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 8th, 2009FletchtheMonkeyBeer Reviews, IPA

    BrewDog Chaos Theory

    Complexity in the universe is often based on simple, fundamental rules. We don’t know all of the rules but we understand some of them; however despite this, life is still, at our level, an unpredictable and seemingly random existence.

    Deep Simplicity by John (and Mary) Gribbin is one of the best science books and makes my head hurt as much as a few bottles of BrewDog's Chaos Theory does

    Deep Simplicity by John (and Mary) Gribbin is one of the best science books and makes my head hurt as much as a few bottles of BrewDog's Chaos Theory does

    Chaos theory helps us get our heads around this (and then in the next breath turns our perceptions of ‘thought on its head). It also suggests that systems such as our universe are completely deterministic…in theory. But unfortunately we have to pinpoint the exact starting conditions of the system, which is a little more than tricky when every single tiny particle in our universe system was compacted into an unimaginably small space, a little over 13,700,000,000 years ago (plus or minus about 14 million years!).

    This chaotic nature has parallels with the brewing process, where we calculate the mix of initial ingredients, follow strict processes and end up with tasty beer at the end. But we can’t always predict the exact end result and consistency and quality in a brew can be more difficult than just throwing the ingredients together and sticking the heat on.

    As you might have guessed there’s a parallel between all this and BrewDog’s last beer in our Sainsbury’s beer competition series. Chaos Theory is an ode to chaos theory (although at 7.1% it doesn’t really help me get my head around the physics much!). Read the rest of this entry »

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    November 25th, 2009FletchtheMonkeyBeer Reviews, Stout & Porter
    All Gates PorteresqueFor my birthday my girlfriend bought me a Moleskin notebook, one of the smaller sized ones that just about fits in the back pocket of Levi’s and covered in thick black leather.It sat unused whilst I filled uup other books and scraps of paper with the types of daily notes that I like to jot down. And then I started writing intensely about beer, having a few bottles a week and joting down simple tasting notes. At last I had the prefect use for my overpriced pad and quickly got to work copying into it my notes from he back of receipts and opened envelopes (I got most done one productve afternoon on holiday this year whilst sipping on Mythos!)It’s ben a life saver really, it even has a small filling section at the back for storing any notes  do still scribble onto post its, for copying up at a later date.But rvery now and then one slips through the net. I flick through the pages searching for that beer that I know ‘ve drunk but just ca’t remember enough to write up from memory. And it’s not there. On this occasion it’s All Gates Porteresque.I’m flipping through the pages searching for the list of Sainsbury’s Beer Copetition beers – it has to come after that. Right, there we go. Bids & Bees, Shropshire Lass, Chaos Theory, Hambleton Ales…. and then it’s Saltare festival, questions to ask Leeds Brewery, some odd Belgian beers from BeerMerchants…Nope it’s not there, not anywhere. I’m currently searching desperately for my insurance certificate and iin the process of tearing the house apart I find probably 25 beer tastings on envelopes, receipts,
    Before I go any further, this review is only half a review of All Gates Portesque. In fact its a review of my tasting notes from memory, so as a beer review it can be taken with a pinch of salt!
    I’ve really enjoyed writing this belated series on the 2009 Sainsbury’s Beer Competition, and I’m hoping that there will be a few people eager to find out which beer we think deserved to win the  contest. Anywhere, on with the story…
    For my birthday my girlfriend bought me a Moleskine notebook, one of the smaller sized ones that just about fits in the back pocket of Levi’s and is covered in thick black leather.
    It sat unused whilst I filled up other pads and scraps of paper with the types of daily notes that I sometimes like to jot down, lists that never get completed and what not. And then I started writing intensely about beer for this blog, having a few bottles of ale a week and penning simple tasting notes. At last I had the perfect use for my overpriced notebook and quickly got to work copying into it my beer notes across from the back of receipts and various other cleverly recycled artefacts (I got most done one productive afternoon on holiday this year whilst sipping on Mythos!)
    It’s been a life saver really, it even has a small filing section at the back for storing any notes  that I do still scribble onto post-its or the back of used envelopes, for copying up at a later date.
    But every now and then one slips through the net. I flick through the pages searching for that beer that I know I’ve drunk but just can’t remember enough about to write up from memory, and it’s not there, nowhere to be found. On this occasion the beer is All Gates Porteresque.
    I’m flipping through the pages searching for the list of Sainsbury’s Beer Competition beers – it has to come after that, right? Sainsbury’s beers…Sainsbury’s beer, right, there we go! Birds & Bees, Shropshire Lass, Chaos Theory, Hambleton Ales…. and then it’s Saltaire festival, questions to ask Leeds Brewery, some odd Belgian beers from BeerMerchants…and back to the Sainsbury’s beers: Bretwalda, Dogma, Williams IPA, Woild Mold…
    Nope it’s not there, not anywhere. I don’t think it’s anywhere in the house (I’ve been searching desperately for my car insurance certificate this week and in the process of tearing the house apart I find probably 25 beer tastings on envelopes, receipts, utility bills, the kitchen noticeboard, bus tickets…anything made of paper has a beer review or tasting notes on it but not a sign of All Gates Porteresque!
    So, in order to finish this Sainsbury’s series I’ve no choice but to try from memory, with

    Before I go any further, this review is only half a review of Allgates Portersque. In fact it’s a review of my tasting notes from memory, so as a beer review it can be taken with a pinch of salt!

