Real Ale Reviews Independent reviewers of real ales, beers and lagers from around the world, including beer reviews, breweries, watering holes and real ale events
    Sebright Arms / Lucky Chip

    Sebright Arms / Lucky Chip

    The bar is busy. The tables are full. The backroom is heaving and buoyant. Welcome to the Sebright Arms, dimly light and vivacious. We arrive from Soho at the fading of a sun drenched afternoon - four pubs, six pints, four hours. Three and a half miles later, bellies demanding meat and bread and barley, we bundle over the threshold. A table is found, pale beers ordered, burger menus devoured by hungry eyes. It's a young crowd, an old ...

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    A King and a Prince

    A Prince Amongst Beers

    It's not every day that you get the chance to try a beer that's older than you are. Last Saturday night I opened a bottle that was just that; I opened a beer that was older than me, so that’s over twenty five, give or take the odd ten years. In fact it was a lot older than me, more than twice my age. It was brewed in 1929 in fact, so that’s 83 years old. A mate ...

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    Build A Rocket Boys!

    Build A Rocket Boys! by Elbow & Robinsons

    Elbow are the kings of soaring melancholy, masters of poetic northern introspection.  Let Elbow's albums flow over you and you can be mesmerised by their beauty alone. Put in the time to listen, to soak up the poignancy, the humour, the extraordinary manifestations of the ordinary and their albums become life affirming tributes to the everyday. Conversely, it's quite easy to stick an Elbow album on and realise thirty lethargic minutes later that time - and ...

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    Man shed!

    Readers Pubs

    At the first pub there's a piano in the window but no one to play it. The seats are filled with ghosts. A long pew is adorned with individually wrapped cushions, resembling a bum-friendly box of Mr Kipling cakes. It's quiet, the fireplace glows warm and friendly, everything is cosy and snug. Welcome to Pete's Retreat. "We'll be at home here, let's get a pint." Much as we could stay forever we've a long crawl ahead ...

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    De Struise Pannepot 2008

    Pannepot 2008

    Broody and brown, like blood-red soil on a wet day, four-year aged Pannepot is dragged out of the beer cupboard and into a glass like Jack Dee to an in-laws barbecue... It simply doesn't want to open (the journey back from Belgium wasn't kind: a contemporary shot it's load in the suitcase, drenching the stash of bottles and it's still sticky and downtrodden) but eventually, after much gushing and fizzing, it acquiesces. Perhaps it's just the toll of ...

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    John Keeling Fullers

    Desert Island Beers #50: John Keeling - Fuller, Smith & Turner PLC

    It's a special week on the desert island as we celebrate a half century of castaways being swept up onto our shores. Robinson Crusoe # 50 is a real coup for us as it features none other than Sir (it’s only a matter of time) John Keeling; Head Brewer at Fuller, Smith & Turner PLC, (better known simply as Fullers). John was born in Droylsden, Manchester, in September 1956. When he left school without telling his ...

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    Will Hawkes

    Desert Island Beers #38: Will Hawkes, The Independent

    Welcome to the latest episode of Desert Island Beers which this week features Will Hawkes who works on The Independent’s sports desk and writes about beer in his spare time. Born in London and brought up in sunny Kent, he has had an interest in ale since he could convince a barman he was 18 – but his real conversion to good beer came after a year spent living in Southern California in 1999-2000, when the ...

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    Marston's Fever Pitch English Bitter

    Marston's Fever Pitch

    First off I should point out that I don't often take kindly to products and advertising that jump on the football bandwagon. The best footy related marketing is the football advertising by Nike and Carlsberg (ignoring their most recent attempts). So, I'm potentially a little biased against Marston's Fever Pitch... Let's start with the positives: oranges, lemons, citrus peel but not zest. It's more interesting than I expected, more summery. A mellow bitterness that isn't displeasing and ...

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    Englischer Garten

    Drunken in Munchen

    Let's be frank, I'm not brilliant at getting drunk. It's not that I'm a bad drunk per se, but since my uni days my tolerance has faded and I'm much better suited to a lazy pub garden or the frantic but well partitioned boozing of a hot festival day. So, the morning after the night before, eating pizza along the tramlines of Munich, Stag Day 2 of 3, the first beer is an inevitable mistake. The 12 ...

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    Lowlands Bier Festival

    Beer From The Low Country

    The smell of beer slopped on wooden tables, the glint of light in the top of the chalice, the sounds of a deck of cards and the clink of glasses. I'm in a bar in the north country but my senses are across the sea and howling winds, in the bustle of a backstreet bar in Belgium. Four pm on a sunny Friday, sampling the beers of the Low Countries in a bar in Leeds, dreaming of ...

