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    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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    August 27th, 2011FletchtheMonkeyDesert Island Beers

    Stu McKinlay is the brewing brains behind Yeastie Boys – a multiple award-winning New Zealand brewery. He formed Yeastie Boys with friend and fellow beerhunter Sam Possenniskie, in 2008, and they’ve been bucking trends ever since. They burst onto the scene with their style-bending debut ale Pot Kettle Black (still the only beer to have won two BrewNZ trophies in a single year), and this month were awarded the BrewNZ ‘Morton Coutts Trophy for Innovation’ for their heavily-peated single malt golden ale Rex Attitude.

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    July 22nd, 2011FletchtheMonkeyBeer Reviews, Desert Island Beers

    Ian Bradford’s brewery is a tale of two Staffordshire towns: Newcastle under Lyme, most famous for its hatting trade, and Stone, where they’ve been brewing beer for 1,000 years. Ian spent a small percentage of that time cutting his nose at Titanic in Stoke, where he brewed for 12 years before setting up the family-run Lymestone Brewery.

    Lymestone’s beers range from the 2.8% Stoney Broke to the 6.6% Stone Dead. In addition Ian has used the honey produced by a colony of bees on the brewery roof to brew Stone Brood, a 4.4% chocolate honey beer (which should hopefully be available in bottles around about now!)

    Ian Bradford Lymestone bees

    Ian Bradford (Brad) and his Lymestone bees

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    July 8th, 2011FletchtheMonkeyDesert Island Beers

    Amongst many things Des de Moor is a beer writer. Based in Deptford, London and though born in England to an English mother and speaking English as a first language, his father was Dutch.

    In summer 2011, Des will be publishing his first book, The CAMRA Guide to London’s Best Beer, Pubs and Bars, a comprehensive guide to one of the world’s great beer drinking cities and a timely celebration of the current renaissance of London brewing.

    Since 2002 he’s been writing regular bottled beer reviews for the member magazines of Britain’s Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA), first for What’s Brewing, then for BEER, as well as the occasional feature on topics like beer retailing and pub walks, and was a contributor to 1001 Beers You Must Try Before You Die.

    His areas of expertise are beers from the UK, Belgium, the Netherlands and France.
    Des also writes about his passions outside of beer — he’s a regular contributor to the Ramblers magazine Walk Mag (he was previously their books editor) and works for the Ramblers as a day job, promoting everyday walking for health, developing projects and doing policy work. In a more leisurely frame he has a walking blog focused on walking in London, London Underfoot.

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    June 24th, 2011FletchtheMonkeyDesert Island Beers

    Paul Jefferies comes from Burton on Trent and has family connections with the brewing industry going back many generations. He graduated with a degree in Biochemistry from Hull University and worked in Bass Research before joining Allied Breweries in 1988 at the Leeds Brewery as a Production Management Trainee.

    Paul held a number of posts at Joshua Tetley (which was then producing in excess of 1m barrels of cask beer a year) before finally rising to Brewing Manager. During his time at Tetley, Paul qualified as a Diploma and then Master Brewer of the Institute of Brewing.

    In 1997 he joined Brewery Group Denmark as Head Brewer of Robert Cain Brewery in Liverpool. Paul is now Production and Distribution Director of Hydes Brewery in Manchester and has recently set up his own micro brewing operation in Waunfawr, North Wales, which he runs in his spare time. Big Bog Brewing Company (Waunfawr translates as “Big Bog” from Welsh) is proving an exciting venture and along with his role at Hydes, allows him to do what he is passionate about – brew fantastic beer!”

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    June 17th, 2011FletchtheMonkeyDesert Island Beers

    The thing about enthusiasm is that it’s infectious, and Kelly Ryan is a man who exudes a passion for beer like there’s no tomorrow.

    Kelly is best known for his time at Thornbridge Brewery in Derbyshire but is now safely back on native New Zealand soil brewing at Epic Brewery.

