This Twit Is
Friday, 15 February 2013
Monday, 15 June 2009
I'd like to thank all of the people who read the blog especially those who read it regularly and those who took the effort to post comments; the vast majority of which were interesting and thought provoking.
Special thanks obviously go to BrewDog and BeerMerchants for the sponsorship. Their adverts will remain because they are companies I believe in who are doing the right things in the beer World.
If you are a fellow blogger and I like your blog, I will continue to read it and will attempt to comment more regularly.
Wednesday, 10 June 2009
It was a good evening (even if I did have to drive) with Phil our branch chair doing us proud with a good speech as ever, whilst John the landlord provided a full bar of ten real ales for our delectation.
Leicestershire Branch who judged the seven pubs on our shortlist did a good job in choosing the Coach as winner. One I wish was just a little bit closer to home.
Sunday, 7 June 2009
It seems very strange writing about Summer beers whilst sat in my conservatory with the rain absolutely lashing it down and disturbing the peace of an otherwise empty house, but the pubs are starting to fill with beers which brewers choose to name Summer ales.
I am often filled with dread as these beers appear. They are pale, around 4% and often very ordinary. Using pale malt whilst utilising the usual boring earthy English hops does not a Summer ale make.
It really is, for me, all about the hops, and where good brewers like Oakham and Pictish have led with their heavily hopped beers using stuff like Willamette and Centennial, others do appear to be following. You need a bit of citrussy flavour to be a Summer beer. You get that from using the right hops. US stuff, New Zealand stuff, First Gold from here all do the trick. Fuggles and Goldings really don't.
Loads of the pale beers I had at our beer festival last weekend hit the spot because they used the right hops. Hats off to those brewers that haev realised this and are prepared to spend a little bit more on imported hops. I like flavour in my beer and a Summer beer on a hot day needs just the right type of flavour.
Friday, 5 June 2009
As well as the usual suspects, I did visit a few other pubs whilst in Brighton. Most of these were in the current Good Beer Guide or on the local CAMRA branch's ale trail.
The exception to that was The Pump House in The Lanes which I visited twice. This pub sells five real ales, and the three different ones I had: Dark Horse Whip Cracker, Harveys Sussex Best and Taylor Landlord were all in really good condition. I'm told by friends that the food, especially the sausages, was excellent too. I do wonder why the pub doesn't currently feature with the local CAMRA bods.
The Great Eastern is at the bottom of Trafalgar Street, down the hill from The Lord Nelson, and sells three beers. I had a reasonable Ballards Best and an underpar Hop Back Summer Lightning. The pub does stock around 40 different bourbons if that's your thing.
Southover Street is in the Hanover area of Brighton and has the steepest street I ever wish to walk up. I went to two pubs; the interesting Greys being the first. Greys has a good selection of Belgian beers and promotes a different Belgian brewer each Tuesday. I stuck to the local stuff though with a reasonable Harveys Best, Landlord being the only other choice. Further up the hill is the ex-Gales, now Fullers, Sir Charles Napier. Four beers from the London brewer were available. my choice was Summer Ale as I rarely see it. It was OK. no more.
Near the London Road shops is The Mitre which is a Harveys pub, and sadly was the quietest pub I went in all week, which was a shame as I liked it. The Hadlow Bitter I had was good too.
Another pub in The Lanes is The Victory, three beers were available including two from Arundel of which Sussex Gold was my choice, and decent enough it was.
Finally I went to The Waggon and Horses near the theatre where I passed over the two beers on offer in favour of the Westons Perry (we all need a change sometimes), which was decent enough in an unchallenging manner.
There are countless other pubs to try and next year I'll do so. I may just uncover a gem.
Wednesday, 3 June 2009
I enjoy going on my annual sojourn to Brighton, as there are a handful of pubs which I could never tire of, all of which sell beers I rarely see up here.