    I’ve really enjoyed writing this belated series on the 2009 Sainsbury’s Beer Competition, and I’m hoping that there will be a few people eager to find out which beer we think deserved to win the contest. Anywhere, on with the story…

    For my birthday my girlfriend bought me a Moleskine notebook, one of the smaller sized ones that just about fits in the back pocket of Levi’s and is covered in thick black leather.

    It sat unused whilst I filled up other pads and scraps of paper with the types of daily notes that I sometimes like to jot down, lists that never get completed and what not. And then I started writing intensely about beer for this blog, having a few bottles of ale a week and penning simple tasting notes. At last I had the perfect use for my overpriced notebook and quickly got to work copying into it my beer notes across from the back of receipts and various other cleverly recycled artefacts (I got most done one productive afternoon on holiday this year whilst sipping on Mythos!)

    The Moleskine Affair: beer reviews are easier if you actually write them in the notebook

    The Moleskine Affair: beer reviews are easier if you actually write them in the notebook

    It’s been a life saver really, it even has a small filing section at the back for storing any notes that I still scribble onto post-its or the back of used envelopes, for copying up at a later date.

    But every now and then one slips through the net. I flick through the pages searching for that beer that I know I’ve drunk but just can’t remember enough about to write up from memory, and it’s not there, nowhere to be found. On this occasion the beer is All Gates Porteresque. Read the rest of this entry »

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    November 2nd, 2009FletchtheMonkeyBeer Reviews, Golden Ales
    Yellow Hammer stood out on the Sainsbury’s shelf like a woodpecker drilling into a tree, bold yellow type urging me to pick it up.
    My first O’Hanlons ale poured a light golden colour with a delicate head. It was pretty lively with a slightly yeasty fruit/floral aroma that many bottle conditioned ale seems to have.
    The fresh floral scent of those Cascade hops was followed by a golden malt taste that was fresh and sweet. I was right in the mood for it and it came up trumps with a nice balance of hops, malt and sweetness to refresh my palate.
    This beer bottle brings up the question of bottle conditioned or not bottle conditioned, a debate that every now and then rears its divisive head. This is a nice beer, and I’d certainly have it again, but how much better is it because it is bottle conditioned (I’d genuinely like to know!). I’m not sure I like having to take great care and attention pouring this when I’m dealing with what would otherwise be a light, refreshing golden beer. If I wanted this on a summer night I’d prefer to slightly chill it and not have to worry about sediment escaping the safe confines of the bottle.
    That sediment, makes a big different if it does end up loose in your glass of beer (a little bit of which did near the end). Maybe I’ve missed the point a little with this ale, I’d love to try it on draft in a beer garden and will definitely try in a bottle again (pouring with more due diligence this time around!).

    Yellow Hammer stood out on the Sainsbury’s shelf like a woodpecker drilling into my brain, the bold yellow type urging me to pick it up.

    My first O’Hanlon’s ale poured a light golden colour with a delicate head. It was pretty lively with a slightly yeasty aroma that many bottle conditioned ale seems to have.

    This was followed by the fresh floral scent of Cascade hops, which preceded a golden malt taste that was fresh and sweet. I was right in the mood for it and it came up trumps with a nice balance of hops, malt and sweetness to refresh my palate.

    This is a zesty little number, the malt is subtle and it has the character you might expect from the  small, lively bird it’s named after. This is a beer that could really hit the spot in a refreshing way.

    O'Hanlon's Yellow Hammer beer review

    O'Hanlon's Yellow Hammer beer review

    This beer brings up a question I’ve been meaning to ask for a while: ‘bottle conditioned’ or ‘not bottle conditioned? It’s a debate that every now and then rears its divisive head. This is a nice beer, and I’d certainly have it again, but how much better is it because it is bottle conditioned? (I’d genuinely like to know!).

    I’m not sure I like having to take great care and attention pouring this when I’m dealing with what is essentially a light, refreshing golden beer. If I wanted this on a summer night I’d prefer to slightly chill it and not have to worry about sediment escaping the safe confines of the bottle.

    That sediment makes a big different if it does end up loose in your glass of beer (a little bit of which did near the end).

    Regardless of that this is a good beer that I’d love to try on draft in a beer garden and will definitely try in a bottle again (pouring with more due diligence this time around!).

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    October 27th, 2009FletchtheMonkeyBeer Reviews, Bitters

    Bays are very much an unknown to me, and this is the real beauty of the Sainsbury’s beer competition. Without, it would probably have taken a trip to Devon for me to have stumbled across this beer.

    The brewery is a new one, set up in 2007 on the south Devon coast and has three flagship ales: Bays Best, Gold and Breaker. It’s the latter that made the cut in the Sainsbury’s Beer Competition this year and therefore found its way into my trolley a few weeks ago.

