Monday, 26 September 2016

Event Spotlight: Nicholson's Beer Showcase

Another month and another Event Spotlight, just sneaking in at the end of September all stealthy like. This month it's the turn of Nicholson's, who are hosting a Beer Showcase which includes a new IPA from Tony Hadley of all people! I hope it's a golden ale (ho ho ho). Anyway, get along and get some beer down yer necks.


Nicholson’s Beer Showcase
(17th September – 15th October)

This Autumn, from the 17th of September, Nicholson’s Pubs across the nation will play host to the Beer Showcase, a month long celebration of all that is great and good in cask and craft ales. Partnering with some the UK’s best breweries, Nicholson’s Beer Showcase will offer the chance to try a plethora of fantastic beers and take part in events including craft beer masterclasses, beer sommelier tastings, giveaways and celebrity brews.

The Beer
With a colossal 139 beers to be sampled across 80 pubs around the country – including a range of seasonal autumn beers and cask ales, kegged craft beers and regional specialties – the Beer Showcase will be one of the UK’s biggest celebration of great beer and unmissable for any beer enthusiast.

To educate aficionados and novices alike, the majority of pubs will host pop-up beer schools by craft beer specialist Brewdog, where guests can learn about the intricate brewing processes and ingredients, the principles of beer tasting and beer and food pairings. For a chance to sample brewery fresh beer, tanks of Pilsner Urquell will pop-up for the whole month at selected pubs and will launch with appearances from their very own beer sommelier to complete the brewery experience. Fuller’s London Roadshow will showcase three cask ales and host beer tastings with the brewery’s master beer taster. Meanwhile, Meantime will be offering virtual tours of their brewery through the futuristic virtual reality ‘Oculus Rift’ device across 10 of the pubs. ‘Cornish Nights’ will serve various high quality Cornish ales courtesy of breweries St Austell and Sharp’s, and will be accompanied with traditional Cornish pasties and a beer tasting hosted by Rugby Union star Jack Nowell at select pubs.

Celebrity Brews
Nowell won’t be the only celebrity taking part as Nicholson’s welcomes music fans to sample the beers of rock royalty Madness, Iron Maiden and New Order as well as launching Tony Hadley’s new IPA. The singer himself will be making an appearance at the London launch on 30th September.  Besides serving the beers and offering tastings across various pubs, fans will have the chance to win prizes including personalised signed products from the artists themselves. In addition to the star studded line-up, comedian and pub landlord legend Al Murray will be pouring pints on the 14th October at four London pubs for a true beer and banter experience.

The Nicholson’s Beer Showcase will run nationally from the 17th September to 15th October. For full listings of events and dates visit .

You can check out more events that are going on this month via the Crafty Beeress Events Calendar, which I update as often as possible with events that are occurring all over the UK and Ireland. 

Sunday, 18 September 2016

Beery Adventures: Prague

Well, well, well, look who it is. It's me! That's right; the wedding's done and dusted and I have a new name (it has an additional syllable - v annoying), but my love for beer will never be done! Or dusted! Yes, it's back to reality and, as my reality is drinking an awful lot of beer and writing about it, I'm chuffed to be back. 

I will only refer to the wedding twice on the blog from here on in: once in this post, as we went to Prague on our honeymoon, and once in another as I talk about the wonderful beer filled location in which we actually got married. But enough of that, let's get on to the good stuff.

I've written about Prague before on Crafty Beeress. It's a place I adore; not just for the beer, but boy does it have a lot of beer and a lot of awesome beer at that. In this post I'll be recommending a few places to visit, but there are so many pubs, bars and microbreweries opening all the time that it's definitely worth doing your research before heading over. Still, there's nothing like the excitement of stumbling across something, is there? Here are some of my stumbles. 

[Beer Museum]

Not to be confused with Prague Beer Museum (also well worth a visit), the Beer Museum is tucked away in the Old Town and, to be honest, more of an exhibition than a museum. For 280czk each (approx £9.50 in the current climate) you can access the exhibition, learn a bit about the brewing process and the history of beer in Czech, and then head down for a taster of their beers; four, in fact, and they come in this lovely little carrier.

