Saturday, 1 July 2017

The Battle of Medway 1667

Upnor - Sunday 11th June 2017

For the 350th anniversary of the last attack on British soil by the Dutch, English Heritage put on a re-enactment weekend for its members (and other casual visitors) to commemorate the daring deed. It was a brave attack that was most successful in its outcome: several Royal Navy warships were fired and/or sunk, a few were towed off as trpohies. However, most importantly of all for the Dutch, they had carried off a daring raid on a naval depot that was supposed to be well-defended and burnt the beard of King Charles II. At the time, this was the worst defeat of the Royal Navy in terms of cost - £200,000 at the time, with the loss of around 13 ships, of which four were Ships of the Line.

What has this to do with beer, I hear you ask? Well, GW and I had all the best intentions at heart to go watch the re-enactment, but we got caught up at the Tudor Rose by a fine Sunday lunch and a few ales to wash it down, and missed all the action! Still, at least we heard the gun shots and cannon fire.

The Tudor Rose
31, 29 High St, Upper Upnor, Rochester, Kent ME2 4XG
We arrived at the pub in high spirits and, after ordering a beer and some pork scratchings at the bar, we headed out into the garden for a chat. The chat led to another beer, and that led to lunch whilst all hell was breaking loose just over the castle wall behind us. Oh well, we still had a great day in the beer garden.

Beers drunk on this visit:
1) Whitstable Bay IPA (3.9%) - Shepherd Neame Brewery, Faversham, Kent - a light, sweet, malty pale ale
2) Whitstable Bay Red IPA (4.5%) - Shepherd Neame Brewery, Faversham, Kent - a deep red pale ale with a malt and citrus flavour

Although both beers are listed as being Whitstable Bay ale brewed at the Faversham Steam Brewery, they are actually brewed by Shepherd Neame. Still, pedantry aside, I like the subtle distinction in brand name.

Romans and beer

Richborough, Reculver and Upnor - Saturday 3rd June 2017

GW has recovered well from his various illnesses and is now up for heading out and exploring again. Today we went to a variety of archaeological sites and a couple of pubs for refreshment. It started out as an overcast day, but soon the sun poked its head through the clouds to make for a fine afternoon.

After visiting Richborough Roman Fortress and buying some lovely English strawberies from a roadside farm shop we decided lunch was in order. We made our way along the coast to Reculver where we grabbed a meal and a pint before exploring the old church on the promontory.

The King Ethelbert
King Ethelbert Inn, Reculver, Herne Bay CT6 6SU

This pub is situated in a lovely area, with the sea and ruins to one side and a captive audience (a caravan park) on the other. It was very busy outside when we arrived but the restuarant area inside had a few spare tables available.

The pub boasts three ales on tap and a fantastic menu. I chose a pint of Bishop's Finger (a favourite of mine that I haven't drunk on draught for a while) and the home-made steak and kidney pudding - yes, that's right, a full-on home-made pudding complete with thick suet pastry and crammed with large pieces of steak and kidney in a rich gravy. The accompaniments of steamed, rustic vegetables and potatoes filled me to the brim and stopped me from grabbing a full-on suet-laden Spotted Dick and custard for dessert. If you wish to visit this pub for lunch or an evening meal, I thoroughly recommend building a big appetite and maybe visit in the colder seasons, as the food is rib-stickingly good, and there is plenty of it. There are other meals on the menu that would cater better for those with smaller appetites or a non-carnivorous palate.

I think this pub would be a very lively one in the evening and in the heart of summer, so I think GW and I got there at exactly the right time and season to experience it without too much of a crowd.

Beers drunk on this visit:
1) Bishop's Finger (5.0%) - Shepherd Neame Brewery, Faversham, Kent - a nut-brown, ESB with a touch of sweetness
After a stroll along the beach to walk off some of the large luncheon, we jumped back into the car (GW was not on the alcohol today) and made a trip to one of our most regularly visited pubs in Upnor...

