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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  • scissors
    January 17th, 2010Alan WalshBeer Recipes

    As my housemate very kindly offer to cook me tea the other  night I decided to repay the favour by making a big old chocolate sponge for us all to have after. The recipe is really simple and takes minutes but the results are fantastic although they do come with the warning that this is a really filling chocolate pudding, not a  light ‘posh’ dessert.

    Chocolate Pudding, Brilliant, Sweet, Cold Weather Stodge

    Chocolate Pudding, Brilliant, Sweet, Cold Weather Stodge

    Ingredients (My Nan gave me this recipe so it’s in oz – I make my apologies to the EU!)

    6oz – Self-Raising Flour

    2oz – Cocoa Powder

    8oz – Butter

    8oz – Castor Sugar

    4 – Eggs

    1 Packet Chocolate Chips


    The method really is easy, the first bit being the most labour intensive. Cube the butter and castor sugar together in  a bowl with the back of a metal spoon. Crack the eggs into the bowl and stir in until the mixture is smooth then sieve the flour and cocoa into the bowl and stir that in too!! Finally chuck the chocolate chips into the mix and give it one final stir. The mixture should be smooth but not too runny and, although my Nan tells me off for doing it, should taste delicious if you put a finger in!!! Read the rest of this entry »

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    October 19th, 2009FletchtheMonkeyBeer Reviews, IPA
    Hardcore IPA
    Harcored IPa is one of those beers that has a little bit of the wow factor (or the woah factor depending on your taste buds).
    It has a crazy, tropical Um Bonogo aroma that’s sweet and exciting. It’s smells like sweet, e-number fuelled heaven traped in a bottle.
    Fruit salad penny sweet smells give way to a bitter overload, hops completely dominating and filling your mouth. Aromatic beers usuaky mean bitterness, but the pineapple aroma makes you expect something with an exoic fruit taste.
    If you can work through the IBU frenzy you will get some of that , but boy does that take some acclimatisation.
    This is a big beer. rink it too fast and it becomes medicina;, but sip it slowly and it’s a world of hops, passionfruit and titilating tongue tingles. Oh, and it’s strong as hell to boot, so don’t down one befoThere b

    The first BrewDog in our Sainsbury’s Beer Competition series is one that we’re relatively familiar with. So far we’ve only got around to reviewing Punk IPA and Dogma, but we have quite a few ‘Dogs ‘in stock’ and it’s about time we wrote something about them.

    Hardcore IPA is one of those beers that has a little bit of the ‘wow’ factor (or the ‘woah’ factor depending on your taste buds).

    It has a crazy, tropical Um Bongo aroma that’s sweet and exciting. It smells like sweet, e-number fuelled heaven trapped in a bottle.

    Hardcore IPA by BrewDog

    Hardcore IPA by BrewDog

    Fruit salad penny sweet smells give way to a bitter overload, hops completely dominating and filling your mouth. Aromatic beers usually mean bitterness, but the pineapple aroma makes you expect something with an exotic fruit taste.

    Beers with an imperial tag usually come at a certain strength and richness. Hardcore has the strength but it’s hidden treasures are perhaps just a little too inaccessible.

    If you can work through the IBU frenzy you will get some of that, but boy does that take some acclimatisation.

    This is a big beer. Drink it too fast and it becomes medicinal, but sip it slowly and it’s a world of hops, passionfruit and titilating tongue tingles. Oh, and it’s strong as hell to boot, so don’t down one before bedtime.

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    August 18th, 2009FletchtheMonkeyIPA

    Punk IPA by BrewDog

    Punk IPA was the first BrewDog beer I ever came across, on the supermarket shelves of Tesco, Lincoln whilst Sarah was living there earlier this year.

    I’ve had it a few times but never written anything, and it’s not far off being in that category of beers that are the hardest to review – those you’ve had many times before.

    The first thing that struck me on the first taste back one Friday in Lincoln, and again yesterday when I picked it out specifically for review from my all new beer cupboard, was it’s North American influences. Having mulled over US reviews of Punk IPA, many people comment how English it is, so I guess they might get quite a shock if they picked up a pint of Greene King on tap! The revival of IPA by craft breweries in the States has led to some notable IPA interest in the UK, and in Punk IPA there’s a clear swing towards the US style of IPA , one much more floral and aromatic than those of it’s homeland.

    Punk IPA by Brewdog

    Punk IPA by Brewdog - transatlantic India Pale Ale

    Read the rest of this entry »

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  • Sagres

    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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    July 13th, 2009FletchtheMonkeyAmerican, IPA
    Goose Island IPA - a fine example of a North America IPA

    Goose Island IPA - a fine example of a North America IPA

    Hoppy, vibrant, refreshing and tangy to finish, Goose Island is a mighty fine American IPA. The Chicago brewers bottled ales are a staple of many of the best bars in the UK, with both the IPA and Honker’s Ale permanent fixtures at our work’s regular, The Cross Keys in Leeds.

    American IPAs differ from their UK counterparts. I don’t think it’s all down to the fact I enjoy them quite a bit colder than I’d usually sample a traditional ale, but they seem to share a vivacious style that UK IPAs often don’t muster.

    Does this mean they aren’t traditional India Pale Ales in that case?

    In fact they may be more so, as an abundance of hops is one of the core features of a traditional India Pale Ales (the hops and strength acting as a preservative to keep the beer in good shape throughout  the long voyage to India in the 19th Century) and many North America versions are far hoppier than British counterparts which have lost their hop-filled roots somewhat (with notable exceptions of course!)

    Goose Island shares that hoppy optimism, leaving a satisfying malt feeling in your mouth that inevitably urges you to take another gulp. There’s fruit in there amongst the hops and malt, adding complexity. It is a balanced IPA, very enjoyable to drink and moreish to boot.

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    May 5th, 2009Alan WalshIPA

    I think that this is the first Scottish IPA that I’ve tried and I have to admit that if I’d seen this bottle in the club there’s no way I’d have been dancing. The gaudy purple label screamed ‘I have no class’ and I was more than a little bit worried that this beer was going to attack the senses like a deep fried mars bar.

    But I forgot that Scotland is also the land of Irn-Bru and, while this beer is nowhere near to the genius on the orange nectar, this is a decent ale.

    This is a golden ale, light in appearance but with the genuine hoppy IPA flavour. Not as full bodied as many stronger IPAs and not heavy or gassy I would recommend this as a session ale.

    Probably not one for the IPA purists but certainly a great starting step on the IPA ladder or a good choice for a heavy night.

    5,3% ABV

    Belhaven Twisted Thistle

    Belhaven Twisted Thistle

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