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    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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    January 17th, 2010Alan WalshBeer Recipes

    As my housemate very kindly offer to cook me tea the other  night I decided to repay the favour by making a big old chocolate sponge for us all to have after. The recipe is really simple and takes minutes but the results are fantastic although they do come with the warning that this is a really filling chocolate pudding, not a  light ‘posh’ dessert.

    Chocolate Pudding, Brilliant, Sweet, Cold Weather Stodge

    Chocolate Pudding, Brilliant, Sweet, Cold Weather Stodge

    Ingredients (My Nan gave me this recipe so it’s in oz – I make my apologies to the EU!)

    6oz – Self-Raising Flour

    2oz – Cocoa Powder

    8oz – Butter

    8oz – Castor Sugar

    4 – Eggs

    1 Packet Chocolate Chips


    The method really is easy, the first bit being the most labour intensive. Cube the butter and castor sugar together in  a bowl with the back of a metal spoon. Crack the eggs into the bowl and stir in until the mixture is smooth then sieve the flour and cocoa into the bowl and stir that in too!! Finally chuck the chocolate chips into the mix and give it one final stir. The mixture should be smooth but not too runny and, although my Nan tells me off for doing it, should taste delicious if you put a finger in!!! Read the rest of this entry »

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    January 11th, 2010Alan WalshBeer and Food, Beer Recipes
    Potted Cheese with Toast

    Potted Cheese with Toast

    Like me, you are probably more familiar with the phrases Potted Beef or Potted Shrimp than Potted Cheese. ‘Potting’ ingredients is a traditional way of stretching ingredients with butter while adding flavours and it can be  done with a good cheese in the same way as it can with meat or fish. These days it is a great way of doing  something different with your cheeseboard and also linking the beer you’re drinking to the food you’re eating.


    350g Yorkshire Blue cheese (Stilton or any other strong, crumbly cheese can be used)
    75g unsalted butter (at room temperature and cut into cubes)
    ½ teaspoon ground mace
    3 tablespoons Beer Read the rest of this entry »

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    December 5th, 2009Alan WalshBeer Recipes, Beer Reviews, Bitters
    Old Hooky and Fruitcake

    Old Hooky and Fruitcake

    I have always said that Old Hooky, probably my favourite beer, reminds me of the fruitcake that my Nan bakes. The dried fruit flavours are noted by Zak Avery in his notes for the recently published top 50 beers as listed by The Independent newspaper. I am not going to regurgitate Zak’s comments but rather identify a food pairing which I have been dying to try for some time now.

    In addition to the fruit flavours, which are deep and rich rather than sharp and  citrusy, there is a mild spiciness that brings a little warmth to the back of your mouth when drinking. These are the reasons why it reminds me of the fruitcake that my Nan has been feeding me on Saturday afternoons for as long as I can remember.I have categorised this post under beer recipes because I think that this is a delicious beer/food pairing although I am not publishing the fruitcake recipe just now. Firstly because I need my Nan’s permission but also because it takes quite a bit of time to bake.

    My recommendation would be to nip out to a good cake shop (there’s a great stand on Morley Market selling cakes and jams, presumably there’s one in Leeds City market too) and pick up a nice rich fruitcake. Buy a few bottles of Old Hooky and keep them somewhere cool but not cold (I leave my beers for the week ahead by our back door and they are always ready at the drop of a hat). You will then have a perfectly paired slice of cake and drop of ale to serve to any unexpected yuletide visitors.

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    October 23rd, 2009Alan WalshBeer Recipes

    As I was back down in Oxfordshire last week visiting my parents I decided to take a trip over to Hook Norton to pick up some ales. Tuesday was a crisp, sunny morning and I felt invigorated flying down the country roads with my sunglasses and coat on, the window open and the Kings of Leon blasting out of the Megane’s old stereo. I’m pretty sure I looked like a prick but I didn’t care.

    Before I’d even arrived at the brewery I’d decided that I was going to spend the afternoon working on ‘Beer-ising’ a recipe that I’d had in mind for a couple of months. I knew the type of beer, well stout to be precise, that I needed and knew that Hooky Double Stout would be just the ticket.

    Hook Norton Visitor's Museum

    Hook Norton Visitor's Museum

    So, after picking up a few bottles and a quick tour of the museum (see picture…well worth a visit if you’re ever in the area), I headed home to the kitchen (well – my parents kitchen, and I already had this in mind for and excuse if it went wrong). The following is what I came up with…

    Ingredients (Serves 2)

    2 x Chicken Breast
    4 x Bacon Rashers
    A Generous handful of Grated Cheddar Cheese

    (For the BBQ sauce)Melted Cheese on top - Awesome
    1 Tblsp Olive Oil
    4 x Garlic Cloves (Crushed)
    3 x Tblsp Tomato Puree
    2 x Heaped Teaspoon of Mustard Powder
    4 x Tblsp Soy Sauce
    2 x Tblsp White Wine Vinegar
    150g Molasses
    Ground Black Pepper
    Chilli Flakes
    Worcester Sauce
    Tobasco Sauce
    ¼ Pint Hook Norton Double Stout


    Heat the Olive Oil in a small saucepan and gently fry the crushed Garlic for a couple of minutes. Once the garlic is soft, add the tomato puree and mustard powder, stirring constantly to avoid the puree burning on the bottom of the pan. Next, one at a time, throw in the soy sauce, white wine vinegar and Molasses, You can slam them all in at once if you want but I find it easier to add each one, give it a good stir and move onto the next. The mixture should thicken with the Molasses and, when it returns to a good temperature, will bubble a bit like lava. Don’t have it too hot or it will go everywhere (as a guide I can usually dip my finger in mine to see how the flavour is coming along).

    Next add the Worcester and Tobasco Sauces, Black Pepper and Chilli Flakes to taste. Obviously this will depend how spicy you want the sauce and I recommend that you add them a little at a time, employing some finger dipping to taste as you go and adding more if you think it’s required, don’t forget your Mum’s old saying…’you can add more, but you can’t take any out..’. Finally add the stout (again tastes will differ so add it a bit at a time, also the amount of stout will dictate how thick and sweet the sauce is so, if you don’t want it too runny, don’t add too much). You now have the Stout BBQ sauce that will form the basis of the dish and the hard bit is over.

    In a shallow, heavy based pan cook the 2 chicken breasts, brushing them occasionally with the BBQ sauce. If you have had time beforehand you can marinate them in the fridge but this isn’t essential. Once the chicken has cooked through place it in a deep ovenproof dish, cover with the BBQ Sauce and stick in an over that’s been preheated to 180 degrees. In the same pan as you’ve cooked the chicken fry 4 rashers of bacon until they are quite crispy, place these over the top of the chicken and leave in the oven for a further 20 minutes. Finally remove from the oven, throw the grated cheese on top and place under a hot grill until the cheese has melted golden.

    I served mine with homemade potato wedges and peas, I think it would go easily as well with salad and chips. Oh, and of course a bottle of Hooky Stout!!!

    Hooky Hunter's Chicken

    Hooky Hunter's Chicken

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