The Tudor Rose
31, 29 High St, Upper Upnor, Rochester ME2 4XG
GW and I have been in here on many an occasion. We like the laid back atmosphere and choice of beers on tap - they usually have three or four ales on five taps. This is another Shepherd Neame pub (I am so lucky to come from the county with the longest recorded brewing tradition in England - Kent) and the choice of beers suits most palates.

After grabbing a pint at the bar, GW and I walked down to the bench by the riverside and sat there whiling away an hour or so watching the boats come and go.

Beers drunk on this visit:
1) Master Brew (3.7%) - Shepherd Neame Brewery, Faversham, Kent - a mild, brown bitter with a hoppy aroma


Monday, 29 May 2017

Another Comic signing

Forbidden Planet - Saturday 27th May 2017

179 Shaftesbury Ave, London WC2H 8JR

Today was the turn of 2000AD and Judge Dredd Megazine stalwart, Judge Anderson. This comic details what happens to Cassandra after the events portrayed in the 2012 movie Dredd. Rebellion have released several of these follow on titles now but this is the first one I have bought on release and at a signing. I have met Alec Morley on previous 2000AD signing occasions, so it was good to see him again. I grabbed a couple of each variant of the comic and got them signed. It would have been nice if the artist was there too. Simon Davies, the Slaine artist was there but I could not afford the graphic novels on offer which he illustrated (perhaps when I am back in employment?).

These signings only come along two or three times a year, so I make sure I have a good day when I go to one by indulging in as many of my hobbies at one time as I can. This event was no different; I arrived at the signing in readiness for the 1pm start time. After I had indulged in a little bit of fanboy behaviour, it was onto the beer and then some food.

Pillars of Hercules
7 Greek Street, Soho, London W1D 4DF
After the signing I had a few hours to kill until MB arrived. I popped into the usual haunt I now use to unwind after a long afternoon of queuing. There were the usual four or five beers on offer, but I stuck to just the one this afternoon as I had tried all on offer on several occasions previously.

Grasshopper (3.8%) - Westerham Brewery, Westerham, Kent - a dark, malty session bitter


The Golden Lion

51 Dean Street, Soho, London W1D 5BH
After finishing my beers and comics (as well as finishing a book of Cthulhu Wars short stories that had been hanging around on my Kindle for several weeks) I decided to stretch my legs and see if I could get to see the rugby results. I found just the pub but I only got to see the final few minutes of extra time; unfortunately, Wasps (the team I support) were beaten at the end of the session by a last minute penalty. Ho hum. I stayed in the pub supping an ale and watching the world go by until MB arrived.

Bow Bells (4.2%) - Truman Brewery, Hackney, East London  - an orange and lemon infused pale ale

Truman's Brewery was one of those that closed down a few years ago when ale drinking went out of fashion to lager. The brewery was founded in 1666 and brewed until 1989. Luckily for us, the current owners re-opened the site and began brewing again in 2010.

MB met me in The Golden Lion just as I finished my drink, so we headed straight out to grab something to eat as it was now gone 7pm. We visited a burger bar recommended to me a while back by an Aussie friend - in his opinion, the best chain restaurant burgers in London are to be found here...

Honest Burgers, Soho

4a Meard Street London W1F 0EF
This restaurant gets an honorary mention due to the fact it sources at least one beer on its menu from a local microbrewery. Honest Burgers literally sell half-a dozen burgers, a few sides and a few choices of drink - that's it. MB and I indulged in their local brewery ale. It would have been rude not to!