My first pub was The Lord Nelson on Trafalgar Street which is a Harveys pub. Harveys beers are not universally popular but I like them a lot. I had pints of Armada and the light mild Knots Of May, both were on good form. I didn't return there during the week but did sample other Harveys beers namely Sussex Best and Hadlow Bitter
I paid two visits during the week to The Evening Star. This pub is almost faultless. The cask beers, especially the Dark Star beers were superb (I tried American Pale Ale, Mild For May, Old Chestnut and Hophead); the guests are well chosen and the foreign list is superb. I really loved the Oaked Arrogant Bastard. This is one of the pubs I'd give anything to have in my town.
A pub I didn't get to last year, but I had to do this year was The Basketmakers Arms. This was a Gales pub, but of course is branded as Fullers now, and sells five from that stable as well as two guests. It is always very busy, but is definitely worth a brief visit.
Finally of the old favourites was my Brighton local, as I stay just around the corner, The Hand In Hand. I only went in a couple of times and am pleased to report that the home brewed beers are still available and are better than I've ever had them. There are three of fours guests too, which are in good nick.
These are the pubs I will go back to year on year, but there are others which are worth an occasional visit which I'll write about next time.
Tuesday, 2 June 2009
I do like Nelson Sauvin hops.
Monday, 1 June 2009
The beer list numbered 238 although there were a few barrels doubled up making around 250 casks in total. We didn't sell out of beer, although we were quite close, but therein lies the good planning in the beer ordering because there is no point having gallons and gallons of beer left at last orders on the last day. We did run out of cider at around 8;30 though. There was a bit of beer left for the staff to have a quick drink and a sing song after closing which was very pleasant.
I didn't catch any of the entertainment, which included an allegedly successful attempt at a World record motorcycle jump; the sealed knot and plenty of bamds, but I'm sure they were a success.
My efforts were restricted to selling beer and helping back of house, and I hope visitors thought we ran a good show. We didn't have sufficient glasses on Saturday night, but it was busier than expected. Nobody went home thirsty though.
I did manage to sample around 40 different beers over the three days and have to say that they were in great condition. It's long been an assertion of mine that outdoor festivals work better than indoor as far as beer quality is concerned. We had to soak the barrels with cold water to keep them at optimum temperature; something which is easier to do when the water can flow into the ground rather than a linoed floor.
Favourite beers I tried included Boggart Rum Porter, Green Mill Big Chief and Chocolate Mild, Beowulf Wuffa and the festival special Great Oakley Abbey Stout. Honourable mention also to Nobbys Chilli Summer; proof again that chilis is a great additive to beer.
So, it was really hard work and my aging knees felt the pressure, but it was great fun, and we'll be doing it again. Same time same place next year. Roll up, roll up.
Tuesday, 26 May 2009
the list I posted at the weekend.
Boggart Dark Mild replaced by Trad Mild.
Boggart Dark Rum Porter is actually Rum Porter.
Elland Anniversary Ale is 7th Anniversary Ale.
Bridestones TJ5 is actually TJ's.
Rockingham Black Forest replaced by Dark Forest.
Brampton Best replaced by Golden Bud.
