Sunday, 30 June 2013

Crawley Folk and Beer Festival, 28th - 30th June 2013

Advertised as over 50 beers, ciders and perries, I was hoping to be able to try a lot of these over the weekend. Unfortunately I wasn't able to be there on the Saturday but I made up for this on the Friday and Sunday.

Arundel Stronghold (4.7%): An amazing best bitter. Malty, fruity and in your face. 5
Arundel Sussex Gold (4.2%): A big citrus hop hit but mellow and refreshing. 4
Dark Star American Pale Ale (4.7%): Storming bitter sweet pale ale. 4
Downton Chimera IPA (6.8%): Pale, tangy, morish and bitingly bitter - all in a good way. 3
Exmoor Exmoor Ale (3.8%): Decent session bitter. 3
Goacher's Fine Light (3.7%): Honey tones but a little insipid. 2
Green Jack Trawlerboys Best Bitter (4.6%): Not quite ready but those flavours are in there ready to burst. 3

The band stage at the festival
Hop Back GFB (3.8%): Classy golden ale which could even be a standard bitter with a pleasant malty finish. 3
Hopdaemon Golden Braid (3.7%): Very thin and odd to start but warms in the mouth into a characterful, mellow aftertaste. A beer of two halves. 3
King Sussex Downs Ale (5.1%): Sweet and citrussy with a slightly spicy finish. 3
Kissingate Black Cherry Mild (4.2%): A massive cherry hit without being unpleasantly sweet. 3
Kissingate Mary's Ruby Mild (6.5%): My Friday notes say "A plethora of malt flavours fighting for precedence. A delight." My Sunday notes say "Tastes somewhat odd today, a disappointment." What started as a 4 dropped to a 2 so I'll give it 3
Longman Golden Tipple (5.0%): Refreshing and zesty. A lovely pint. 3
Milton Pegasus (4.1%): Very drinkable well-balanced best bitter. 3
Orkney Orkney IPA (4.8%): A strong hop character to this IPA, with enough strength to really hit that IPA definition but not so much you can't get stuck in. As it should be. 4
Skinners Betty Stoggs (4.0%): One of the very best bitters, in my opinion. 4
Surrey Hills Greensand IPA (4.6%): Sweet and pleasant. 3
Whitstable East India Pale Ale (4.1%): Delicate IPA fruitiness and a light, hoppy aftertaste. 3
Windsor and Eton Conqueror Black IPA (5.0%): Initially very like a traditional light coloured IPA but with a full-bodied maltiness. An eye-opener. 4
Windsor and Eton Windsor Knot (4.0%): The wedding was a while back and the baby's due soon, but the beer is still with us which is unfortunate as it tastes of petrol. 2

The bar was run by a private company and operated on a token system where all beers and ciders were the same price. Although some of the staff seemed inexperienced, they were all very friendly. There was a competition where you marked beers out of ten and handed in your scores, and I was furious because this was drawn before the end, without warning, so I hadn't handed mine in. Not a way to run a competition!

There were 40 real ales on offer and I was pleased to be able to try half of them. I wasn't intending to go for stronger beers but only three of the 20 were under 4% and there were no low gravity ones available at all, yet a lot of IPAs. An unusual but not unpleasant selection. It's rare to find a beer festival with seemingly no CAMRA influence these days. I liked the cask end cards as they had a large graphic of the pump clip then stated the colour of the beer in one word, "golden" or "black", although I was a bit confused by "amber", "bronze" and "copper". Not entirely sure of the difference there!

My beer of the festival was without a doubt the Arundel Stronghold. It's a regular, all year round ale from this local brewer and embarrassingly I've not tried it before. However I will now search it out.

Thursday, 27 June 2013

Southwater Sports and Social Club, 27th June 2013

An unlikely night out at a sports club.

Shepherd Neame India Pale Ale (4.5%): Pleasant but lacking weight to the flavour.
Shepherd Neame Spitfire (4.2%): I struggled to get even halfway through my half. Insipid and thick tasting, although cheap at £2 a pint!
Shepherd Neame Masterbrew (3.7%): Similar to the Spitfire but better as it wasn't trying so hard.

