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    Monday, 15 June 2009

    End Of The Line

    I've decided to put the blog to sleep. To be honest I've gotten bored with it and lack the motivation to post with any regularity. I shall keep the blog here rather than shut it down, and will still be twittering or whatever it's called and the latest tweets will still appear at the top of the front page.

    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.

    Good luck

    Wednesday, 10 June 2009

    Presentation Night For Our Pub Of The Year

    18 or so members of the Northants Branch of CAMRA attended the Pub Of The Year presentation at The Coach & Horses in Wellingborough in Monday night.

    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

    Britiah Summer Ales

    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.

    However my recent experiences seem to demonstrate that more and more brewers are getting the hang of putting flavour into their beer, and that flavour may be described as Summery.

    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

    Other Pubs In Brighton

    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

    Brighton Pubs - The Obvious Go-Tos

    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

    Coming Soon From Adnams

    I'm going to Suffolk for a week towards the end of June, and will be staying very near Southwold, which is, of course Adnams country. Looks like I've timed it well as this new beer should be available.

    I do like Nelson Sauvin hops.

    Monday, 1 June 2009

    Northants BF - That Was A Mad Weekend

    The sun shone, and the drink flowed. This year's Northamptonshire Beer Festival had more beer than ever and far more cider than ever. It also had our best weather ever, with temperatures in the mid twenties.

    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.