St. Reatham (4.6%) - Inkspot Brewery, Streatham, London - a refreshing Munich style lager


Crobar
17 Manette St, Soho, London W1D 4AS

So, today ended up being a great day of indulgence. I managed to get to a couple of pubs again, culminating in a trip to rockers' paradise The Crobar. I also managed to get to a new (for me anyway) burger joint foir my evening meal and also, not mentioned above, a trip to the rudest Chinese restaurant in town - Wong Kei - for my lunch (before I hit the pubs). I used to go here a lot with my friend GW to line our stomachs before heading to rock bars back in the 80s and 90s. We always had a won-ton soup, followed by beef fried noodles washed down with jasmine tea. Today, though, my appetite was not so great so I just had the noodles and tea. Unfortunately, maybe because it was relativelty quiet in the restaurant, I was not subjected to being rushed or any rude behaviour, which was a shame as that is part of the restaurant's charm. I remember on occasion turning up when the place was heaving and having to split the party over three floors of the restaurant! I also recall an American tourist trying to impress his new girlfriend who ended up being chased out by a meat cleaver-wielding chef. His crime?  Not ordering quickly enough!

Anyway, back to the Crobar; their choice of ales is rather limited (to bottles and cans only) and as I have mentioned this place on several previous occasions I won't go into much detail except to say that one of their wall murals has changed in the few weeks since I last went. It was not very busy in here tonight though, perhaps due to the Iron Maiden concert on in London this evening?

Trooper Ale (4.7%) - Robinsons Brewery, Stockport, Cheshire - a deep coloured malty bitter

Kidbrooke Beer & Cider Festival 25-27/05/2017

The Kidbrooke Beer Festival - Thursday 25th May 2017

Charlton Park RFC, 60a Broad Walk, Kidbrooke, London SE3 8NB

I have not been to this festival before, but MB, who I went with this evening, visited it last year and recommended we take a look. We travelled by train to Kidbrooke station and then walked the rest of the way (about 10 minutes or so). It wasn't too bad a journey getting there but, due to the darkness (and I daresay also a little alcohol), the way back to the station proved a little confusing at first.

There was a choice of about 50 real ales and 20 ciders & perries and several food stalls offering delights such as a hog roast, pizzas and sausage rolls. MB and I were going to go for a hog roast sandwich but by the time we got to looking into it further the stall had closed.

Tonight was a little unusual for us as we chatted a lot and missed out on sampling more beers than we could have done. Also, for a change, I decided I would round off the evening with a perry. Now, the latest adverts on TV for some ciders really annoy me (and MB). One in particular states that they offer a pear cider, but it is in fact a perry (no apples are involved in the process). Therefore, if there are no apples in it, it cannot by definition be a cider.

As an aside, whilst we sat outside sampling our ales, we spotted the International Space Station fly over. MB is a space flight expert, so when I pointed out a slowish moving object in the sky whilst we were discussing the ISS and asked if that could be it, he said that it was indeed the ISS.

Beers (and perry) drunk this evening :

1) Blonde (3.6%) - Settle Brewing Co., North Yorkshire - a light golden ale with fruit and citrus overtones
2) Copper Ale (3.7%) - Palmers Brewery, Dorset - Copper coloured bitter with hoppy aroma
3) Golden Jackal (3.7%) - Wolf Brewery, Norfolk - A hoppy, citrusy ale with dry bitter after taste
4) Golden Bolt (3.8%) - Steam Vox Brewery, Wiltshire - Straw coloured bitter with hoppy aftertaste
5) Medium Perry (6.0%) - Hartland Farmhouse Brewery, Gloucestershire - Mildly sweet with white-wine-like aftertaste


I also tried a mouthful of the following just for giggles...
Red Top (3.8%) - Old Dairy Brewery, Kent - Copper coloured bitter with caramel and hops
Electric Mountain (3.8%) - Heavy Industry Brewery, Wales - A dry, hoppy session bitter
Trade Union Pale Ale (4.5%) - Three Sods Brewery, East London - A tasty pale ale with citrus flavours


Friday, 19 May 2017

100th Post


One hundred posts!

This little blog has been bumbling along now for nearly two years (it started life on 17th June 2015). Along the way, I have been lucky enough to visit many wonderful pubs and festivals, sample several dozen beers and make a few friends. I do hope that those of you that do pop by for a quick read get something from it and I would welcome any comments/critiques on what you like, what I could do better, or what you would like to see more of.