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    BrewDog Blitz 2.8% ABV

    Brewdog Nottingham

    The blue logo can be seen for hundreds of yards. The windows that look out onto Hockley's student-filled streets, opposite a tea room, cinema and acclaimed bistro, are plastered with huge crest shaped decals, archetypal generation Nike branding for a Starbuck's influenced post-modern brand experience. B R E W D O G Reminiscent of the type of industrial themed sandwich shop found in downtown Prague or New York's Soho, but with added chutzpah and a munificence for ...

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    Shibden Valley by Tim Green

    Shibden Mill Inn

    Down a winding single lane road the descent to Shibden Mill Inn is not one to be taken with nonchalance. A careless clutch foot could result in an unexpected round of automobile tobogganing, even without the help of rain, ice or snow. But survive the swooning approach and there sits a fine pub to be snowed in at: good beer, warm hearths and food fit for kings. The pub is infected with sunny Sunday smiles. Gregarious family ...

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    Packhorse bridge and Old Bridge Inn Ripponden

    A bridge in time

    A brisk day in March, wet but without rain. Ducking through the dripping steel railway bridge, carving through residual puddles, Sowerby Bridge seems jack-knifed between the twenty first century and the 1970s. It's partly the lack of ubiquitous chain stores, partly the dubious puns of the shabby independent shops, but mostly the hues of a downtrodden day in a small Yorkshire town. Out the other side of the town the road befriends the trajectory of the ...

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    Hopback Summer Lightning: a bit of a legend in Beerland

    Hopback Summer Lightning

    Some beers have a pedestal. Sometimes it's deserved because they are truly great beers, technically and taste-wise. Some are headliners, built by a cheeky PR campaign or an elaborate story. And some are deserved winners of awards and a place within beery folklore. Summer Lightning by Hopback falls in the latter category. Back when I was enjoying my third year on this planet and coming to terms with the fact I would soon have a baby ...

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    September 29th, 2011FletchtheMonkeyBeer Events, Beer news

    It’s not every day a pop star can bob into the pub and order a pint of their own beer.

    Although for most of October that’s exactly what Guy Garvey & co of the resurgent band Elbow will be able to do. From tomorrow, pubs across Manchester – and one in Oxfordshire – will be previewing their collaboration brew, a joint venture with Frederic Robinsons Brewery.

    Build A Rocket Boys! beer

    Build A Rocket Boys! is a real ale named after Elbow’s most recent album and not only that it’s one with a conscience: a significant proportion of all profits will be donated to Oxfam’s East Africa crisis.

    The official launch is at Manchester Food & Drink festival (where you can also find mini festivals of real ale, whisky and Oktoberfest!), but if you can get to one of the preview pubs in and around the city between now and then you should be able to find the first casks ready and waiting.

    And with such a lot going on at the festival, we’re off to book our train tickets across the Pennines.

    See you there!

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    April 29th, 2011FletchtheMonkeyBeer Events, Beer news
    Yorkshire village pub by

    Yorkshire village pub by

    Time flies in the beer houses of Kingston-upon-Hull, where Yorkshiremen plotted against King Charles; studs fly in the grand hotels of Huddersfield where the North plotted against the Rugby Union.

    In Halifax they have long memories, just ask The Running Man. In York they never forget, Guy Fawkes will tell you that.

    In Sheffield they have an island for their beer, in Swaledale they make you climb a thousand feet for a pint (you might even have to do the washing up if you’re lucky!)

    From the gastro pubs of Ilkley to the cove-view nooks of Robin Hood’s Bay; from the alleyway drinking dens of Leeds, to the walkers respites littering Garsdale, Wensleydale, Dentdale, Ribblesdale, Malhamdale, Nidderdale…

    The Grove Inn, Leeds by John FotoHouse on Flickr

    The Grove Inn, Leeds – surviving against the odds

    Whitelocks, Briggate

    Whitelocks, Briggate – the alleys where Loiners get their name

    Station Inn, Ribblehead

    Station Inn, Ribblehead – take a map and a train timetable!

    Yorkshire is blessed with pubs, nearly 10% of all the public houses in Britain. Some good, some bad, each and everyone someone’s favourite. All 5,115 of them.

    What better way to spend the Bank Holiday than oiling your discourse down the local, or heeding Milton Crawford and taking a  moment to reflect on life. And when your done, you can vote for your favourite Yorkshire pub at

    Yorkshires Favourite Pub

    “Yorkshire, Yorkshire!!”

    There are 54,000 pubs in Britain and 5,115 pubs in Yorkshire. Ish. Thanks to the border hungry constituency of Brigg & Goole which straddles both the East Riding of Yorkshire and the northern climes of Lincolnshire we’ve had to apply some educated guesswork to the final tally. Thanks to the CAMRA press team and the British Beer & Pub Association for help locating the raw data. And thanks to Dan CohenJohn FotoHouse and Rick Harrison for the pics!

