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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    May 8th, 2012FletchtheMonkeyBeer Events, Comment

    “It’s like something you’d see at a beer festival” Simon Cowell exclaims having watched Ashley Elliot perform in a Britain’s Got Talent semi-final.

    No, Mr Cowell wasn’t watching ale guzzling slippers perform magic tricks or gravity defying beard-offs, but a seventeen year old teenager from Enniskillen who plays the xylophone.

    To have young Ashley perform at a festival of any sort would be a treat (perhaps no headliner, but damn good at an impromptu jamming session with a harmonicist and a yukele player). His handiwork is fast and furious and, whilst not everyone’s cup of tea, David Walliams thought it was “pure joy”.

    We tried Doncaster Beer Festival for a stag do a few weeks ago, and it was a success – they had an endless supply of comedy hats to choose from for the stag and plentiful supplies of beer. But a crazy xylophone player? Hell yeah, that would have added to the experience!

    Cowell’s attitude perhaps shines a light on the perception of beer festivals. I doubt he’s a beer man let alone a cask ale drinker, but surely he’d be impressed with the folk bands at Norwich Town Hall, or the train shed at Haworth & Worth Valley, or the scale of Earls Court, or the uniforms at Brussels in September?

    I guess there’s no pleasing some people…

    We can understand why some beer festivals give off a bad impression, some are lots of fun, some are really not. What makes a good beer festival? Nothing but racks of cask ale and tasting notes or full on entertainment, food and activities? Good beer, good people? Let us know!

    Langdon Beck Beer Festival

    Cask ale only?

    st feuillien abbey beer glasses brussels festival costumes

    Fancy pant costumes?

    Great British Beer Festival GBBF, Earls Court London

    Breadth of choice?

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    April 25th, 2012FletchtheMonkeyBeer Events

    The inaugural North Leeds Charity Beer Festival starts this weekend, in no small part thanks to the efforts of our friend and occasional Real Ale Review’s contributor Sam Parker, and beer writer Barrie Pepper.

    There’ll be beers from breweries all over the region (Wharfebank, Kirkstall, Revolutions, Great Heck, Ilkley, Leeds, Roosters, Ridgeside and more) plus some from further afield including Brooklyn Brewery in New York.

    We will hopefully see you there!

    North Leeds Charity Beer Festival

    North Leeds Charity Beer Festival

    Name: North Leeds Charity Beer Festival
    Date: Friday 27th April & Saturday 28th April 2012
    Time: Friday 18:00-23:00 & Saturday 12:00-22:00
    Venue: St Aidan’s Church Community Hall, Off Elford Place West, Roundhay Road, Leeds, LS8 5QD

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    September 30th, 2011TheAleTrailBeer and travel, Beer Events

    Saltaire Brewery’s annual two day beer festival is timed to coincide with the Saltaire Festival, a celebration of music, art, food and posh car boot sales in the remarkably pretty terraced village near Shipley, Yorkshire.

    On the opening Friday night of 16th September 2011 the rain slanted down in true Yorkshire style but it didn’t put off hundreds of beer devotees from heading to the small brewery building next to the river Aire.

    We showed our tickets and were handed a beer list along with a branded & lined pint glass. Upon first reading I could see a few typos and misplacements on the list, I thought – whoever wrote this up couldn’t organise a piss up in brewery – how wrong I was, literally!

    Saltaire Elderflower Blonde at Saltaire Beer Festival

    Saltaire Brewery Elderflower Blonde - perfect summer quaffer

    Read the rest of this entry »

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    September 29th, 2011FletchtheMonkeyBeer Events, Beer news

    It’s not every day a pop star can bob into the pub and order a pint of their own beer.

    Although for most of October that’s exactly what Guy Garvey & co of the resurgent band Elbow will be able to do. From tomorrow, pubs across Manchester – and one in Oxfordshire – will be previewing their collaboration brew, a joint venture with Frederic Robinsons Brewery.

    Build A Rocket Boys! beer

    Build A Rocket Boys! is a real ale named after Elbow’s most recent album and not only that it’s one with a conscience: a significant proportion of all profits will be donated to Oxfam’s East Africa crisis.

    The official launch is at Manchester Food & Drink festival (where you can also find mini festivals of real ale, whisky and Oktoberfest!), but if you can get to one of the preview pubs in and around the city between now and then you should be able to find the first casks ready and waiting.

    And with such a lot going on at the festival, we’re off to book our train tickets across the Pennines.

    See you there!

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    March 16th, 2011FletchtheMonkeyBeer Events
    Leeds Beer Festival 2011

    Leeds Beer Festival 2011

    Leeds Beer Festival starts tomorrow, below is the programme of beers. Directions can be found on the festival website http://www.leedsbeerfestival.co.uk/getting-here/

    Mark and Sam will be there at various time but please comment, tweet or email us if you fancy meeting up for a pint!