The following are no shows:
Red Squirrel Colorado American IPA
Sawbridgeworth Malt Shovel Porter
Sawbridgeworth Chocolate Orange Stout
Sunday, 24 May 2009
B&T Gold Leaf
B&T Black Dragon Mild
B&T Edwin Taylors Extra Stout
Bank Top Flat Cap
Bank Top Volunteer
Bank Top Pavilion
Bank Top Port o' Call
Blue Cow Best Bitter
Blue Monkey Original
Blue Monkey Evolution
Blythe Blythe Bitter
Blythe Ridware Pale
Blythe Tetty's Tipple
Boggart Hole Clough Dark Mild
Boggart Hole Clough Standard Pioneer
Boggart Hole Clough Sun Dial
Boggart Hole Clough Ray of Sunshine
Boggart Hole Clough Dark Rum Porter
Brass Monkey Best Bitter
Brass Monkey Mandrill
Brass Monkey Monkey Pooh
Brass Monkey Silverback
Brewdog Trashy Blonde
Brewdog Paradox Smokehead
Brewsters Cheval Mort
Bridestones Pennine Dark Mild
Bridestones Brown Ale
Brunswick White Feather
Cathedral Magna Carta
Cathedral St Hugh's
Cathedral Black Imp
Cherwell Valley Larkrise
Cherwell Valley Cropredy Bridge
Cherwell Valley Kineton Fight
Cherwell Valley Duke of Cumberlands Head
Concrete Cow Ironbridge Brew
Concrete Cow Cowzat'
Dark Star Hophead
Dark Star Espresso
Dark Star Festival
Dark Star Original
Dent Dent Bitter
Dent Aviator Ale
Dent T'owd Tup
Digfield Fools Nook
Digfield Barnwell Bitter
Digfield March Hare
Digfield Mad Monk
Dowbridge DB Dark
Dowbridge Morgans Beez Neez
Elland Beyond the Pale
Elland Anniversary Ale
Empire Golden Warrior
Frog Island Fuggled Frog
Frog Island Best Bitter
Frog Island Shoemaker
Frog Island Natterjack
Frog Island Fire Bellied Toad
Frog Island Croak & Stagger
Full Mash Brass Monkey
Full Mash Stapleford Stout
Grainstore Silly Billy
Great Oakley Welland Valley Mild
Great Oakley Wot's Occurring
Great Oakley Wagtail
Great Oakley Harpers
Great Oakley Gobble
Great Oakley Delapre Dark
Great Oakley Tailshaker
Great Oakley Abbey Stout
Green Mill Chocolate Mild
Green Mill A Bitter T'ale
Green Mill Chief
Green Mill Big Chief
Hart Dishy Debbie
Hawkshead Lakeland Gold
Hawkshead Brodies Prime
Hoggleys Northamptonshire Bitter
Hoggleys Kislingbury Bitter
Hoggleys Mill Lane Mild
Hoggleys Reservoir Hogs
Hoggleys Pump Fiction
Hoggleys Solstice Stout
Hoggleys Slum Hog
Hopshackle Historic Porter
Hopshackle Double Momentum
Iceni Celtic Queen
Iceni Fine Soft Day
Iceni Cranberry Wheat
Julian Church Parson's Nose
Julian Church Wonky Spire
Julian Church Martyr
Leatherbritches Copper Classic
Magpie Dark Secret
Magpie Best Bitter
Magpie Monty's FIrkin
Mallinsons Statue of Zeus
Mallinsons Jubilee Tower
Maypole Little Weed
Maypole Major Oak
Milestone Raspberry Wheat
Milestone Rich Ruby
Naylors Pinnacle Bitter
Naylors Pinnacle Blonde
Nethergate Old Growler
Nethergate Essex Beast
Nethergate Umbel Magna
Nethergate Lounge Lizard
Nethergate Essex Border
Nobbys Best Bitter
Nobbys Guilsborough Gold
Nobbys Claridges Crystal
Nobbys Monster Mash
Nobbys Chilli Summer
Nobbys T'owd Navigation
Oakham Endless Summer
Oakham White Dwarf
Oakham Bishops Farewell
Oldershaw Grantham Dark
Oldershaw Regal Blonde
Oldershaw High Dyke
Oldershaw Harrowby Pale
Oldershaw Grantham Stout
Oldershaw Ahtanum Gold
Grainstore Phipps IPA
Grainstore Phipps Red Star
Potbelly Welland Truly
Potbelly Black Sun
Potbelly Potbelly Best
Potbelly Beijing Black
Potbelly Inner Daze
Potbelly Crazy Daze
Purple Moose Black Hand Porter
Purple Moose Madogs
Purple Moose Snowdonia
Purple Moose Glaslyn Ale
Purple Moose Darkside of the Moose
RCH Old Slug Porter
RCH East Street Cream
RCH Double Header
RCH PG Steam
Red Squirrel BSPA
