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 16th, 2009Alan WalshReal Ale

    Loxley Ale with Chicken, Chorizo and Green Pepper Pasta

    Loxley Ale with Chicken, Chorizo and Green Pepper Pasta

    Now for the first taste of the MileStone beers I picked up the other day when visiting the Brewery shop in Cromwell. I have plumped for Loxley Ale  (4,2% abv), named after the famous Robin of Loxley. I have selected this one first because I am a big Robin Hood fan, not so much the recent offering from the BBC starring Jonas Armstrong, but I am a massive fan of the Kevin Costner movie, have read the Henry Gilbert book too many times than I can count and I even harbour a secret love of the Walt Disney version!!!!

    The fantastic MileStone website has tasting notes on all their ales and the Loxley Ale is described as having a ‘crisp lemony tang’ coupled with ‘slight honey sweetness’. Ron recommends either a good ploughman’s or a Korma. I had other ideas. Having tried a few sips I agreed with the website’s decription, the beer has a drinkable sweetness, appearing after an initial citrus tang – perfect to have with a nice summer salad I though…so I rolled back the cool Leeds weather and prepared this creamy pasta salad which I believe compliments the zingy sweetness of the Loxley Ale perfectly.

    Creamy Chicken, Chorizo, Leek and Green Pepper Pasta Salad
    Serves 2

    Ingredients1 Large Chicken Breast – cut into thin strips
    Diced Chorizo – handful
    2 Leeks – sliced
    2 Medium Green Peppers
    300ml Creme Fraiche
    Cheese & Tomato Tortellini – two handfuls
    2 Little Gem Lettuce – torn into shreds
    10 Cherry Tomatoes – halved
    Ground Black Pepper (to taste)
    Olive Oil (to fry)
    Splash of Balsamic Vinegar (to dress)


    Cooking under wayWarm the Olive Oil in the pan and fry the chicken, peppers, leek and chorizo until the chicken is cooked through (usually about 20mins). Cook the Tortellini in a pan of boiling water until soft. Whilst all the bits are cooking rip the lettuce up, divide between two bowls, splash with balsamic and throw on the cherry toms. Once the chicken is cooked stir the Creme Fraiche in and add the Tortellini before spooning onto the lettuce beds. Serve with a glass of MileStone Loxley Ale.

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  • Sagres

    August 16th, 2009Alan WalshLagers

    Sagres, Portuguese Lager, 5.0% abv

    I am sitting reading the Sunday paper before making my evening roast and have decided to crack open a bottle of beer and get a weekend review up. This particular bottle of beer has been in my fridge for some time. On a recent trip to London I noticed that Sagres had developed quite a presence in bars seemingly as aa alternative to the Peroni/Amstel type lager.

    Sagres and the Sunday Papers - Life is Good

    Sagres and the Sunday Papers - Life is Good

    Although I have not seen it available on tap in any bars outside of London, it is now available in some Leeds ale shops and I would imagine that it is only a matter of time before we begin to see it nationally. As such I made sure I had got a bottle to review in order to ensure that Real Ale Reviews were abreast of the game.  Hopefully, when this springs up in your local wine bar, you will feel well enough informed to know whether or not to take a punt on it.

    The beer appears  relatively pale in the glass for a premium type lager, a fact that is justified by the crisp,  clean initial taste. This initial cleanness, which almost has no flavour, gives way  to a hoppy flavour that lingers throughout the mouthhful and into the aftertaste. This hoppyness is tempered by a mild citrus flavour.

    The flavour, while obviously not approaching the levels of genuine premium lagers and real ales, is hoppier than you might expect from a lager of this type. I am a big fan of having different drinks for different occassions and, in a similar way to how I would suggest a lager such as Boags for a BBQ, I would suggest that this would be a really good long night out lager. It has the body and texture lacking from the cheaper Carlsberg/Fosters lagers, while not having the kick of the genuine premium lagers that are perhaps more appropriate to shorter, quieter occasions

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    August 1st, 2009Alan WalshPale Ales

    Meantime Brewery – London Pale Ale, 4.3% abv, on tap from The Greenwich Union

    This is quite a clear pale ale and immedately I could tell that it was well kept which was no surprise given that there was at least one pint on every table. I would imagine that thry fire through hundreds of pints of this a day.

    To be honest I was quite worried about getting back on the ale today given that last night was a bit of a blockbuster but, as I sat in the pub garden taking my furst si, this was certainly no chore. The beer was quite flat, I think more so than the bottled version that I have had before, which give it a smoothness that meant it went down really well.

    In terms of flavour this beer is tangy, with a citrus bitterness that is far from overpowering. This modest flavour, coupled with the smooth texture, make this what I would call a real session ale.

    Landlord....get me another......

    Landlord....get me another......

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    July 31st, 2009Alan WalshHoney Beers

    Fuller’s Organic Honey  Dew Golden Beer – 5.0% Vol

    Me and Jack looked at each other with a mutual look surprise as we took our first sips of this beer. Not at all what we were expecting. It was not the sweet sensation I was expecting and someone else here has informed me that the draft version is far sweeter.

    I must admit that I went to the trouble of pouring this into a glass to see if it appeared more golden that it tasted and I have to say that it did. In fairness this Ale may be golden for regular drinkers of strong ales and porter but for my young pale loving taste buds this juxtaposition of a stronger ale with the dark, syrupy, (not sure if that’s a word) raw sweetness doesn’t really float my boat.

    I must say the bottle, particularly the bottle tops, are awesome…

    Fuller's Honey Dew

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    July 31st, 2009Alan WalshBeer Reviews

    Hogs Back Brewery T.E.A (Traditional English Ale), 4.2%

    Currently sat round Jack’s house playing 1 Vs 100 on the Xbox while having a few real ales. Tomorrow we’re hoping to head over to Greenwich to check out the Meantime brewery but in the meantime (pun definitely intended) we plan on doing a few reviews tonight.

