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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    February 18th, 2010FletchtheMonkeyPubs & bars

    As an adolescent I was lucky enough to have three excellent  local pubs, all within 200 yards on the same road. Set back from the road The Horse and Jockey was a lively pub with one bar and a lounge with dart board, pool table and Sky tv. The beer was lager, one or two hand pulls of something like Hooky Bitter and at one point a Chinese takeaway operating in the back room servng takeaways to the hungry inhabitants. Read the rest of this entry »

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    January 14th, 2010FletchtheMonkeyBeer Shops

    I  hadn’t really taken much note of the beer aisle in Morrison’s for a while, writing it off as a bit dull and uninteresting. We’re unusually blessed with Morrison’s, Sainsbury’s and ASDA within a 4-minute radius in the car, not to mention Leeds’ finer beery retailers, so I can happily avoid Morrison’s BWS department for months on end.

    Badger Golden Glory, Thwaites Wainwright and and Everard's Tiger - great beers on Morrisons' 4 for £5.50 offer

    Badger Golden Glory, Thwaites Wainwright, Everard's Tiger and Black Sheep - 4 great beers for £5.50

    On Sarah’s request I popped in straight off the bus on Tuesday night for some naan bread and as I headed from checkout to door I couldn’t help but be drawn towards the beer and wines section (our Morrison’s is one of those odd divisive ones with a separate alcohol area fenced off from the main supermarket floor).

    First off I was impressed with their range and I was overcome with an urge to try old favourites and classic British beers. Thai green chicken curry was on the menu which called for something a little exotic, plus I needed a pick me up after an arduous day at the office: a refreshing and zingy Golden Champion would do just the trick. Read the rest of this entry »

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    December 23rd, 2009FletchtheMonkeyBeer Reviews, Comment

    Christmas Beer Gift Packs

    Purity Ale gift pack

    Purity Ale gift pack

    Christmas is not much more than 24 hours away and you haven’t finished all your shopping. There’s always at least one thing that’s slipped your mind, one extra gift to buy, a mad dash to the shops or the supermarket to ensure you’ve bought enough for that special person.
    And for the beer lovers in your life? What better than a fancy gift pack of a beer they haven’t tried with a fancy glass. Or even if they have tried it, it’s the thought that counts, eh?!
    We’ve compiled a selection of some of the Christmas Beer Gift Packs we’ve come across on our travels – some we’ve bought, some we’ve snapped on shop shelves and some have been pointed in our direction by breweries or PR companies.
    If you need a last minute beery gift some will be easier to find than others. Hopefully there’s a bit of something for a variety of different beer drinkers!
    Merry Christmas!

    WARNING: these gift suggestions are not (I repeat not!) suitable for your beer widow!!! 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 23rd, 2009FletchtheMonkeyComment
    Farewell Hook Norton, but not goodbye
    This weekend we replaced the header image on the blog, and with some sadness said goodbye to the Hook Norton
    bottles that have been the face of Real Ale Reviews since it’s inception.
    A few people have asked us over the last few months if we were sponsored by Hook Norton or were we promoting them.
    The answer is no, but I’ll be the first to admit that Real Ale Reviews will happily sing the praises of our local
    Oxfordshire brewery.
    Alan and I started this site whilst sipping Old Hooky, we’ve shared evenings playing pool and drinking Hooky Bitter in the
    breweries own pubs and have many years ago toured the old Victorian steam brewery as part of a school trip.
    Hooky is part of our heritage, despite the fact we now reside in the West Riding of Yorkshire.
    We selected the Hook Norton imagery because we had ben collecting one of each of their bottles (including seasonal brews)
    and had just completed the line up with a couple of Cotswold Lion’s, so it made perfect sense to adorn our new blog with the
    beers that had planted the seed of our real ale passion.
    But from early on we knew they couldn’t stay, we knew we needed something more impartial that represented our independence.
    So after collecting bottle tops for a few weeks our first attempt at a new set of header images is live. It’s still never
    going to be impartial, it’s a bit weighted by the drinks I’ve had recently, but we hope you like it and hope it better
    represents the breadth of our current beer drinking habits as compared to earlier this year.
    Some people have asked us why Hook Norton when we live in Leeds? To cut a long and boring story short Alan and I were
    schooled in Banbury, a few miles from the brewery, but after university moved up to my spiritual homeland (I was born a
    Shayman)of West Yorkshire so I could get an advertising job. Sam, a Leeds boy born and bred is my friend from university
    (Lincoln) and fellow season ticket holder at Elland Road.
    Our little beer reviews blog with it's original Hook Norton bottle header image

    Our little beer reviews blog with it's original Hook Norton bottle header image

    This weekend we replaced the header image on the blog, and with some sadness said goodbye to the Hook Norton bottles that have been the face of Real Ale Reviews since it’s inception.

    A few people have asked us over the last few months if we were sponsored by Hook Norton or were we promoting them.

    The answer is no, but I’ll be the first to admit that Real Ale Reviews will happily sing the praises of our local Oxfordshire brewery.

    Alan and I started this site whilst sipping Old Hooky, we’ve shared evenings playing pool and drinking Hooky Bitter in the brewery’s own pubs, and have many years ago toured the old Victorian steam brewery as part of a school trip. Read the rest of this entry »

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    May 19th, 2009Alan WalshReal Ale

    Hook Norton Brewery’s Old Hooky – 4,6%abv

    Following on from last night’s review of Hook Norton Brewery I thought it important to get a review of one of their beers up as soon as possible. Old Hooky is the flagship of Hook Norton Brewery around the country being widely available in many supermarkets as well as most good wine/beer merchants. The very bottle I am drinking was sourced in Morley from ASDA and was on their 3 bottles for £4.00 mix and match deal.

    As an aside me and the monkey boy, when we first moved to Morley, experimented with buying every bottle of Old Hooky on the shelf in ASDA whenever we went. Within a month we had a range of five different Hook Norton beers available (More than most shops in Oxfordshire) right here in Yorkshire. Unfortunately the levels of consumption required to continue this selection proved unsustainable.

    Right – back to the beer. Old Hooky is not the light, paler type of ale that I typically favour but is one of the beers that I drink most often. This is largely because it’s the most widely available offering from my favourite brewery, but also because it’s a bit of an anomaly in that it’s full bodied, darker flavoured and yet not at all heavy.

    Hook Norton advertises this as a ‘fruity’ beer and it is, but not in the light citrus way I think of when I hear that phrase. It comes across dark and fruity like my Nan’s Christmas cake, reminding me of treacle rather than golden syrup, yet slips down just as easy as summer or pale ales. I would recommend trying this beer with a nice steak or a beef stew as it has the body to compete with the meat but will not fill you up and leave you embarrassed with half a plateful of leftovers.

    I give this beer to a great many friends as a taster from home and it is always well received with many friends asking me to bring other Hooky varieties up for them to try. For this reason, and because of it’s wide availability and low price in ASDA, I have to rate this as one of the best beers available in Britain today.

    We'll tidy up the artwork but for now you get the idea of what it looks like for when you're in ASDA

    We'll tidy up the artwork but for now you get the idea of what it looks like for when you're in ASDA

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