Red Squirrel London Porter
Red Squirrel English IPA
Red Squirrel Colorado American IPA
Red Squirrel Blonde
Rockingham A1 Amber Ale
Rockingham Black Forest
Sawbridgeworth Malt Shovel Porter
Sawbridgeworth Chocolate Orange Stout
Shardlow Kiln House
Shardlow Whistle Stop
Shardlow Golden Hop
Silverstone Chequered Flag
Southport Golden Sands
Spinning Dog Herefordshire Owd Bull
Spinning Dog Mutleys Dark
Spinning Dog Celtic Gold
Spinning Dog Mutts Nutts
Spire Ruby Tuesday
Spire Land Of Hop And Glory
St.Georges St George is mild
St.Georges Order of the Garter
St.Georges Dragons Blood
Tower Steamin Billy Last Bark
Tower Steamin Billy Skydiver
Tower steamin Billy Fox's Revenge
Titanic Golden Age
Ufford White Hart
Ufford Golden Drop
Vale Vale Best Bitter
Vale Edgar's Golden Ale
Vale Hadda's Spring Gold
Vale Castle Bitter
Weatheroak Light Oak
Weatheroak Victoria Works
White Horse Village Idiot
White Horse Wayland Smithy
White Horse Black Beauty
White Park White Gold
White Park Kellihopter
White Park Cranfield Bitter
Whitehaven Ennerdale Breeze
Whitehaven Ennerdale Bitter
Whitehaven Ennerdale Blonde
Whitehaven Ennerdale Copper
Wild Walker Old Big Ead
Wild Walker Last Orders
Wolf Golden Jackal
Wolf Lavender Honey
Wolf Woild Moild
Friday, 15 May 2009
I didn't realise that most pubs I take my wife in are a bit dodgy until she exclaimed "it's really nice Mark" when we walked into The Coach & Horses at Dronfield. It appears she was expecting somewhere a bit "spit and sawdust".
The C&H is owned by Sheffield FC and sells beers from the excellent Thornbridge Hall brewery. It also though sells a deecnt range of foreign bottled beers and carefully chosen draught keg products. It's anything but spit and sawdust being actually pretty smart.
Thornbridge beers available on my visit were:
I tried them all except the Redbrick and particularly liked the first two on the list. Jaipur was a bit disappointing, being a little warm which I'm told is very unusual here.
Although I didn't eat the menu looked really appetizing wih some lovely looking choices.
It was a well spent hour and one I hope to repeat again. The pub is having a beer festival on the next bank holiday weekend with a large selection of Thornbridge beers but also a good range of other brewers beers such as BrewDog, Dark Star and Marble. I wish I were going.
Wednesday, 13 May 2009
So, what have I been up to since we last met? I went to the beer festival at The Merchants Inn in Rugby, where all beers had an animal in the name and we were encouraged to order merely by animal name rather then the whole beer (Bugger that). I went to the first festival at The Victoria in Northampton, which needed to have more beers on at a time. I spent a week in the Peak District and only went to four (yes four) pubs the whole week. I had no internet access and precious little mobile phone reception, but that's not always a bad thing. And finally, and more pressingly, I've been puttiing together the tasting notes for this year's Northamptonshire Beer Festival which runs from May 28-30 at Delapre Abbey. This blog will be the first place the beer list will be published and there are some good beers to behold.
I'll try to get the blog back on a regular roll now that things are quietening down. I'm off on my annual pilgrimage to Brighton on Sunday though. That will be fun.
Thursday, 30 April 2009
I'm not for one moment suggesting this is the end of the bad period for pubs, but it's a step in the right direction.
