Monday, 17 October 2016

List of Festival Ales

Whilst I was at the keyboard, I thought I might as well make a list of the beers on offer this year, so here they are...

1) Coach House - Hoptober (3.8%)
2) Liberation  - Pilsner (3.8%)
3) Cotleigh - Hip Hop Hooray (3.9%)
4) Camerons - Press Gang (4.0%)
5) JW Lees - British Autumn Ale (4.1%)
6) Maxim - Northern Knight (4.2%)
7) Afro-Caribbean - Hopsession (4.3%)
8) Banks's - Gold Ingot (4.3%)
9) Everard's - Pitch Black (4.3%)
10) Rooster's - Hope & Glory (4.3%)
11) Bentspoke - Braddon Bitter (4.5%)
12) Purity - Pure Era (4.5%)
13) Shepherd Neame - Kentish Saison (4.5%)
14) Theakston - Vanilla Stout (4.5%)
15) Wadworth - Epic Brew (4.5%)
16) Evan Evans - Autumn Frenzy (4.6%)
17) Tring - Warrior Queen (4.6%)
18) Terrapin - Recreationale (4.7%)
19) Adnams - Sloe Porter (5.0%)
20) Arundel - Coffee Milk Stout (5.0%)
21) Birrificio Foglie D'Erba - Hot Night at the Village (5.0%)
22) RCH - Return from the Ashes (5.0%)
23) Titanic - S.E.A. (5.0%)
24) Woodforde's - Norfolk Bowman (5.0%)
25) Brewster's - Hop Quest (5.2%)
26) Caledonian - Deuchars Imperial (5.5%)
27) Castle Rock - Phoenix Red (5.5%)
28) Ninkasi - Special Bitter (5.8%)
29) Truman's - Sampson Strong (5.8%)
30) Morland - Old Crafty Hen (6.5%)

I am not sure what to do with the list - I may update it as I go along, so that I can do a sort of countdown of those that are left after a visit to a pub. So, after the 3 visits to the festival so far, this is what the list looks like...

2) Liberation  - Pilsner (3.8%)
4) Camerons - Press Gang (4.0%)
5) JW Lees - British Autumn Ale (4.1%)
6) Maxim - Northern Knight (4.2%)
9) Everard's - Pitch Black (4.3%)
10) Rooster's - Hope & Glory (4.3%)
11) Bentspoke - Braddon Bitter (4.5%)
12) Purity - Pure Era (4.5%)
14) Theakston - Vanilla Stout (4.5%)
15) Wadworth - Epic Brew (4.5%)
18) Terrapin - Recreationale (4.7%)
19) Adnams - Sloe Porter (5.0%)
20) Arundel - Coffee Milk Stout (5.0%)
21) Birrificio Foglie D'Erba - Hot Night at the Village (5.0%)
22) RCH - Return from the Ashes (5.0%)
23) Titanic - S.E.A. (5.0%)
25) Brewster's - Hop Quest (5.2%)
26) Caledonian - Deuchars Imperial (5.5%)
27) Castle Rock - Phoenix Red (5.5%)
29) Truman's - Sampson Strong (5.8%)
30) Morland - Old Crafty Hen (6.5%)

9 out of 30 have been tried, 21 left to go.

The Wetherspoon's Real Ale Festival Day 4

The Wrong Un - Saturday 15th October 2016

234-236 Broadway, Bexleyheath, Kent DA6 8AS
I was at a loose end this evening and didn't fancy watching all the "reality" drivel that is piped to us on terrestrial TV, so I popped back to the Wrong Un to finish off the rest of the ales they had on offer. As there were only two on offer, I didn't do thirds but halves this time.

I took my Kindle with me to have a read considering how quiet the pub was on Thursday, but when I got there it was heaving. I decided against trying to read and just watched the world go by instead.

