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
    July 26th, 2011FletchtheMonkeyBeer Reviews, Pilsner Lager

    A strong, frothy head, a pale countenance and a ferociously Noble body makes Meantime Pilsner unmistakeably Bavarian.

    Put simply it’s the colour of straw and the embodiment of light, refreshing, authentic lager. It’s so pale you might even miss the barely toasted malt in this one.

    It’s pale, delicate fizz, infused with the scent of stalks and greenery, ensures it’s fresh and natural in body and soul with a congenital bitterness screaming of the vernacular style.

    E.g. it’s hoppy, it’s bitter, it’s Pilsner.

    Served in a 330ml bottle means you don’t get a lot for your money (they’d laugh at a such a measure in both Germany and Czech Republic I’m sure). Sure enough you do get a most elegant and well turned out bottle to show off whilst you drink. If that’s your thing.

    Meantime Pilsner perhaps lacks the subtle lemon balm slap that (according to my taste buds) separates the most interesting, intense variations of this famous style from those more monotonous attempts.

    But let’s be clear – this is no marketing ploy by Meantime to make a simple lager sound more premium, nor is it a poor copycat of the tall, translucent pilsners that changed the world.

    It’s a sophisticated, if slightly subdued celebration of grassy, gassy, sparkling straw-coloured beer.

    Meantime Pilsner

    Meantime Pilsner: perfect for the garden

    Read the rest of this entry »

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  • scissors
    October 5th, 2009FletchtheMonkeyAmerican, Beer Reviews, Pilsner Lager

    I should have taken more note of the hop image that dominates the label of Prima Pils. It’s not exactly inconspicuous!

    Victory Prima Pils - no ordinary pils

    Victory Prima Pils - no ordinary pils

    Thinking this would be a typical pils with an American influence I wasn’t expecting the almost overpowering hop aroma that exudes from this beer.

    Hops rule supreme throughout the taste as well, bold, floral, fruity with an abundance of resin punching over everything. The lupulin is strong in this one!

    You can see (well, taste) the similarities with Victory’s Hop Devil, a monstrous and complex ale. Here too they are to put it lightly ‘on the strong side’.

    This could be a great pils beer, as Hop Devil is a great (if unbalanced) pale ale. But the hops here are too much for me. Turned down a few notches this would still be hugely challenging to those that like there IBUs turned up high, but a bit more drinkable and actually more interesting than.

    The trouble is that you don’t become attuned to the hops here, they get deeper as you drink.

    I’d recommend this beer to any hop head, you have to try it, it’s an interesting and experimental addition to the pilsner style. But this ain’t a pilsner for those that like their Budvars or Urquells, and one that might just take you by surprise.

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  • Sweden

    May 17th, 2009Alan WalshCider, Pilsner Lager

    Last night was the Eurovision Song Contest so a few of us gathered in homage to Euro-pop ready to sing, dance and generally make merry. The plan for the night was simple – everyone had been assigned a country and was instructed to bring traditional food and drink from their adopted nation. Lucky enough to draw Sweden as my new domicile, I headed eagerly to Ikea to see what I could find…

    Spendrups Old Gold Pale Pilsner – 5,0%abv – A crisp, sharp pilsner costing only £1,05 a bottle. Well worth a look to refresh you when you’re next trying to put together a flat packed wardrobe. |Be careful though, the 5% abv is subtle and not at all gassy meaning it slips down all too easily – too many bottles will probably have you putting the doors on that wardrobe upside down.

    Reindeer Salami ‘Ren’ – This Salami was a very nice Swedish gimmick to stick on the table. Not really sure how to review it except to say that it made a nice little sandwich with the Swedish cheese that I picked up at the same time.

    Kopparberg Premium Pear Cider – 4,5% abv – Couldn’t leave this one off the review although I’m pretty sure everyone has come into contact with it at one point or another. This cider is absolutely delicious. It’s so light and sweet you don’t actually even notice that it’s alcohol which isn’t really what I look for in a drink but I know some people will like that.

    Something this sweet can’t all be good news though and I’m quite sure that too much of this would leave you with rotten teeth, feeling very sick and possibly suffering from diabetes.

    Norrlands Guld Export – 4,5%abv – First and foremost this lager came out of a can and it had the tinny flavour that comes along with that. To quote our host for the evening, Sarah Frost, it seems like ‘a bit of a nothing lager’. You could equally be drinking any number of other canned lagers in terms of taste although I would say that, like the Old Gold above, it is flatter (in a good way) than the likes of Fosters or Carlsberg meaning that it is not bloating.

    Billar – little car shaped sweets that are frankly odd. They seem to have the Marmite effect as I, and about half of the people at the party, loved them and everyone else thought they were rubbish.

    Mini Elk & Venison Salamis – these were really good nibbles. A bit like mini Pepperamis but slightly chewier.

    That my friends, is Sweden in a nutshell.

    Selection of my 'Sweden in a Box' experiment

    Selection of my 'Sweden in a Box' experiment

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