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    April 19th, 2011FletchtheMonkeyBeer Events, Beer news

    This April it’s two years since we started this blog and what a two years it’s been.

    From a bored Tuesday night wondering what we could do that was better than sitting on our arses, to writing for thousands of visitors each month, we’re pretty proud of our little hobby and we spend most of the time thinking about how we can make it better (unfortunately the day job prevents that from actually happening!).

    beer cocktails

    We've come along way baby...

    3 pint holiday Mythos

    ...from the days of cocktails and Mythos!

    We don’t always write posts as much as we’d like too and we don’t always write about things as quickly as we’d like to (nothing like a blog post once the ship has sailed eh?!). And despite the out of date ‘About’ page it’s all worth it when we get nice comments or bump into people at beer festivals who tell us how much they enjoy reading our musings.

    So it’s great to be able to get involved with a project that aims to bring together the beer community and hopefully contribute something useful for other people who want to find out about beer or write about it.

    In late May we’ll be attending the European Beer Bloggers Conference and little me will be sitting on a panel entitled “Do’s and Don’t of Beer Blogging”, designed to provide an answer to the questions about beer blogging that Google just can’t answer. Think of it like a beery search engine that’s drunk waaaay too many beers and might not provide coherent answers.

    European Beer Bloggers Conference

    European Beer Bloggers Conference

    I’ll be joining author Pete Brown and journalist Melissa Cole to give you the chance “to learn a few new tricks, discuss important issues, and ask a question you have never had answered”.

    There’s currently plenty of spaces left for the conference which starts on 20th May (although expect some drinking in London from the night before!) and you can sign up here.There’s also the chance to win a free conference pass. Read the rest of this entry »

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    April 18th, 2011FletchtheMonkeyBeer news

    A month ago it looked like Leeds was going to lose one of it’s best independent retailers, and the world was about to lose one of it’s best beer shops.

    Cue bearded beer expert Zak Avery and now beery business owner, who stepped in with a joint management buy out to rescue the famous Beer Ritz from the brink of limbo.

    For those who thought they’d never get to go again, and those who thought they’d never have the privilege, rejoice, because Beer Ritz is open and we hope it’s back for good!

    Beer Ritz Leeds

    Sing it from the mountain tops, Beer Ritz is back!

    Read the rest of this entry »

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    March 3rd, 2010FletchtheMonkeyBeer news, Breweries
    The Hop, live music and real ale pub opening in Leeds this March

    The Hop, live music and real ale pub opening in Leeds this March

    Wakefield’s finest are coming to Leeds in the guise of The Hop, the live music and real ale venue of Ossett Brewery’s pub armada. Situated in the Granary Wharf area of Leeds overlooking the reinvigorated quayside, The Hop will sit under two of the previously disused railway arches that are tucked away between the confluence of the Leeds-Liverpool canal and the River Aire. Read the rest of this entry »

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    February 20th, 2010FletchtheMonkeyBeer news

    Beer apps for the iPhone

    Mashable's guide to iPhone beer apps is mainly US focused

    Mashable's guide to iPhone beer apps is mainly US focused

    Social media enthusiasts Mashable have published a list of beer apps for the iPhone ranging in price from free of charge to $4.99. From finding the nearest brew pub to swotting up on beer styles, there’s a selection of beer related applications but unfortunately for us UK beer lovers the list seems very US centric.

    iBeer seems to be a very similar to the pointless but kinda entertaining Carling iPhone app. Gallagher’s, iBeers Pro and BeerCloud are all applications that let you research a plethora of beer types and styles and include functionality including beer search, beer finders and beer reviews.

    DrinkFit counts calories whilst Happy Hour,  Find Craft Beer and Guinness Pub Finder all focus on buying beer either on- or off-trade (again, in the USA). The one that stands out for me is iBrewMaster which allows home brewers to record the vital statistic of their brews and has 50 recipes built in. I’ll get Sam to try it when he does his next batch of pale ale (that somehow turned out like a Belgian blonde!)

    We’ve also come across a few other apps recently including BrewPal (similar to iBrewMaster we believe), FreeBooze, Beer Pong, Beer Brands and iDrink! which keeps track of your evenings drinking according to the Huffington Post.

    In the UK there’s less choice although I’ve seen the NHS units tracker in action a few times but not yet heard any feedback on the Good Beer Guides iPhone app.

    I’m a conscientious dissenter from the iPhone revolution, plucking for the gorgeous but virtually app-free HTC HD2. So if beer lovers out there know of more beer iPhone apps (or apps for Android, Windows or another platform) or has tried any of the UK focused applications please let us know.

    And even better if you build iPhone or other apps, please start building them for Windows Mobile too, we need them to!

