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 ...
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 ...
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 ...
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 ...
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 ...
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 ...
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 ...
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 ...
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 ...
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 ...
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 ...
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 ...
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 ...
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 ...
I’d sum up Jennings Golden Host up in two simple words: floral and biscuity. Wordsworth might roll in his grave at that crude and lazy generalisation, so let’s try something a bit more prosaic…
The scene that Golden Host conjures is a spring day, the first of the year where the cool air breaks the gentle heat of the sun; arms, necks and foreheads are exposed for the first time since the leaves started to reappear on trees. Hot cookies sit on a window sill, a view perhaps overlooking Bassenthwaite or Loweswater, an iridescent shimmer on the water that heralds a yawning season, waiting to become vivacious and dominant.
There’s daffodils leading up the path to the maltings; for the workers there’s toasted teacakes and honey for breakfast; roughly cut brown bread and salad (dressed in herbs, perhaps even anise) for dinner; and following a rural supper of beer and bread those cookies get to fulfil their destiny.
Don’t expect pomp and grandeur, or the glory of a god in the sky to shine down on you as you take your first sip – even if you are of a Romantic persuasion and this beer has you dreaming of Wordsworth and his zeal for floating clouds and crowds, nay hosts!, of daffodils, as the sun sets over the lonely vales and hills this is a simple beer of pale malt, floral hops, Fair Trade sugar and a subtle, fresh disposition.
'I wander'd lonely as a cloud that floats on high o'er vales and hills, when all at once I saw a crowd, a host, of golden daffodils' - William Wordsworth, born Cockermouth, Cumbria, 1770
Treacle & cocoa, cashew & pistachio, berries and toffee.
All that from hops & malt?
Perhaps there are added kisses in Geltsdale’s Hops & Kisses, a Valentine’s re-branding of Geltsdale’s Hell Beck.
It’s a red bitter and infused with dashes of all sorts, but perhaps my senses are getting the better of me. Crystal and amber malts and Fuggles and Goldings hops don’t seem enough on paper to impart the luscious body imparted from these very English ingredients.
Rich toffee, hedgerow fruit, a roasted character that’s hard to pin down - Hops & Kisses is deliciously down to earth yet delightfully playful.
Hops & Kisses is a smooth operator, another fine Lakeland ale.
Yates Cumbrian Ale might not be your easiest Lakeland ale to find, but if you can find your way to Open All Hours in Keswick or Laird’s Larder in Houghton, you might be able to grab a few bottles. But to add this to your summer beer roster your best bet in the North West is Booths Supermarkets.
Straight away it’s different – manuka honey and lemsip perhaps the easiest descriptors of a grainy, citric and medicinal infused beer.
It’s comfy, reassuring beer; a summer cough syrup combined with a mug of Horlicks; a dollop of caramel and a gentle bitterness; light in alcohol, gentle in carbonation, the beery bubbles removing any cloying stickyness and thus ensuring it’s place as a beer well placed to serve a hot weather session.
Dent Rescewe was bought for Yorkshire month, the month of June where we planned to sample mostly Yorkshire ales and report back on our regional fare. Surreptitiously it stared back at me when I needed a beer for an unexpectedly sunny day in the garden in May, and there I saw it on the label, the address that I had neglected to check: ‘Dent Brewery, Dent, Cumbria’. Cue immediate fast track to Cumbrian month!
I’ve been to Dent only once, on a whistle stop weekend to the North Yorkshire Dales. It’s a living breathing Warburton’s ad, except Land Rovers rumble and bumble (depending on the age of their reg plate) across cobbles where flat-capped knee-socked boys should be cycling home, peddling against gravity and the extra weight of bakers fresh, crusty loaves.
I’d always assumed it was a forgotten Yorkshire village, one of those quaint border settlements that nonchalantly gets on with life amidst the whims of policy makers and county councils who can’t decide exactly which authority should be organising the bin rounds.
Dent Rescewe - premium bitter raising money for the Cave Rescue Organisation in the Yorkshire Dales
Tuesday night, two bottled bitters sunk and the quenches for thirst and flavour continue to itch away unabated.
Cue Lakeland IPA, a beer that for one moment in time justifies the beatification of hops single-handedly.
The perfect hiss released as metal hits glass and twists plastic; an aroma eager to reach a nose and knock on the door of the senses.
Soft-fleshed fruit says hello – mangoes might not be typical of Cumbria unless visiting a certain kitchenware store for a peeling device that the kitchen drawer doesn’t really need, but here they add sweetness and a vibrancy missing from the evenings other contenders.
Wisps of unidentifiable flowers blend without any disharmony and it’s all finished with a perfect bitterness to leave behind a craving for just a little bit more.
Lakeland IPA, a fresh, floral IPA with a suitably apt bitter end