I started this blog as an aide de memoir so I can remember (with a bit of looking up) which pubs I have visited, what beers I have sampled and more importantly, when. I have a terrible memory and so much of my life is just a big blank slate. This little piece of internet real estate at least helps me remember where I was on particular days and whether I have sampled particular beers or hostelries.

Going forwards, I have a few minor things planned for this blog to make looking things up a little easier. I am aiming to get a separate pub page (by location), an events page, and another page detailing which beers I have drunk by brewery. All of these I am hoping to put to good use by giving links to the pub, brewery and events websites where I can. This should aid anyone wishing to visit some of the places I have frequented over the years and also give a bit more detail on the ales that are available out there.

I will most likely not get round to updating all of this for a while as I am one of life's great procrastinators, but it will get done eventually; most likely in fits and starts when the inclination and energy allows me to.

Anyway, here's to the next 100 posts. Bottoms up!


The Coal Hole

The Coal Hole - Wednesday 17th May 2017

91-92 Strand, London, Greater London, WC2R 0DW

I managed to scrape together some cash this week for a visit to The Coal Hole in order to meet up with SH. It was a wet and dreary evening and everyone coming in was soaked through. However, this did nothing to dampen the atmosphere in the pub and it was very busy as usual.

SH and I wiled away the evening chatting about all sorts, but the main focus of our conversation was this year's Oktoberfest. We haven't been for a short while now and our visits to Munich have become more sporadic over the last few years, but we haven't given up on our favourite annual pilgrimage. The flights are booked and paid for (pending an upgrade to Club Class on the way home), the hotel room is booked (closer than the usual hotel we usually frequent by a one minute walk, but still in the same vicinity by Central Station!), and spending money is being put aside on a monthly basis. We have already decided on a rough itinerary for the weekend - lots of great Bavarian food, beer and hospitality to be savoured.

Anyway, back to the pub... The ales on offer in the Coal Hole were not up to much this evening unfortunately. They still had the usual choice of around a dozen beers on tap but many were the same as last time. I managed to have a taste of three ales I have not tried before but I found them all too fruity or bitter for my tastes on this particular occasion. In the end I had to settle for a couple of old faithfuls.

Beers drunk on this visit :
1) Two Tides (4.6%) - Sharp's Brewery, Rock, Cornwall - a slightly bitter, malty pale ale
2) Nicholson's Pale Ale (4.2%) - St Austell Brewery, Cornwall - A smooth, golden ale with citrus flavours

SH stuck to the Two Tides all evening as he was enjoying it but I had to drop down to the Pale Ale as the Two Tides really went to my head despite having a bite to eat prior to entering the pub.

Tuesday, 9 May 2017

Free Comic Book Day 2017

FCBD - Saturday 6th May 2017

I am beginning to enjoy the fact that many of my hobbies can be combined. I can play games whilst having a few beers at the local RPG club, I can visit a variety of pubs when on a day out to a comic festival, and even have a beer whilst running the Harvell 5 Mile run!

Today was the turn of comics and beer. Free Comic Book Day was great again this year as I was able to pick up 22 new comics to try this year, and even managed to get the rarer of the two Doctor Who variants signed by the Artist and writer. I was unable to get to the 2000AD signing as time and alcohol were agaist me.

Unfortunately, this time, MB was unable to meet me after the comic shop visits for the usual burger and a few pints. I decided I would carry on regardless and not let the side down by visiting our usual haunts, but I also managed to slip in one that I have not been into since the days of going to The Marquee music venue in Wardour Street.

Back in the day, my usual Friday or Saturday night out to see a band play at the Marquee would often begin with a few pints in The Ship. This pub is where the bands would usually drink pre-gig, which no-one else in the crowd seemed to cotton onto back in the day as everyone on the heavy rock scene drank in the Intrepid Fox before the gigs. This meant that I met many a rock star before they got too tipsy to perform on stage. Those were the days. Afterwards, I would then join the rock crowd at the Intrepid Fox before venturing onto one of the many (now all sadly gone) rock club venues in central London.

