Sunday, 2 November 2008

Norwich Beer Festival

I went back to the Norwich Beer Festival on the Tuesday night. Thankfully it wasn't quite as busy as the first night. Another bonus was that it was a music free night. I fear that I shall never see the point of music at beer festivals. All the beers I tried were good although the only one I will mention is Castle Rock Harvest Pale 3.7%. It's an old favourite that has never failed to disappoint. Shame it's not readily available in my neck of the woods.

I hadn't planned to go to the festival anymore, which was just as well, as I've been laid up with a bad back. As a consequence I've not been anywhere, surviving on the odd glass of bottled beer, and feeling very sorry for myself. Thankfully I'm mobile again and looking forward to sampling what's on offer at my local Wetherspoons.

Monday, 27 October 2008

Norwich Beer Festival 2008

Recession, what recession? Tonight is the first night of the Norwich Beer Festival, people were queued round the corner for about a hundred metres or so waiting to get in, and when you got inside the place was heaving. People are spending money on beer and consuming it like the both are going out of fashion. I had planned to call in for a couple of quick tasters, the first night of many. It took me an age to get in and when I did the place was just so full that it was beyond unpleasant. I've agreed to meet a friend there tomorrow night but after that I think I might just knock it on the head. With so many good pubs around who the fuck needs a CAMRA beer festival? I know I don't! I will say though that all the beer I had was most excellent, don't think I ever had a 100% satisfaction on all the beers I've tried at a beer festival, but I did only try four. Those four were, in order of imbibing: Shepherd Neame - Canterbury Jack 3.5% Hyde’s - Light Mild 3.5% Oakham - Bishops Farewell 4.6% Humpty Dumpty - Porter 5.4% The last beer was most excellent, in fact I'd go as far as saying that whilst having a different taste, it was on a par with the great Fullers London Porter. More tomorrow then!

Friday, 24 October 2008

Cinema City

We finally got to go to the arts cinema, Cinema City, in Norwich the night before last and it was a pretty good experience. We went to see Burn After Reading, the latest Coen Brothers film starring George Clooney and the enigmatic John Malkovich.

The bar at Cinema City serves a reasonable selection of bottled beers including three bottle conditioned ales from Woodforde's. When you order a beer you are presented with the opened bottle and a pint glass to pour it into, nothing wrong with that, but the bar staff don't actually warn you. I happen to know that Woodforde's is bottle conditioned but if you were new to the area or not familiar with Woodforde's bottled beer or indeed real ale in a bottle you could well be 'damaged' by the experience.

I had a bottle of Sundew followed by a Nelson's Revenge and they were both tip-top. Much better than the bland choice you get at The Odeon. What is also great is that you are allowed to take your drinks in with you, in glasses. None of you plastic nonsense here. What a great way to watch a film with a glass of real ale to hand!

Tuesday, 26 August 2008

Royal Oak, Borough, London SE1

Last Friday saw us visiting London. We were predominantly there to experience a Christmas present, but there were a number of other things we wanted to fit in whilst we were there. Visiting a pub in the GBG was one of them.

This Harvey's pub in London has been on my list of must visit pubs for a while. I'm a big fan of Harvey's beer. To pinch Bateman's slogan, they brew good honest ales!

As you enter from Tabard Street you are greeted by an interesting looking pub. It's a mix of original and pastiche. The furniture is assorted. Always a good sign. Wonderful dark wood panelling makes it a third of the way up the wall. Cream emulsion then takes over as a backdrop to assorted facsimile cartoons and advertising posters depicting various aspects of Victorian, Edwardian and mid -twentieth century life. The greeting from mien hostess is not so warm. But this is London, so it didn't overly concern us.

What I would describe as the back room is a magnificent Victorian parlour of an affair which I poked my head into as we left. The Royal Oak could well be considered to be the last pub on the moon, as there was definitely no atmosphere, although to be fair it was mid afternoon when all good people are still at work, although it was Friday afternoon when sensible people aren't!

I tried three of Harvey's ales. Now this might sound like damning with faint praise, but I find that their beer has a most enjoyable watery quality. I realise that those of you that like 'northern' type ales, will have had your taste-buds shot to pieces by constantly over-bittered heady ale, and therefore will not understand this concept. As I like subtle ales with no head I like the Harvey's served in this pub.

I had Harvey's Mild 3%, a dark mild with thirst quenching properties and a floral hoppy finish. Sussex Pale Ale 3.5%, a light session ale with a hint of hop, and Sussex Best 4%, a malty hoppy ale guaranteed to bring a smile to your face.

I probably won't be going back there for a long time, if at all, as there are far too many other pubs I wish to visit in the nation's capital. But if it was on my doorstep I'd drink there, and often!

Tuesday, 15 July 2008

East Green

Adnams is a pretty useful brewer of quality Suffolk ales, and although now more readily available in the pubs I frequent, I always feel like it's a bit of a treat to drink their beer. So imagine how pleased I was a couple of months ago when I, along with a number of other beer bloggers, got an email from their MD asking if I'd like a case of their new beer, East Green, when it was launched. I said yes of course!

East Green is supposedly the UK's first carbon neutral beer. I'm slightly sceptical about this, but Adnams do seem to be doing more than most breweries to lessen their impact on their environment. So I'm not going to challenge East Green's green credentials.

As the beer in question was not bottle conditioned, it did not qualify for a post on this blog. This is why I didn't write about it when I received my case. But as I've since tried the cask version, I feel that an entry is now warranted.

I have agonised over writing about this ale, and I did think that I might just ignore it altogether. Unfortunately there's this nagging feeling that I have, it is telling me that I should write about my ale experiences, good, bad or indifferent, and without prejudice.

After trying the bottled version I was so pleased that I had restricted myself to writing about real ale. East Green was a nothing beer, designed for poncy London lager drinkers. The ‘best served chilled’ tag on the bottle was an obvious warning sign. Intent on giving it a fair crack of the whip, I approached its cask relation with a totally open mind. Surely the real ale version was going to redeem itself. How wrong I was. This 4% golden ale is the most disappointing ale available from this brewery. If you didn't know better you might assume you were drinking the water that had been used to wash through the beer pipes in the pub. The only noticeable characteristics are a tainted bitterness and the merest hint of cream and citrus. If I was a connoisseur of anaemic donkey wee, I might be fooled by this ale.

Adnams please do the decent thing and give this ale some flavour tout d'suite!

P.S. Sorry Adnams.

Wednesday, 14 May 2008

Thin end of a wedge?

My last post mentioned the plight of Arran Brewery, now I discover, via Jeff Pickthall's Blog that a similar thing has happened to Mordue. Mordue were apparently placed into administration on 4th April 2008, on account of the fact that they owe loads of dosh to HM Revenue and Customs.
I sincerely hope that this and the Arran case are isolated, and not the thin end of a wedge. I also sincerely hope that Mordue are being 'administered' by chartered accountants, and not chartered surveyors as this article suggests.