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Showing posts from May, 2014

Dark Star - Partridge

What they say: A Best Bitter brewed in a traditional Sussex style using Maris Otter, Crystal and Chocolate malts with East Kent Golding hops. We’re up to date! ‘Researched’ only yesterday and another beer from West Sussex – this time the well renowned Dark Star brewery.  A good traditional best bitter. loved it. All I want in a beer. 4.0% A.B.V.

Morland - Original

What they say: A moreish and refreshing ale with a subtle malt and fruit character and pronounced bitter finish. I like the description – no mucking about and more to the point it’s accurate. Currently guesting at our local I’ve now had several pints of this – over several visits I might add - and have quite enjoyed it. There is a hint of Greene King IPA about this beer, although whether that has something to do with the fact Morland is now owned by Greene King I couldn't possibly say!

Harveys - Porter

What they say: We have taken a Porter recipe of 1859 from Henry Harvey's brewing journal and reproduced it faithfully using pale ale, malt, crystal malt, black malt, locally grown hops, our own spring water and yeast strain. A rare midweek tipple – but only a half pint bottle mind, this is only brewed once a year. Tasty but not as overpowering. 4.8% A.B.V

Anchor Springs – Anchors Aweigh!

Another guest at our local a month or so ago from just over the border in West Sussex. It does not feature on their website so I can only assume it was a special. Sadly my emailed request for tasting notes has, so far, gone unanswered and a search on the net has yielded nothing. From what I recall, somewhere in the middle of the golden – bitter scale with a malty presence too. Neither good or bad but clearly not that memorable either!  4% A.B.V.

Adnams - Mosiac

What they say: The Mosaic hop variety was released in 2012 after a successful crossing of two hop varieties called Simcoe and Nugget which captured the best of these varieties to provide clean bitterness and outstanding flavours and aromas. Mosaic hops are similar to Citra, but has an even more intense flavour. Interesting beer this and whilst I usually prefer more bitter ales I really enjoyed this. Another great ale from the popular Suffolk brewery. 4.1 % A.B.V.

Hogs Back – HBB

What they say: A light amber session bitter, biscuity flavour with fragrant hops leading to subtle malty citrus fruits with a long aromatic, hoppy finish with a light malty after-taste. Guesting at our local only last week – yes, believe it or not I’m nearly up to date! Another excellent ale from the gang at Hogs Back. Only 3.7% so kinder to the head and the liver – if not the wallet. Very tasty.

Green Jack – Rising Sun Pale Ale

What they say: …… brewed with Brewers Gold hops for both bitterness and aroma the backbone of the beer is Norfolk grown Flagon pale ale malt with small additions of caramalt and lager malt to balance the crisp bitterness and fruity yet spicy aromas of the hop…… Coming from Britain's most easterly brewery in Lowestoft, a powerful pale ale at 5% A.B.V. Guesting at one of our regular haunts when in Crystal Palace, the excellent Grape & Grain . 

Clarence & Fredericks – Golden Ale

What they say: This 3.8% pale golden ale has a citrus aroma with an initial refreshing bitterness of grapefruit hoppiness giving way to a dry bitter aftertaste. Another local brewery’s fare on offer in Crystal Palace. A bit too fruity for me but it still went down well – as they usually do!

Sambrooks – Wandle

What they say: ….golden sunshine colour; clean and fresh, its sweetness cut by a delicate lingering bitterness .. Our second Sambrook ale of the Easter weekend in Crystal palace – this is the lighter stable mate of the excellent Junction . A classic bitter at 3.8% A.B.V. Again, very tasty.

Brick Brewery – Kinsale

What they say? Well, nothing as their website is being updated. Reviewers on the various beer guides seem to rate it between 3-4 out of 5 but of course taste is largely subjective. However, think traditional bitter and you’re not far off. I really liked it. 4.1% A.B.V

Crate – Bitter

What they say: Brown caramel malts, soft berry fruits, biscuity malts, toasted malts, light toffee and soft English hops. On the bar during the Westow House Easter Ale Festival over er, Easter and brewed only a few miles away in Hackney Wick. I like the pump clip – it does – or is – what it says – and very nice it was too. A good traditional bitter.