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    October 1st, 2010LukeBlockBeer Events

    Beer brewing in the UK has been enjoying a renaissance of late. At least that’s what we’re told by the enthusiasts: from bloggers, brewers and drinkers alike. There has never been a better time to enjoy good quality, locally-brewed and ethically-sourced beer.

    Kent Beer Festival 2010

    Kent Beer Festival 2010

    One of the best ways to put this cheery rhetoric to the test is that staple of the drinkers’ diary, the beer festival. One of the grandees of the scene is the CAMRA Kent Beer festival

    Now into its 36th year and, judging by the amount of brewers in attendance (around 120, or so we were told), and the decent-sized crowds packing the bars, the UK beer industry must be in pretty decent shape. Kent beers were well-represented as you’d expect, ranging from the Mild, Star and Light ales of Goachers of Maidstone, through to the honest hoppy Gadd’s bitters of Ramsgate.

    Once we’d negotiated the dusty pathways of Merton Farm, paid our £4 entrance, and collected our tokens from the CAMRA volunteers manning the glass station, we were off into the murk of the cowshed.

    First up was a good half of British Bulldog (4.3% ABV) which had a good dark amber colour and long hoppy finish. Strong one that, and a couple too many could have seen us raiding the snacks before time. But we moved on through the crowds towards Goachers where a pint of Real Mild Ale (3.4% ABV) and a half of Gold Star (5.1% ABV) went down easier than a Portuguese centre-half. Good beers, enough malt in each to make them drinkable summer pints.

    My companion was pining for the ‘Pink Girlie Bar’, an exclusive area dedicated to the first time real ale drinkers. The staff here were excellent and even though busy, were handing out tasters to the more ale-shy. A half of Little Sharpie (3.8% ABV) from Humpty Dumpty of Reedham was a flowery, hoppy treat while the Cascade Pale Ale (4.8% ABV) had enough bitter thump to satisfy even the most un-girly drinkers in attendance. Kent’s oldest brewer, Shepherd Neame of Faversham, were well-represented with five beers to try: pints of Master Brew (3.7% ABV) and my all time favourite Spitfire (4.5% ABV) took the evening to a sound finish.

    Although the toilets remain questionable, as too the bands playing atop a dodgy rigging of scaffold, the true stars of the show were the micro-breweries. Millis Brewing Co of Gravesend and Swan of West Peckham were just two of the many small-scale brewers on display, and bucking the trend in this so-called age of austerity. Kent beer drinkers have never had it so good.

    Does sexism still exist in the beer industry. Nah, surely not?!

    Does sexism still exist in the beer industry. Nah, surely not?!

    Beer festival information:
    Festival: Kent Beer Festival
    Organiser: CAMRA
    Dates: 22nd – 24th July
    Country: Merton Farm, Canterbury, UK

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    April 22nd, 2010FletchtheMonkeyBeer Events

    Another ‘whoop’ for Loiners this weekend as Friday and Saturday sees not just one beer festival in Leeds but two!

    Rothwell Beer Festival 2010

    Rothwell Beer Festival 2010

    Rothwell, home of the charming Rosebud and our very own Copper Dragon loving R’Sam, is holding a beer festival. 40 cask beers, plus bottles, cider, perry and food will all be available in aid of two local charities.

    The organising committee have been working their socks off since January and the fruits of their labour (with some help from Wakefield CAMRA and Clark’s Brewery) will hopefully lead to another addition to West Yorkshire’s beer scene.

    “We’re raising money for the local church roof which was stripped of lead just before the bad weather” says Paul Mann of the organising committee. “Additionally half the proceeds will got to Rothwell Lions who go a great amount of work in the local community”.

    “The beer list is changing right up until the last minute but we’re hoping for a good crowd”.

    The Leeds and Wakefield areas are spoilt for choice this weekend, with both Rothwell Beer Festival and LS6 Beer Festival so now it looks like a beer before and after this Saturday’s football.

    For more details visits www.rothwellbeerfestival.co.uk

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    March 18th, 2010FletchtheMonkeyBeer Events
    Leeds Beer, Cider and Perry Festival. Image copyright of Leeds CAMRA

    Leeds Beer, Cider and Perry Festival. Image copyright of Leeds CAMRA

    It nearly sneaked past us again this year, but Leeds Beer, Cider & Perry Festival starts today and is well worth a visit. It doesn’t seem to get much in the way of promotion and it’s not located in the city centre, but the festival is showcasing a whopping range of beer this year.

