Wednesday, 26 December 2012

Golden Pint Awards 2012

Best UK Draught Beers: Oakham Ales Green Devil IPA, Thornbridge/Odell Pond Hopper and Brodie's Dalston Black IPA.

Best UK Bottled Beer: Everything by Summer Wine brewery.

Best Overseas Draught Beer: Firestone Walker Union Jack IPA.

Best Overseas Bottled or Canned Beer: Firestone Walker Double Jack.

Best Overall Beer: Oakham Ales Green Devil.

Best Pumpclip or label: Diabolus by The Durham Brewery.

Best UK Brewery: Summer Wine.

Best Overseas Brewery: Firestone Walker.

Pub/Bars of the year: Craft Beer Co Brighton, Sheffield Tap and BrewDog Nottingham.

Beer Festival: Independant Manchester Beer Convention.

Independent Retailer: Bacchanalia.

Online Retailer: Beers of Europe.

Best Beer Blog: Beer Talk.

Best Beer Twitterer: @Lovibonds (Jeff Rosenmeier)

Best Online Brewery Presence: BrewDog.

Food and Beer Pairing: Are we still waffling on about food and beer pairing? Forget it.

In 2013 I'd most like to: See Chris Sherratt running a pub.

Wednesday, 14 November 2012

Bona Craft: A Schlumpher's Guide

Mr. Thorne: Craft Beer is very popular at the moment, and as I was walking down the Euston Road the other day I spotted an unusual building with a bright neon sign that said Bona Craft. I was feeling rather thirsty so I trolled in...

J: Hello, I'm Jimmy and this is my friend Sidney.

S: How lovely to vada your dolly old eek!

Mr. Thorne: There are so many fridges and taps here, I don't know where to begin.

J: Scarper nanti!
Frigidaires here, Frigidaires there, Frigids everywhere.
Pull up a stool, sit your dish down and prepare to learn Craft.

Mr. Thorne: What's this extraneous Co2 that Mr. Eros speaks of?

J: Never aunt nell to gossip, the extraneous doesn't harm. Nelly not to Mr. Eros. Fear nanti!
Bung him a carafe of yer finest Imperial barrel-aged bungery juice.

S: Park a load of measures in me lills for thrills and spills.
Ogle the menu, feast your orbs on the vastness of Craftness.

Mr. Thorne: Mmm. I must say, this beer is tasty.

J:Waft the aromas up yer onk. Schlumph deep and don't spit.
Swallow until your lallies buckle.
Schlumphers of the Bona Craft unite! Educate fellow omis and palones in the cackle of Craft!

S: Troll out of here and spread the word Craft from omi to omi, palone to palone. Bona Craft!

Monday, 5 November 2012

It's That Time Of Year

It's that time of year. Sometimes beer doesn't quite hit the spot like a Single Malt Whisky.

OK, so I'll be digging out some Imperial Stouts and Barley Wines in the coming weeks, but whisky will be my nightcap.

Tuesday, 2 October 2012

Sour Grapes: A beer for people that don't drink beer.

We've long known that Lovibonds in Henley-on-Thames brew some stunning beers. Just drinking a glass of Henley Dark, 69 IPA or Gold Reserve is an exclamation mark on the awards Jeff and his crew have received for their talents.

I had the pleasure of revisiting the Lovibonds tasting room recently and as if luck would have it Sour Grapes was being served on tap.

Now Lovibonds are passionate about what they do, and they want you to know that. There were so many tasters being handed out at the brewery tap it would give the beer geeks a real knicker-wetting session.

So what did the punters make of Sour Grapes? A sour beer originally born out of a batch of Henley Gold that stuck fermenting?
Some were hesitant in deciding if they liked it, others loved it. I overheard someone say "It's still fermenting, I don't think you should drink it."
But my favourite moment came when a woman that said she didn't drink beer but drank cider was given a glass, she thought it was great.

Sunday, 30 September 2012

King Diamond For A Day

It's almost time for Brewster Rich to head off on his Australian odyssey, so a bunch of reprobates gathered in Nottingham to raise hell.

Black Metal In BrewDog...

Morbid in the Marquis Of Granby...

Cheery-bye Rich, thanks for having us. Don't forget to write.

Thursday, 27 September 2012

Beware Pumpclip Vigilantes

This report comes as a warning to those wishing to fulfil their duty in the war against the naff or offensive pumpclip.