I wasn't having the best day but a little indoor Morris dancing was an improvement.  It was good to see a range of four real ales at this club (they also had Bishop's Finger), even if they weren't what I would choose.

Thursday, 16 May 2013

The Six Bells, Newdigate 16th May 2013

Out with the Broadwood Morris Men again on this Thursday evening.

Badger Brewer's Bee (4.4%): With an initial taste of honey, this has well balanced undertones. A very drinkable beer.

This is a Hall and Woodhouse pub and that's not my favourite brewer, so I was very impressed with the beer.  The staff were very helpful too, lending me scissors (I had hat issues) and generally assisting.

Friday, 10 May 2013

The Seahorse, Shalford 10th May 2013

A quiet post-gig drink at this very old pub sadly trying very hard to be a restaurant.

Adnams Broadside (4.7%): Well kept decent strong bitter.
Sharp's Doom Bar (4.0%): Served very cold with a big northern head but once it warmed up tasted almost as good as it at its best.

A good couple of beers at a friendly pub.

Thursday, 9 May 2013

The Selsey Arms, Coolham 9th May 2013

Once again I was out with the Broadwood Morris Men and tonight we were in Coolham, near Horsham.  The weather was awful but like true professionals (or idiots, depending on your point of view), the dancers persisted and got soaked to the skin. The musicians were slightly better off as they sheltered in the doorway. The photographer (me) also had to brave the downpour, but not for long.

Thwaites Lancaster Bomber (4.4%): Bit of an odd chemical taste to this strong bitter.
Sharp's Doom Bar (4.0%): Good but not excellent beer.
Harvey's Sussex Best Bitter (4.0%): At its usual stunning best.

I had a really nice time at this great pub that has somehow passed me by until now.  I don't often eat food in pubs but I'd missed dinner and the jacket potato was immense and delicious.  Chicken and bacon: highly recommended!

There was a good space for a music session (usually called a restaurant I'm guessing) and the staff were great too.  I will be coming back as this pub ticks all the boxes. Apart from being easy to get to.

Thursday, 2 May 2013

The Jolly Tanners, Staplefield 2nd May 2013

The Broadwood Morris Men were out for a third day in a row so once again I found myself at a cozy watering hole drinking real ale and watching dancing. I had been promised a beer festival but unfortunately it didn't start until the following day, so I had to make do with trying four out of the six beers available at the bar.

Arundel Castle (3.8%): A little woolly but this was the very first drop out of the barrel. Ok but not great.
Wharfebank Tether Blond (4.1%): Pleasant golden ale without a particular hop taste. Good but not excellent.
Longman Old Man (4.3%): Very nice old with hints of black cherry and chocolate, almost like a stout, but with a good balance of hoppiness.
Waen Jenner's Pride (4.0%): Really good standard bitter. Very impressed.

I was very tired and wasn't at my best but the beers were excellent and I was sad not to be able to sample the festival beers sitting enticingly in the garden, untapped in their barrels.

Wednesday, 1 May 2013

The Plough, Rusper 1st May 2013

Out again with the morris, this time for May Day. Dancing started in Horsham Carfax then progressed to Rusper church, then to the pubs in Rusper.  We stopped at The Plough for some refreshment.

Sharp's Doom Bar (4.0%): Excellent driving bitter with soft malty undertones.
Harvey's Sussex Best Bitter (4.0%): Very bitter and delicious with that unmistakable Harvey's taste.

Two excellent beers at this lovely old pub.

Tuesday, 30 April 2013

The White Horse, Maplehurst 30th April 2013

So we were out for the first official morris gig of the season: May eve.

Kissingate Chennai Premium IPA (5.0%): Interesting pale ale with a hop flavour I can't place.
Andwell's Gold (4.4%): Really yummy golden ale. One of the best of these I've had.
Kissingate Black Cherry Mild (4.2%): Very mellow, subtly sweet mild.

Always a good selection at this lovely local and tonight was no exception.

And there was some good dancing too.

Saturday, 27 April 2013

St George's Church, West Grinstead 27th April 2013

So we were dancing at this fete and there happened to be a beer tent. It was only right therefore to sample their wares.