Festival Ales drunk on this visit :

1) Hoptober (3.8%) - Coach House Brewery, Cheshire - a straw-coloured citrusy and hoppy beer

Other Beers drunk on this visit :
1) Thunder Trail ESB (5.2%) - Arcadia Brewing Co., Michigan, USA - a strong bitter ale


I have decided to not add pictures of pump labels during this festival unless it is for a beer that I have not had before and is not on the festival 30 list.

The Wetherspoon's Real Ale Festival Day 2

The Furze Wren - Thursday 13th October 2016


Broadway Square, 6 Market Place, Bexleyheath, Kent DA6 7DY

MB and I hit the Furze Wren determined to make a big dent in the 30 ales that would be on offer at various Wetherspoon's over the coming week and a half. We stuck to thirds all the way through and helped them down with another curry.

Festival Ales drunk on this visit :

1) Hip Hop Hooray (3.9%) - Cotleigh Brewery, Somerset - a copper coloured, fruity session ale
2) Norfolk Bowman (5.0%) - Woodforde's Brewery, Norfolk - a copper coloured flavoursome English ale
3) Warrior Queen (4.6%) - Tring Brewery, Hertfordshire - a crisp, fruity pale ale
4) Kentish Saison (4.5%) - Shephred Neame Brewery, Kent - a peppery bitter pale ale

Other beers drunk on this visit :
1) Powerhouse Porter (4.9%) - Sambrooks

This was it for the festival ales on offer at the Furze Wren tonight, so we skipped down to the far end of the road and into the other Wetherspoon's in our little town.

The Wrong Un
234-236 Broadway, Bexleyheath, Kent DA6 8AS
We were lucky to get served tonight as the landlord said they stopped entry at 11pm. We pleaded our case good naturedly and he let us in for a final taste before leaving at midnight.

Festival Ales drunk on this visit :

1) Hopsession (4.3%) - Afro-Caribbean Brewing, Cape Town, South Africa - a smooth hoppy and malty golden beer
2) Autumn Frenzy (4.6%) - Evan Evans Brewery, Carmarthenshire - a malty, fruity amber ale
3) Special Bitter (5.8%) - Ninkasi brewery, Oregon, USA - a full-bodied, fruity copper coloured ale

Sunday, 16 October 2016

The Wetherspoon's Real Ale Festival

The World's Biggest Real Ale Festival (Wednesday 12th to Sunday 23rd October 2016)


Or so the claim goes. I suppose on footfall this must be true due to the fact that there are so many Wetherspoon's pubs around the UK, but on choice of beers maybe not - although I am not complaining. This year they are offering 30 real ales, and this year I am hoping to try to sample all of them. I will be drinking third pint measures only so that I can actually get the numbers crunched.



The Sir John Hawkshaw - Wednesday 12th October 2016

Cannon Street Station, Cannon Street, London EC4N 6AP

This pub is located at the station I catch my train home from work. I have never been inside the pub before as I am not a great lover of railway station pubs, although over the last few years pub companies having been raising their game. I was pleasantly surprised by the light and airy interior and friendliness of the bar staff.

As the Wetherspoon's Real Ale Festival started today, I thought I would steal a march and get three in on the way home from work. I was a little disappointed as there was only one festval ale on. I grabbed a pint and downed it in a leisurely fashion whilst munching on a small bag of lime and chili snack bits and reading a book on my Kindle prior to jumping on a slightly later than normal train. I was assured by the landlady that there would be more ales to come over the following week and a half. On my way out I grabbed a couple of lealets to read up on what would be on offer.

Beers drunk on this visit :

1) Gold Ingot (4.3%) - Banks's Brewery, Wolverhampton, West Midlands - a dry, crisp golden bitter

Unfortunately, I could not find a picture of the beer tap icon to show the brewery or beer details.

Number of visits : 1st

The Furze Wren again

The Furze Wren - Thursday 6th October 2016

Broadway Square, 6 Market Place, Bexleyheath, Kent DA6 7DY

MB and I returned to the Furze again to get in the mood for the forthcoming Wetherspoon's Real Ale Festival that was due to start in just under a week's time. We did the usual and started off with a pint whilst we made up our minds what to eat, followed by the curry we had ordered and a beer or two during and after the meal.

