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 23rd, 2013FletchtheMonkeyBeer Reviews, Bitters

    I’ll wager right now that you won’t find a more attractive bottle of beer in the supermarket. The thick curvaceous bottles of St Peter’s Brewery stand out like a vintage medicine vessel, reminiscent of a simpler, more authentic age.

    Vintage is one way of describing the brewery’s heritage. Housed in a medieval hall deep in rural Suffolk, St Peter’s deliberately leverage their location to their advantage. And whilst their history may be less rich (incorporated 1996) the supermarket shelves are enhanced with their marketing angle.

    The bottles are modelled on a US gin bottle from the eighteenth century and this particular fake is temporary home to 500 millilitres of St Peter’s Best Bitter that’s working it’s way towards my sensory system.

    This is a bristly bitter beer; colour the epitome of amber, taste the epitome of England; caramel and pepper flavours whilst the linger is all hedgerow and moorland bitterness.

    The thick green gin bottle, the faintly herbaceous aftertaste, the hanging logo embossed with subtle confidence into the glass. I’ll wager right now you won’t find a better looking beer in the supermarket. You might not find many better at representing the East of England either.

    image

    St Peter's Best Bottle

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  • scissors
    September 28th, 2012FletchtheMonkeyComment

    I pick up the i most days from the corner shop. Sometimes I treat myself to a cold can of Orangina (rock and roll I know).

    The corner shop survives on booze and fags primarily: the cheapskates like me who nip in to use Collect+ and grab a tin of beans would barely keep the shop standing without the queue for wine, spirits and Super Kings.

    Yesterday’s i – picked up alongside Space Raiders and fizzy pop for a lazy evening on the sofa – caught my attention with a story entitled “Ipswich launches push to ban super-strength booze”.

    “Off licence owners in Ipswich are being asked to remove strong beers and ciders from their shelves in an effort to tackle alcohol abuse”.

    Ok, so high strength booze linked to abuse of alcohol. Discuss. 1) Cause and effect – did the high strength booze cause the abuse or did the abuse lead to a desire for a high strength fix? That aside, if we assume high strength booze sold cheaply is a contributing factor, why are beer and cider the victims?

    Alcohol can play a catalyst role in crime but what of pocket sized bottles of whisky and hip flask style bottles of vodka available behind the Tesco or McColl’s counter alongside cancer sticks and lethal doses of paracetamol. In the queue at my corner shop some cans of Kestrel sit in the fridge, but for the price of 3 or 4 tinnies you can grab a reasonable sized bottle of unknown vodka and a penknife to carry in your pocket.

    The article continues:

    “The town has seen four street drinkers murdered in the last three years and police say the scheme could not only help those who depend on alcohol but also the wider community and those tasked with clean-up operations.~”

    So, hang on. Are you saying that cans of beer murdered four people in three years?

     

    The Ipswich beer ban reported in the i

    The Ipswich beer ban reported in the i

    Before we condemn the campaign – in fact it may have merit and may work – we can’t help but feeling it’s a case of making a song and dance about an easy target, social green washing to appease local fury. Will banning high strength beer and cider save society? No. Will it help maybe? Will it kerb the demand for booze? Will people simply find an alternative?

    What puzzles us is why Ipswich has picked on beer and cider as the root cause of murder and violence. Whilst I’m not likely to kick up much fuss about White Ace or Frosty Jack’s disappearing from the shelves of Suffolk supermarkets, we’re scratching our heads over the somewhat simplistic solution to problems arising from much more complex social issues. As per usual, the headlines simply shout “Beer is bad”.

    The Guardian adds a greater back story to the campaign, explaining in more detail that the emphasis is on the ban forming part of an initiative to make the streets safer and reduce the number of deaths associated with people living and drinking heavily on the streets. Unfortunately beer and cider are still the bad guys, despite many of the interviewees naming stag dos, unemployment and homelessness as contributing factors that create the market for cheap booze.

    Andrew Mason of Ipswich police says “This campaign aims to take the problem away at the source.” Despite its well intentioned efforts, that’s exactly what the campaign fails to do.

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  • scissors
    June 3rd, 2009FletchtheMonkeyIPA
    St Peters India Pale Ale

    St Peters India Pale Ale

    St Peter’s India Pale Ale

    Brimming with hoppy character this is an India Pale Ale that tastes like it’s full of goodness. In the mouth it feels natural and has a citrus zest and spicy, malty flavours that linger on.

    For a bitter IPA, St Peter’s is actually kind of thirst quenching, helped by a lighter carbonisation and the breweries own Suffolk mineral water.

    An IPA with a difference and another fine brew from St Peter’s, rapidly becoming one of our favourite breweries. Hopefully see this and more at Norwich Beer Festival later in the year.

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