Dark Star Hophead (3.8%): Lovely fresh, fruity and cool. One of my all time favourite beers sold in excellent shape.

Hepworth's Saxon Lager (4.0%): Tried this for a change and I was pleasantly surprised.  Crisp and cool and it even tasted good when it had warmed up a bit. Very impressed as lager is not usually my thing.

The beers were good and the only downside was that there was too much to do and I didn't get around to everything before it was time to leave.

Tuesday, 23 April 2013

The Royal Oak, Friday Street 23rd April 2013

St George's Day and a chance to go out and watch some morris dancing. It was a lovely summer's evening, just right for sitting outside with a beer.

Regular readers may be aware that a long time ago I had an issue at this pub, well I'm pleased to say that not only did I receive a warm welcome, but to my delight I discovered that the pub sells beer in thirds (a third of a pint measure) meaning of course that you can try more beers.  In spite of this I still didn't get through all of those on offer.

Privateer Roebuck (3.8%): Grapefruit flavour hop hit but otherwise quite ordinary. In not such a bad way.
Downlands Ruskin's Ram Best Bitter (4.0%): Lots of initial hop taste to this decent drink.
Downlands Devils Dyke Porter (5.0%): This was sweeter than I expected but very pleasant.
Kent Mauri (4.5%): An eye-opener. Very much in the style of an American Pale Ale but without the strength. An usual beer that impressed me.

A lovely evening at a lovely pub. I'm very pleased I visited.

Sunday, 21 April 2013

The Anchor Hotel, Horsham 21st April 2013

Finished off a beery day with a plate of food and a last beer before heading home.

Otter Amber (4.0%): Pleasant bitter with a strong hop aftertaste.
Wadworth St George & the Dragon (4.5%): Well balanced bitter, a little stronger than you might imagine.

I was pleased to be able to try the Wadworth as it was the only one I'd missed at the previous pub.

This is a bit of a cavern of a place but the beer is perfectly acceptable and the food was rather good too.

The Malt Shovel, Horsham 21st April 2013

We were a little premature in celebrating St George's Day two days early, with our favourite local border side, Mythago.

Harvey's Sussex Best Bitter (4.0%): Great beer in great form.
Sharp's Doom Bar (4.0%): Excellent but just not quite as good as the Harvey's on this occasion.
Fuller's London Pride (4.1%): Crisp and tangy, in a good way. Smashing beer.
Timothy Taylor Landlord (4.3%): Creamy and hoppy, another classic.

Blessed with one of the first sunny days of the year, I could have stayed here all day just checking that the beer quality didn't deteriorate.  At one stage this pub had some issues with lines but clearly that is all in the past as the beer is stunning.  I don't expect to be able to find anything this good anywhere else in Horsham... but it won't stop me looking...

The Lynd Cross, Horsham 21st April 2013

Popped in for some breakfast, and as I was having a beery day, decided to start as I meant to go on.

Rudgate Pursuit of Hoppiness (4.0%): Very drinkable, delightful light, pale and hoppy. An excellent choice for a morning beer!

I haven't been in this pub for some time and I was suitably impressed with the choice and range of beers available.

Saturday, 20 April 2013

Woohoo 20,000 hits!

Just thought I'd share that with y'all!

Not bad for a blog I've not touched for years... well, here we go again, the beer blog is back in action...

Sunday, 7 April 2013

The Restaurant Terrace, Amberley Museum 7th April 2013

Hey, look, I'm back!

I just noticed that this blog is approaching 20,000 hits, which sounds like a big number, and I can see that people look at it every day. Amazing. There was me thinking I was putting together a list of all the beers I've drunk for my personal reference, and there's other people reading it.

So since I had some beer today I thought I'd post.  See if anyone reads this one!

Every year Amberley Museum holds a vintage car show in April and there is usually a beer to be found.

Ballard's Polar Bear Bitter (3.8%): Well I'm sure it's not normally called this but as the museum has been on a fundraising initiative to get this loco back on the rails, usually the beer has a train connection. This was a lovely light golden refreshing beer, without being obviously over hopped. A brave choice bearing in mind the recent weather but perfect for the day.

