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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    November 22nd, 2012FletchtheMonkeyBeer Events, IPA

    We hit Knaresborough under the cover of darkness not knowing what to expect, knowing only that Roosters Brewery are relaunching their famous Outlaw series.

    For as long as we’ve lived in Leeds the beer on tap at the Cross Keys has been Roosters, week in week out. At North Bar, Wild Mule was virtually omnipresent and rarely defeated in having the fewest beer miles, which are chalked up next to each guest beer behind the bar.

    So we arrive at The Mitre excited but confused as to why we’d swapped a typical Monday evening (ASDA, pizza, telly) for the drive into North Yorkshire. It was soon worth it.

    The Mitre sits in the well of a steep lane, squeezed just opposite Knaresborough’s cute train station and a car park where there’s just enough room to turn a car, Austin Powers style. We’re greeted with a smart dining hall, a well turned out bar, and of course, Roosters on hand pull (a cheeky 284ml of Londinium please, with all it’s vibrant start and coffee finish. Yum yum but the lingering after taste means no kissing says the other half).

    Before we’ve had a chance to waffle down a starter selection of lamb kebab, battered prawns and the most delicious bread and dips this side of a Greek Island, the pub is packed with people, all vying for a pint of Roosters Buckeye to kick start the evening.

    Then we’re all bustling down the stairs to the underground brasserie where commercial manager and Roosters brother number one Tom Fozard explains why we’re here.

    And as expected we are here to relaunch Outlaw Brewing Co, an offshoot set up by Roosters founder Sean Franklin to create innovative and challenging beers outside the brewery’s normal beer production.

    It’s a concept that Ol Fozard, brother number two and head brewer (and apparently head brother too according his siblings introductory slip up) has embraced wholeheartedly, as the first new Outlaw brew is no less ambitious than a tea beer.

    Yep, a beer made with tea, tea supplied by local tea empire Taylor”s of Harrogate. A family brewer and a family tea producer combining to make, well, a really decent brew!

    Technically the beer served up at The Mitre is a prototype, and beer writer Melissa Cole is on hand to explain why she’ll be digging deep into Ol’s hop cupboard the next day when she mashes in with Ol.

    And Melissa’s contribution has already been critical to direction of the final product. The beer – appropriately named Mad Hatter – is not just a tea beer but under Melissa’s guidance it’s a Jasmine Green Tea IPA.

    It’s an artistic manoeuvre in adjunct flavours and the brewing traditions of tea and beer (we don’t quite get the IPA style but we can’t argue against the logic behind a green tea beer being designed as an India pale ale). Mad Hatter is flavoured with English bittering hops plus US Cascade and Australian Galaxy to maintain the colonial theme.

    And then there’s the teabagging. Finest jasmine creates a blossoming floral nose and delicate sweetness, set against an easy drinking backbone with just a fleeting bitterness to reference to the catty dry palate of green tea.

    Bittering hops and green tea naturally leaves our palette gasping for another pint…

    But it’s a school night and we head back to West Yorkshire in anticipation. Not just of the official batch of what we believe to be the UK’s first jasmine green tea beer, but of what beery concoction the mad hatters of Roosters will come up with next for the green shoots of Outlaw Brewing Co.

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    September 27th, 2012FletchtheMonkeyDesert Island Beers

    This weeks Desert Island Beers features Barrie Pepper who is one of Britain’s leading beer writers and for seven years was Chairman of the British Guild of Beer Writers. He has been Highly Commended three times in the Guild’s Beer Writer of the Year awards and was the first recipient of the Guild’s Lifetime Achievement Award for services to beer writing. And in 2002 Barrie won the Guild’s Silver Tankard for his book ‘The Landlord’s Tale‘ for which he was also runner-up in the Glenfiddich Award for Drinks Books. Then in 2004 he won another Silver Tankard for ‘Fifty More Great Pub Crawls’.

    He is a life member of CAMRA and a former member of its National Executive. He was recently chosen as one of its top 40 campaigners.

    Barrie Pepper

    Barrie Pepper

    Barrie’s journalistic work includes writing for The Yorkshire Post, What’s Brewing, First Draught, Wine and Spirit International, Beers of the World, Inn Speak and several other newspapers and journals in Britain, Belgium, Germany, Ireland, the Czech Republic and the United States. He has now written eighteen books on pubs and beer and two on the Anglican church. In 2003 he was elected a Life Member of the National Union of Journalists.