Not an absolute must see, but the exhibition was good and the beers were great. I particularly enjoyed the different bars they had downstairs reflecting different periods of time (spoiler alert: Communists weren't great when it came to designing pubs). The Beer Museum also has different packages where you can go in to the museum and then bottle your own beer, so do have a look at the website before you go. 

The Beer Museum, Husova 7, Praha 1.

[U Tří růží]

U Tří růží, or The Three Roses, is a brewery and restaurant with two locations, although my favourite is in the old town, near Charles bridge. The interior is small and plain, but comfortable, and the huge tanks behind the bar are a wonderful feature. As you might expect, they only serve their own beer and, due to the size of the brewery, that's usually a selection of around 6. My stand out this time was the Monastic Beer of St Giles No.4 (try saying that after 3 of them), a semi-dark bock which was sweet and malty, reminiscent of a Belgian blonde. At 7.2% I took my time, but fortunately this is the sort of place in which you can spend a lot of time. 

U Tří růžíHusova 10/232110 00 Praha 1

[U Kunstatu]

Despite being in the centre of Prague's old town, U Kunstatu is easily missed, but if you do manage to find it you're in for a treat. They have a menu with well over 50 beers (all from Bohemian and Moravian small to mid size breweries), in every style, and a few taps too. The staff are knowledgeable and love talking about beer, so do ask them for a recommendation. 

The building itself dates from the 12th century and is the second oldest building in the old town. Make sure you pop down to the 'secret' basement; very cool. 

U Kunstatu, Retezova 3, Praha 1.

[Staropramen Brewery Visitor Centre]

On our last trip to Prague we went to Pilsner Urquell and this time wanted to check out Krusovice. It turns out Krusovice is a bit of a ball ache to get to and no one does organised tours (gap in the market, anyone?) so we decided to seek out Staropramen instead. 

To be honest, it's a bit of a mixed bag. The tour costs around a tenner and for that you get a 'self guided' tour and a 'free' beer at the end. Essentially you go from room to room and a man who is, apparently, the founder of Staropramen pops up on a screen and gives you hilarious anecdotes about how delicious Staropramen is. I'm not sure we learned very much, but it was actually pretty fun. The highlight was the tap room, which was a comfortable place to sit and relax and, while the beers weren't outstanding, it was nice to try the different styles that we don't get in the UK. Don't go out of your way, but if you have a few hours spare it might be worth popping down. Oh, and make sure you find out when the English tour is (unless you also speak German)!

Staropramen Brewery Visitor CentrePivovarska 9, Prague 5.

[Strahov Monastic Brewery]

I've written about Strahov before, and this is quite a claim,'s the best beer in Prague. I know I know, I'm sure some of you will have had differing experiences, but for me I've not found another brewery in Prague that produces such pure, fresh, delicious beer. And it's every style that stands out, from the dark lager to the seasonal red ale and the more experimental IPA. Another thing it has going for it is that the monastery sits atop the hill giving you stunning panoramic views as you sup your beer. Oh, and the goulash is superb. A must on any beer tour. 

Strahov Monastic Brewery, Nadvori 301, Praha 1.

Thursday, 21 July 2016

Event spotlight: The Welcome Feast

Hi beeros! Apologies for the radio silence, but with weddings and beer drinking it's all a bit hectic. That said, I've been updating the beer calendar as much as possible, and I thought I would start posting some 'event spotlights' to highlight what's going on in the wonderful world of beer.

First up is something a little out of the ordinary (and believe me there will be PLENTY of CAMRA festivals/Meet the Brewer/Tap Takeoever type spotlights in future), but I just wanted to highlight it as something cool that craft beer is getting involved with:


Standon Calling is a music festival set in the beautiful grounds of Standon Lordship, a 16th century manor house located in Hertfordshire. The night before the festival they're holding The Welcome Feast, an evening dedicated to mouth watering street food and delicious beer; the perfect combo!

