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
    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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  • scissors
    June 7th, 2011FletchtheMonkeyBeer and travel

    The curlews at Garsdale Station welcomed us with real razzmatazz, presumably well aware of the impending downpour that hit the station just as soon as the train had dropped us on the platform and disappeared around the bend towards Kirkby Stephen.

    We hadn’t expected to use the built-in raincovers on our rucksacks quite so soon, at least not until the next morning when we were due to start walking. But Mother Nature was determined to give us a taste of things to come…

    It’s year three of a five year plan to conquer the Pennine Way with my Dad, breaking the 20 day trek into five stages of four days each. And stood in the rain we reflected on how glad we were to not be able to take 20 days off work to walk The Way in one sitting.

    We’re heading for Hawes, the small Yorkshire market town where we finished last years leg: Garsdale is the nearest stop by rail, 6 miles down the winding A664 that links Cumbria with Wensleydale.

    It’s here we meet Raymond, a lifelong railwayman from the heart of the Dales. He turned out to be a lucky charm – we waited an hour for one of the two scheduled bus services before a clocking-off signalman took pity on Raymond and us and dropped us into town on his way home.

    Hair dried and spirits warmed with hot tea, we head out into Hawes for the evening. We cross the Ure, hidden between thin stone houses and the narrow one way loop that bridges the fast moving water.

    First stop is the the Crown. Dripping pints of Old Peculiar straight from a fresh cask brimming with rich plum tart and apple fudge are an olfactory flashback to the places we’ve visited along the way so far, of windswept trails, muddy boots and welcoming pubs.

    We avoid Raymond’s local, partly from choice but mostly because the White Hart is shut down and for sale, and I felt a pang of guilt for not being too surprised.

    Next stop is Chaste, a small ever-evolving bistro in the heart of the town. Since last year Belgian beers have made their way onto the inventive menu and Pilsner Urquell adorns the bar, and so it was that Chimay Red accompanied our grilled chicken dishes.

    7% beers were unsustainable the night before attacking Great Shunner Fell, the highest part of The Way above sea level so far. So Pilsner Urquell – lacking some of its usual herbaceous aroma – helped fill the hole that abstinence from desserts left.

    Two pints later and we’re talking to the only simultaneous winner of the J. Sleightholme Trophy For Largest Cod and the Dr King Cup For Other Fish, a feat not rivalled since 1984/5. The Fountain is a drinking pub compared to the pastel-coloured gentrification of the Crown, but fishing hasn’t been on the cards since the turn of the millennium.

    It’s Black Sheep not Theakston’s now, a which-one-will-it-be lottery that you have to get used too pretty quickly in the Dales. But for our sins were drinking very cloudy and poorly poured Blue Moon followed by crisp pints of Copper Dragon Conqueror – freshly nosed and quenching.

    The crowd gets younger and the bottles of Becks are starting to dominate the empties on the bar. Luckily the juke box hasn’t come to life yet, though by the looks of its age it’s more comfortable with rock and roll than the dub step that the youngsters are reciting in the corner. Seconds from announcing retirement to the B&B Dad throws the gauntlet down with a last gasp round. Two pints of something else hit the beer-drenched bar towel; was it Black Sheep bitter, or perhaps an Old Peculiar nightcap?

    Bending down to tie our laces the next morning we both groan, perhaps a little in the way that my grandfather – dads dad – has perfected over the years.

    “Shouldn’t have had that last beer last night, should we?”

    And with that we head for the high road and start the long slog up Great Shunner Fell. 6 pints down, just 4 evenings, 60 odd miles and god knows how many gradient lines to go…

    Garsdale station

    Garsdale station

    Map of the route of the Pennine Way - click to enlarge

    The route

    Graham Nuttall tribute

    Graham Nuttall

    Dog statue at Garsdale train station


    White Hart Hawes

    White Hart Hawes

    The Crown Hawes

    The Crown Hawes

    Beer advert Hawes

    The hop goddess

    Copper Dragon Conqueror


    Hawes club

    Hawes club

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  • scissors
    January 10th, 2010Alan WalshBeer and Food, Pubs & bars

    I was out for a drink recently and dived into Calls Landing Stew & Oyster Kitchen for a bit of respite from the biting cold whilst walking between Brewery Wharf and the City Centre. I was looking for a bit of warmth and some beer but I found quite a bit more. The place is quite small but on a cold night this meant that it was offering a very cosy feeling however, with large windows and balconies over the River Aire I would imagine it is equally an un-claustraphobic spot in the summer.

    The menu offers seasonal stews using locally sourced produce, a large bowl with crusty bread being £5.50, Bruschetta, Anti pastas (including a Cheese Board or cold Meat Selection). Obviously Oysters were available, £1.50 for a single portion. There were also sweets and hot drinks available but in the main the menu was short and fairly uncomplicated. I cannot imagine Gordon Ramsey coming in and levelling his favourite ‘pretentious’ allegations at this menu. In a rather innovative twist you can also get a pot of stew and some chunky bread to take away for four quid, which I think is rather a bargain, and 5.50 to sit in doesn’t seem too bad either.  can’t vouch for the quality of the food but hope to be able to shortly, if anyone reading has eaten here please add comments and let me know how the food is.

    Turning to the beers their are currently three cask ales available, Theakstons, Deuchars IPA and Mr Scrooge which I assume is a guest left over from the Christmas period. Amstell, Sagres, Guiness, Leifmans Fruit Beer and Bulmers were all also available by the pint. Turning to the fridge bottles of Broolyn EIPA, Vedette, Duval and Aspall’s Cider. Basically the selection is now what ‘beeries’ are increasingly able to expect from decent mainstream bars in Leeds. Very reminiscent of the selection available at Baby Jupiter Bar but in a very different setting. Personally I think that this shows an continuing trend towards different types of bar looking to stock a greater variety of beers that was once merely the preserve of North Bar.

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