    When not writing about beer his other interests are the theatre, music, sport, travel – which he also writes about – and the convivial atmosphere and company of the traditional British pub. He is active in the Anglican Church being a member of the Ripon and Leeds Diocesan Synod and Editor of his parish church newsletter.

    Timothy Taylors Championship Beers

    Roosters Yankee pump clip

    Yankee Doodle can to Knarseborough

    theakstons old peculiar the crown hawes

    Perfect place for a pint of Old Peculier

    Brasserie dOrval – Orval – (Florenville, Villers-d’Orval, Belgium – 6.2%)

    Orval – topping the Desert Island Chart

    Read the rest of this entry »

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    January 27th, 2012FletchtheMonkeyDesert Island Beers

    This week we have a friend coming to stay on our desert island. Welcome Leigh Linley!

    Born and bred in Leeds, Leigh has been writing about beer and food on his blog, The Good Stuff, since 2005, which makes him one of the longest serving food and beer bloggers in Yorkshire. And he sure knows his stuff.

    Leigh Linley food beer blogger

    Leigh Linley of The Good Stuff

    In conjunction with Dough Bistro (and soon also the famous Beer Ritz beer shop in Leeds) Leigh hosts beer and food evenings, as well as contributing to Leeds CAMRA’s Full Measure magazine and editing the ‘Tavern Tales’ section of Culture Vulture, which looks at pubs and pub Life rather than the beer in the glass.

    Having witnessed Leigh once get on a train to Leeds only to realise it was actually a train to Sheffield, we can attest to the fact he’s a solid drinking companion (that’s what a Twissup session will do to a man!).

    When not drinking and writing about beer and circumnavigating Yorkshire’s railways he writes fiction, watches Leeds United (through his fingers) and causes minor havoc on the streets of Leeds with his border terrier, Wilson.

    The Beers

    So Leigh, which five beers will you be taking with you?

    1. Sierra Nevada Pale Ale (U.S.A – 5.6%).
      “My gateway beer, as it happens. From this one American icon my obsession with beer – enough to make me want to do as much as I can to help the industry – was birthed. It still tastes so good today, although Torpedo takes some beating. For me, Sierra Nevada Pale Ale has the perfect balance of sweet and bitter, and it’s a taste that still hasn’t been replicated.”
    2. Magic Rock Brewing Co. Human Cannonball (Huddersfield, U.K. – 9.2%)
      “For my stronger beer, Human Cannonball just fits the bill so perfectly at the moment. My current obsession, Human Cannonball hides the ABV so well amongst all that sweetness, but the bitter finish makes it so finely poised. Ruinously drinkable.”
    3. Rooster’s Wild Mule (Knaresborough U.K. – 3.9%)
      “For a refreshing taste of home in the desert heat.”
    4. Buxton Brewery Co. Black Rocks (Buxton U.K. – 5.5%)
      “One of the best – if not the best – Black IPA I’ve ever tasted. Wonderful stuff.”
    5. Brooklyn Brewery Brooklyn Black Chocolate Stout (U.S.A. – 10.0%)
      “Another beer that I think still has no serious rival. And it satisfies my sweet tooth.

    And which beer (of those selected) do you regard most highly? Read the rest of this entry »

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    November 4th, 2010FletchtheMonkeyBeer Events

    Roosters Brewery, whose beers are the staple diet of many a Yorkshire pub, marked this Hallowe’en with a pumpkin beer. No ordinary pumpkin beer though, a pumpkin beer served in nothing less than a giant pumpkin. A really, really giant pumpkin.

    Pumpkin 5 Spice Ale was tapped at North Bar in Leeds, in front of Calendar news and a small selection of excitable beer lovers. Arguably a more delicate task than tapping a cask, the job in hand was left to Sam Franklin of Roosters Brewery.

    And what of the beer? Well, it’s eminently drinkable: sweet without being at all syrupy; conditioned to perfection with just a hint of carbonisation; spicy but not hot – nutmeg, cinnamon and cloves dominate, ideal for warming the spirit on a cold day.

    Everything in moderation including moderation they say. Strangely perhaps, Roosters 5 Spice Pumpkin Ale is a beer that you could drink with little moderation. One of the best session beers of the year.

    And it’s served from a pumpkin. A giant pumpkin. What more could you want on a lazy Saturday afternoon in autumn?!

    Roosters Pumpkin Ale at North Bar

    Roosters Pumpkin Ale at North Bar

    Read the rest of this entry »

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