Sambrook’s – Junction

What they say: a traditional English bitter, using only English hop varieties, lots of crystal malt, and a touch of roasted barley to give it an inviting auburn colour. Yep, you’ve guessed, I loved it. Discovered this whilst in Crystal Palace on what was surprisingly our first visit to the White Hart . A great pint from a local brewery. 4.5% A.B.V

Celt – Dark Age

What they say: Elegant smooth chocolate and caramel body with a spice finish. Inspired by the tranquility of the myths of Avalon. King Arthur and Merlin histories emerge from ancient Pagan myths tracing dark ripples through shared legends. Yeah ok, not sure about the last bit but a very nice dark ale from this relatively young Caerphilly based brewery. 4.0% A.B.V . Guesting at Wetherspoons Post & Telegraph in the Crystal palace triangle over the Easter weekend.

Westerham – British Bulldog

What they say: A rich, full bodied best bitter in the traditional Kent style. Finest Maris Otter pale ale malt and crystal malt for colour and richness. Hopped with local Kent Northdown and Finchcocks’ Whitbread Golding Variety and finished in the Hop Rocket with Progress hops from Scotney Castle for a full flavour and aroma. Tried this in the bottle whilst away at Christmas which you can read here where you will see I didn’t realise it was bottle conditioned and poured all the sediment in to the glass. This was first cab off the rank during our stay in Cryatal Palace over Easter. Much better on draught without me buggering it up 4.3% A.B.V

Harveys – Old Ale

What they say: This dark, full-bodied beer combines sweetness and strength to produce an exceptionally smooth palate for a discerning public. Tasty – I love an old ale, especially in the colder months, which is when this produced and the taste belies it’s strength of only 3.6% A.B.V

Harveys – Tom Paine Ale

What they say: Tom Paine is a premium dry hopped bitter named after the celebrated radical who lived in Lewes in the late eighteenth century. Another tasty one from our ‘local’ brewery based in Lewes. A nice strong bitter coming in at 5.5% A.B.V.

Crouch Vale – Essex Boys

What they say: Full bodied and malty with hops shining through. A classic session beer. Can’t argue with that. This was the only new beer we sampled on our stay near Rochford on the way home from the north. Very tasty and at 3.8 A.B.V easy drinking too. Would have liked to have tried this on draught but it wasn’t to be.

Shepherd Neame – Double Stout

What they say: This magnificent example of a classic double stout delivers a velvety-smooth palate of dry, burnt flavours - complemented by roast, cocoa and coffee notes. Those who see the word stout and think this is just an English Guinness will be in for a shock – or surprise. The flavour is intense. Very intense. I struggled to finish it, not because I didn’t like it – it was just so powerful. Tame it with some hot spicy food to enjoy it best and treat it with respect – 5.2% A.B.V

Shephered Neame – Kent’s Best

What they say: An ambient bitter, which successfully merges the biscuity sweetness of English malt with the fruity, floral bitterness of locally grown hops from the Kent countryside, to give a clean, satisfying and moreish drink. Ale aficionados will instantly recognise this as a Kentish ale with that distinctive hoppy taste which doesn't overpower. A good session beer coming in at 4.1% A.B.V.

Shepherd Neame – Canterbury Jack

What they say? Well, it’s not on their website, however the nice chaps at Perfect Pint came up with this: Lemon peel present in the short tart aroma. Pale malts give a juicy grapefruit flavour with lemon grass notes. Dry dusty bitterness floods into the aftertaste with floral zest. Yeah, a bit too fruity for me, would taste nice on a hot summers day with some spicy chicken though I would imagine. 4.1% A.B.V.