Pillars of Hercules
7 Greek Street, Soho, London W1D 4DF
I only nipped in here for a swift one between two comic shop visits. I had lunch at a burger joint locally to soak up some of the beer and then carried on with my FCBD mission. I also noticed on my travels, a burger bar recommended to me by an ex work colleague - Honest Burgers in Meare Street - which I will visit very soon as he said that this was, in his opinion, the best burger joint in London.

Beers drunk on this visit:

1) Cornish Coaster (3.6%) - Sharp's Brewery, Rock, Cornwall - a slightly earthy bitter
The Ship
116 Wardour St, Soho, London W1F 0TT
As mentioned above, this was a bit of a nostalgia trip for me. I sat quietly at the bar reading my Kindle whilst watching the world go around. The pub still seems to attract those on the alternative music scene judging by the music on the CD player and the patrons who visited today.

Beers drunk on this visit : 
1) Southern Star (4.0%) - Fuller's Brewery, Chiswick, London - a golden spring ale brewed with Australian hops


Crobar
17 Manette Street, Soho, London W1D 4AS
As I was on my own today, I didn't feel as though I could stay in here too long this evening and prevent others from grabbing a seat for their evening out as it filled up rather rapidly after 5:30pm. I passed a leisurely hour or so supping a fine bottled ale whilst listening to some great music from the past - a young lad put on several Ronnie James Dio tracks, which prompted me to load a few of his albums onto my i-pad when I got home later that night.

Beers drunk on this visit:
1) Trooper Ale (4.7%) - Robinson's Brewery, Stockport, Cheshire - a deep golden ale with citrus and malt overtones

Bexley Beer Festival

The 12th Bexley Beer Festival at Dartfordians Rugby Club - Thursday 4th May 2017
Bourne Road, Bexley, Kent DA5 1LW

I have been to this beer festival on a few occasions now. This year I went on the first day to avoid any disappointment if/when the beers began to run out. On offer this year were 85 ales and 24 ciders and perries; I think this is the greatest variety they have put on for our delectation.

The last ale was a little out of character for me as it was much stronger than I would ordinarily drink and it was a porter (which I am not keen on at the best of times). However, this one had to be tried as it was listed as my online persona: Odo. Unfortunately, it was closing time when I ordered it and I had to rush it, so did not get to savour it properly.

Again, a note on quantities drunk - each ale was sampled as a third pint, so total consumption was just under four pints for the evening. A little more than I would usually go for but just about manageable for me.

Beers drunk on this visit :

1) Holy Smoke (3.1%) - Beerblefish Brewery, Edmonton, London - a very tasty light coloured bitter
2) Call of the Cuckoo (3.5%) - Ulverston Brewery, Cumbria - a pale, slightly hoppy bitter
3) Castra (3.5%) - Emal Brewery, Salterton, Devon - a malty blonde ale with a hoppy finish
4) Lightning Rod (3.6%) - Durham Brewery, Bowburn, Durham - a citrusy pale ale
5) Plan B (3.7%) - Stringers Brewery, Ulverston, Cumbria - Gluten Free pale ale with a honey finish
6) Hobby Horse (3.8%) - Rhymney Brewery, Blaenavon, Monmouthshire - bitter from an 1879 recipe
7) Goldbine (3.8%) - RCH Brewery, West Hewish, Weston Super Mare - a zesty, hoppy bitter
8) Stout & About (3.9%) - Partners Brewery, Liversedge, West Yorkshire - chocolate and spice stout
9) Tipsy Tup PA (3.8%) - Penlon Cottage Brewery, New Quay, Ceredigion - a slightly sweet/hoppy bitter
10) Chinook (4.0%) - Townhouse Brewery, Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire - a fruity golden ale
11) Howbury 7 Odo's Porter (5.5%) - Bexley Brewery, Kent - a strong flavoured porter



The Furze Wren
6 Market Place, Bexleyheath, Kent DA6 7DY
MB and I met with a few of his workmates at the beer festival, but one of them turned up a little too late to be served, so to enable him to grab a beer before we all headed home, we jumped on the bus to the Furze Wren (which stays open until midnight). We got there in time to grab a final ale before venturing off to grab a kebab.