    This TEA was recommended to me by Fletch a few weeks ago so when we were down at Waitrose picking ales I suggested to Jack that we give it a whirl. Aside from Fletch it comes well recommended having won the 2000 Best Beer in Britain award.

    I have to say that this beer is really smooth, tasting initially a bit like a strong continental lager and not as strong as many award winning ales. The soft initial flavour gives way to a fantastic hoppy aftertaste which I would imagine was responsible for putting it in line for the award. It is bottle conditioned and has the quality you expect for a bottle conditioned ale.

    Jack says this is one of the top five ales he’s ever tried and that he would not be embarrassed to give a bottle to his old man at Xmas. Top referral Fletch.

    T.E.A. not tea!!!

    T.E.A. not tea!!!

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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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    June 14th, 2009Alan WalshLagers

    Moving on to day three of the cricket theme on Real Ale Reviews, India takes on the West Indies

    India – Cobra, 5.0% abv

    Following the poor performance of it’s big brother earlier in the tournament, this ‘king of the Curry houses’ tried to pick up the bat and put in a better showing out in the middle. Coolness is the key here and, without trying to be anywhere near as fancy as the King Cobra, this beer turns in a good solid performance.

    Thrown down ice cold this one takes the middle stump clean out however, if it’s left to get warm, there’s a danger it goes wide down the leg side. Certainly it’s a better offering than it’s common rival Kingfisher.

    Score (out of 20) – Ice cold, this one produces a respectable knock – 13

    West Indies – Red Stripe Lager, 4.7% abv

    I have to admit that I had already been ‘out in the middle’ for some time before I got round to sampling this one. My tasting notes are therefore being read from the back of a pub food menu.

    The first taste was rather tart and a little tangy but it settled to be a fairly average beer. It did not taste very strong and I was surprised to see that it was 4.7%, I had thought in drinking that it was far lighter than this. I have to admit that, probably before the end of the Twenty20, I will most likely give this another crack of the whip when I’m a little more sober.

    Score (out of 20) – probably should have been offered the light but still above average – 11

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    June 7th, 2009Alan WalshContinental Lager

    I picked up a bottle of Oranjeboom Premium Lager (5% abv) completely by chance from a local Aldi for 99p. I’d never tried this lager before and chose it because it was one of the few in Aldi’s range that I had actually heard of.

    This is the first full ‘non-ale’ review to go onto the blog and was therefore a bit of a gamble, but, even if I do say so myself, I think it can ultimately be seen as a success. Hoppy and full flavoured this lager certainly sits in ‘real drinks’ category. It is neither one of the flatter, flavourless Corona/Brama type lagers and nor is it one of the gassy, bloating Fosters/Carlsberg type lagers, in fact it is frothy and lively without being at all gassy. Coupling this with the great price I have to say I wouldn’t be at all embarrassed to serve this up with pizza and pro evo when the boys come round.

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    June 7th, 2009Alan WalshReal Ale

    St. Austell Brewery’s Tribute Ale, 4 .2% abv

    I was not immediately taken with this ale and must admit that it was only after I was through two thirds of the bottle that I really began enjoying it. The flavour juxtaposes a lighter, almost citrus, initial flavour with a duller more full bodied aftertaste.

    This combination works really well and blurs into a moderate overall taste that is really very pleasing. I found myself glugging at the bottle and, from only being a third of the way down it a when I started taking notes, within a few lines of typing it was nearly all gone, testament in itself.

    I suggest you try this beer with a nice chunky handmade beefburger, homemade coleslaw and chunky chips.

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    May 27th, 2009Alan WalshBeer Reviews

    Walking into the porterhouse it was immediately obvious that this was a ‘big name’ London pub. From the Nebuchadnezzar of Champagne just inside the door way to the hundreds of bottled drinks displayed around the walls, everything about this pub shouted that it was going to be a real treat for a beer lover.

    I was wrong.

    As it was only lunchtime and, knowing that I was going to be drinking well into the night, not wanting to be drinking anything too heavy too early, I asked the barman what Pale Ales or Golden Summer offerings they had (bearing in mind that this was a sunny bank holiday weekend). The answer was that they did not currently have any of these on draught, which, given the weather, to my mind seemed crazy. The barman then offered my a pint of porter, I’m not sure how he thought this would be good advice to someone looking for a pale or golden ale but there you go and he would have been doing his employer a better service by offering me bottled alternatives of what I actually wanted. Finally, after an admittedly unsolicited sample, I settled on a pint of the Porterhouse Red.

    The beer is 4,4% abv and, while being deep red in colour and distinguishably hoppy in flavour, did not overpower. The beer was well kept and smooth, although the barman could have taken longer over the pouring and topped it up so that I didn’t need my snorkelling gear for the first mouthful.

    I just could not get past the fact that they did not have a seasonal draft offering. It was not the light summer ale that I was looking for but I could well imagine it fitting well into the same situation in six month’s time. Perhaps stepping in from a Guy Fawkes celebration to sup in front of an open fire – that is where this beer would fit for me.

    My conclusion on the Porterhouse I’m afraid is one of disappointment. To build up a catalogue of bottled beers and sell them to people attempting to show off to friends and colleagues takes no great skill. My own view is that bottled beers, now matter how varied, must be complimented by a full range of draught ales. To source and maintain these seasonal guest ales and keep them to the, admittedly very high, standards of the house beer takes the work of a real landlord This man will be recommended for all seasons, Porterhouse should only be visited when the house beers reflect the occasion.


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