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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    August 6th, 2010FletchtheMonkeyBeer Reviews, Fruity Beers

    Why buy fresh fruit smoothies when you can have beer instead?!

    Remember Reefs? Smirnoff Ices?

    Remember Hooch and Barcardi Breezers?

    Well this summer you might struggle to fnd the above, but fear not as beer has come to the rescue. If you want sweet fruity flavours and a drink to get you a little on the tipsy side, why fork out for dirt cheap alcopops when you have quality on your side:

    Kernel 'Um Bongo' Ale

    Kernel 'Um Bongo' Ale

    Kernel Centennial Pale Ale

    Um Bongo aroma with a touch of Blackcurrant Ribena. ABV of 5.4% and a body of yoghurt and oats, it simply glides down your throat like Yop. Not too bitter, though the  bitterness that there is lingers long-time…

    This beer knocks most pale ales for six and is quite frankly amazing. I was lucky enough to get this as an added extra from my #beerswap partner and it outshone the other brews. Beers like this can make a brewery…if it’s not a fluke then Kernel have a lot to live up to.

    Halcyon by Thornbridge
    (2009 Green hopped, oh yeah!)

    Halcyon by Thornbridge: grapefruit not grass

    Pineapple by Thornbridge

    It’s more tropical than last years Halcyon, the dominance of grass in the nose has disappeared in favour of exotic fruit. I used to love that damn prairie grass, but hell do I now crave that beautiful pineapple explosion.

    What a quandary! What hops have they changed or replaced? You may have sold out your grass roots Thornbridge, but you’ve replaced them with a beer that I could have sex with.

    Thornbridge Halcyon is Innocent Smoothie on acid (or something stronger). Get me another fix, now.

    Marble Manchester Bitter

    Marble Manchester Bitter aka Passion fruit

    Marble Passionfruit Bitter

    A passion fruit hell pit, this is the sort of beer Adam threw away paradise for. And rightly so, Adam, who wants a garden of fruit trees bending under the weight of it’s luscious produce when you can sit back and knock the crown cap of a Manchester Bitter. I’d give up my Eve and all pasta based dishes for this beer. I’d be tempted to call Charlie Brooker’s bluff and offer a little finger perhaps. Maybe even a thumb. I’ll definitely give up all hoofed animals to maintain the existence of this beer perhaps in doing so rid the world of half it’s methane emissions too.

    This might just be the beer that saves the world.

    Beer information:

    Beer: Centennial Pale Ale
    Brewery: Kernel Brewery
    Style: London Pale Ale
    ABV: 5.4%
    Area: London, England

    Beer: Thornbridge Halcyon
    Brewery: Thornbridge Brewery
    Style: Imperial IPA
    ABV: 7.7%
    Area: Derbyshire, England

    Beer: Manchester Bitter
    Brewery: Marble
    Style: Bitter
    ABV: 4.2%
    Country: Manchester, England

    Thanks to mybrewerytap and beermerchants for supplying the beer. Yep, they were freebies, and I’m proud to say I’d pay a significant amount of my hard earned cash to drink these again. Which I have actually just done. And I would recommend that you also try them.

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    March 25th, 2010FletchtheMonkeyBeer Reviews, Fruity Beers, Golden Ales

    Badger Golden Glory is one of the beers that got me into this beer blogging malarkey. Back way when, bored of the canned lagers largely devoid of taste and with a little more disposable income than my university days, me and then house mate Alan were keen to drink something with a bit more taste. We sampled everything the supermarkets had to offer, from local ales to the array of continental lagers.

    Somewhere along the way Golden Glory (and Badgers other similar beer Golden Champion) soon became a favourite. It was sweeter with a more palatable taste than most of the beers and was always on form, which made it an easy purchase decision. I’d often pick up a handful of new beers to try and then a risk-free Badger and maybe a St Peters.

    Coming back to it now feels a bit full circle. And the good thing is that Golden Glory is still great.