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    January 19th, 2010FletchtheMonkeyBeer news, Breweries, Pubs & bars

    Shrouded in uncertainly it’s been a a funny ol’ festive period for Copper Dragon. Since mid December rumours of administration and liquidation have been quietly circulating and the future for Skipton’s growing brewery wasn’t looking bright.

    Brass in pocket: the brewery have reorganised their coppers and weathered all that this winter could throw at them

    Brass in pocket: the brewery have reorganised their coppers and weathered all that this winter could throw at them

    But fresh from the Christmas holidays with their finances restructured Copper Dragon seem to be back on their feet and fighting fit for whatever 2010 can throw at them.

    Online business news website The Business Desk and Bradford’s Telegraph and Argus newspaper report that Copper Dragon’s pub business was liquidised in November 2008 throwing the brewery into a turbulent period, during which the administrators were called in on the Friday before Christmas by a high street bank, which is pretty annoying by anyone’s standards. Steve Taylor, the brewery’s founder and MD subsequently took his stake in the company from 75% to 100% after refusing to give up further equity or intellectual property rights.

    It’s rarely a good time for a company to go into administration but teetering on the edge of oblivion at Christmas time is particularly unpleasant, with customers looking for mini-pins for parties, pubs filling up for the festivities and staff looking forward to well earned family time. Just getting home in the snow in Yorkshire was bad enough!

    So we’re really pleased that it looks like it’s all sorted and that the jobs, brewery, bistro and six of the pubs have been secured, and we look forward to sampling some of the new beers that come out of Skipton’s finest this year.

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    January 15th, 2010FletchtheMonkeyBeer news, Breweries, Pubs & bars

    A nice piece about beer in a tabloid sized newspaper? Surely not.

    Ok to be fair it’s this months ‘What’s Brewing’, but I love the story on page 10 about Martin Brunnschweiler.

    More than a decade ago Martin went to visit his sister at her pub on the Isle of Man and ended up staying there to set up a brewery called Bushy’s. The paper is a bit hazy on the details (I’m intrigued as to whether he drank the pub dry and then set up because he was thirsty and what he left behind) but I like to think the Martin fell in love with the island, the pub, the atmosphere and the opportunity. His brewery has ties to the nuclear industry (and sounds like it could double up as a bunker should a Dr Strangelove armageddon arise) and the equipment is based on a headache inducing tower arrangement that requires a certain amount of agility from head brewer Curly (yes, Curly!).

    The best I can do is that I have on two or more separate occasions walked into a pub and ended up 1) working behind the bar and 2) doing the dishes, but never quite made the leap to brewing.

    Accidental brewer: Martin of Bushy's brewery on the Isle of Man

    Accidental brewer: Martin of Bushy's brewery on the Isle of Man

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    November 27th, 2009FletchtheMonkeyBeer news, Comment

    A big beer day

    Some days just seem to have everything. Big stories, ferocious debate and your own personal news. Such as yesterday…

    In the news, BrewDog pulled another stunt, this one making me laugh out loud and actually consider parting with some of my hard earned cash.

    Tactical Nuclear Penguin takes beer naming conventions to a new level and pushes the boundaries of beer production. Whether or not it’s any good I might never know (I’m hoping the other Real Ale Reviews lads will chip in for a bottle as I don’t think I can justify getting one just for myself). But thanks to James and Martin for dressing up in silly costumes and brightening up the beer world for a morning.

    Smoking ban - what is the real effect on pubs? Photo by wsogmm

    Smoking ban - what is the real effect on pubs? Photo by wsogmm

    And to the ferocious debate: Is smoking cool? Smoking may look cool when Paul Newman is hustling and Jean-Paul Belmondo is ambling through Parisian streets but it ain’t always cool when you’re trying to eat your tea or sip a pint (or stand at the bus stop on a windy day folks!). There’s a serious health side to still as well as questions of economy and heritage: will the smoking ban contribute to killing traditional pubs off once and for all?

    Who knows, I can understand both sides of the argument – I smoked for a 3 or 4 years from the age of 17, giving up when I went to uni (yes, I know it’s weird that way round) – and I can’t stand the smell now. And I much prefer my clothes not reeking of stale smoke the morning after a night out. But I don’t hate smokers or smoking, I respect people’s choice to do it, and I appreciate smokers who are considerate of non-smokers (just like I appreciate drinkers who don’t smash my wing mirrors off and people who are generally nice). I sure hope that the country is a bit healthier because of the ban – but how can we ensure that it doesn’t impact negatively on our pub culture and people’s personal freedoms?

    It’s a debate I almost don’t want to get too involved in as I don’t have the solution, and judging from other posts I’m not sure a unilateral agreement is on the cards! So moving swiftly on…

    And then in personal news, we had some unexpected success last night, as Real Ale Reviews were awarded not one, but two commendations in the inaugural Golden Twit awards organised by The Drum magazine… Read the rest of this entry »

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