    We’ve been fortunate enough to meet Kelly a few times at beery tasting events (like this one at the Sheffield Tap) and the odd twiss up and have seen his knowledge and excitement about good beer first hand.

    We’re guessing there’ll be some big beers on Kelly’s ideal desert island…

    Kelly Ryan

    Kelly Ryan

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    June 10th, 2011FletchtheMonkeyDesert Island Beers

    Adrian Tierney-Jones loves beers and pubs. So much so he has a job writing about them!

    As well as visiting the best inns and public houses of the UK for The Telegraph, Adrian is secretary of the British Guild of Beer Writers and has written extensively – from national newspapers to the Society of Independent Brewers South West’s Brewers Herald (say that after a few pints!)

    ATJ is a connoisseur of film and music as well being an expert beer and cider taster – but how will he fair on an island with no watering holes…?

    Adrian Tierney-Jones

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    June 3rd, 2011FletchtheMonkeyDesert Island Beers

    The first ‘episode’ of our all new co-produced Desert Island Beers starts with a bit of a bang, with George de Piro, Brewmaster at C.H. Evans Brewing Company, brewers of Kick-Ass Brown: three times winner of the Best American Brown Ale at the Great American Beer Festival (2000, 2002 & 2008), and a World Beer Cup Bronze (2004).

    George de Piro of Albany Pump Station

    George lives in Albany and graduated from Syracuse University with a BS in biology (concentration in biochemistry) and has completed brewing courses at the Siebel Institute. He originally earned a reputation as a very good hobby brewer, winning several major contests and writing about beer for a home brewing magazine and on the Internet. He then met Neil Evans at a homebrew contest where they judged together; they got along, and a couple of months later Neil got in touch to see if George wanted to join his project to build a brew pub in Albany. He now says that since his job as a chemist for a pharmaceutical company paid really well and was very secure, he figured he’d be happier making less money and working longer hours as a craft brewer and has never looked back!.

    And when asked how he likes the job “I love it. On the worst day, it still comes down to the fact that I get paid to make beer”. Read the rest of this entry »

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    June 3rd, 2011FletchtheMonkeyDesert Island Beers

    Many moons ago we started a feature called Desert Island Beers. The premise was simple: to get under the skin of beer lovers and find a bit more about the beers that really make them tick.

    2011′s new year’s resolution was to get that feature back on track, so when beer enthusiast and brewer David Mayhall of All Gates Brewery asked if the concept was still going, we jumped at the opportunity to work together to revive it.

    So, with David’s help and persistence, here starts the first of many Desert Island Beers, with a new islander featuring on this blog, and David’s, every Friday.

    The concept is simple: it’s just like the Radio 4 show we’ve taken our inspiration from, only that we will be asking guests what beers they would take to a desert island rather than what music.

    We’re going to ask each guest to select 5 beers they just could not live without; and if our castaway is a brewer then only one of their selected beers may be brewed by their own fair hands.

    And as we’re generous island chiefs, we’re going to allow our castaways a couple of extras: a meal to go with the beers, one luxury item, a CD and some books that they’d like to take along to keep their spirits up
    (the luxury item must be inanimate and of no use in escaping the island or allowing communication from outside!)

    And for any pedants out there we’re going to assume that the friendly island gods will take care of opening the beer bottles (or casks!) and the playing of the selected music…

    We have some great guests lined up including beer writers, brewers and beer lovers and hopefully down the line we may even attract the odd B(eer)-list celebrity!

    Before we kick off, a quick reminder of our castaways so far…

    Zak Avery, bearded beer writer and retailer

    Pete Brown, beer author, marketer, journalist

    Jeff Evans, editor of the Good Bottled Beer Guide

    James Watt, Head of Stuff at BrewDog

    Stay tuned: our next desert island visitor will be appearing at 12pm…today!