I believe that the restoration work on Polar Bear is almost complete and it is likely to be back very soon.

Sunday, 29 May 2011

The Black Horse, Amberley 29th May 2011

Another lovely pub in Amberley, this was huge and had an enclosed beer garden which was very pleasant on a summer's day.

Harvey’s Sussex Best Bitter (4.0%): A decent brew, hard to beat.
Hop Back Summer Lightning (5.0%): Pleasant strong beer.

While a sandwich here sets you back almost £6, when it appears it's a large plate of food. The chips were the best I've ever tasted.

The Sportsman, Amberley 29th May 2011

Today it was Black Dragon Morris from Horsham who were out dancing.

Langham Flor Ale (3.8%): Delicious hoppy bronze beer with floral flavour.
Hammerpot Shooting Star (3.8%): Lovely warming malty ale. Tastes a bit darker than it looks.
Langham Hip Hop (4.0%): Sweet hoppy drinkable beer.
Harvey's Sussex Best Bitter (4.0%): A particularly good pint of this great beer.

Four lovely beers at this charming country pub with views of the Downs.  At lunchtime on Sunday they were serving plates and plates of good smelling food. And the dancers were given some free beer.

Wednesday, 25 May 2011

The White Horse, Maplehurst 25th May 2011

This time I was out to watch Chanctonbury Morris Men at one of my favourite pubs.

Andwell King John (4.2%): An excellent malty beer with a very bitter hop taste. The first time I've tried a beer from this relatively new brewer.
Arundel Sting in the Tail (4.7%): Tastes good if you can get away from the unpleasant smell.
Welton's Pridenjoy (2.8%): Top marks to this stunning light bitter which stands up in flavour to beers twice its strength.
Harvey's Sussex Best Bitter (4.0%): A lovely pint.

Another good night out.

Thursday, 19 May 2011

The Six Bells, Newdigate 19th May 2011

Another Broadwood Morris evening.

Badger Googly (3.5%): A Hall and Woodhouse beer by another name (apparently it sells better) but still not great in my opinion. I couldn't finish my half pint.
Badger First Gold (4.0%): Slightly more drinkable ale.

A lovely evening at a lovely and surprisingly spacious country pub.

Thursday, 12 May 2011

The Lamb Inn, Lambs Green near Rusper 12th May 2011

Once again we followed the Broadwood Morris Men to a pub in the Sussex countryside. Well actually on this occasion we got there early as we had a small celebration of my son's first birthday (where did that year go?).

Dark Star Hop Head (3.8%): Lovely drinkable sweet beer with a huge hop taste. My first three pints in a long time!
Hogs Back Spring Ale (4.0%): Pleasant and light but quite bitter.

Lovely food, beer and staff at this off-the-beaten-track pub. Oh and we had a great music session as well. Perfect.

Saturday, 7 May 2011

The Stout House, Horsham 7th May 2011

As there was lots of morris dancing in the Carfax there was lots of drinking at the Stout House.

Welton's Broadwood (4.0%): Tasty malty decent bitter. A good local brew.
Welton's Magog (4.2%): Pleasant light coloured beer although I'm sure it used to taste more like wheat beer. Featuring me on the pump clip, oh the fame!

Come on Ray we want Black Dragon beer for Horsham's newest morris side! Talking of Ray Welton, you may be able to see him in the picture talking to Sam, a long-standing member of Broadwood Morris.  Both checking the beer quality no doubt!

The Beer Essentials, Horsham 7th May 2011

Brighton Morris perform outside The Beer Essentials
© Barry Dewdney - used with permission
Possibly my favourite shop in Horsham, morris dancers were given free beer on Horsham Day of Dance today, arranged by Broadwood Morris Men.

Arundel Sussex Gold (4.2%): Well brewed amber nectar. Lovely.
Dark Star Victorian Ruby Mild (6.0%): Heavenly sweet strong dark mild, a beer to rival Sarah Hughes' best efforts at last! I really hope this is a regular beer as I could get very used to it.

Thank you Graham for organising such an enjoyable day for so many people, and thank you to the absent Gareth for the beer.

