July 31st, 2012Desert Island Beers
This weeks Desert Island Beers features Fergus Fitzgerald, Head Brewer at Adnams PLC, Southwold, Suffolk. Fergus 36, is married to Julie and they have one young son, who he says he has never left down the pub, but did once lose for 5 minutes in Tesco when looking for a Sponge Bob Square-pants DVD.
Fergus was born in Limerick, Ireland, best known as the place Terry Wogan comes from and no Fergus doesn’t do short comical, sometimes rude, poems. He went on to study Biotechnology without really knowing what to do with it, but knew he liked science.
After graduating he was offered the chance to work in the Lab at Fuller, Smith & Turner PLC in London for 6 months. During this period Fergus says he lived in digs where for £50 a week he got a room to himself, two eggs every morning for breakfast and only once did one of the other residents try to break in with a hatchet; OK it was twice but in fairness to them the second time the guy was actually looking for a different room.
After this stint Fergus decided he loved the brewing industry and that’s what he wanted to do. A short stint at Murphy’s brewery in Cork, Ireland followed, before he returned to Fullers when a permanent job became available.
Over the next 7 years he worked his way out of the lab and into the brewing side, passing several brewing exams on the way and then moved to Adnams in 2004 as Assistant Brewer and now a qualified Master Brewer became Head Brewer in 2009.
During his time at Adnams the company has replaced the Brewhouse and Fermentation room and also installed a distillery. Fergus says he has also managed to clog up the wort cooler several times with orange peel and liquorice root. But he’s not sure which he’s most proud of. The Adnams engineers apparently now get nervous when they see him coming out of the Fermentation room because they are not sure if he’s thrown something into a fermenter which might clog up a pump or sprayball. This fear is not totally without foundation! Whichever Fergus says he likes brewing and he likes beer!Tags: adnams, Fuller's, hitchikers guide to the galaxy, Orval, radiohead
March 12th, 2012Desert Island Beers
This weeks Desert Island Beers features our first brewster, Hayley Barton of Cumbrian Legendary Ales. Born in Gloucestershire, Hayley says she learned to drink real ale in the Old Spot Inn, in Dursley during weekends with friends whilst studying for her A-levels and around the same time was also very fortunate to be taken on a walking holiday to The Lakes by her best friend Tamsin & her parents Trev & Ros.
After staying in Great Langdale, Hayley says she cried all the way down the M6 during the journey home because she had enjoyed having a wonderful holiday in the best county in England so much and she vowed then that she would go back to Cumbria to live at some time in the future.
After completing a BA in Textile Design, Hayley started working behind the bar at the Kirkstile Inn, Loweswater in 2006, where Matt Webster was already brewing. Hayley says she used to sneak down into the brew room, using any excuse (usually it was to take Matt a cuppa) because she was so interested in everything going on in the Loweswater Brewery, which was no bigger than an average sized garage at that time. She started helping Matt with cleaning barrels, brewery paperwork & designing pump clips for the different beers that he was brewing exclusively for the Kirkstile bar.
Before long Hayley found herself on a brewing course & Matt taught her how to brew. It was 2008 when she brewed her first beer “Melbreak Bitter” and in 2009 she jumped at the chance of being able to brew in the purpose built Cumbrian Legendary Ales Brewery recently acquired by Roger & Helen Humphreys and where David Newham patiently showed her the ropes.
Hayley says it is an absolute delight to brew in such a fabulous location, (on the shores of Esthwaite Water) and was overwhelmed to discover that the brewery had won Champion Golden Ale of Britain at the GBBF in summer ’11 with Loweswater Gold. And that she absolutely loves brewing & brewing is a lifestyle choice if you’re going to do it properly.
Hi Hayley and welcome! Which five beers would you want to have with you if you were stranded on a desert island, and why?Tags: adnams, beckstones, cumbria, lakeland, Uley
Read the rest of this entry »
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.
Read the rest of this entry » Tags: adnams, sea
Nothing beats breakfast in Borough market. A steaming hot wild boar sausage in bread roll, juggled between cold hands, a generous splash of spicy home-made ketchup and sprig or three of chard and spinach leaves. And to the stall next door for a few succulent pieces of just grilled halloumi to finish it off. Bellissimo!
