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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    December 14th, 2009FletchtheMonkeyBeer Reviews

    Beer Swap Pt 2

    It went right to the wire but I did manage to drink my beer swap beers just in time to write about them this week. I had two beer swap partners, I was sending to Adam Croft who has written about the two Leeds Brewery bottles I sent him so far, and my sender was a mystery person.

    Lovinbonds Henley Amber - bitter but refined

    Lovibonds Henley Amber - bitter but refined

    My beer swap sender turned out to be a wine blogger, none other than Andrew Barrow aka the Wine Scribbler who is based in South Oxfordshire at the exact opposite end of the county I grew up in.

    And judging by the beers, there’s a wealth of brewery action in that area, the four beers coming from parts of shires Oxford, Buckingham and Berk that were close enough to home when I grew up to appear on the local news, but that I’ve never explored before.

    First up was Lovibonds Amber Ale, a 3.4% premium pale ale in a 330ml bottle. Read the rest of this entry »

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    December 9th, 2009LanesyBeer Events, Beer Reviews, Breweries

    You might have heard of the guy who I managed to draw for the beer swap: Pencil & Spoon’s own New Media Writer of the Year 2009 Mark Dredge. This was a selection of ales to look forward to; a brief glance at his excellent blog shows his good taste and awareness of beers and I had no doubt he would have developed an encyclopaedic knowledge of the local market over the year or so of working on his blog.

    Kent is his part of the country, and is somewhere I have never been, so it was almost guaranteed that most of these beers I would never have come across.

    So here is what I received:

    - Westerham Brewery’s Little Scotney IPA (4%)
    - Harvey’s Star of Eastbourne East India Pale (6.5%)
    - Hopdaemon Brewery’s Skrimshander IPA (4.5%)
    - Whitstable Brewery’s Raspberry Wheat (5.2%) Read the rest of this entry »

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    December 2nd, 2009Alan WalshBeer and Food, Pubs & bars

    It was the best of times, it was the worst of times…


    …and I must first of all apologise for the lack of pictures to accompany this post. The reason is that I was not intending to ‘publicise’ what was initially going to be a quiet day out with my Mum and Dad. That is until we received shockingly different levels of service and quality of food at two Leeds eateries that inspired the Dickens theme for this post. So where did the weekend start…?

    The weekend started well with the collection of my beerswap spoils. While I was posting I decided to contact Katie at Leeds Grub to see if she had any suggestions as to where I should take my parents for Sunday dinner. My Mum wanted to do some Xmas shopping so I needed somewhere in the City Centre but, as I don’t see them very often, I was wanting somewhere I could be sure was going to be good first time. Katie very kindly suggested one of the Leeds Brewery pubs which she told me, although she had never had a Sunday lunch, tend to do quality food on any day of the week.

    It was with some irony then that the reason I turned up to meet my parents with a dry mouth and slight headache was the fact that the Cuthbert Broderick had had Leeds’ Midnight Bell as a guest on the Saturday night. With my CAMRA tokens they were only costing me £1.39 a pint. Wizard…. Read the rest of this entry »

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    December 2nd, 2009FletchtheMonkeyBreweries, Comment
    Hooky Gold with a new green label

    Hooky Gold with a new green label

    Andy over at Beerreviews.co.uk just posted the first review of the test #beerswap parcel that we exchanged a little while back. In it I packed four fine Oxfordshire (ish) ales including the fantastic Hooky Gold from Hook Norton Brewery.

    I didn’t think anything of the Hooky Gold at the time, even admiring it’s shiny green label.

    Until last night, when Alan popped over and we were chatting about the blog. We looked over at the original Hooky bottles that used to make up this our blog header, and noticed something odd – there was no Hooky Gold.

    But of course there is! Hooky Gold was always in a red label with gold writing. Now the label is green!

    When did this occur? How did we not notice?! We don’t mind Hooky, we like the green label, but when and why was it changed?!?!

    Does anybody know?

    Hooky Gold with a red label on our old beer bottle inspired blog header

    Hooky Gold with a red label on our old beer bottle inspired blog header

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    November 30th, 2009FletchtheMonkeyBeer Shops
    On Ilkley Moor: one with hat, one without hat

    On Ilkley Moor: one with hat, one without hat

    If you read about my special beer night a few weeks ago, you might remember that my usually varied and brimming beer cupboard was running a bit low, with only a few beers left, most of them bottles I was saving.

    So with pay day just gone it was time for a stock up, so the weekend just gone I nipped to Ilkley for a few hours out on the moor with Sam Lanes, stopping at Booth’s supermarket on the way before a quick wallet burning session in Beer Ritz.

    I’d gone with the intention of stocking up on pale ales, it’s been a while since I had any staple favourites in and I fancied some strong hoppy numbers, the likes of Halcyon, EIPA, Goose Island, St Lupulin and co. But I ended up leaving with a surprisingly English ale selection, as the Booths stock was very focussed on Northern numbers and I got distracted at Beer Ritz by  a few ‘new ins’.

    Beers from Booths

    Beers from Booths

    Booths has a good selection of ales, although nothing was really grabbing my attention at first. After a few minutes scanning the vast array of brown bottles I picked up a Williams tayberry beer which I remember being good, a Joseph Holt as not only was I tempted by the Lowry label and because 1849 Champion had been good.

    A few people had told me to try Chalky’s Bite, whilst I couldn’t resist a beer local brews (thinking a bit ahead of myself for beer swap round 2?!) particularly Withens IPA which I (think) I tried at Keighley & Worth Valley festival at Oxenhope. Read the rest of this entry »

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    November 22nd, 2009FletchtheMonkeyComment
    Beer Swap is go...no thanks to collect+

    Beer Swap is go...no thanks to collect+

    Beer Swap update – beers remanded in custody!

    Knut Albert recently posted that  some beers he was expecting went missing mid-transit, perhaps as the result of a thirsty beer gnome in Norway’s customs department.

    I’ve had my own beer delivery fiasco tonight, whilst trying to collect my #beerswap beers. It seems that the experience of using collect+ to transport our regions finest ales around the UK is providing very different experiences – my first collect+ experience, a trial run for #beerswap, was was a doddle but second time not so lucky – this time the beers I’ve been sent for #beerswap proper have been remanded behind the counter by the newsagent and he is not authorised to relinquish them to my person! Read the rest of this entry »

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