It appears some publicans may becoming wise to customers discomfort with being confronted with this kind of garbage.
Yer actual pumpclip warrior was met with a severe berating by a landlady for snapping the clip illustrated here.

Feeling truly told off said grunt retreated to a stool to sup the warm tasteless slop he had been served.
Be careful.

Friday, 31 August 2012

The Organ Grinder, Loughborough

Loughborough. You may not know where Loughborough is, you may not be able to pronounce it correctly.
Blue Monkey brewery know where Loughborough is and have opened their second Organ Grinder pub in the boozer formerly known as The Old Pack Horse.

A lot of work has been done on the place, I feel it's been improved no end from how I remember it.
Large room at the front, a smoking shelter area, a stable room and a sizeable yard with picnic benches.
It's much the same as the Nottingham one, it's a winning formula.

8 cask ales and 8 keg fonts. A lot of Blue Monkey, Cannonball from Magic Rock and Dead Pony Club from BrewDog on this visit.
As it's only a 10 minute journey by train from Leicester I will be a regular. You might find me having a drink with Richard Harris.

The Organ Grinder Loughborough is on the corner of Pack Horse Lane and Woodgate.

Location:Wood Gate,,United Kingdom

Sunday, 19 August 2012

Summer Sundae: Bring Your Own

There's a pretty good beer tent at the Summer Sundae festival. There are 20 cask ales, many of the reliable kind, Hopback Summer Lightning, St. Austell Proper Job and Abbeydale Deception to name a few.

A couple of weeks back there was a tweet from Summer Sundae that said punters could take their own alcohol. I read it then read it again. I don't think I've been to a music festival where I could take my own booze since Monsters Of Rock in 1988.

So the best beer at Summer Sundae this year is Dark Star Hophead that I got from the Swan and Rushes and brought in a growler.

Location:Leicester,United Kingdom

Thursday, 26 July 2012

Postcards From Brighton

Dear Beerfriends,
Arrived at lunchtime. Travelled by train, not in the back of a tourvan under a pile of instruments like the previous time I was in Brighton.
Found Bankers chippy then wandered along the seafront under the hot sun.
A look around the lanes then on to The Brewery Tap.

The Brewery Tap has 31 taps on the bar wall. 15 beers were on including Jever, Snake Dog IPA, Anchor Steam and Duchesse De Bourgogne.
The cold Williams Brothers Caesar Augustus was delicious. I couldn't tell if I was drinking lager or IPA, it turns out it's a lager/IPA hybrid, so there you go.

Then a walk up the hill to the recently opened Craft Beer Co. Much like the one in Clerkenwell there were an incredible range of beers on offer. Mikkeller, Southern Tier, Evil Twin, Camden, Summer Wine, Dark Star, Magic Rock on draught and an impressive selection of bottles in the fridges.
The copper topped tables are a nice touch.

It's the kind of pub that dogs take their owners, I'm sure I counted 5 canine companions during our rest here.
We found another type of canine companion here.

Finally a visit to the Evening Star for Brodie's Simcoe for Breakfast, a hopped up Imperial stout, and some Dark Star beers. I admit by now I was getting tunnel vision but it's a lovely boozer and the staff here were very welcoming.

Wish you were here? I wish I was again soon XXX

Tuesday, 17 July 2012

Leicester Pubs: The Globe

The Globe stands on the corner of Silver Street and Carts Lane in the city centre. Apparently the building has been a boozer since around 1720.

It had become a little grotty in recent years so, as Everard's flagship Leicester pub, its recent refurbishment is welcome.

I'll be honest here and say I've never really been a fan of Everard's beers. My eyes usually stray to the guest ales in their pubs.
That said, if you know what to expect from the beers that's fine, we're just interested in the refurbishment.

They've made a pretty good job of it I reckon. Plenty of cosy snugs. Much of the layout is the same but it looks more like a basic Victorian boozer. The only thing missing is a room with sawdust on the floor.
Some of the old gas lighting remains, gas lighting that many years ago a friend of mine accidentally set fire to his hair on.

The food menu looks tempting. From burgers to olive and hummus platters, steak and Stilton sandwiches and posh fish finger sandwiches.
The ingredients are going to be purchased daily from the market, about 5 minutes walk away.