Shepherd Neame - 1698

At the end of March a load of caravanners gathered for the second Twittercamp in Rutland. One of those caravanners was Allison who lives in Faversham in Kent, also home to the Shepherd Neame brewery. How convenient. Knowing our love of ale Allison brought with her a whole boot full (well almost) of ale straight from the brewery shop. Obviously, they had to be shared, so I didn’t get a chance to sample them all, never mind get a picture. The next few blogs are a record of those I DID manage to get my mitts on! What they say: …. this copper-bronze, bottle conditioned beauty is an intense yet uniquely intricate offering thrice-hopped during the brewing process. This adds rich resinous notes and spikes of citrus to a moreish strong ale already rife with notes of liquorice, Masala wine, caramel and spicy orange. A frisson of dark fruit freshens the finish…. Full of flavour and at a mighty 6.5% A.B.V, one be treated with utmost respect.

Grainstore – Rutland Bitter

What they say: …… predominately bitter in taste but also possessing some sweetness and a fruity, hoppy aroma. On offer at The Plough in Greetham who made us all so welcome during our stay at the nearby caravan site for Twittercamp. Loved it and drank rather too much during our few days there. 3.4% A.B.V so the head wasn’t too sore. Another good ‘un.

Timothy Taylor’s – Golden Best

What they say: The last of the true Pennine light milds, this amber coloured beer makes a refreshing session ale. The smooth and creamy flavour made it the popular choice close to the Brewery. Today its popularity is becoming more widespread. Having moved south from York, this was found on  the first research expedition to The Plough near to our new site in Greetham in Rutland. Simply put – delicious. Another fine offering from TT & Co. 3.5% but the flavour belied it’s strength. In my top 10.

Sinclair Breweries - Wayfarer

What they say? Well, due to mergers and takeovers it took  a few minutes to track this down as it didn’t  appear on their website. However, I eventually came across this: A pale ale brewed with small additions of Crystal malt, Caramalt and Malted Wheat and spicy Bramling Cross hops for a strong but smooth bitterness. Another bargain from our forage in to a discount store in Whitely Bay. Perfectly acceptable and at 4.4% A.B.V full bodied.

Wensleydale – Penhill Porter

What they say? Well nothing about this particular beer on their website but Perfect Pint quote this: A rich, dark ale brimming with roasted malt, bitter chocolate, spices and molasses with a lingering fruity bitterness Well, after the insipidness of John Smiths and a trio of pale light ales this gave the taste buds a wake up call. A full blooded porter brewed to 6.0%. Potent stuff to be treated with respect  but it went down well.

Copper Dragon – Golden Pippin

What they say: A light refreshing blond ale brewed using a new variety of hop creating a citrus fruit flavour. Originally a seasonal ale but it proved so popular they now brew it all year round.  As you may have guessed again, not my favourite type of ale but very drinkable. The proliferation of paler lighter beers in pubs from breweries large and small suggests to me that they are going after lager drinkers big time – and why not. Just don’t forget us more traditional staid old farts!

Atom – Pale Ale

What they say: our core pale ale, lots of malt, bags full of hops, always changing, first up cascade & Chinook! Yes, lot’s of hops, so not my favourite type of ale as you might have guessed. Perfectly acceptable though. 4.5% A.B.V so no lightweight.

Half Moon - Kismet

What they say: A light coloured ale, hoppy with gooseberry and grapefruit flavours and a crisp finish. Yep, as regulars might have guessed not my cup of tea – would happily enjoy on a hot summers day though – assuming we get one! 4.3% A.B.V.

John Smiths - Cask

What they say: … a malty, bitter sweet ale with a slight fruitiness and a bitter aftertaste… Hmm. Have had John Smiths a number of times – usually from a can at a party  - from hosts clearly not used to catering for ale drinkers. Occasionally too in it’s gassy extra cold form in a bar that wants to offer a bitter but can’t be arsed with real ale. I’ve always found it fairly insipid and sadly the proper cask version tasted no different – although at least it wasn’t gassy or cold. Cheap enough though and one of several ale on offer at the Old Ebor , a short walk from the Caravan Club site by Rowntree Park in the lovely city of York.

