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 30th, 2010FletchtheMonkeyComment

    Funny how one mention of something and suddenly it’s everywhere. A quick flick through the later chapters of Hops & Glory (to settle an argument in my head over the ownership of some beer brands) and you can’t scan a page without mention of Bass, that famous brewery and brand associated with British beer across the world. Then on Sunday, I drive past a pub in the Halewood area of Liverpool with huge Bass signage, that famous cursive typeface set into the old stonework. Just my luck I find it on Google Streetview and there’s scaffolding around it impairing the view!

    Later on the way back across the M62 I spot a second Bass-signed pub somewhere in a village on the border of Yorkshire and Lancashire. “Like buses these Bass pubs” I tell myself. Nice to see the logo still peeping into modern life despite it’s fall from grace.

    And then we nip to our local Toby Carvery (and my interesting first pint for Cask Ale Week) the only place in our area you can rely on (semi-decent at best) food on a Sunday evening. As we leave to retire to a re-run of Desperate Housewives and an early night, I somehow can’t miss the framed beer pictures in the entrance hall. Bass, naturally, albeit less fancy type face, but plenty of that brand-building triangular logo.

    Bet I won’t see or here another Bass reference for months now…

    You might have to change your pronunciation to get it...

    You might have to change your pronunciation to get it...

    Read the rest of this entry »

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    March 3rd, 2010FletchtheMonkeyBeer news, Breweries
    The Hop, live music and real ale pub opening in Leeds this March

    The Hop, live music and real ale pub opening in Leeds this March

    Wakefield’s finest are coming to Leeds in the guise of The Hop, the live music and real ale venue of Ossett Brewery’s pub armada. Situated in the Granary Wharf area of Leeds overlooking the reinvigorated quayside, The Hop will sit under two of the previously disused railway arches that are tucked away between the confluence of the Leeds-Liverpool canal and the River Aire. Read the rest of this entry »

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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 15th, 2010FletchtheMonkeyBeer news, Breweries, Pubs & bars

    A nice piece about beer in a tabloid sized newspaper? Surely not.

    Ok to be fair it’s this months ‘What’s Brewing’, but I love the story on page 10 about Martin Brunnschweiler.

    More than a decade ago Martin went to visit his sister at her pub on the Isle of Man and ended up staying there to set up a brewery called Bushy’s. The paper is a bit hazy on the details (I’m intrigued as to whether he drank the pub dry and then set up because he was thirsty and what he left behind) but I like to think the Martin fell in love with the island, the pub, the atmosphere and the opportunity. His brewery has ties to the nuclear industry (and sounds like it could double up as a bunker should a Dr Strangelove armageddon arise) and the equipment is based on a headache inducing tower arrangement that requires a certain amount of agility from head brewer Curly (yes, Curly!).

    The best I can do is that I have on two or more separate occasions walked into a pub and ended up 1) working behind the bar and 2) doing the dishes, but never quite made the leap to brewing.

    Accidental brewer: Martin of Bushy's brewery on the Isle of Man

    Accidental brewer: Martin of Bushy's brewery on the Isle of Man

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    September 12th, 2009LanesyBeer Reviews

    It seems that Neil Morrissey and Richard Fox are taking this whole brewing thing seriously. Their original brew ‘Blonde’ has become regular sight in several serious cask ale pub bars and a quick glance at their website shows they have developed quite a range since their television programme was broadcast last year.

    A new permanent ale to their armory is ‘Proud of Pubs Best’, a beer launched to support  The Publican’s ‘Proud of Pubs Week’ in July.  This appears to be the brewery’s attempt at traditional mild; a suprisingly rare approach these days by modern brewaries who tend to break away from the English traditions and throw more and more hops into ever-paler beers

    The dark caramel colour looks like it should be surrounded by a fog of woodbine smoke, making me feel particularly underdressed without a flat capcovering my work-beaten head. It’s a terrific throw back.

    A smokey-yellow head, perhaps more commonly seen on darker ales looks great and stays with the beer for the vast majority of the pint.

    The malty aroma makes me anticipate a heavy ale that may be hard to stomach in a body used to lighter ales, but the toffee flavour and creamy mouthfeel dissipates with only the slighest of warm traces remaining in the throat.

    If I’m honest, it’s a little warm today for such a style as this, but it manages to remain a strangely satisfying pint. As the cold winter nights approach, this is definately one I will be seeking out for a session.

    In our quest for new and innovative beers, it is perhaps forgotten occaisionally that there is still a market for a good quality traditional mild. Sometimes it’s nice to be reminded!

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    May 5th, 2009FletchtheMonkeyBeer Books are running a competition to win a copy of London’s Best Pubs byPeter Haydon.

    Gotta be worth an entry to complement my notebook for my next expedition to the capital!

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