I was not in the mood for anything to strong, so I went for some old stawarts that I have not had in a while - these beers are also mainly the Wetherspoon's standard ales on offer at all branches/pubs. We had had most of what was on offer on the guest ale front last week, and several were "off" anyway.

Beers drunk on this visit :

1) Best Bitter (3.7%) - Ruddles Brewery, Oakham, Rutlad (now owned by Greene King) - a reasonably smooth session bitter
2) Hobgoblin Gold (4.2%) - Wychwood Brewery, Witney, Oxfordhsire - a strong, hoppy English Pale/Golden Ale
3) Doombar (4.0%) - Sharp's Brewery, Rock, Cornwall - a smooth bitter, albeit with a slightly hoppy aftertaste

Number of visits : dozens

2000AD - prog 2000

2000AD - Programme 2000 signing - Saturday 1st October 2016

2000AD is my all-time favourite comic. I have read a fair few over the years, but I have pretty much always stuck by this one. I have read several British comics (Wizzard, Tiger, Warlord, Battle, Action and many more) on a week-by-week basis and many American monthlies (mostly Conan as I have never really been a superhero fan - although I have dipped into some stories and collected for a short while on occasion) over the years. However, my mum used to "tidy" my little bedroom on occasion and throw out all my comics to create a bit more floor space, so I have none of them left, except my 2000AD collection.
Prog 2000 - Chris Burnham variant cover

I started reading this comic courtesy of a school friend (JC) from Programme 3. I started buying it from Prog 7 and had it on order from Prog 9. It went through a purple patch during the 8-900's to 1000's where I stopped buying it for 3 or 4 years, but restarted again when it improved greatly and I have been collecting ever since.
Prog 2000 - Cliff Robinson variant cover

Weirdly, I did not start reading it straight away and the collection grew and grew until something had to be done with the stacks of loose comics all aroud the house. I decided to start reading them all again from Prog 1 and store them properly in mylar bags with backing boards in comic boxes. I am currently at around Prog 1275 (Jan '02); all 2000ADs, Judge Dredd Megazines and all other spin-offs have also been read up 'til this date. I still have 14+ years' worth to go!

Prog 2000 - Glen Fabry limited edition cover
So, what has this to do with beer and pubs? Well, I took my usual trip to a London comic shop (Forbidden Planet) for a signing followed by beer and burgers - a standard day out now with comic signings and hopefully future conventions (there is a 40th anniversary of 2000AD celebration event at the Novotel in Hammersmith next February, for which I already have tickets).

After the signing, which for me went very quickly this time due to being almost at the front of the queue, I met MB in the Pillars...

Pillars of Hercules
7 Greek Street, London W1D 4DJ
When I arrived there were only a couple of other people in here, so I had a choice of tables. I decided to grab a window seat and alternately watch the world go by and flip through my new comic purchases whilst I waited for MB to arrive. MB texted me to say that he was nearly there and I jokingly texted back that I would see him soon unless I could see round corners and therefore see him before. The weird thing is, I actually did see him before he arrived in a reflection from a shop window a short way down the street, so in effect I had seen around a corner.

They had their usual good choice of 4 or 5 ales and a good selection of crisps (I was beginning to get hungry and needed something to take the edge off my hunger until we grabbed a burger).

Beers drunk on this visit :

1) Spirit of Kent (4%) - Westerham Brewery, Westerham, Kent - a citrusy, hoppy pale ale
2) Atlantic (4.2%) - Sharp's Brewery, Cornwall - a fruity English pale ale

Number of visits : several

After the pub, we popped round the corner into Soho and grabbed a great burger at the Gourmet Burger Kitchen, before heading off towards the Crobar. We couldn't spend as long in here as last time, but still managed to get a few beers in.

