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 28th, 2011FletchtheMonkeyBeer Reviews, Golden Ales, Wheat beers

    In resplendent blue glass Adnams Spindrift speaks in the hushed tones of castaway shells and seaside pebbles, whispering “Drink me, drink me”.

    What makes this beer so interesting is that every time it’s washed up in my shopping basket it’s a little bit different, never exactly the same. Citrus fruits from far away lands bounds out of one bottle; sea salt and black pepper dominate another; one is funky, overripe fruit laced with pithy, orange rind bitterness

    Could the elegant blue bottle be responsible for these variations? Or is the spirit of spindrift captured metaphorically and literally – perhaps it really is the beerification of the sea whipping up all sorts of interesting flavours and chucking them over here, over there, over everywhere on the back of a force 8 gale?

    Spindrift is less volatile, more elegant. Today’s bottle ebbs and flows between fruit, coast and flora: drinking it is to be washed up on a salty beach with a paraffin lamp, where over-ripe lychees fall from trees and seaweed and pepper and lemon juice make up the desert island meal. It’s laced with citrus and wheat influence, herbs and even a dash of honey perhaps. But crucially, the conbination of flavours don’t quite feel vibrant: it’s sun kissed, or perhaps in this case wind burnt.

    If Spindrift is the daily bread of lazy coastal days I’d take it with outstretched arms, but it is for sure a beer to be drunk fresh, on a warm day; it’s a beer whose effervescence needs to be preserved in order to successfully quench thirst and conjure a far away sea breeze.

    adnams spindrift

    Adnams Spindrift, with the sparkle of the sea

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  • scissors
    August 11th, 2009FletchtheMonkeyBelgian/Trappist, Wheat beers

    I’d never heard of Daas beers until meeting the company via Twitter, perhaps because of my woeful knowledge of Belgian brewing styles. And I’m very glad I did find them.

    Before I continue I should add that this Belgian-sized hole in my fairly universal appreciation of beer styles stems mainly from the fact that I’ve never really got on well with wheat style beers and many of the continental white and blonde beers.

    Notable exceptions are Erdinger, which is pretty much unavoidable in the Leeds’ bars north of Briggate, (and to be fair which I reserve for nights out rather than drink at home). I occasionally used to sup Hoegarden at uni, a drink I shared almost exclusively with my friend Tyler, who introduced me to pairing it with a segment of lime. But neither of these or the other examples I’ve tried (pretty much exclusively well known brands) such as Duvel and Chimay have ever quite satisfied my palate as other styles do.

    In Daas Blond and Witte there are two beers that touch on the styles that I don’t generally go for, bringing out their subtleties and developing something I quite like. They are both organic certified, one (Witte) is wheat based and the other (Blond) is made from 100% barley malt.

    Daas Blond organic Belgian beer

    Daas Blond organic Belgian beer

    Daas Blonde is fruity, golden and sweet. I thought I detected zesty flavours – it tingled my tongue and I sensed a sweet and slightly spicy taste that flowed easily from bottle to throat.  It really was a good, strong golden ale with clear Belgian influence that will tempt me to try more like this rather than put me off experimenting.

    Bizarrely it’s supreme drinkability maybe what detracts from me wanting to call it a session beer: a session on this, as I find with many Belgian beers, tends to fill the stomach up a bit too quick (but then I probably shouldn’t be knocking back ‘World Cup’ glasses of Erdinger after midnight in Reform bar – this, I can tell you openly, is not a good strategy for longevity of bar room shenanigans!).

    Daas Witte organic Belgian wheat beer

    Daas Witte organic Belgian wheat beer

    Daas Witte as, as you would expect, is dominated by it’s wheaty influence. It’s defining characteristics are crafted by this influence, and mixed against, again, more defined citrus flavours and spicy touches. The influence of wheat over malt in Belgian beers always perturbs me, I am clearly a British beer drinker reluctant to sacrifice on my malted barley. It’s hard for me to pass judgement on Daas Witte, as I just don’t have enough experience of it’s contemporaries to compare it too, but for a wheat beer I genuinely enjoyed it.

    All in all I’ll definitely be drinking Daas Blond again, a great little number that widens my palate a little. I will also certainly try Daas Witte again, which I think has made me doubt my perceived dislike of wheat beer (maybe I just misunderstood all these years?!).

    In fact, Daas’ Organic beers might just be my introduction to a world of new beers from just over the Channel, just as EIPA first tempted me into North American beers.

    If you want to try it yourselves I believe Waitrose are to be stocking this in the imminent future (if not already), and the lovely folk at Daas will surely keep you better informed than I will if you talk to them on Twitter.

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