Sunday, 1 May 2011

The Plough, Rusper 1st May 2011

Celebrated May Day with the Broadwood Morris Men who danced in Rusper church, then had a drink at the Plough, then danced outside the village shop. They went on to The Star, also in Rusper, and then further afield but I had other commitments so I couldn't follow them any longer.

Harvey's Sussex Best Bitter (4.0%): A good but not excellent pint of this super beer.

They also had Sharp's Doom Bar Bitter but I didn't get to try it.  These two beers seem to be everywhere at the moment but I'm not complaining because they're hard to beat.  Even though I understand Sharp's has been taken over by Coors. Ho hum.

Saturday, 30 April 2011

The Dun Horse, Mannings Heath near Horsham 30th April 2011

Today is May Eve and we chose to kick off this year's dancing season with a meal followed by dancing and drinking at this excellent pub, as it is near where we practise.  Later on we had some tunes and songs and generally welcomed in the summer in morris fashion.

Sharp's Doom Bar Bitter (4.0%): Lovely mellow, well balanced bitter.
Harvey's Sussex Best Bitter (4.0%): Another excellent bitter, with slightly more hop tones.

I love this pub and wish it was my local. Lovely beer, lovely food, lovely staff, nice customers, great atmosphere. What more could you ask for? Cheaper beer I suppose.

Thursday, 28 April 2011

The Jolly Tanners, Staplefield 28th April 2011

Came out to see Broadwood Morris Men's first stand of the season and discovered a beer festival.

In the bar:
Golden Valley Kenyon's Original Oatmeal Stout (4.7%): This was off and promptly returned to the bar, where it was easily exchanged for...
Kissingate Akira's Blonde (4.8%): This was the dregs of the barrel but having already changed it, I didn't feel I could do it again.
Harvey's Sussex Best Bitter (4.0%): A lovely pint. Pleased that finally something tasted as it should.

In the beer festival outside:
Elgood's Golden Newt (4.6%): Nutty and astringent decent pale ale.
Hogs Back Royal TEA (5.2%): Fruity and hoppy, a bit strong for the flavour.
Oakham Citra (4.2%): Glorious grapefruit hit. Extremely pale.
Rother Valley Wealden Bitter (3.7%): Stunning session bitter. I wish this were available everywhere.
Skinners Kate Loves Willy (4.2%): Pleasant bitter.
Thornbridge Wild Swan (3.5%): Disappointing weak beer from this usually excellent brewer.

They also had Dark Star Festival and Hop Head, Elgood's Black Dog, Grainstore Rutland Panther, Moorhouse's Black Cat and Woodforde's Wherry available, but since I've definitely tasted these before, I went for the others.

Wednesday, 27 April 2011

The Station Beefeater, Horsham 27th April 2011

Oh what a shame, I locked myself out of my house and the only place to wait was the local pub with real ale and ice cream sundaes available.

Once I'd finished my large chocolate sundae...

St Austell Tribute (4.2%): Smooth pale ale with honey tones. Served on the colder side of "normal" but still within range.

A pleasant pub with friendly staff, fairly quiet on a mid-week evening.

Saturday, 23 April 2011

The Anchor Hotel, Horsham 23rd April 2011

This large venue was recently known as "Bar Vin" but has now reverted to its original name, "The Anchor Hotel".

Harvey's Sussex Best Bitter (4.0%): A super pint of bitter. Kept a bit cold for my normal liking but I was so hot this wasn't a problem.
Young's London Gold (4.5%): Cold, gold and sweet. Very refreshing drunk outside in the soaring heat.

They also had Bombardier available.

The Beer Essentials, Horsham 23rd April 2011

Black Dragon Morris dancing outside The Beer Essentials
© Barry Dewdney - used with permission
We were out in Horsham today morris dancing to celebrate St George's Day and we started outside the Beer Essentials in East Street.

The proprietor, Gareth, supports the morris and was good enough to supply us with some light refreshment to maintain our spirits.

Hammerpot This England (4.0%): Delicious, well balanced bitter, very drinkable.

He always stocks a variety of real ales available straight from the barrel as well as many bottled beers.