The Crobar
17 Manette St, London W1D 4AS
Although this visit was only until around 7pm, a couple of hours, we managed to get a couple of beers in. The first one was a bit too strong for my liking without food to accompany it, so it was a little difficult for me to get down, although the flavour was not too bad. We followed it up with a bottle of an old favourite, so all turned out nice again.

Beers drunk on this visit :

1) Gamma Ray (5,4%) - Beaver Town Brewery, Tottenham Hale, London - a very fruity, hoppy American Pale Ale
2) Trooper (4.7%) - Robinson's Brewery, Stockport, Greater Manchester - a deep golden strong bitter

Number of visits : 3rd

Saturday, 15 October 2016

The Furze Wren

The Furze Wren - Thursday 29th September 2016

Broadway Square, 6 Market Place, Bexleyheath, Kent DA6 7DY

Again, this is a very late entry to the blog - there are several more to come over the next few days!

Last week set a new trend in mine and MB's pub visits. We decided to take a short break from The Kings Arms to investigate and revisit a few favourites. This week we decided to go back to the Furze Wren in the hope that the bar staff had a better attitude again. We were not disappointed. Things were much better on this visit.

We started off with a beer, then found a table to grab a curry and another drink. Thursday night in a Wetherspoons pub is curry night. They curries won't win any culinary prizes, but they are filling and tasty, especially with some of the nice craft beers on offer.

Beers drunk on this visit :

1) British Bulldog (4.1%) - Westerham Brewery,Westerham, Kent - a rich, full-bodied session bitter
2) Belgian White (5.4%) - Blue Moon, Colorado, USA - a smooth, creamy citrus wheat beer
3) Punk IPA (5.6%) - Brewdog Brewery,Ellon, Scotland - a flavoursome, fruity IPA


Number of visists : dozens

Pub Crawl along Watling Street

Watling Street Pub Crawl - Thursday 22nd September 2016

Wednesday lunchtime I had gone for one of my usual ambles around London Town, and spotted a few decent looking pubs on my travels. This got me excited and wanting to do something a bit different to the usual Thursday trip to The Kings Arms, I called MB and suggested we headed in the direction of Watling street instead. He agreed and so we met after work at...

The Seahorse

64 Queen Victoria St, London EC4N 4SJ

MB met me inside the pub straight after work and handed me a pint of Timothy Taylor's Landlord as I arrived. A great start to the evening. We decided to only stay here for the one as the main pubs were a five minute walk away on Watling Street - the old Roman road that runs the length of Kent from coast to capital.

The pub is a little strange looking from the outside and looks more like a wine bar inside, but they had a reasonable choice of beers in here.


Beers drunk on this visit :

1) Landlord (4.3%) - Timothy Taylor, Keighley, Yorkshire - a citrus pale ale with a hoppy aroma

Number of visits: a few

Ye Olde Watling
29 Watling St, London EC4M 9BR
Apologies for the wobbly picture - it was rather busy at the time and I didn't really want to hang around taking pictures of lareg crowds of people. Maybe next time I will get a better shot.

This is a Nicholsons pub, so we knew just what we were getting here. We decided to grab a bite to eat, a very tasty burger, to line our stomachs for the evening ahead. There has been a pub in this site for many centuries, a note written on the woodwork above the bar states that it was rebuilt just before the Great Fire of 1666, so presumably was renovated again quite soon after the fire too.

Talking about shots - how's this for a view of Sir Christopher Wren's masterpiece - St. Paul's Cathedral.
Beers drunk on this visit :

1) American Pale Ale (4.8%) - Long Man Brewery,Litlington, Sussex - a robust bitter with citrus aroma brewed from American hops
Number of visits: 1st

Again, we only stayed in here for the one pint before we headed off to the next pub...

Williamsons Tavern

This pub is a little off the beaten track (off a side-street of a side-street of Watling Street) and was actually the main reason for this mini pub crawl. It was the one that actually caught my eye on my lunchtime walk. I have given three photos to show how to get there...