    Badger Golden Glory: soft fruit, sweet and bitter

    Badger Golden Glory: soft fruit, sweet and bitter

    Peaches and melon dominant the nose, you could easily call cherry blossom, kiwis and candy too without fear of sounding pretentious. There’s a bit of an alcohol sting to the first sip, a touch of spice and a bitter finish. Above all this beer is sweet,all floral and fruit overlaid rather than intertwined with a very subtle caramel flavour and a bitter finish.

    This is easy to drink from glass or bottle, there’s a zingy kick to it which gives it that little bit more oomph (or umpf?!) over some of it’s competitors on the supermarket shelves. If you like your beer to have aroma and punch then as English ales go you can’t do much worse than this fruity number. Serve slightly chilled for a bit more kick and refreshment on a hot day (you might be waiting a while though!)

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    February 16th, 2010FletchtheMonkeyBeer Reviews, Belgian/Trappist, Fruity Beers, IPA, Pale Ales

    Terrible beer, great name.

    Flying Dog Raging Bitch - orange in colour; orange in taste

    Flying Dog Raging Bitch - orange in colour; orange in taste

    Of course not, it’s the other way round. Disclaimer starts here: I love this beer.

    I first sampled The Bitch at the Flying Dog UK tasting in Leeds. This 20th anniversary beer jumped out of its take-home tetra pak like a bat out of hell. Its nose blasted my clean out of my seat and before the night was out it was on its way to being a beer phenomenon.

    Raging Bitch’s Belgian influence is the first thing that strikes me: it’s fruity esters and yeasty sweetness that only Belgian beers can pull off. Until now.

    Massive grapefruit pith and outrageous sour fruit intertwine with a sweet malt finish and a bitter attack from an armada of late hops. The nose is huge thanks to a dry hopping assault by Amarillo hops. You pluck out the names of most of Sainsbury’s exotic fruit aisle if you close your eyes; for me the grapefruit ebbs and flows against tangerine and apricot. Read the rest of this entry »

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    January 16th, 2010Alan WalshBeer Reviews, Fruity Beers

    In honour of the recent brilliant defensive  performance put in by the nation’s new favourite ginger, Paul Collingwood, (although things in South Africa have taken a turn for the worse in the last couple of days) I think it’s time to Ginger Beer it’s day in the sun.

    You probably would have had to have had your head buried very deeply in the sand since last summer in order to have missed the rise of Crabbie’s. In their defence there is no attempt to hide the fact that Crabbie’s is an alcoholic version of the Ginger Beer that you get as a soft drink. I have to say that I really like it but that I don’t really like myself for liking it!!! You haven’t seen a Real Ales Reviews review of it because I wouldn’t have the face to come on here, where we espouse the virtues of micro-brewing and real brewing processes, in order to sing the praises of a mass produced and mass marketed ‘alcopop’.

    Real Ginger Beer

    Real Ginger Beer

    The problem with Crabbie’s isn’t that I don’t like it, I have already said that I do, I just don’t see it as a beer. It’s great ice cold with a nice picnic but it just doesn’t hit any beer buttons. So what are the alternatives for us beer nuts? Well you could do a lot worse than starting with this Ginger Beer offering from Naylor’s Brewery. Details of the brewery, based near Keighley, can be found on their website. Ginger Beer is a seasonal brew but can be found in Beer Ritz at the moment.

    First and foremost this is a beer. Golden amber in colour and with a lightly hopped taste the beer is present but subtle enough to allow the ginger flavour to come through and compliment it. It is not an alcoholic ginger beer but rather a genuine ginger flavoured beer, in the same way as a strawberry or peach flavoured beer. I wouldn’t expect a fruit beer to taste like fruit juice with an abv and I feel the same about this ginger flavoured beer. There is a distinction to be made between a ‘ginger beer’ and a ginger flavoured beer. Naylor’s is the latter and, in all honesty, while there is  nothing wrong with liking it, the former probably has no place in the real ales sphere.