It’s too cold to sit on the wall outside Southwark Cathedral so the pigeons scrounge our scraps. In fact it’s barely warm enough to eat as we prepared for a second day wandering around London in minus degrees centigrade weather.
A long day starts by working our way along the rail tracks to Tower Bridge following the perfectly symmetrical arches. Under numbers 98 – 100 sits Kernel Brewery. There’s a striking resemblance to Marble of Manchester: the home under the railways, the emphasis on hops, the appreciation of good food and the influence from distant shores.
In nearby archways sit bakeries, green grocers and purveyors of continental delicacies. So no surprise that cheese and ham are been carved on the counter next to the Imperial Stout, S.C.A.N.S. IPA and Kernel White Ale. And the beer that broke the yeasts back, cooking porter (apparently that’s all it’s good for).
Evan, mastermind behind Kernel’s flavour-packed beers, shows us the kit which take up a fraction of the space under the curved roof. Hops litter the mushroom cloud of yeast in the first fermentation tank whilst something stout-like slowly bubbles, getting stronger by the hour on it’s way to an ABV% from the dark side of the moon.
(click on images to enlarge)
The tasters of Evan’s 12% imperial stout hits pretty hard but the cold air soon knocks the lucidity back into us. Tower Bridge is just around the corner, a magnificent symbol of London’s prowess, the most famous bascule in the world. On the approach to the majestic structure we nip into the Draft House purely for warmth and cheekily walked out after checking the beer list (which was fine, but nothing took our fancy). Mere doors away is the Bridge House, Adnams Dining Pub of the Year. It shows; above the bar Veuve Clicquot magnums are arranged neater than the Selfridges Christmas window display and the food looks nothing less than divine. A hearty winter meal is tempting but curry at Greenwich market is on the to-do list so we settle for sharing a bottle of Adnam’s IPA. It’s just the ticket as we adjust to the sudden warmth and the über geek-chic staff (who look like they’ve just walked off the main stage of an über trendy music festival).
We can’t stay for long, Mark’s itinerary is packed tighter than sedimentary rock (and would take as long to be fulfilled) so it’s back towards the train via the fascinating Southwark Tavern. Football fans, shoppers and bar-proppers are thrust together like sardines in the upstairs bar so we try our luck down the steep winding stairs. Far from escaping the hustle and bustle it’s packed and rowdy. The low bricked ceilings supposedly once housed a debtors prison, perhaps the very jail where William Smith and Marc Isambard Brunel were once coalesced*, but its probably just as likely that in the tiny cubby holes stewed less salubrious activities. At 12pm it’s no bordello but it’s not the time or place to a quiet beer and a chat. One to try another time because the building and beer list are alluring to say the least.
Cold and thirsty the packed overground offers brief respite. Luton fans are hunting for tickets on the way to Charlton in the cup and one, particularly well lubed up with cheap lout (not that that’s of any consequence) is demanding everyone’s attention with his bionically integrated foghorn because his mate Biscuit has dropped some sort of bollock…
(click on images to enlarge)
Greenwich saves us. Inspired by Michael Jackson’s beer collection which adorns the walls of the Old Brewery we do what beer geeks do best. Meantime London Porter, Helles and a French bock are quaffed in the strange surroundings of a museum-cum-tourist-information-cum-café-cum-restaurant in the shadow of Meantime’s brewing coppers and in earshot of an engrossing dissection of astrology by a very intellectual looking couple drinking wine.
Nearby Greenwich market is surrounded by Grade 2 listed buildings, a covered collection of stalls crammed in the open spaces that were once dark streets filled with slaughter houses and traders peddling their wares. These days hand carved nik-naks and world food stalls cater for the hoards of punters. Polish dumplings and thai green curry stove our fires and home-made champagne cider warms us up again.