Friday, 22 April 2011

The Greyhound, Tinsley Green, Crawley 22nd April 2011

Here again for the World Championship Marbles that is played every Good Friday. This year there was a beer festival. In fact it's still on, it runs until Monday or until the beer runs out.

Cotleigh Buzzard (4.8%): A dryer, darker version of the Honey Buzzard. Tastes like an Old Ale.
Cotleigh Honey Buzzard (4.5%): Pleasant, strong bitter with a sweet aftertaste.
Cotleigh Golden Seahawk (4.2%): Smells like dark beer but is a beautiful orangey colour. Very bitter but very easy to drink.
Kissingate Storyteller (3.5%): Sweet, light and blonde. A lovely summer easy-drinking delight. The sort of beer people say appeals to women.
Kissingate Moon (4.8%): Tastes like a refreshing fruity soft drink, which at this strength is very dangerous.
Kissingate Warlock's Strong Ale (5.2%): Sweet, fruity, dark and strong. A decent pint.
Kissingate Black Cherry Mild (4.2%): Heavenly sweet dark mild. Can't pick out the cherry flavour though.

Adnams Broadside (4.7%): Delightful, strong and warming. A stunning drop of ale.
Fuller's London Pride (4.1%): Delicious rounded flavour with a lovely straw-hoppy taste. When it's good it's great, and this is.
Shepherd Neame Spitfire Ale (4.2%): Distinctively Shepherd Neame, this is too alcoholic for the flavour. Not one of my favourites.
Wells Bombardier (4.3%): A bit soft and woolly drunk straight after the London Pride. Still a decent pint.

There were three bottled beers (Shepherd Neame Tanglefoot, Marston's Pedigree and Wychwood Hobgoblin) and four draught ciders (Thatchers Cheddar Valley and the local JB's, plus two others), so for a first ever beer festival for this pub, it was a good range and I hope to attend many more. The beer seemed to sell well and the marbles crowd were pleased to have a variety of decent beers on tap.

Friday, 15 April 2011

The Holbrook Club, Horsham 15th April 2011

This is a members' club in Horsham but there are often opportunities to visit, should you wish. Tonight there was a murder mystery play on so I thought I'd investigate.

King Brighton Blonde (3.9%): Mellow golden ale with a smooth mouthfeel and pleasant hoppy aftertaste.
King Spring Ale (4.1%): Pleasant and refreshing although maybe a little bland.
King Horsham Best (3.8%): Delicious straw hoppiness to this classy bitter.

There was also some Hammerpot (Woodcote Bitter) but it ran out as I got to the bar.

The club has recently brought in a two-tier pricing structure (members and non-members) so if you're going to drink here a lot it might pay to join! It's nowhere near the ambience of a pub but the beer is usually good.

Saturday, 18 April 2009

The Dolphin, Eastbourne 18th April 2009

This was a very busy "town" pub, absolutely jammed full of people. I stood by the bar as there was nowhere else to go and watched pint after pint being pulled.

Caledonian Raspberry Fool (4.0%): Stupidly sweet, this tastes like it has real fruit in it. Surprisingly it grew on me.
Castle Eden & Cameron's Nimmo's XXXX (4.4%): A decent malty brew.

There were also Thwaites and Harveys beers available.

I took several pictures of this pub but they all have these two men in. No, I've no idea who they are, they were just standing there and wanted to be in the picture.

The Terminus, Eastbourne 18th April 2009

Was starting to feel the worse for wear by the time we left this pub and I knew there were several more to go. My photography skills were suffering.

Harvey's Sussex Best Bitter (4.0%): Well kept beer at this bar.

The Buccaneer, Eastbourne 18th April 2009

After drinking gently for most of the day at the CAMRA AGM members' bar, come the evening I was persuaded to go on a pub crawl with the CAMRA Young Members group (just being young enough!). How wise this was you may decide after reading this and the next six entries...

Itchen Valley Pure Gold (4.8%): Cloudy but pleasant golden ale.

Also available was Youngs Bitter, Bombardier and Abbot Ale. The pub was large and had knowledgeable staff.