Beers drunk on this visit:

1) Quiver (4.5%) - Bowman Brewery, Southampton - a golden bitter with a hoppy finish

Wednesday, 3 May 2017

The Coal Hole

The Coal Hole - Thursday 20th April 2017

91-92 Strand, London WC2R 0DW
It has been a while since I have been out for a pint. Lack of cash due to unemployment is beginning to bite now so my nights and days out are becoming rarer. That said, I had not seen SH or RT for many a moon, so I decided I would have to go to the meet up to catch up. All seems well with the pair of them and both were on fine form this evening. This visit was purely a drinking session - no food was bought here as my wallet could not stretch that far this time.

Anyway, onto the beers. I managed to get through five different beers this evening but there were still many more I could have sampled. As we are all getting on a bit these days, a late night out for us all is around 9:30pm! We managed to get in four hours at the bar though, so not a bad session overall.

Beers drunk on this visit :

1) Nicholson's Pale Ale (4.2%) - St Austell Brewery, Cornwall - A smooth, golden ale with citrus flavours
2) Two Tides (4.6%) - Sharp's Brewery, Rock, Cornwall - a slightly bitter, malty pale ale
3) Tribute (4.2%) - St Austell Brewery, Cornwall - a light, hoppy English pale ale
4) Proper Job (5.5%) - St Austell Brewery, Cornwall - a zesty IPA
5) Florida Black (4.5%) - Black Wolf Brewery, Stirling, Scotland - a sweet, chocolatey stout

Monday, 6 March 2017

The Tudor Rose

The Tudor Rose - Saturday 4th March 2017

Tudor Rose, 31, 29 High St, Upper Upnor, Rochester ME2 4XG

My good friend GW has been quite ill for the last couple of years with recurring bronchitis and pneumonia. He has been in and out of hospital quite a few times and as a result I have not seen him regularly for a while. In the last three or so years we have literaly only seen each other for Oktoberfest in 2014 and a couple of Star wars films when they were released the last couple of years. Ordinarily we see each other around once or twice per month. He is not a great drinker but does enjoy the occasional beer - he is more interested in visiting new and interesting places and having great chats.

Thankfully, he is feeling much better now and he is up for getting out and about a bit more. This is good, as we often get to some of the more far flung pubs when we venture out. Tonight was a revisit to one of our favourites, The Tudor Rose in Upnor.

This is a great little pub situated on a cobbled street that runs down to the Thames (Edit: eeek, what a poor bit of geographical nonsense I wrote there - apologies) Medway past a Henrican castle. At the top of the street is another pub that we also visit regularly, but we decided on The Rose for our first trip out.

I was not to be disappointed with the three ales on pump and two on tap as well as all the usual fare for a small village pub that also caters for a lot of tourists during the holiday seasons. Unlike when I pop out with MB, GW and I generaly chase each drink down with a bag of peanuts, pork scratchings, cheese moments or suchlike. Unfortunately, since the last time we visited (maybe three years ago) they have stopped withteh locally produced pork scratchings. They do offer a decent meal, but we decided not to partake on this occasion; both to save money and leave room for a traditional kebab on the way home.

One other difference this time was that the TV was played at quite a loud volume. They normally show sport in the background with the sound down very low but I think because it was a David Haye title fight, there was sufficient interest to put the volume up.

Beers drunk on this visit :

1) Master Brew (4.0%) - Shepherd Neame Brewery, Faversham, Kent - an easy drinking, amber session ale
2) Whitstable Pale Ale (3.9%) -Faversham Steam Brewery, Kent - a light, refreshing pale ale