So the The Globe is definitely worth a visit, there's a great new team running it. I just wonder if anyone has told them the place is haunted...

Monday, 16 July 2012

Church End Beer and Classic Bikes

I usually head to Church End Brewery Tap at least twice a year.
I should get there more often as it's only a short train and bus journey away.

They hold an annual Classic Bikes meet in the summer. I've managed to get to a couple of these.
There were some beautiful machines there this year including a 1974 Ducati, Triumph Bonnevilles, and a Douglas Dragonfly.

Half the fun is not knowing what will arrive, everyone's heads turn as another bike rides into the car park.

The other pleasure is drinking a Coffin of beer.

Saturday, 14 July 2012

Westvleteren: It Will Find You

When you first begin drinking Trappist beers you get to hear about the elusive ones.
The fact that they're difficult to get hold of might make you long for them even more. Or could it just be that you enjoy all the other Trappist beers so you need to complete the set?

I have been looking for Westvleteren on and off for the past few years and had resigned myself to not bothering again until maybe the next time I went to Brussels.

I was going to Derby beer festival on Thursday until a friend invited me along to his birthday bash. If I hadn't had accepted his invitation then I would have missed a chance.
A diversion and a casual mention of some beers and there it was.

Westvleteren will find you eventually when you're least expecting it.

Friday, 6 July 2012

The Session 65: So Lonely... (The Bolthole)

A friend of mine says everyone needs a bolthole. She's dead right.
When she wants an undisturbed pint she drinks in one of the city's crappiest pubs, safe in the knowledge that no one she knows will walk in.

I also have a couple of boltholes, somewhere to escape just for an hour or two, usually after work once a week or on a Sunday afternoon.

Without a doubt, most of the friends I've made over the past 24 years I've first met in pubs. Socialising over a few pints is still my favourite thing about drinking in a pub, but there's always that other pleasure of a quiet couple of pints on my own.

Wednesday, 4 July 2012

When Pubs Had Mystery

When I was growing up pubs had mystery. Us kids weren't allowed inside, we had to sit in the beer garden with a bottle of Hoyes lemonade, sucking through a paper straw that collapsed before we'd even got half way through.

Walking past a pub I was captivated by the sweet pungent smell of spilt beer and cigarette smoke, the sound of noisy chatter. Windows were frosted or blurred with bullseyes so no one could see inside.

Going to private functions in rooms above pubs one would catch a quick glimpse of the bar, full of unrecognisable faces.

Frequent shopping trips to Burton upon Trent meant other smells associated with beer, the smell of hops in boiling wort came from clouds of steam hanging over the streets. The pubs here looked different, many stood at the end of rows of terraced houses, or so it seemed.

I was intrigued by this mystery and it was one of the reasons I couldn't wait to start drinking in pubs as soon as I could get away with it.

Tuesday, 3 July 2012

BFI DVD: Roll Out The Barrel

Roll Out The Barrel is a compilation of short films on the British pub.
The 2 disc collection of 20 films in black and white and colour begins with The Story of English Inns from 1944 and ends with Local Life from 1982.
What we get is a combination of documentaries and trade films, some entertaining and some lacklustre.

There are a few highlights for me beginning with All In Good Time, shot by one of my favourite cinematographers, Peter Jessop and set in a pub in Banbury where one of a newlywed couple steals an ashtray from a pub table.
Under The Table You Must Go is a tour of London pubs and clubs with TV and radio personalities of the time including Jon Pertwee, Jimmy Hill and Richard "Stinker" Murdoch. My favourite clip is the light hearted look at the history of pubs starring Richard Wattis, What'll You Have?

Guinness For You is a fairly abstract trade film with an abstract soundtrack that wouldn't be out of place on a Throbbing Gristle or Anal album.
Some of Monty Python's Flying Circus demonstrate how to clean keg lines in Henry Cleans Up.

It's an interesting collection, some of the films I shall watch again, others I won't.
The DVD comes with a warning that it contains scenes of, prepare to be shocked folks, drinking.

Wednesday, 27 June 2012



Thursday, 21 June 2012

Leicester Pubs - The Pub

Yes, this boozer is named The Pub.
I usually refer to it as The Pub on New Walk to avoid any confusion.

It's only half the pub it used to be, the Demontfort, Wig and Pen, Courthouse were some of the previous names. Then it was split down the middle, parts becoming flats and a burger bar.

