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. 

Wednesday, 24 February 2016

London Beer Week 2016: Day 1

London Beer Week commenced on Monday so I popped down to the Sharp's Brewery hub to pick up my wristband and see what was on offer. 

Sharp's bar really transports you to Cornwall, but, er, wear boots if you don't want sand in your shoes.

I'm a big fan of Sharps, particularly Chalky's Bite and Wolf Rock, but when a Dubble Coffee Stout, vintage 2012, is staring you right in the face you literally have no choice other than to bark at the (incredibly knowledgeable and lovely) bar staff: "PUT THAT BEER IN MY FACE".

It was absolutely scrumptious, all dark chocolate and thick, proper Turkish coffee. AND it got better as it warmed up. Oh, and then I was given a piece of chocolate to try with it and my whole world was turned upside down (people say I'm prone to exaggeration, but I don't see it). 

At the bar we were given a leaflet for a free half of Hop House 13 at the pop up across the street, so off we trotted. 

I don't know. I drink lager, but will usually go for a pale ale/IPA/stout/porter/almost anything else before ordering one. It wasn't disgusting, it just wasn't anything to write home about. It was just decidedly...meh. I do like their branding (although the off centre 13 drove me a bit barmy) and I see what they're trying to do, but I feel like we've done lager now and we've done it really well. Give me a Hells over this any day (well, at the moment anyway; I swear Meantime tastes different now and I'm waiting for the same to happen to Camden).

So that was Day One: leisurely, nothing too strenuous. The rest of the week brings beer tastings, tours (self guided and otherwise), food pairing and festivals. Bring it on!

Monday, 15 February 2016

Event Alert: Pizza and beer matching with PLY and Beavertown

There seem to be a lot of events on at the moment. Too many for my moth eaten purse anyway, but I thought I'd share a few with you over the coming weeks. These also include events elsewhere in the country that I can't get to coz I'm in Lahndahn innit. In fact, I'm definitely going to start up an events calendar on here: *watch this space* (note: if this calendar never happens or finally goes up in December I take no responsibility)

First up is PLY, Manchester, who are hosting a Pizza Pairing Evening with Beavertown (controversial after this past weekend, but boy can they brew a good beer).

Sam Millard and Nick Dwyer will be heading up to Manchester from Beavertown HQ, to give guests an insight to how they have developed what is arguably one of the most exciting brands in the craft beer business today. 

They'll also be packing some 8 Ball, Black Betty, Neck Oil and Applelation (I flipping love Applelation) in their suitcases to pair with bespoke pizzas created by PLY’s Head Chef, Andrea Muru, served in limited edition, dual-branded boxes designed by Nick, Beavertown’s Designer and Creative Director.

Beavertown Neck Oil, Session IPA
Paired pizza - bianca, sun dried tomatoes, fresh fillet of sardine, mozzarella di bufala

Beavertown Black Betty, Black IPA
Paired pizza - tomato, salami pepperoni, ‘nduja, honey

Beavertown 8 Ball, Rye IPA 
Paired pizza - bianca, salami napoli, pecorino, courgette, mozzarella di bufala 

Beavertown Applelation, Bramley Apple Saison
Paired pizza - bianca, broccoli, mixed olives, confit tomatoes, mozzarella di bufala  (v)

If you want a ticket you'd best grab one now as it's on Wednesday 17th February! Tickets cost £12 + booking fee and include a pizza and a beer. They can be purchased through Eventbrite.