Two excellent breweries, Hackney and Red Squirrel, will be there showcasing their beers at the Real Ale bar. Red Squirrel in particular are a current favourite of mine and they're bringing out some absolute crackers at the moment, both in their main and Mad Squirrel ranges. Let's hope both of them pull out some festival exclusives (OMG I LOVE A FESTIVAL EXCLUSIVE)

If you fancy you can go to the whole weekend (the line up is ace and very eclectic, check it out here), or just pop along on Thursday for £20. See you down there!

The Welcome Feast takes place Thursday 28th July, tickets £20
Available for one evening or as an early entry ticket for weekend tickets-holders

29th - 31st July 2016 

Tuesday, 24 May 2016

Winster Valley Brewery

There's nothing more exciting to me than finding out about a new brewery and trying their brews. Of course there are so many breweries and, really, I'm at the start of my beer journey, so I have plenty more to discover! 

In 2010 The Brown Horse Inn launched their very own micro-brewery; Winster Valley Brewery. Currently, they have five ales, two lagers and one smooth flow bitter, plus hand pulled real ale which can be enjoyed in the bar. Winster Valley Brewery recently got in touch to see if I'd like to try out their bottled ales and, of course, I obliged. 

Best Bitter (3.7%)

My first pick was the Best Bitter. I do enjoy a bitter; I've had a few great ones recently, and at 3.7% it seemed an appropriate place to start. At first I was slightly concerned at its lack of fizz and thought it might be a bit watery, but malted biscuits and caramel came through to provide a very pleasant drinking experience. I'd love to try this one on cask and, given the ABV, I'd probably stick to it all night. 

Chaser (4.1%)

Next up was Chaser, a red ale which was definitely livelier than the bitter. But let's get this out of the way first: if I saw this bottle on a shelf, or the pump clip on the bar, I think the label would put me off. The reason I mention this is because the ale itself is fab; packed with roasted chestnuts and caramel and toffee, it's bonfire night in a bottle. I just wish the label gave a true representation of the quality of the contents. 

Lakes Blonde (3.7%)

The next day the sun was shining; the perfect opportunity to crack out the Lakes Blonde. 2014 Gold Medal winner at Lancashire beer festival, I was hoping for something good, but I'm going to be completely honest and say I was expecting something average (I've tasted too many disappointing blondes to get my hopes up). Well, I was wrong guys (better screenshot this page because that won't happen again): what a corker! Fresh and crisp with notes of lemon and grapefruit, delightful to drink and, once again, only 3.7%! Marvellous.

If you'd like to buy try it yourself, deets are below. And if you do, let me know what you think!

The Brown Horse Inn
Nr Bowness-on-Windermere
Cumbria LA23 3NR

Tuesday, 19 April 2016

The Great British Pub Awards

I'm not usually one for this kind of malarky, but, as an avid pub goer, champion (as in supporter, not Pub Champion of the World) and CAMRA member, I thought I'd draw your attention to the Great British Pub Awards, the 'Oscars' of the pub world. 

This is a pub (actually it's Small Bar: Bristol)
I suppose I'm a little torn by it all. My most frequented pub is almost certainly my local Spoons; it's a little run down, but the ales are well kept and the staff are friendly (and it really is just a 2 minute stumble from home). But I'm not sure I can vote for them given my feelings about Pubcos and the closure of so many independent pubs. I know this is unfair, particularly as since the arrival of a new manager the quality of the ale selection has soared and I have no doubts it is down to him. That said, it's not all about the beer; another of my favourite bars has an absolutely shocking selection, but the atmosphere and music sees me returning time and time again. 

But, as always, I digress.

I am, slowly but surely, narrowing down my options, but, just for kicks, here are some of my favourite pubs/bars in London town (no particular order):

1. The Dovetail, Clerkenwell: Excellent selection of Belgian beer, great food, could be a little more comfortable.

2. The Three Kings, Clerkenwell: Beer selection is okay, not convinced the draught beers are kept that well. Still, grab a beer, bants with the bar staff, sit next to the fireplace and you could easily be there hours later. 

