should it linger. 3.8% A.B.V

Dartmoor - Dartmoor IPA

What they say: A highly drinkable, light golden coloured beer with a unique blend of English hops that combine to create a superb spicy apple and citrus fruit flavour, finished off with a crisp, refreshing aftertaste and subtle hop aroma. Our last night in Dorset saw us meet with friends for a meal at the Blue Raddle in Dorchester, a haven for real ale fans. This was the first cab off the rank and perfectly drinkable although I found it just a  little lacking in taste - either that or my taste buds were ravaged from a hard weeks er, research!

Palmers - Best Bitter

What they say: A full-drinking, malty ale with a delicious hop character. A traditional IPA from the heart of West Dorset. Stable mate to the lovely Copper Ale and again, very drinkable although when given the choice I went back to the Copper Ale only because it was a bit lighter alcohol wise. 4.2& A.B.V. Found at the The Three Horseshoes in Powerstock. Well kept and reasonably priced - for the south anyway!

Palmers - Copper Ale

What they say: Beautifully balanced, copper-coloured session ale, good citrus fruit with a hoppy aroma. Full-flavoured and brewed with Maris Otter malt and whole leaf First Gold aroma hops. The 2nd half of our half-term escape saw us in West Dorset and the Palmers brewery in based in Bridport just down the road from our campsite. I really liked this and was able to ‘research’ it more than once. I didn’t find it too hoppy and at 3.7% A.B.V. kinder to the liver too, without compromising on flavour.

Box Steam - Tunnel Vision

What they say: Clean tasting amber ale Another offering from this Wiltshire based brewery and it was good to get hold of something local as ‘research’ expeditions whilst on site in Orcheston had yielded little that we hadn’t tried before. A lovey pint, well 500ml this, very tasty and at 4.2% A.B.V full bodied enough without being too potent.

Box Steam - Derail Ale

What they say: A hoppy India Pale Ale It IS hoppy but the full bodied flavour of this beer does reign in those pesky hops somewhat. Pleasant enough but at 5.2% A.B.V. not one to slosh back, like er, I did! Found in the Co-op in Shrewton near our campsite when staying in Orcheston, Wiltshire.