There can be up to 33 beers and ciders on at once in this place.
Regulars include Oakham Inferno and something dark by Beowulf.
Also expect to see Salamander and Leatherbritches beers.

When the owners of The Pub previously ran Out Of The Vaults across the road, they were famous for their beer festivals.
Some people ask when The Pub are going to have a beer festival. Do they need to when they are already serving so many beers? I think not.

Find The Pub on New Walk, close to King Street.

Location:Wellington St,Leicester,United Kingdom

Saturday, 16 June 2012

Too Latte For Love

Staying up late drinking coffee beers.
First up the Mikkeller/To Øl collaboration Sleep Over Imperial IPA.
I don't think I've ever drank a Mikkeller beer I didn't like, the man can do no wrong. I've also been pleased with the To Øl beers I've had, so I was expecting greatness. I wasn't disappointed.
There's a huge aroma of roast coffee coming off this beer, almost to the point of it stinking like an ash tray.
Drinking it, you'd never guess it was 10.5% abv as the bitterness hides the booziness.

Next up was the Flying Dog Kujo
Imperial Coffee Stout. 8.5% abv.
Much of the toasted almonds/burnt marzipan flavour in this that I can take or leave. There didn't seem to be much coffee in this.

Finally a bottle of Barista, Espresso Stout at 4.8% abv.
Nothing short of stunning. I love this beer on cask. If you can't find it on cask then you should snap up some bottles. There's a whiff of cigar box, a bitter kick from the coffee, then a touch of sweetness.
Very moreish, but I only had one bottle and it was time for bed.
How I managed to sleep I'm not sure, I was buzzin'.

Friday, 8 June 2012

Blank Holiday

Pub beer festivals were as ubiquitous as Union Flags last weekend.
You had to carefully pick which one to attend.
The Organ Grinder in Nottingham served us well, avoiding the Jubilee themed re-badges, preferring instead to fill us with London brews and Blue Monkey specials.

So alongside the Brodie's, Redemption and By The Horns, Blue Monkey had dry-hopped Guerilla and Infinity and stuck a load of Scotch Bonnet chillies and ginger in Evilution. Phew! We zig-zagged our way home and made a return trip the next day. We're really looking forward to the opening of the second Organ Grinder in Loughborough.

Some other pubs weren't so well attended over the weekend. These may or may not have been pubs that had a few too many Jubilee themed beers.

Wednesday, 9 May 2012

Leicester Pubs: The Kings

I was cycling up Kings Street when I noticed something. The roadworks slowed me down and I looked at The Kings. I wouldn't normally look at this place as it lost its way a while back.

I remember alcoholic Sundays here in the summer some 15 or plus years ago. Then pubs like The Vaults and Out Of The Vaults came and went and we slowly forgot about The Kings.

It reopened a week or so ago.
It's back to a traditional looking pub.
8 cask ales and real cider. Ham cobs, cheese and onion cobs and Hotpot. Loud patterned soft carpets.

I like it.
I like all kinds of beer and pubs. I'm just as contended here as I am in The Font in Leicester, a pub that's almost polar opposites.

Find your corner here and sup away a few hours.

Location:King St,Leicester,United Kingdom

Monday, 30 April 2012

BrewDog: The Punk AGM 2012

Just a few things you should know about the BrewDog Equity For Punks AGM...

BrewDog Aberdeen sells some amazing beers. There may or may not be a sex dungeon under the bar.

They can brew on a tiny brew kit whilst they await the completion of the new brewery.
Johanna Basford can pour pints as well as hand draw pretty beer bottle labels.
Jonny Bright can mysteriously appear from nowhere to make sure you wash your hands after using the toilet.

Some folk bitched about queues at the bars but the longest I had to wait was 2 minutes. The shortest time I had to wait was 10 seconds. Now, that's fast when you think about how many thirsty punters there were.

It's easy to find someone if they wear a red bowler hat.
Max and Dan from BrewDog Notts have a knack of seamlessly handing out drinks to 700+ Equity Punks. I'm sure they will make great air stewards when BrewDog decide to run an airline.

Goodbye Trashy Blonde, hello Dead Pony Club.
What was that? BrewDog Birmingham? Yes!

We came, we saw, we drank. We enjoyed. Just one request, next time can we have the BMX Bandits playing some tunes?