Sunday, 31 July 2011

Adnams Spindrift (5%)

Whoever is doing the purchasing for Sainsburys at the moment is doing a pretty good job of it.
Lovely deals with Meantime and Brew Dog, some decent American bottled beers and now a special Adnams 330ml bottle called Spindrift.

Generally I like Adnams - They make no fuss, flavoursome if unadventurous beers (that said Broadside is a belter, a beer I love to drink).
Spindrfit claims to be a dry amber ale with a touch of wheat for extra sparkle (whatever that means).
In actual fact the wheat doesn't add much to this beer at all.
Spindrift gives you fresh green hops and a fine malt backbone.
It's a good summer drink in a bluebottle, but be careful as it's lightness of touch masks the over average ABV.

Visit Adnams.

The Dog And Gun, Syston. A Steaming Billy Brewing Company House.

The first thing to drop onto my virtual doormat this-weekend was a membership card (virtual) for the CAMRGB.
I must say that I do like the notion of celebrating beer simply because of its gorgeousness, regardless of whether or not it ticks all the boxes of the hardened beer-buffs. I am myself usually too sozzled to remember anything of the provenance of a beer and the only detail that really interests me is the all-important ABV. And I do attempt to remember the names of those which particularly please me.

I quickly decided that it would be appropriate to mark this most auspicious of occasions by conducting some serious *ahem* research with a mind to contributing to the blog which serves as a mouthpiece to this most worthy of causes.

I love summer, and being English, I spend at least 11 months of every year longing for hot lazy days, during which I become more saurian than human. Perversely, though, there is nothing which I enjoy more than wasting one of these gloriously rare afternoons by sitting inside a dark pub drinking, well, too much.

It didn’t take too long for a plan to emerge (about 2 seconds) and after an agonisingly long wait for opening time to come around I found myself installed into the Dog And Gun, Syston, a small town to the north of Leicester. This fine old building has been a pub for centuries and has recently been converted to a ‘Real Ale’ pub by the Steaming Billy Brewing Company. This was a brave decision by the brewery considering that, due to its location, they will rely, to a large extent, on the existing local drinking population for much of its trade. They clearly believe that there is a desire for quality beer out there; Carling boys simply aren’t catered for at-all here.

Steaming Billy operate 6 pubs in which they showcase their own excellent beers as well as many others, although they do tend to favour local producers. The food on offer is locally produced too, and is sensible beer-drinker’s food; crisps, ploughman's, pies and the like. They describe themselves as a ‘Classic Alehouse’ with a decor that is both ‘snazzy’ and olde-world in a well balanced way. I spent the first hour or so of my tenure sat in a winged armchair. Very pleasant.

The beer here speaks for itself and was being quaffed greedily and appreciatively by its many customers. I get the impression that Steaming Billy are keen to attract those of us who like a Bloody-Good-Pint but might be a little reluctant to venture into one of the sometimes slightly intimidating bastions of card-carrying CAMRA members. I heard a regular state that whilst he was ‘not really a real-ale drinker, the beer here is really nice.’ It seems to me that good beer is losing its image of fustiness and that the small breweries finally look set to shake the brewing giants’ grip on our pubs.

As I sampled my final pint of the afternoon the landlord said to me, ‘Its like a mini beer festival coming into here.’ I had to agree with him and burped happily as I tried to find the door and thus started on my long journey home.

All of the beers sampled were well kept, fresh-tasting and served with a smile. What’s more, I felt as fresh as a daisy the following day; another sign of a good pint. Highly recommended.

The Grainstore Brewery Gold 4.5%
Wood Farm Brewing Co. Victorious 4.3%
The Grainstore Brewery Rutland Panther 3.4% (Best of the day, and a Mild too!)
Wood Farm Best Bitter 4.2%
Steaming Billy Bitter 4.3%

Steaming Billy Tipsy Fisherman 3.6% (Accompanied by Huntsman Pie and pickles)
Steaming Billy Skydiver 5.0%

Saturday, 30 July 2011

Hopshackle Resination (7%)

Hopshackle Brewery of Lincolnshire are new to me.
I found a whole range of their beers recently and was intrigued.
It took me a while to choose which would be the first of their beers to try, but in the end, being an IPA lover I went for Resination.
It's a massively hopped Imperial IPA and as such may not be to everyones taste.
The first mouth full hits hard - Deep, stinging, crisp and bitter floral hops take your breath away.
Then just as you wonder if you'll ever get your palate back there's a wonderful creamy biscuit malt that puts everything in your face back in balance.
I really didn't want this beer to end and savoured every mouthful.
I'm really looking forward to trying some more.
Hopshackle, you have a new fan.

Visit them here for more.

Friday, 29 July 2011

Brew Dog Alice Porter (6.2%)

People who know me know I love Brew Dog.
My favourite beer in the world is Punk IPA and I drink a bottle after work every night of the week.
Now and then I open a bottle of Hardcore too.

Last night I had my first bottle of Alice Porter.
It's a damned fine drink.
You begin with that classic puddingy porter feeling before the bitter dark chocolate kicks in.
Then there's the wash of rich red wine and that Brew Dog hit of floral hops.
Every Brew Dog needs its hops.
At 6.2% it's not too heavy either.
Though at only half a pint-ish I wish I'd bought two.

Meet Alice here.

