Saturday, 25 September 2010

Horny Monday

The first Monday after the first Sunday after the 4th of September. Once you get that into your head you shouldn't miss Abbots Bromley Horn Dance.

Abbots Bromley is a Staffordshire village between Rugeley and Uttoxeter. Every September members of the Fowell family collect the ancient antlers from the church at 8am prompt then perform their dance for twelve hours over a ten mile walk, stopping only for lunch and pints of beer.

There are twelve dancers. The six carrying the antlers are joined by Maid Marion, a Hobby Horse, the Fool, a triangle player, a bowman and a melodeon player. They're sometimes joined by another musician on concertina or accordian.

The other thing Abbots Bromley is known for is hand crafted lager.
Freedom Brewery relocated from London to Staffordshire in 2004 and I first saw their name on t shirts the Horn Dancers were wearing underneath their waistcoats.

Until this year I'd only found bottles of Freedom lager in Oddbins, but it's cropping up all over the place on draught now.

Freedom Four 4% abv
Freedom Pilsner 5% abv
Freedom Organic 4.8% abv
Freedom Organic Dark 4.7% abv

They're lagered for four to six weeks and are suitable for vegetarians and vegans - no fishy swim bladders in this.

If push came to shove I'd have to say Freedom Dark is my favourite with its subtle sweet berry flavours. The Pilsner is pretty immense too with a crispness from spicy - almost peppery hops.

The next time you hear someone saying that only mass-produced tasteless lager is made in a town in Staffordshire tell them to seek out lager brewed ten miles east in the village of Abbots Bromley.

YouTube Video

Thursday, 16 September 2010


OK, that title is probably a load of rubbish but it's time craft beer in a keg, quality keg or whatever you want to call it got the praise it so deserves.

At the Sheffield Tap I drank 7 different beers and only one was cask.
Thornbridge Jaipur
Stone Arrogant Bastard
Mikkeller/BrewDog I Hardcore You
BrewDog Punk IPA
Bernard Dark lager
Meantime IPA

All the above were keg. All delicious and great quality. And yes, the Jaipur was outstanding.

Thursday, 2 September 2010

Swan and Rushes

Ten years ago I had a life changing experience. I walked into one of my locals and it had changed ownership.

I quite liked the Swan & Rushes on Infirmary Square, Leicester but with new owners it had improved beyond expectation.

I knew it had changed immediately; new carpets, new upholstery and new beer.
A very smart bearded chap stood behind the bar with his hands behind his back and welcomed us. He was the manager Sammy Saunders and along with the new landlord Grant Cook was responsible for indroducing myself and other Leicester drinkers to the delights of a load of new quality ales and a load of bottled Belgian stuff.

I had Oakham Ales JHB for the first time that night.

It was the first place I drank Cantillon.
It was the first place I drank cask Thornbridge Jaipur and St. Petersburg.
It was the first place I drank Goose Island IPA.
It was the first place I drank Orval.
The first place I drank sour red beers, cave-aged beers, smoked beers...

OK there was already a couple of places in Leicester like The Vaults that did micro cask ales and Cafe Bruxelles that did bottled and kegged Belgian beer, but the Swan was adding a lot more.

Sammy Saunders went on to run a pub in Devon then work for Oakham Ales. Who knows where he is now. I'd like to think he's still selling excellent beer to folk.
Grant just celebrated 10 years at the Swan with a festival including beers from Oakham, Quercus, Pitstop, Saltaire, Dark Star, Potbelly and Blue Monkey.

Happy Birthday.

N.B. I didn't like smoked beers the first time I tried them and I still don't.