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    November 18th, 2009LanesyBeer Reviews, Fruity Beers, Lagers

    After discovering this week that some friends of ours have brilliantly spoofed our efforts to appreciate good beer with their own lager reviews site, it seemed fitting that I should come across a bottle of lager I picked up in Beers of Europe a few weeks ago brewed by a company that have had rave reviews for their ale products on our own site.

    William Bros Brewing Co. Grozet Premium Beer

    Grozet: A quality lager the real-lager-reviews boys should sample.

    Williams Brothers Brewing Company have couple of lagers in their range, including Ceilidh (reviewed here). Rather unusually, this beer is described on the bottle as a ‘lagered fruit beer’, which suggests that it is something of a hybrid product aimed across a couple of beer styles. Based on an old Scottish harvest beer recipe from the 16th century, we should anticipate a fruity beer infused from the gooseberries prevalent in the ingrediants.

    The nose is extremely sweet, with the citrusy, fruity aroma backed up with a chocolatey note that cuts through at the end. In the glass, the liquid is a very pale blonde that lets the liveliness of the lager shine through. Despite the fruit beer connections, the appearance is definitely one of a lager, so it seems natural to describe it as such.

    Despite the effervescence of the beer in the glass, the fizz on the tongue quickly fades away to something of a creamy mouthfeel that is surprising as it is pleasant. The taste continues the sweet theme set up in the aroma, but does have a citrusy sharpness about it as well. Read the rest of this entry »

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    November 13th, 2009FletchtheMonkeyAmber ales, Beer Reviews, Comment, Fruity Beers

    Last weekend I was pretty much off the (online) radar compared to usual, and in the 2 days I left the twitterverse to its own devices it seems it all went a little BrewDog mad. With the revelation that BrewDog stitched themselves up deliberately over Tokyo, some people congratulated them on a point well proved whilst others bemoaned their tactics and deception.

    I understand and to a point commend BrewDog for standing up to some of what the Portman group do, and appreciate they are not the perfect, unbiased solution – for instance I’m not sure that BrewDog’s labels incite anti-social behaviour as much as a Taste The Difference lasagne does. But, I am annoyed that they pulled last week’s stunt: firstly because they ignore the fact that the Portman group is an alternative to state legislation; secondly that they went out to actively ask people in the beer community to defend Tokyo, knowing damn well they’d sent the letter, and thirdly, does it really help an industry that some days looks like imploding in on itself?

    As I’ve found with BrewDog recently, the sentiment and passion is no doubt there, but sometimes, execution lets them down.

    BrewDog have moulded themselves into a bit of a cult brand, and one that is gradually making inroads into the wider population, with a rebellious brand persona that many supermarket shoppers and beer drinkers will enjoy and tap into. After all, BrewDog are still unique compared to the traditional brewers available in UK supermarkets.

    I say cult because there is something dogmatic about following BrewDog, and I’ve no doubt that people hold BrewDog in high esteem. Much in the same way that they look forward to their favourite bands new release or the next big book by an author, people wait in keen anticipation of every move BrewDog make, regardless of what that move might entail.

    Which leads us nicely onto Dogma, the second BrewDog beer review in our Sainsbury’s Beer Competition series (especially as it’s the 13th post in this series posted on Friday the 13th!)

    Dogma: brewed by a Scottish druid?! A wonderfully sweet and exciting concoction but not everyone's cup of tea

    Dogma: brewed by a Scottish druid?! A wonderfully sweet and exciting concoction but not everyone's cup of tea

    Dogma is the reincarnation of Speedball, the heather honey infused beer that gave BrewDog their first really big PR piece just before we kicked this little blog off. Read the rest of this entry »

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    September 13th, 2009LanesyDark Mild, Fruity Beers

    Football on the telly is always a good excuse to have a few beers, so with England confirming their place in the next world cup (no doubt a great excuse for an international beer feature come next June) I seized my chance to try a few new ales from Morrison’s reasonable range.