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    January 1st, 2010FletchtheMonkeyDesert Island Beers

    Pete Brown – beer writer and marketer

    Picking our first post of the New Year was easy. The ‘Bill Bryson of the beer world’, Pete Brown is one of the UK’s best loved beer writers, his three books Man Walks Into A Pub, Three Sheets To The Wind and the much celebrated Hops & Glory are responsible for much laughing, beer drinking and fits of coughing when we do both at the same time.

    Fresh from his coronation as The British Guild of Beer Writers Beer Writer of the Year, 2010 is Pete’s year to enjoy so what better way to nestle up with one of his books and try some of his favourite tipples too.

    A quick reminder on the island rules: Pete can pick three beers to take and a meal to eat with the beers, plus a handful of personal effects to keep boredom at arms length: a book to read, a record to listen to and a luxury item. For the pedants amongst you we’re going to assume that the friendly island gods will take care of opening your beer bottle (or cask!) and the playing of your selected music…

    Pete Brown reads from Hops & Glory on his book launch tour in 2009

    Pete Brown reads from Hops & Glory on his book launch tour in 2009

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    December 25th, 2009FletchtheMonkeyDesert Island Beers
    Welcome to the first ‘episode’ of Desert Island Discs, our regular interview with beer lovers. Our first week starts with a bang, with current British Guild of Beer Writers’ Beer Writer of the Year, Mr Zak Avery.
    Lots of you will know Zak, lots of you will have heard of him, for those who are lucky enough to live in Leeds you might have bought a few bottles of beer from Zak’s shop, Beer Ritz in Far Headingley.
    Zak’s shop is probably the most welcoming emporium of beer I know, but what will he make of the hospitality on our Desert Island?
    Actually, he made himself right at home, taking advantage of our not very stringent rules!
    The beers
    So Zak, which three beers would you take on a desert island?
    1. Anchor Steam Beer – reason
    2. Duvel – reason
    3. Harvey’s ‘A La Coq’ Imperial Stout – reason
    The meal
    “Ha! That’s three courses. I’ve start with ‘tortillitas de camarones’ – basically a Spanish sort of shrimp batter/croquette affair, with a squeeze of lemon, which would be good with the Duvel. Main would be something hot & spicy – I’ve yet to grow tired of jerk chicken (thighs are best), with rice & peas, which would be OK with Anchor Steam, although the Steam Beer is really along for everyday drinking too. Fried bananas and vanilla ice cream to set off the Harvey’s stout.
    The Record
    A little cheating here on Zak’s part, but seen as her regularly serves us good beer, and just stops for a cha when we pop up to Beer Ritz to get away from the office on lunch breaks, we’ll let him off.
    “I couldn’t pick just one record – I’ve got a secret passion for diverse music, from Bob Dylan to Public Enemy to Steve Reich and everything in between, so I’d have to settle for a fully-stuffed iPod as my luxury item”.
    The Book
    “Something useful, either Larousse Gastronomique or Radical Brewing by Randy Mosher.
    The Luxury Item
    “Err, can I put the iPod in a restaurant spec kitchen….?” Umm, you’ve already used the luxury item Zak? But why not, I’m just not quite sure what you’ll do for leccy?!?!
    A big thanks to Zak for being our guinea pig and taking part. Watch out for the next episode, when we talk to some canine friends from deepest, darkest Aberdeenshire…

    Zak Avery – beer writer and shop owner

    Welcome to the first ‘episode’ of Desert Island Discs, our regular interview with beer lovers. Our first week starts with a bang, with British Guild of Beer Writers’ Beer Writer of the Year 2008, Mr Zak Avery.

    Lots of you will know Zak, and many may have read his beer words, for those who are lucky enough to live in Leeds you might have bought a few bottles of beer from Zak’s shop, Beer Ritz in Far Headingley.

    Zak’s shop is probably the most welcoming emporium of beer I know, but what will he make of the hospitality on our Desert Island?

    Actually, he made himself right at home, taking advantage of our not very stringent rules!

    Can you guess which beers Zak picked?
    Can you guess which beers Zak picked?

    Read the rest of this entry »

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