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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  • scissors
    February 9th, 2012FletchtheMonkeyBeer Reviews, Blonde Ales

    There’s somthing rogueish (or childish?) about the collabroation between Neil Morrissey and Richard Fox – two middle edge men who found brewing instead of Harley Davidson’s and set about with a with new toys and a rekindled sixth form attitude.

    And there’s something modern and well designed about the branding, even if it is a bit cosy and predictable and ‘marketing agency’ developed.

    Blonde is the playful peer of Brunnette, cheeky takes on pale and amber ales.

    Morrissey Fox Blonde

    Morrissey Fox Blonde

    The former is a skinny beer perfumed with uncooked dough, and it’s smooth as silk as it coats upper lips around the bar with a (possibly) Cascadian caress. It’s an pleasant, if slightly banal first date.

    Back at home a bottle has the same mellow tangerine tang that firmly plants this in session ale territory. Bitterness is minimal, the body is barely there, lager-like without the fizz – it’s just dry enough to demand the next quenching gulp of citrus scented liquid bread. Is it ever interesting enough to seduce though?

    Love or loathe boys playing with their toys, Morrissey and Fox have cooked up a perfectly decent beer with perfectly contemporary branding for perfectly discerning pub goers. It’s all perfectly fine for a Saturday afternoon pint really.

    It’s a good few months since we found this in a bottle, and quite a bit longer since on cask. We’ve not seen or heard anything since then, is a Strawberry Blonde on the cards or has this relationship hit the rocks?

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  • scissors
    March 18th, 2010Tania_NexustBeer Reviews, Blonde Ales

    I found this bottle of Clanconnel Brewing Company Weaver’s Gold while visiting the John Hewitt in December 2009, one of the better bars in Belfast to seek out some interesting beer. My chum and I had ordered some Whitewater Black and Hilden Halt on draught, and while supping I thought I’d ask the barman for a run-down on what other Irish beers they had in stock, spotting a few different bottles of Whitewater behind the bar.

    As he had a look for me a label in silver and yellow caught my eye, and I knew it must be a brewery I hadn’t come across before. Having asked for a look and finding this was indeed the case, I was rather pleased to hear of another new name in the small Irish craft brewing scene. I acquired a bottle to take away with me for later examination, wanting a fresh palate to do it justice.

    Initially I’d thought that perhaps this was being produced by Hilden or Whitewater, and badged as something else – as I know that’s being done for a few other ‘breweries’ in Northern Ireland. But from what I could find out, the brewery does actually exist as a physical entity, started by a beer enthusiast in 2008, and with hopefully more recipes in the offing.

    Clanconnel Weavers Gold

    Clanconnel Weavers Gold

    Not being bottle conditioned, it poured a perfectly clear pale gold into the glass, with just a hint of head quickly dissipating. As I poured, familiar Saaz lagery aromas wafted out, making me think that perhaps this would have been better saved to a warmer Spring moment than a snowy February Sunday. Still, I was warm enough indoors, and thirsty enough, to give this a go. Read the rest of this entry »

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