    First up, Greene King’s ‘Ruddle’s County’ a dark ruby ale with a sweet nose, a slighty fruity aroma that gives away a hoppy essense (Brambling Cross hops according to the bottle). Ruddles County

    The impressive part once in the mouth is just how smooth this beer is for a bottled product; limited carbonisation suggests that a cask version of this product could not possibly be much smoother. An uncommon thing in many mass-produced bottled beers in my experience.

    The aftertaste is particularly strong, and the alcohol in the ale is particularly prominant, leaving a bitter aftertaste that lingers a little too long in the throat to be considered a treat.

    Reflecting on the finished bottle, it almost felt like the beer had not been left to mature quite long enough, causing a sensation that, quite frankly, left my throat burning slightly in the similar manner that a weak spirit of some form might.

    Next up was a total contrast: Badger’s ‘Golden Champion’. The ‘Golden’ part of the name is not ironic; the liquid is certainly that, pale and transparent, as opposed to deep and opague. Read the rest of this entry »

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    August 24th, 2009SteveSuttonFruity Beers

    Badger First Gold, 4.0% abv

    One of the defining characteristics of Badger First Gold is it’s sheer floral fruitiness. Which, at risk of sounding somewhat cliched, makes for a very ‘moreish’ drinking experience.

    Badger First GoldEqually pleasing is the fact that this golden ale can be regarded as a ‘session’ beer. (It weighs in at a punchy 4.0%.)

    Better still, and as one would expect from any session beer worth it’s salt in these BBQ summer months, the taste is undeniably crisp and refreshing. THis makes it a beverage of almost schizophrenic proportions.  A beverage where the idyllic, fragrant English countryside collides head on with the cool, clinical, clean excellence of an authentic German lager.

    Apparently this beer was a double gold medal winner at the 2005 brewing industry ‘oscars’ held in Munich – making it a ‘World Champion Beer’

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    July 30th, 2009Alan WalshBelgian/Trappist, Fruity Beers

    Fruli Belgian White Beer – Strawberry Flavour – 4.1% abv (bottled)

    We’ve been up and running for a couple of months now and I’m ashamed to note  that the level of female input into our reviews is frankly disgraceful. In an attempt to partially redress this error I rocked up to work this week with two bottles of Fruli, one for each of two lovely ladies from my office who were good enough to offer their time to provide me with a review in exchange for beer.

    Fruli can be quite a dividing beer, something of the Marmite of the beer world, with most people either loving it or hating it. I was interested to see whether the reviews were similar or whether we would be lucky enough to see opposite ends of the spectrum. For background I should state that Amanda is an experienced beer drinker who often recommends beers and watering holes to me on a Monday after she’s been out and about over the weekend. Rachel is just an experienced drinker!!!

    Here goes…

    ‘As soon as I opened the bottle I was hit with a strong smell of strawberries. I found the taste was not disappointing but I wonder if an avid beer drinker may well do as there’s only a tiny hint of beer flavour in there. It’s mostly Strawberries!

    It reminded me more of a sparkling wine than a beer. I really enjoyed the taste and would definitely drink this again although I don’t think I could drink more than two in a row as it is quite sweet.’


    ‘I was quite disappointed in this strawberry beer, it was quite wet with no real beer taste and only a slight taste of strawberries. I too thought it was more like a pink sparkling wine than a beer.

    I did however love the Timmermans Strawberry beer on draught from Muse in Wetherby on Friday night. It was really tangy with a slight beery taste. I would definitely drink that again.’


    Many thanks to the guys for their comments on Fruli. I have posted a link below to an unofficial Fruli website. The website is really cool, although unofficial, and I will try and get a Fruli trail over to them for Leeds in the coming weeks.

    In the meantime please feel free to add comments below if you wish to ‘weigh-in’ on the Fruli vs Timmermans debate  which Amanda may well have just inadvertantly started…….

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