The next stop takes us overground and underground, through Brixton towards the huge tardis that is the Florence brewpub. Disembarking from the train Herne Hill looks like a Lego town due to it’s cobbled main thoroughfare that cuts between the main roads sheltering local hardware shops, salons and greengrocers. It’s quite unlike anywhere else in London so far. The Florence overlooks a big park and has a family atmosphere (there are copies of the Guardian and children everywhere) and is quite unlike any pub I’ve been to in London so far. For a start the smell of wort hangs from the rafters but unfortunately their own beer isn’t on although the beer mats make interesting reading whilst we enjoy a spicy seasonal Adnam’s and peruse the menu – Weasel, Beaver and Bonobo are all brewed on site in the tiny glass brew room where two burly figures are repairing what looks like a heat exchanger.
It’s a whistle-stop tour and the day is running out so we rush for the train – luckily it’s late – which sends us rattling over a completely different London; lights across the city twinkle on as far as the eye can see and there’s a strange quiet, the calm before the storm of Saturday night.
At Cask Pub & Kitchen that twilight drinkers are a mix of people just starting their evening in the city and those, like us, bringing a long day to a close. We have an hour and a half before the X Factor express takes us back to Kent. That’s just enough time to try most of the Mikkeller beers on draught as well as a sneaky Moor Old Freddy Walker, an incredible beer that’s perfect for the time of year. The Mikkellers fall faster than I can scribble then names down.
Cask has a cosmopolitan atmosphere to it, a pub that you can relax in and chat. We get talking to two lads who tell us a titillating tale about a beery stag do in Bruges and we convince them to try some of the outrageously strong beer we’re sampling. Long before we leave the table is covered in empty glasses, though very beer served in a different glass from an unrelated brewery, the only blotch our the last stop of a day of unrelenting exploration.
*The father of geology and the father of Isambard Kingdom Brunel respectively were both short-term residents at King’s Bench prison in Southwark, but neither that nor Marshalsea, the two major debtors prisons of Southwark, were in quite the right place to be connected to the Southwark Tavern in any form other than prison guards watering there.Tags: adnams, borough, borough market, Bridge House, Cask Pub & Kitchen, draft house, London, southwark, The Florence
January 9th, 2010Pubs & bars
Right some of you will remember that before Christmas I started a series of posts about a day out I had in London on the Real Ale trail. The final part of the series has taken a long time coming but here it is, finally the series will be complete and balance will be restored to my universe. This will probably be quite short given the amount of time since I was there and I only have about half a page of notes….and no pictures!!!!!! But here it is, my review of The Crown and Two Chairmen in Soho.
The options for hand-pulled ales included London Pride, Old Rosie cider, Adnams Southwold German Kolsch and Doombar from Cornwall. Quite a fan of Doombar from Sharps Brewery, I was a fair few into the day when I had this pint but I find it full of flavour but not overpowering in the palette. There were 22 taps and I managed to corner the assistant manager for a chat while we were waiting for our burgers and chips to come out. Initially defensive about whether the place was part of a chain when I inquired, she finally said that the place was part of the same chain as The Adelphi in Leeds (which I didntt know was part of a chain actually). Apparently the ethos of the chain is to allow the bars to have as much individuality as possible whilst still having the top down approach of serving good beers and quality food. From what we saw, the place was busy as well, this is certainly the case.
I wouldn’t have put it down as a sibling of The Adelhpi but as soon as I found out that it was it was obvious. These guys are doing something right because I would definitely go back there and, as I sit in Leeds in the snow following an afternoon of sledging, it’s made me think about the Adelphi so much that I’m off out there for tea.Tags: adnams, Doombar, London Pride, Old Rosie, Soho, The Crown and Two Chairmen London
On the lead up to Christmas me and a few or my more intellectually challenged University mates decided to go for a day out in Nottingham to see if we still had the stamina to managed an ‘all-dayer’. Obviously I knew that the ales were going to merge at some point after lunch and that the details would be difficult to get down. I therefore armed myself with a Cancer Research pen and 2010 Diary and met at the 10am rendezvous, The Bank pub, for beer and breakfast.