    I should point out I drank this a little colder than it’s probably meant to be, a result of not very good fridge planning and me been very indecisive about which beers I wanted that night.

    Bays Breaker is an interesting beer, it’s almost peppery, sweet and bitter all at the same time, an array of contradictory flavours that sit together better than you’d expect. The peppery aftertaste demands another sip, a sip that will start fruity and soft, and ends with a carbonised bitterness.

    In big gulps the malt and fruit shines through and if you sip slower it the bitter flavours linger.

    Without becoming a favourite Bays Breaker certainly makes for an interesting tipple and that could well have a couple of food partnerships out there waiting to be found (I reckon this to wash down fish and chips might just work!)

    Bays Breaker: beer from Devon

    Bays Breaker: beer from Devon

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    October 7th, 2009FletchtheMonkeyBeer Reviews, Golden Ales

    The first in our Sainsbury’s Beer Competition series is Woods Shropshire Lass. You might have guessed from the name that it pours a blonde, light beer (why aren’t there any darker beers called brunette?!).

    Woods Shropshire Lass - a crisp blonde

    Woods Shropshire Lass - a crisp blonde

    A sniff of this is nice indeed, a floral fruity scent reminiscent of a spring day or a summer morning from a novel.

    To drink it’s tasty and refreshing, a crisp, blonde body makes this an easy drinking ale.
    Nothing in this beer compromises any other flavou, there are no taste that haggle for your attention or force you to notice them.
    It’s a gentle and taste beer, delicately fruity and well balanced.
    I reckon most pub goers could fulfil a session on this (during the milder months of the year at leThe first in our Sainsbury’s Beer Competition series is Woods Shropshire Lass. You might have guessed from the name that it pours a blonde, light beer (why aren’t there any darker beers called brunette?!).

    To drink it’s tasty and refreshing, a crisp, blonde body makes this an easy drinking ale.

    Nothing in this beer compromises any other flavour, there are no taste that haggle for your attention or force you to notice them.

    It’s a gentle and taste beer, delicately fruity and well balanced.

    I reckon most pub goers could fulfil a session on this (during the milder months of the year at least.

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    October 7th, 2009FletchtheMonkeyComment
    The Sainsbury’s Beer Competition ended last week, but for those of you that missed it or are still alittle confused over who won, Real Ale reviews is coming to the rescue with a slightly belated but not-to-be-missed review of each of the 15 finalists.
    There’s been lots of recent developments in the beer aisles of UK supermarkets this year. From Tesco announcing an extended North American range to M&S adding new products and giving their beers  alick of paint.
    But Sainsbury’s somewhat stole the show with its beer competition, no doubt helped by the fact that they picked no less than 3 BrewDog beers amongst their finalists which led to a race to the checkouts for beer lovers.
    The winners of the competition would achieve a permanent place on the Sainsbury’s beer shelves nationally and thus a real oppurtunity to break into a wider market and target audience.
    We won’t be revealing the winners here yet, so if you don’t know then stick with us and we’ll take you through all the beers and try and guide you on where to finsd them. If you really can’t bear the suspense (or are crazy enough to not want to wait for 15 posts on a competiton that’s ended!) then I’m sure you’ll be able to find the answers via Google.
    And without further ado, onto the beers!

    The Sainsbury’s Beer Competition ended last month, but for those of you that missed it or are still a little confused over who won, Real Ale reviews is coming to the rescue with a slightly belated but not-to-be-missed review of each of the 15 finalists.

    There’s been lots of recent developments in the beer aisles of UK supermarkets this year. From Tesco announcing an extended North American range to M&S adding new products and giving their beers  a lick of paint.

    But Sainsbury’s somewhat stole the show with its beer competition, no doubt helped by the fact that they picked no less than 3 BrewDog beers amongst their finalists which led to a race to the checkouts for beer lovers.

    The winners of the competition would achieve a permanent place on the Sainsbury’s beer shelves and thus a real opportunity to break into a wider market and target audience.

    We won’t be revealing the winners here yet, so if you don’t know then stick with us and we’ll take you through all the beers and try and guide you on where to finsd them. If you really can’t bear the suspense (or are crazy enough to not want to wait for 15 posts on a competiton that’s ended!) then I’m sure you’ll be able to find the answers via Google.

    And without further ado, onto the beers!

    Finalists in the 2009 Sainsbury's Beer Competition

    Finalists in the 2009 Sainsbury's Beer Competition

    The 15 finalists in the Sainsbury Beer Competition 2009 were:

    Allgates Porteresque

    Bath Ales Golden Hare

    Bays Breaker

    BrewDog Chaos Theory

    BrewDog Dogma

    BrewDog Hardcore IPA

    Greene King Bretwalda

    Hambleton Ale Talyor’s Tipple

    Williams Bros Brewing Co 80/- Ale

    Williams Bros Brewing Birds ‘n Bees

    Williams Bros Brewing Co Ceilidh

    Williams Bros Brewing Co Williams IPA

    Wolf Brewery Woild Moild

    Wolf Brewery Wolf Whistle

    Wood’s Shropshire Lass

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