Friday, 17 April 2009

The Hurst Arms, Eastbourne 17th April 2009

I was trying to get to the Star which apparently I was within yards of, but it was extremely dark and raining and I didn't fancy negotiating the adjacent supermarket carpark to find it, so I headed up the hill to the Hurst Arms.

This was a delightful local Harvey's pub, with a good variety of Harvey's beers and a good variety of clientele. Including, of course, a collection of CAMRA members.

Harvey's Dark Mild (3.0%): Tasty mild, very similar in flavour to the Sussex Best Bitter. I think it's the Sussex XX Mild by another name.
Harvey's Hadlow Bitter (3.5%): Just not strong enough to hit the spot, even after starting with the weaker beer.
Harvey's Armada Ale (4.5%): Pleasant bitter, very drinkable with a very bitter taste.

A very friendly and inviting pub. As I walked in the door, the lady behind the bar proffered a piece of kitchen towel to clean my glasses, as they were so steamed up. Exactly what a glasses-wearer needs at that moment! The service couldn't have been better and we happily stayed until closing.

The Counting House, Eastbourne 17th April 2009

Just round the corner from the Lamb, this more genteel establishment was a bit more refined and calm.

1648 St George English Ale (4.5%): Strong hop character followed by a separate mellow malt taste. Ok. Dispensed straight from the barrel.
White White Gold (4.9%): Beautiful fruity initial taste and an interesting hop character.

Leather sofas, modern art and very good tapas.

The Lamb, Eastbourne 17th April 2009

I was persuaded to go to the CAMRA Members' Weekend and AGM in Eastbourne, which necessitated doing a little research in the local hostelries.

On the Friday evening it was pouring with rain, but I managed to get to this large pub in the Old Town area.

Harvey's Olympia (4.3%): Pleasant but uninspiring golden ale.
Harvey's Sussex Best Bitter (4.0%): Served a bit cold. Considering how much they must sell here, not quite at it's peak. Fine beer though, one of my favourites.
Harvey's Star of Eastbourne (5.5%): I love Harvey's beers but they tend to suffer from all tasting very similar, and this is no exception. A stronger version of the Sussex Best.

At 9pm on a Friday night, with a ska gig upstairs and seemingly most of the 900 CAMRA members in town for the AGM on its premises, the pub was heaving. Too many people in one place for my liking but most of them seemed to be having a good time.

It took so long to get served that for the first time ever I ordered two rounds at once. I was drinking halves and it took less time to drink one than to order one.

Apologies for the dreadful photo, it was dark and raining heavily.

Saturday, 11 April 2009

Private Party, near Bristol 11th April 2009

There were three beers on at this annual event - the same three as last year so I think they must be someone's favourites.

Palmer's IPA (4.2%): Drinkable beer but without a distinctive flavour.
RCH Hewish IPA (3.6%): Nutty beer. Not hoppy or strong, so no idea why it's called an IPA! Pleasant.
St Austell Black Prince (4.0%): Dark beer but again without a big flavour. Good for drinking all night.

The Oak House Hotel, Axbridge 11th April 2009

Managed to find this pub in lovely Axbridge selling both lunch and real ale.

Butcombe Bitter (4.1%): Served a little cold but warmed into a lovely well balanced mellow bitter.

A tasty if rather expensive plate of fish and chips. Would have liked to stay for another beer but my companions were set on returning to the Doom Bar at the previous pub.

The Crown Inn, Axbridge 11th April 2009

Coming to this pub has turned into an annual event. In other years we've got a big plate of lunch but the new management hadn't got the kitchen going so after sampling the beers we had to find somewhere else for lunch.

Sharp's Crown Inn Glory (3.8%): Pleasant light coloured bitter.
Sharp's Doom Bar Bitter (4.0%): A good pint of one of my favourite bitters.
Cheddar Ales Potholer (4.3%): A huge bittersweet hop taste to this 'more exciting than most' golden ale. Almost an IPA.

The beer was so good we came back later for a top up and a take out. And the lovely sunny day meant we could take advantage of the large beer garden.

Saturday, 21 March 2009

The Chequer Inn, Steyning 21st March 2009

Stopped in Steyning on the way home to see what this grand looking pub was like.