3. Crobar, Tottenham Court Road: Beer selection good but kept so cold you could blind taste Carling and Gamma Ray and not tell the difference. Pretty dirty. Good music.

4. Craft Beer Company, Angel: Comfy, beer garden (always a plus in London), bar staff genuinely really excited about beer, super excellent selection, food a bit pricey. 

5. The Three Johns, Angel: Nice atmosphere, tasty pizza, staff a bit hit and miss, always have something awesome on tap, huge selection of bottled beer, also good spirit list. 

6. Simon the Tanner, Bermondsey: Staff brill, a scotch egg TO DIE FOR, and always something exciting on tap. This could be the one. 

Pub-goers can nominate their favourite pub simply by either tweeting its details using the hashtag #pubawards, by visiting the GBPA Facebook page ( or emailing

Monday, 4 April 2016

The Italian Job

Last weekend the sun came out and so we decided to go for a wander around Chiswick. We don't go south of the river too often as you can't turn a corner without bumping into a double buggie, but we thought we'd risk it for a trip to The Italian Job. 

The Italian Job is the UK's first Italian craft beer pub (I haven't researched this, but it said it on the sign and that's good enough for me) and, to be honest, I'm really late to this party. Since opening in February 2015 the business has gone from strength to strength; they've just raised £400k through crowdfunding to open another pub in East London, and their plans are to open 1 pub a year for the next 5 years. 

I've not been to Italy in some years. Actually, I went to Italy twice on rugby tour and I can assure you that Absolutely No Good Beer Was Imbibed On That Tour (although I do remember drinking an Italian spirit through a dead fish; ahh happy memories). ANYWAY, all that said, I was excited to drink some quality Italian craft.  

First up was Violent Femme (4.2%), a hoppy saison which was particularly herbal on the nose. The taste? Lemony, peppery and, according to my tasting notes, a frolic in the woods.

Next up was Winterlude (8.8%), a Tripel. I possibly shouldn't have started with this level of strength, but it was only a wee half and I've survived many a Belgian sesh. It was a great example of the style and was intensely honeyish; in fact, it was delightful. Tripels coming out of Italy, who'd have thought?

On the recommendation of the bar staff I went for Machete IPA (7.6%) and I'm so glad I did. Sour pineapple, sharp grapefruit and a sharp burst of non-lingering bitterness to finish. What a juicy banger. Perfect for a day when the sun was shining. 

Other highlights were Donkere Vader (6%) a wonderfully dark, but crisp Black IPA, and Milva (6.6%) an excellent example of an imperial red ale. I should also mention the food there, which was absolutely delicious and I would recommend it for that alone even if you are with non beer drinking company. 

By the way, please get in touch with your puns. I was trying to think of an amazing title for this post, but all I could come up with was 'we're going to need a bigger glass...' and it took me until I'd finished to realise that was from Jaws, not The Italian Job. 

Thursday, 3 March 2016

#beerybits Twitter Tasting: Wed 9th March

Once a month I grab my Ales by Mail Twitter tasting pack, settle down on the sofa, drink some beer and have a chat with other beery folks. It's something I look forward to every month; I always learn something new and end up following a few more people. It's also super fun and I get to see lots of people's living rooms/kitchens/cats/dogs when they share their beer snaps win, eh?

This month it's even more exciting because:
1. It's Tiny Rebel, Cwtch and Cali, two delightful little brews.
2. I'm co-hosting it with the wonderful Half Pint Gent!

You can buy yourself a tasting pack here, but even if it's sold out there's no reason why you shouldn't join in using the #beerybits hashtag (reading that back does it sound like i'm saying hashtag-beerybits-hashtag? I'm sticking with it.)

Remember to follow us all too:

See you online: Wednesday 9th March, 8pm.