The Offie, Leicester

After work last night I drove over to The Offie on Clarendon Park Road, Leicester.
It's a specialist beer seller stocking over 500 different beers from around the world.

I was met at the door by the shops lugubrious owner Muree Squires, a man who likes a natter as much as he likes a beer.
Muree wandered around the store with me chatting and pointing out beers he thought I might find interesting.
On the shelves are some pretty expensive drinks - Brew Dog's Abstrakt 06 and Tokyo, Thornbridge's Bracia and a few heftily priced American imports. We talked about them but at no point did he try to make me spend anything at all.
It was a very clever ruse.
I spent a few quid.

I lined up my chosen purchases on the counter and we started adding up the cost.
All the while we talked.
Of beer, of Leicester, of CAMRA and its ways.
And we laughed.
We laughed a lot.
Muree is a man who likes to drink beer, and talk, and laugh.
It took longer to have my purchases totted up and for me to pay than it had for me to browse the shop.

Go and visit The Offie, it's a real treat and its owner is a very nice man indeed.
But be warned, time will stand still and you'll come out with your pockets much lighter.

The Offie is on Clarendon Park Road, it's open from (usually a bit after) 4.30pm until 9pm Sunday to Thursday, from (a bit after) 4.30pm to 10pm on Fridays and from 11.30am (or nearer 12) until 10pm on Saturdays.

The Offie website

Thursday, 28 July 2011

Our position - An open letter to CAMRA-ites

Dear beer lovers.
We love beer as much as you do.
We don't want a war - of words or otherwise.
We want more people to think about the beer they drink and become more adventurous in this world of watery bland lager.
We have enormous respect for much of the work that CAMRA does and many of the battles CAMRA has fought.
However, we believe that many of those battles were won some time ago and that imposing such stringent rules on what is a Real British Ale alienates not only many of the small artisan brewers in the UK but also many of the people who enjoy the beer made by them.

This country of ours makes an extraordinary range of craft beers and we should celebrate them by supporting them.
That means buying their beers and telling everyone else about them too.

We are uncomfortable with the stranglehold that CAMRA and its rules has over British brewing.
The imposing of rules about kegs and casks, yeast quotients etc. are holding back the world of modern brewing in the UK and is definitely alienating many many people in the UK who would otherwise start drinking the products of our small brewers and enjoying them.
There's a whole generation of younger people who look at the archetypal CAMRA member as a beard wearing, sandal sporting beer geek.
That is a great shame.

Drinking and enjoying beer, sitting in pubs and talking / discussing / arguing.
Meeting new people.
Getting slightly tipsy and giggling.
These are all wonderful and fun and important things to do.
Let's not hold people back anymore by imposing draconian measures on what is and is not the "real" pursuit of good beer.
Let's enjoy good beer for good beer's sake.
Let's thank all our amazing brewers for the astonishing range of drinks they provide.

Let's sit down and discuss the parameters of getting people involved.

Thanks and cheers.

Tuesday, 26 July 2011

Dolphin Inn R.I.P

I learned today that one of the best pubs in Shrewsbury has closed it's doors for the last time. It was a free house and was always a friendly place to visit and had a variety of good local ales and even had it's own micro brewery. When I first started going in there I recall it had loads of cats roaming around and was more like a living room. Eventually it got sold when the landlord moved on and was taken over but always continued its friendly environment. Half the excitement of a visit would be to see the new "guest" beer. Normally an ale from the excellent Rowton Brewery or Wye Valley Brewery. A highlight was when they had Brew Dog Punk I.P.A on draft.

See links.

The Dolphin Inn

Great Beer

(The second link is very old but you get the idea)

Sunday, 24 July 2011

Places to go #1: The Wrekin Tap, Wellington, Telford

My favourite pub in the world.
Handily it's situated about 100 yards from my folks' house so I'm able to stagger over on my regular visits.
Situated in Wellington, Telford, The Wrekin Tap has won CAMRA's Shropshire pub award for several years running.
And with good reason.
The pub is split into two rooms, a large comfortable lounge with a small bar and a small (nee tiny) low-ceilinged and properly old fashioned smoking room with a long bar.
The pub has eight taps with only one constant beer - Hobson's Choice is a locally brewed bitter and is definitely worth a try.
The rest of the taps host guest ales from around the midlands.
There is always one stout or porter and one cider alongside the ales.
The staff are warm and friendly and most importantly, they know the beers they serve and are happy to offer a taster if you're unsure what to choose and to discuss the merits of each beer on offer.
One of my favourite things about this pub is that there is no TV or jukebox just the background hum of other drinkers conversations.
If you're in the area pay a visit, you'll love it:

The Wrekin Tap AT The Cock Hotel

Saturday, 23 July 2011

An introduction to raise eyebrows

Hello There.

Welcome to the blog for CAMRGB.

We'll be posting beer reviews and pub reviews and inviting contributions from various writers.
While we get all this off the ground, here's what our Facebook page says about CAMRGB:

A Campaign for Really Good Beer

Tired of the forced self righteous beard grooming of CAMRA and the ridiculous rules used to decide what is a "real" ale and what isn't, we think it's about time we celebrated really good beer for its own sake.
Good craft beer is good craft beer and it doesn't matter if it comes in a cask or a keg or a bottle or a can.

It doesn't matter if it contains a specific amount of yeast.
It doesn't matter that it doesn't have a slightly chauvinistic name or pump clip.