Dark Star Best (4.0%): Drinkable but uninspiring bitter. I've tasted much better from this local brewer.

Other beers available were Arundel Sussex Gold, Fuller's Gale's HSB, Timothy Taylor Landlord and Fuller's London Pride.

This 15th century inn had two bars, one full of sports fans either watching loud rugby on a big screen or playing snooker in the back, and one laid out as a restaurant.

We had planned on eating but we didn't feel hungry enough, although the menu looked excellent and reasonable. There was also free Wifi which appeared to be in use on the table next to us, incongruous in such an old building!

The Selden Arms, Worthing 21st March 2009

This was a small "local" pub, which we couldn't get into at first because the doorway was full of excited dog.

There was a bad smell inside, which may or may not have been connected to the presence of the animal.

Cottage Champflower Ale (4.2%): Decent, rounded bitter.
Vale Black Swan Mild (3.9%): A gorgeous dark, mellow, chocolately mild.

Both were served a touch too cold for my taste.

There were about ten locals watching the rugby in the corner of the bar, but it was not loud and didn't get in the way. A lovely pub apart from the smell.

The Swan, Worthing 21st March 2009

As it was a sunny day and we had use of a car, we drove down to Worthing to see the sea and try some beer at a couple of pubs.

Harvey's Sussex Best Bitter (4.0%): Perfectly kept Harvey's, lovely.
Hop Back Summer Lightning (5.0%): Light, hoppy and strong. A bit sweeter than I remember, but great on a sunny afternoon.

A dark, cavernous interior well decorated with horse-brasses and swan ornaments, although the music was a bit loud.

Saturday, 7 March 2009

The Three Legged Mare, York 7th March 2009

Just a few yards from the Minster, this York Brewery pub was uninspiring from the outside, but felt very welcoming and friendly once inside.  The bar staff were young yet knowledgeable about the beers, a rare combination.

York Wonkey Donkey (4.5%): Dark and smooth strong malty beer.
Tring Colley's Dog (5.2%): A distinctive mellow hop character to this strong deep red bitter.

Having run out of cash and not found a cash machine in the whole of York, I needed to pay by card and round up the price of a couple of halves to £5.  The "tapas" menu sufficed and I had the most delicious bowl of cheese cubes and pickled onions for just £2.50.

Probably my favourite pub of the day (in spite of the electric pink toilet walls).  I will definitely be back next time I'm in York.

The Blue Bell, York 7th March 2009

I almost didn't make it into this pub as it was covered in "Private Party" signs.  However having walked all the way across York (all of ten minutes) to get here, I went in anyway.  As I was on my own they let me into the small front bar which was full of locals.  I think the event must have been in the rear bar.

There was an impressive range of seven beers on offer, but after trying two I didn't want to outstay my welcome.

Ossett Silver King (4.4%): Pleasant, sweet, very pale golden ale.
Tetley Mild (3.3%): Delicious smooth and dark, not at all what I was expecting.  For the first time I'm convinced that sometimes pouring beer via a sparkler can be beneficial.

An interesting small pub with a wood panelled interior.  Well worth a visit but don't be disappointed if it's full and you can't get in.  The friendly barman who served me said that this is the only pub in York which regularly has mild.

The Golden Ball, York 7th March 2009

I was looking forward to visiting a few good pubs in York as I only had a couple of hours before heading back down south, so there wasn't time to do much else.

This pub was a good local with several beers on, although the choice was not what I'd call inspired.

Everard's Tiger (4.2%): Cold and smooth drinkable bitter.

The other beers were Ruddles County, Caledonian Deuchar's IPA, John Smith's and Shepherd Neame Spitfire. There were several small rooms off corridors and I don't think I found them all. The main bar was full of a birthday party.

Brigantes Bar and Brasserie, York 7th March 2009

Came to York for a CAMRA meeting at this family-oriented pub.

York March Madness (3.8%): Very pale, sweet hoppy beer.
Leeds Special Session Bitter (3.5%): This tasted a little thin after the slightly stronger York beer.

It was good to see local beers available, and especially refreshing to see two session bitter strength beers on offer at the same time.