Monday, 27 April 2009
When I first started drinking pubs had to close during the afternoon, then the law was changed so that drinking was allowed between 11 and 11 on every day except Sunday where it was noon until 10;30. I lived in a village at the time and my pub of choice flirted with opening all day on Saturday only. It was usually just us lads in there, playing skittles and listening to the football on the radio.
It was a far cry from what we have today with pubs effectively able to open all the hours they want to but where generally speaking the vast amount of pubs choose to open all day at least at weekends and Fridays. The pub which closes during the afternoon is in a definite minority, especially in towns or near tourist attractions.
Not all pubs do though and I'm confused why last orders is called at 3ish with a number of customers still spending their money. I know the same could be said for 11pm but people do have beds to go to.
So why do pubs which probably could open all day choose not to? Sure staff need a break but if there are enough staff and shift patterns are sorted correctly this shouldn't be an issue. The question of profit doesn't come into it as I've already identified that these are busy pubs only.
No, it's been suggested to me that pubs close to enable cleaning and general sprucing up between services. This may seem a valid argument but I can honestly say that I've not noticed an all day pub being particularly grotty in the evening.
So. what's the reason? And if you ran a successful pub would you consider an afternoon of no money going through the tills?
Tuesday, 21 April 2009
The following is a verbatim quote from the Weekend supplement of The Times dated 11 April:
The Campaign For Real Ale (a worthy cause) travels around the country holding festivals to promote the beauty of real ale, cider and perry.
It really is a lovely thought that a troupe of individuals hold a beer festival and then load the lorries and move on to the next town where they unload and start all over again. If that's a real job then I want a piece of it. Does anyone know to where I should apply?
Thursday, 16 April 2009
In my opinion a pumpclip needs three things: the beer name, the brewery name and the ABV. The brewery logo may also be included if it's not too intrusive. Anything else is just superfluous. And all three of the required things should be clear enough and large enough to be read. I think that interesting shaped pumpclips are OK and that that can set a particular brewery's beers apart from others. A good example of a clear pumpclip with the necessary information is those from Milestone, whilst those from Leeds are clear and definitely distinctive.
The same principles apply for bottle labels. They should be kept plain and simple. The joy of a bottle is the opportunity to use the back label to really go to town. Standing in an off licence struggling to work out what is what is too much of a pain for a grouchy old drinker like me.
So to paraphrase, like my beer naming policy my labelling is going to be simple and traditional also. I just wish more brewers were like me.
Monday, 13 April 2009
The naming policy for my permenant and seasonal beers may be a tad boring, but the beers won't be. They will use the best ingredients and a sufficient quantity of each to impart good flavour. My beers won't simply be one mess of Fuggles and Goldings after another. It's fair to say they won't be particularly extreme though. These are going to be high production beers that will appeal to your ordinary beer drinkers as well as your aficionados. The occasional and one off beers though are likely to be more extreme and appeal to a more niche market.
I am a member of that niche market myself. I've regularly blogged about interesting foreign beers that are being imported and have sang the praises of the more daring progressive brewers like BrewDog and Thornbridge. It's with these beers that I'm going to have some fun
I'm not going to complicate matters too much though. Again you're going to have a fair idea what you're going to get by the way the beer is named. So my single hopped IPA brewed with Simcoe is going to have a name to reflect itself, and its' going to be really hoppy, the same goes for my other IPAs. I'll brew proper fruit beers with proper fruit, no juice but the real thing, and I'll experiment with ingredients like coffee, spices and barrel aging, but not too many of anything at a time.
The beers will be produced when the time is right to source the right ingredients. It's not quite seasonality but there will be a method to the madness of why each beer is produced at a certain time. These beers will be bottled as will as produced cask conditioned; my other stuff may not see a bottle. And quality control here is of the utost importance as sadly all too many British BCAs are substandard. I won't allow mine to be
Hopefully the consistency and quality of the regular stuff will see interest in these beers, and export deals will be on the table. It all seems too simple to be true, and of course it is all my fabrication, but it's a workable model I'd have thought.