The Bank is what I would dub a Weatherspoons rip-off. The breakfast menu was almost identical to Weatherspoons and the range of beers available was similar. I was therefore able to order a pint of Bass to go with my Americano and Large Breakfast. I couldn’t remember whether I’d ever actually had Bass before but I knew that it used to be very popular with my Dad’s friends out of a can. The lightness suited accompanying a large meal and my initial impression was of an relatively sweet toffee flavour but this was tempered by the development of a more peppery body. The existence of these flavours was I think testament to how well the ale was kept and I have since been disappointed when having the same pint at The Wobbly Wheel near Banbury where none of these subtly complex flavours appeared from ‘the same’ pint.Tags: adnams, Ale trail, Bass, bitter, Broadside, Burton Bitter, Castle Rock Brewery, Greene King, Magpie Brewery, mild, nottingham, Nottingham Brewery, Old Hooky, pale, The Bell, The Dragon, The Roebuck
A big beer day
Some days just seem to have everything. Big stories, ferocious debate and your own personal news. Such as yesterday…
In the news, BrewDog pulled another stunt, this one making me laugh out loud and actually consider parting with some of my hard earned cash.
Tactical Nuclear Penguin takes beer naming conventions to a new level and pushes the boundaries of beer production. Whether or not it’s any good I might never know (I’m hoping the other Real Ale Reviews lads will chip in for a bottle as I don’t think I can justify getting one just for myself). But thanks to James and Martin for dressing up in silly costumes and brightening up the beer world for a morning.
And to the ferocious debate: Is smoking cool? Smoking may look cool when Paul Newman is hustling and Jean-Paul Belmondo is ambling through Parisian streets but it ain’t always cool when you’re trying to eat your tea or sip a pint (or stand at the bus stop on a windy day folks!). There’s a serious health side to still as well as questions of economy and heritage: will the smoking ban contribute to killing traditional pubs off once and for all?
Who knows, I can understand both sides of the argument – I smoked for a 3 or 4 years from the age of 17, giving up when I went to uni (yes, I know it’s weird that way round) – and I can’t stand the smell now. And I much prefer my clothes not reeking of stale smoke the morning after a night out. But I don’t hate smokers or smoking, I respect people’s choice to do it, and I appreciate smokers who are considerate of non-smokers (just like I appreciate drinkers who don’t smash my wing mirrors off and people who are generally nice). I sure hope that the country is a bit healthier because of the ban – but how can we ensure that it doesn’t impact negatively on our pub culture and people’s personal freedoms?
It’s a debate I almost don’t want to get too involved in as I don’t have the solution, and judging from other posts I’m not sure a unilateral agreement is on the cards! So moving swiftly on…
And then in personal news, we had some unexpected success last night, as Real Ale Reviews were awarded not one, but two commendations in the inaugural Golden Twit awards organised by The Drum magazine… Read the rest of this entry »Tags: adnams, BrewDog, golden twits, penguin, purity, smoking, tactical nuclear penguin, twitter
May 7th, 2009Beer Reviews
Adnams East Green Carbon Neutral Beer from the Coast
Adnams have pulled off quite a coup with this ale, as far as I know the first (widely available) beer (marketed as) carbon neutral. And, not just that, this ale fits its category just perfectly – light, golden, crisp; some might say in tune with its natural environment.
Ok, so citrus fruit isn’t native to the Suffolk Coast, but this Carbon Trust accredited number from Adnams ticks a major eco-box with it’s carbon neutral status. Plus, it’s blooming good beer.
My first reaction was to the hoppy bitterness – not at all a bad or overpowering feature – followed by a light citrus tang; in my glass this was gloriously golden amber throughout, wonderfully balanced in colour and taste.
I don’t say this lightly, but this beer is genuinely light and, unless you require a drink fizzier than a Panda Pop on a bouncy castle, surprisingly refreshing.
It certainly washed my ham & leek pasta down better than many ales would and made a very easy-to-drink accompaniment to the night’s Champions League football. I daresay this beer is perfect for long summer nights, especially with its citrus bite and crisp finish.
If I had to score this out of ten I would be looking at a 7 or 8, and maybe a little extra for its green credentials and minimum carbon impact. As a newcomer on the scene this is a fine ale and one that deserves your attention this summer.
Tags: adnams, carbon nuetral, citrus, eco beer, green beer, light