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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    March 24th, 2010FletchtheMonkeyBeer Reviews, Golden Ales, Pale Ales
    Hopback Summer Lightning: a bit of a legend in Beerland

    Hopback Summer Lightning: a bit of a legend in Beerland

    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 brother stealing all of the attention in the Fletcher household, John Gilbert of the newly formed Hopback Brewery was quietly supplying his local beer festival with a special beer for their annual event. He answered their brief not with an amber bitter or a dark mild, but with a golden well-hopped beer. Read the rest of this entry »

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    November 19th, 2009AlanSamandMarkBreweries, Comment

    It seems so simple, this-setting-up-a-brewery lark.

    Walking around the compact, but seemingly organised Leeds Brewery with co-founder Sam Moss, it’s easy to forget that the business has only been in existence for a touch over two years.

    Situated on a light industrial estate not far from Leeds’ bustling centre, the brewery is the hub of an expanding local empire that now stretches to three pubs across the town centre as well as the modern and compact Leeds Brewery HQ. The team produces three permanent beers and twelve seasonal beers; one for each calendar month. The beers are on sale across the country and also in Leeds brewery’s three self-owned pubs in Leeds city centre.

    The Leeds Brewery team

    The Leeds Brewery team

    Being Leeds residents and big fans of the beers that the brewery makes, we jumped at the chance to take a day off work and visit our very own local brewers. Upon arrival the other half of the management, Michael Brothwell, was busy making an emergency keg delivery in the back of his Ford Fiesta, so it was down to Sam to take us round the modern set up… Read the rest of this entry »

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    September 9th, 2009FletchtheMonkeyAmerican, Pale Ales

    A beautiful aroma wells up from this beer. It is  resiny, citrusy and sweet, with a strong hoppy start and a deep malty flavour that takes over.

    St. Lupulin clearly blessed this beer with an amazing gop and malt character

    St. Lupulin clearly blessed this beer with an amazing hop and malt character

    This beer – brewed by Odell Brewing Company is one of the most balanced pale ales – even just ales – that I’ve had for a long time.

    And it comes with a little story behind the name too, a title which more than hints at it’s wonderful character (you’ll also notice the hint in the Latin name for the hop plant, Humulus lupulus).

    Lupulin glands are the bits of hop leaves that contain the oils that impact hop flavour or hop aroma, and those glands are certainly put to masterful use in this beer.

    And it tastes absolutely fantastic!

    Despite being hoppy this isn’t overpowering, and it has a character that most beers can only pine for, with much more flavour than the summer ales that have been around in abundance over last few months. It tastes a little earthy, very fresh and sweet at times.

    Already straight into my list of top beers (a list as changeable as a British summertime), a beer with instant class and a lingering impact.

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    May 17th, 2009LanesyPale Ales

    Acorn Brewery Summer Pale

    I’ll be honest, despite being mid-May, there is very little summertime feel in the Leeds air. This may have been the overarching appeal of ’summer pale’ as it shone amongst the pumps at the excellent Victoria Commercial Hotel.

    And the colour of the ale certainly shines; a nice clear blonde is probably one of the palest of beers I’ve ever seen, and would certainly appeal as a summer evening beverage.

    A fairly sweet aroma complements the name again, and once in the mouth, a light carbonisation tickles the tongue.

    The body of the beer remains light throughout, although the aftertaste is something of a bitter surprise, leaving the back of the throat feeling warm and content, much like the evening sun on an august evening.

    Breweries often pride themselves on finding a fitting name to give an expectation of their ales. The folk at Barnsley’s excellent Acorn Brewery have done it again, with this terrific seasonal brew that knows it’s place on the calendar and achieves it’s purpose well.

     

    Acorn Summer Pale - Real Ale Reviews

    Acorn Summer Pale

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    May 15th, 2009Alan WalshBreweries, Pale Ales

    Leeds Brewery – Leeds Pale Ale


    I am sitting in The Grove Inn, Holbeck, following Leeds’ exit from the play-offs. The amount of pale Leeds fans around me makes this the opportune time to review Leeds Pale Ale.


    The football team lacked intensity for much of the night and I suspect that most die hard pale ale fans would argue that this beer has the same problem. From my point of view what this beer does have is the smoothness of an in touch Arsenal team. With a reasonably subtle but lingering flavour this beer goes down really well which is just the ticket for getting your depressed Leeds supporting housemate shedded.


    We’re off for a major sess and, if you fancy one on the IPA, this could be just the ticket.


    A treasure of a traditional pub located right underneath Bridgewater Place

    A treasure of a traditional pub located right underneath Bridgewater Place

    3.8% abv

    Brewery: Leeds Brewery


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    May 4th, 2009FletchtheMonkeyPale Ales

    Real Ale Reviews Score: Beer of the Month, April 2009

    Being a huge IPA/pale ale fan along the lines of East Coast US pale ales, I often find myself disappointed with our own competition here in the UK.

    Meantime have certainly bucked the trend with their London Pale Ale, a fantastic ale that matches any American pale ale for depth of character, whilst being distinctively British on the palette.

    I can inadequately describe this as a best of both worlds (a phrase that doesn’t by any means do this beer justice) for those who love both modern IPAs and also more traditional British ales. And for those who, like me, rarely stray from the extravagant US pale bottles, Meantime’s London Pale Ale has enough character to tempt your tastebuds back across the Atlantic.

    Cynics might call this ‘middle of the road’ but that couldn’t be further from the truth. This is a pale ale that doesn’t shirk from the challenge that younger, modern breweries are posing to the beer world, but rather embraces both the needs of a 21st century marketplace and the tradition of long established brewing techniques.

    Served cold this is a thoroughly enjoyable beer with the heart of pale ale and the soul of British brewing.

    Meantime London Pale Ale

    Meantime London Pale Ale

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