Nine Standards - Original

What they say: An amber bitter with a fruity, spicy nose. Discovered during our first ‘research’ expedition in York on a Sunday afternoon at The Swan .  Ok, but  a bit too fruity for me. Only 3.7% A.B.V so a good session beer.

Mordue – Workie Ticket

What they say: A tasty, complex beer with malt and hops throughout and a long, satisfying bitter finish. Well worthy of the title 'Champion Beer of Britain' award 1997 Procured at a bargain basement price – certainly less than £1.50 for a 500ml bottle – whilst in Whitley Bay, it’s won a host of awards – and I can see why. A lovely ale – full bodied at 4.5% A.B.V so take it easy and it wont let you down.

Mithril Ales – Skater Boy

On offer at the Red Lion in Cotherstone, home of the lovely Doe Park caravan site. A bargain at £2.40 even in this neck of the woods where – in our experience – ale is generally cheaper than down south. A bit golden for me but perfectly drinkable – especially at the price!

Yorkshire Dales Brewing Co. - Rowantree

What they say? Well not a lot as their website doesn’t tell you much, however the good folk at Perfect Pint reckon this:  Traditional Golden Yorkshire Best Bitter. All English brew with English brown malts and Sovereign hops. It’s always good to sample local ales when travelling although in truth we found this in Teesdale, County Durham rather than Yorkshire. A tasty good old fashioned bitter from this young (2005) brewery at  3.8% A.B.V.

Tolly Cobbold – English Ale

What they say: This fine amber ale has been brewed using a complex mix of hops to offer balanced bitterness with strong tropical notes. All the flavour you would expect from a great English ale but at only 2.8% ABV. East Anglian ale drinkers relax – Tolly Cobbold is not back – this is brewed by Suffolk based brewery Greene King and was a surprising find whilst up north. The taste belies it’s lower alcohol content. It really was very good and I would happily drink it again but have not seen it on any supermarket or off licence shelves before or since

Cumberland – Corby Ale

What they say: Corby Ale is a ‘moreish’ 3.8% ABV golden ale, a good session ale, with malt and biscuit notes; it has a delicate hop aroma and a refreshing citrus hop after taste. On offer at The Crown in Mickleton who had the dubious pleasure of our company whilst staying up the road at Doe Park near Barnard Castle. he blurb says it all – it was delicious and I could have sunk a bucket full had circumstances permitted. But they didn’t – probably just as well!

St Austell – Ruck & Roll

What they say: …a rugby themed beer and timed to perfection to climax with the highlight of the rugby year, the Six Nations tournament. Amber in colour with a full yet dry palate balanced by fruity hops. This is a classic cask conditioned beer with depth, structure and integrity. Guesting at our local club for a while in March.As the name may suggest, a seasonal beer from the popular Cornish brewery. Ok but a bit fruity for me.

Timothy Taylor’s - Landlord

What they say: A Classic Strong Pale Ale, Landlord has won more awards nationally than any other beer: This includes four times as Champion at the Brewers' International Exhibition and four times as CAMRA’s beer of the year. Refreshingly reliable, nationally renowned, this full drinking Pale Ale with a complex and hoppy aroma has real "Pulling Power" and stands out in any bar as the ideal regular. Found this a lot up north and rightly so – it’s a damn fine beer and one of my favourites. Hit’s all the right spots. 4.3% A.B.V.  

Leamside – Five Quarter

What they say: Brewed using a blend of six malts and English hops. Silky smooth mouthfeel with berry fruit flavours and hints of coffee and chocolate. Named after Five Quarter seam at Rainton Colliery. Liked this, a nice dark ale, subtly flavoured. 4.5% A.B.V  

Leamside – Alexandrina

What they say: Pale gold in colour. Initial bitterness gives way to delightful citrus fruit flavours. Named after Alexandrina Pit at Rainton Colliery. Yep, a bit too fruity for me but in the interests of research etc. Served in excellent condition though but it only had to travel a few yards as the brewery is behind the pub. 4.1% A.B.V.