    Beer lovers can fight their way through 150 real ales ‘from Yorkshire and beyond’ and the ‘best range in the North’ for cider and perry. There’s also a beer cum ice cream parlour to get us in a summery mood despite the bitter wind still encircling Bridgewater Place and a Global Beer Bar stocked to the rafters with fancy bottles from all four corners of the globe Read the rest of this entry »

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    March 4th, 2010FletchtheMonkeyBeer Events, Real Ale

    Horsforth Beer Festival

    Horsforth Beer Festival, North Leeds

    Horsforth Beer Festival, North Leeds

    Jam-packed with Yorkshire beer, Horsforth plays host to its annual beer festival this weekend and some of the pints you’ll find probably haven’t even left God’s Own County to get to your (half) pint glass. Local beers include:

    • Great Heck ‘Slaughterhouse Porter’
    • Hambleton Ales ‘Cheeky Mare’ and ‘Stallion’
    • Little Valley ‘Python IPA’
    • Ilkley Brewing Co ‘Mary Had a Little Lamb’ & ‘Ugly Duckling’

    Prizes for the most memorably weird and wonderful beer (and brewery) names go to:

    • Dicky Ticker Brewery
    • Leadmill Brewery’s ‘Old Mottled Cock’
    • Bazen’s ‘Zebra Best’
    • Blue Monkey’s ’99 Red Babboons’
    • Millstone Brewery’s ‘Tiger Rut’
    • Nutbrook Brewery’s ‘Cow Juice’
    • Old Spot’s ‘Dog in the Barrel’
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    November 26th, 2009FletchtheMonkeyComment
    Lager, lager, lager
    This week has seen a host of articles on lager, CAMRA and the divisions in the beer industry (see articles by Barm, Mark Dredge, Woolpack Dave, Pete Brown and more).
    Seems that some of it is negative (which I say meaning not positive about the whole thing rather than derogatory), much of it is complicated and much of it has sparked
    very good debate amongst the beer community.
    It’s fitting that the lager debate surfaced on the week we unearthed a parody of our sites, real-lager-reviews.com, and actually the Guardian article was one of the ways we cottoned on
    to our spoofers.
    Then Sam couldn’t quite work out if William’s Brothers Grozet which was depectively lager like for a beer.
    It seems the question of lager brings up awkward arguments. CAMRA clearly don’t associate themselves with CO2, which rules out a lot of lagers, but it doesn’t fundamentally rule out lager.
    Various other methods of serving lager can be found (what the hell is lager when it’s a home!) The debate reminds me of the ‘What’s an IPA anymore’ discussion that many of
    us bloggers commented on a few months back.
    So, my two cents.
    CAMRA support real ale. Check. They (to the best of my knowledge) have no vendetta against lager or any other drink. However, some die hard CAMRA supporters probably do
    (and they are entitled to their opinions). So for CAMRA to rule out serving a lager because it uses CO”, sounds on the face of it fair enough.
    Look, people like different things, that’s live. There is nothing wrong with ‘real ale’ festivals. But personally, I’d prefer to see ‘Beer, ale, whatever festivals’, the empahsis being
    on quality, responsible drinkaing and socialising. Forget arguments, linear divisions, style. I want to see festivals that provide an outlet for beer berwers, a get together for beer lovers
    and a genuine effort to make sure beer has a good name.
    Lager, beer, ale, stout, porter, IPA, pale ale: all allowed.
    Cask, keg, bottled, straight out of a fermenting tank: allowed.
    Tankard, pint glass, 1/3 pint, 1/2 pint, wine glass: allowed.
    Me, I like beer, and as I repeat from my comment ealrier this week, as Adrian Tierney Jones puts it, “Beer, ale , whatever” (apologies if I take your usage out of context Adrian).
    I will add to this discussion later this week, in a post close to my heart.
    Serving beer (Wikipedia)

    Serving beer (Wikipedia)

    Last week saw a host of articles on lager, CAMRA and why the two don’t always have a harmonious relationship (see articles by Barm, Mark Dredge, Woolpack Dave, Tandleman & The Guardian).

    The same week r’ Sam couldn’t quite work out if William’s Brothers Grozet was a lager or a beer, with conflicting online reviews and it being deceptively lager like for an ale.

    It’s fitting that the lager debate and lots of lager chat surfaced on the week we unearthed a parody of our sites, real-lager-reviews.com, and actually the Guardian article that kicked much of this off was one of the ways we cottoned onto our spoofers (thanks to an innocuous comment on there by the Real Lager Reviews lads).

    It seems the question of lager brings up some awkward discussions. CAMRA clearly don’t associate themselves with CO2, which rules out a lot of lagers, but it doesn’t fundamentally rule out lager per se.

    Which leads us to what is a lager: what it is and why is it different? Read the rest of this entry »

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