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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    November 22nd, 2009LanesyBeer Reviews, Golden Ales
    Trade Winds: A former prizewinner that still retains a certain appeal.

    Trade Winds: A former prizewinner that still retains a certain appeal.

    Despite finding myself in deepest Norfolk last week, I found that I had actually picked up a selection of Scottish ales from the various beer outlets around the region. One of these is Trade Winds by Cairngorm Brewery, from Aviemore in the Highlands of the country.

    The cask version is a three-time former Champion Beer of Britain in the Speciality Class, so Trade Winds comes with some pedigree and the aroma straight from the bottle displays one of its key assets straight away; a lovely hoppy-sweet scent that appeals to my recently aquired  love of the hoppy beers. There is a slightly grassy note present, supported by a sweet fruitiness – most likely from the Elderflower as promised on the bottle.

    The inital mouthfeel, considering the richness of the nose, is surprisingly astringent and a little thinner in the body than I anticipated, with a light carbonisation that tickles the tongue. Although these descriptions are generally negative connotations, this isn’t the impression I am trying to generate by using them; more that it is an unexpected experience from the richness promised by the aroma. Flavour-wise, the fruitiness remains, with a slight hint of blackberries that fills out an otherwise sharp, crisp, citrusy flavour. Read the rest of this entry »

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    October 9th, 2009FletchtheMonkeyGolden Ales
    On arrival at Sainsbury’s to peruse the finalists in their 2009 beer competition Birds & Bees
    immediately caught my attention. The label is modern and playful and stood out from the crowd.
    I loved the colour and the illustration and it fell into my basket (placed very carefully I should say)
    without further thought.
    Originally I was going to save this beer but it on an indecisive evening with the light not fading until late into the night, it was this
    that grabbed my attention again and I plucked it from the shelf.
    Not 100% sure what to expect I took care opening it and poured out the golden liquid. It had a light hoppy aroma,
    and light fruity taste. Turns out it’s a light golden ale! Swill this around and the colour, aroma and the taste combine
    to make a really good golden beer.
    The gentle fruit and floral aroma (looking at the label that must be the elderflower
    and the Cascade hops) is really refreshing. There is a malt finish that adds an unexpected
    darker tang to the beer, which is just enough to make you want another sip and no doubt makes this an enticing session beer.
    Trying this it was actually one of the first summer ales I’ve had and I wish I’d been able to get my hands on some in May or June as this might just have been my proverbial soundtrack to the summer (that typical over in a flash summer we usually have!)
    I’ve only tried the bottle  but I can only imagine the cask version of this is the perfect pint on a sumnnyternoon.

    On arrival at Sainsbury’s to peruse the finalists in their 2009 beer competition, Birds & Bees immediately caught my attention. The label is modern and playful and stood out from the crowd.

    I loved the colour and the illustration and it fell into my basket (placed very carefully I should say) without further thought.

    Birds & Bees & Beer: this is a playful ale with citrus and honey flavours

    Birds & Bees & Beer: this is a playful ale with citrus and honey flavours

    Originally I was going to save this beer but it on an indecisive evening with the light not fading until late into the night, it was this that grabbed my attention again and I plucked it from the shelf.

    Not 100% sure what to expect I took care opening it and poured out the golden liquid. It had a light hoppy aroma, and light fruity taste. Turns out it’s a light golden ale! Swill this around and the colour, aroma and the taste combine to make a really appealing golden beer.

    The gentle fruit and floral aroma (looking at the label that must be the elderflower and the Cascade hops) is really refreshing. Honey and lemon blossom on your tastebuds and there is a malt finish that adds an unexpected bitter tang to the beer, which is just enough to make you want another sip and makes this an enticing session beer.

    Trying this it was actually one of the first summer ales I’ve had and I wish I’d been able to get my hands on some in May or June as this might just have been my proverbial soundtrack to the summer (that typical over in a flash summer we usually have!)

    I’ve only tried the bottle  but I can only imagine the cask version of this is the perfect pint on a sunny afternoon.

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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

    Ingredients
    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)

    Method

    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

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    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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    June 7th, 2009FletchtheMonkeyBeer Reviews

    This is an ale that is increasingly common on UK supermarket shelves and one that you should not overlook this summer, whether it rains or shines. Brakspear’s Oxford Gold pours a golden amber and starts with the scent of honey. It tastes citrusy and gently sweet. A great accompaniment to an alfresco evening after a long day in the office.

    Another fine ale from Oxfordshire!

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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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    June 3rd, 2009FletchtheMonkeyIPA
    St Peters India Pale Ale

    St Peters India Pale Ale

    St Peter’s India Pale Ale

    Brimming with hoppy character this is an India Pale Ale that tastes like it’s full of goodness. In the mouth it feels natural and has a citrus zest and spicy, malty flavours that linger on.

    For a bitter IPA, St Peter’s is actually kind of thirst quenching, helped by a lighter carbonisation and the breweries own Suffolk mineral water.

    An IPA with a difference and another fine brew from St Peter’s, rapidly becoming one of our favourite breweries. Hopefully see this and more at Norwich Beer Festival later in the year.

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    May 7th, 2009FletchtheMonkeyBeer 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.

    adnams-carbon-neutral

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