Next time I'll do pump clips and bottle label designs.
Wednesday, 8 April 2009
As well as the permanent beers I will have seasonal beers. These seasonals though will be representative of the season or a celebration of an annual occurrence. They won't just be any old new recipe with a name to match the time of year. The same seasonals will be brewed year in year out, and drinkers will look forward to each year's output.
It's far rarer in UK than in USA for regular and relevant seasonals to be produced, and it actually tends to be the older, perhaps more traditional brewers who do it. Harveys do it probably better than others although Shepherd Neame seasonals are anticipated highly in Kent although perhaps not so much further afield. I also look forward to finding Youngs Winter Warmer each year.
As is my want the beers will all be named so as to inform the punter what to expect, so the following beers will form part of my portfolio:
Light Mild for March (the alternative mild month)
Chocolate Stout brewed with massive amounts of Chocolate Malt for Easter
Strong Mild brewed for May (the current mild month)
Summer Lager a real and authentic lager, brewed throughout the Summer
Green Hop using the first pickings.
Bonfire Smoke a smoked style beer for the period around November 5th.
Winter Warmer a true strong warmer for those sipping nights around the fire.
Christmas Ale strong and spicy.
That's probably enough to cover the whole year. There's no need to brew beers for Valentine's Day or Halloween or St Georges Day or any other nonsense just to get another beer under your belt. These will be proper quality meaningful seasonals.
Having said that though there will be other beers brewed as and when the time is right. More on that next time.
Tuesday, 7 April 2009
All too often we order beers not having a clue what we are going to receive. We can of course ask the bar staff but sadly they are not always fully in command of the knowledge to tell us whether the beer will be a golden ale or a dark mild. ABV doesn't tell us as much as it used to. That pint of Old Gutblaster could be anything.
Sure, sometimes it's nice to be surprised, but that can occasionally be problematic.
My dark mild will therefore be called Dark Mild, my porter Porter and my barley wine Barley Wine. No jokey names thank you very much. It may be boring but breweries back in the day didn't feel the need for odd nomenclatures.
You'll know what you'll be getting with my beers. Tomorrow I'll do the seasonals.
Monday, 6 April 2009
It seems a modern phenomenon to give a brewery a 'joke' name or something totally irrelevant to anything in particular. If you look at the oldest breweries still in existance, they are all named after their founders.
So we have Shepherd Neame; Harveys; Palmers and Elgoods who are the only existing independent breweries from pre 1800.
The oldest brewery still in existence named after its origin is Old Swan from 1835, but that's probably cheating slightly as it's actually a brew pub, although Felinfoel wasn't far behind.The oldest brewery still around not nammed after its fouders or loaction seems to be Caledonian from 1865. Even then there is a link with Caledonia being an old name for Scotland
So being the traditionalist I am I'll be going either with Edwards' Brewery which has been done before or Wootton Brewery.
Tomorrow I'll talk about the beers.
Sunday, 5 April 2009
The beer I probably drink the most of at home is Sierra Nevada Pale Ale. It's easily attainable; cheap and tasty. In addition it's as consistent as you'd like a bottled beer to be. It was the only bottled beer I drank in March which was above average, so therefore has to win Bottled Beer Of The Month.
There was more competition for cask beer of the month, although there was an outright winner. The highlights of the month were Leicester BF and Liverpool. I was ill for a lot of the rest of the month so drinking opportunities were at a premium.
Both the articles linked to go into detail about the better beers on each day, so I won't bore you by repeating myself. The best beer in Liverpool was Wentworth Black Zac followed by Northern Two Tone Stout, but these pailed into insignificance against the wonder that was Atomic Firebox. I liked reading the comments that were left and can easily see that beers brewed with chili might divide opinion, but this was a work of true genius. I wouldn't be the slightest bit surprised if it doesn't end up being the best cask ale I drink all year.