 
1 Groveland Ct, London EC4M 9EH

The second photo shows how narrow some of the old streets of London were back in the past - ideal for muggings when gentlemen and their lady companions left their drinking establishment of choice a little worse for wear.

I must admit that I got this one a bit wrong. I thought it was called Four Sisters, but that is the name of a wine bar down the same small court lane. This pub is also a Nicholsons pub and has a long coach house style set up. It is an L shaped pub with two bars, the larger being a dining area too. This is one of those pubs that if you blink as you walk past the side alley that it is down you will miss it. Luckily we didn't and found a real gem of a place.

Beers drunk on this visit :

1) Keyboard Warrior (3.9%) - Wild Weather Ales, Silchester, Hampshire - an English brown ale with fruity taste and aromas

Number of visits: 1st

We headed away from Watling Street after this pint as we were both feeling unusually affected by the beers. We thought we might grab another pint at Charing Cross station, but as we got to CannonStreet we saw there was a train waiting to take us home.We took this as a good omen, so decided to call it quits for the evening. I daresay we will be back to the area soon though as we spotted a few more lovely looking taverns.

Friday, 7 October 2016

Birthday Bash

Birthday Bash - Saturday 17th September 2016

Monday 19th September marked the latest in a long list of my birthdays - 50 of them in fact. I don't usually do much on my birthday; I have never even taken the day off work to celebrate it if it fell on a weekday. The only times I have ever celebrated my birthday were my 5th and 25th. So, I decided that a theme had developed here and would actually make an effort this year.

After a run a few weeks ago, NW suggested going to see a covers band he had seen a few times before. As the date coincided, near enough, with my birthday, I decided to use that as the excuse to get a few friends together for a few beers and some live music.

We decided to meet at the Crayford micro-pub, The Penny Farthing, at around 5:30 to 7:00 and then move on to see the band at The Bear and Ragged Staff just before 9:00 when they were due on stage.

The Penny Farthing

3A Waterside, Crayford, Kent DA1 4JJ
Ten of us met here today and started the session off with a few pints of great ale. Unfortunately, as this was my birthday bash, and I sank far more than I regularly imbibe, I lost track of some of the beers I drank, so cannot make a not of them. All I can remember of the beers I drank is that when the pints and halves were added together I had had six different beers (three of them here at the Penny Farthing).

It was a nice evening for a night out, and Crayford was quite busy. The Penny Farthing was full but we did manage to grab a table inside when a party of four left for pastures new. After a couple of beers had been sunk, the landlord popped round to each table with a few bowls of nibbles - most welcome to go along with the great beer. After we had all met up, we gave it until just before 9pm before we headed off over the road to see the covers band, whose name has slipped my mind.

Beers drunk on this visit :

1) Summer Perle Golden Ale (3.8%) - Westerham Brewery, Westerham, Kent - slightly frfuity, easy drinking golden ale
2) Turbulent Priest (4.4%) - Wantsum Brewery, Hersden, Kent - a full-bodied, chocolatey bitter
3) Unknown
Number of visits : a few

The Bear and Ragged Staff


2 London Rd, Crayford, Kent DA1 4BH
We got into the pub before the band came on stage and managed to prop ourselves up at the bar. The pub was busy but not crowded. We proceeded to sink a few more pints whilst listening to the live band, who were actually a very tight ensemble playing a mixture of rock covers that included Muse, Cranberries and so on. I would definitely like to see them again, so I will have to ask NW when and where they are playing next.

Unfortunately, memory and phone notes became few and far between this evening, so I can only remember snippets of information on the beers drunk etc. Maybe on my next visit they will still have these beers on so I can grab the info on them.

Beers drunk on this visit :

1) Frankenstein
2) London IPA

Number of visits : a few

After the beers we decided to go for a curry to round off the evening, but we had left it just a tad late as all the curry houses were closing for the night - maybe next time for my 75th?