Friday, 23 April 2010

Monster Raving Loonies

I have no real desire to comment on the election, but I did come across the Monster Raving Loonies manifesto which includes the following :

Identity Cards

ID cards will be issued in form of a small compact mirror with the following instructions.

1.If asked to identify yourself .....look in mirror to check that its you. If you cannot identify yourself....

2.Ask someone else to look in the mirror to see if its you....If you still cannot identify yourself....

3.Try again later when sober.

My own suggestion for their manifesto is as follows :

Reduce the drinking age in pubs to 16 and increase the drinking age in off-licenses and supermarkets to 21. Thus removing street and home binge drinking among under 21s into the controlled, supervised and safe environment of the pub. We all started drinking beer sensibly in pubs aged 16 and 17, why not our children and grandchildren ?

Wednesday, 21 April 2010

Willoughby Arms - St George's Day

As we approach St George's Day, I am again pleased to give a shout-out to my friends at one of my favourite pubs, The Willoughby Arms in Kingston.

Their traditional St George's Day beer festival starts at noon on Thursday and ends on Saturday offering the usual 30 odd beers.

The beer list is on their website -

Highlights from the beer list are the two beers, Wandle and Junction, from Sambrook's Brewery which seem hard to find in my patch, together with Spring Ale and Honeydance from Twickenham Fine Ales . I guess Honeydance is a special Sundance brewed with honey. There is also the legendary Downton Chocolate Orange Delight and, although I have been going on about it for two years, I challenge anyone not to love that beer. Dark Star are also represented with their Saison, Festival and IPA beers. To finish there is another rare cask of Fullers Golden Pride. Something for everyone.

If you dig deep on the Willoughby Arms web-site you will also find a copy of this video that I took at the event last year. Come along on Friday at six and you can see them in the flesh so to speak.

Friday, 16 April 2010

Just because I wear a hoodie, it doesn't make me a bad person.

I gotta share this pic which goes a long way to describing how much I am enjoying the current Wetherspoons Beer Festival. This was taken at the JDW in Aberystwyth over the Easter weekend where I was on a family trip and by good fortune found some early festival beers.

First up was the Maui Coconut Porter (5%), brewed by Garrett Marrero from Maui Brewery, Hawaii who travelled to Bank's at Wolverhampton to brew a cask version of his beer. Look out for this, it is delicious - a classic stout with roast flavours mellowed by the smooth silky coconut with chocolate and coffee notes. Not to most of my family's taste but perfection for me.

After a couple of those next up was the Herold Black Chalice (4.8%) another stout imported this time from Czech Republic. Another winner.

I am not a particularly regular visitor to Wetherspoons, preferring a more traditional pub, but I really do enjoy the beer festivals - 50 odd beers over three weeks with some spectacular efforts brewed by visiting brewers (I am still looking for Honkers by Goose Island, Chicago) and some really good British beers brewed specially for the event - check out Sharp's Gentle Jane if you see it, a fruity and spicy 4.8% pale beer brewed using Belgian yeast.

Wetherspoon's beer festival goes on to the 25th April.

Sunday, 11 April 2010

We Love Hops / Hops A-Z

This is a bit of a lazy Sunday type of blog post - as indeed was the last one on Friday - but there are a couple of web-sites that may have passed you by that deserve a wider audience.

If you are anything like me, you will have noticed over the last couple of years the increasing importance of hops in beer. As the golden style of beer has become more popular, so has the more adventurous use of hops, both British and International, in those beers giving more distinct aromas and flavours and high, sometimes huge, bitterness.

Much of brewing remains a dark art to an enthusiastic consumer such as I and there is little by way of sophisticated information to educate one in the science of the hop. A couple of blogs though have recently provided a worthy public service about hop types and I commend them to your attention :

At the Thornbridge Brewer's Blog, Kelly Ryan elaborates upon the wide range of hops that are currently available from their hop merchants Charles Faram here.

and Simon Johnson aka Reluctant Scooper has spent the last month or two researching the hop and most of his blog postings recently have been in the series : Hops A-Z. Check it out here.

I know I like hoppy beers, perhaps now I am on my way to knowing more about why I like them so much.

Friday, 9 April 2010

Beer Festival Diary

The latest London Drinker magazine has just been printed. An electronic version can be read here. I list below those imminent festivals that have chosen to advertise in the magazine.

8th-10th Bexley CAMRA, Sidcup Sports Club
9th-10th Hook, Surbiton
15th-18th Waltham Forest Council S&SC Walthamstow
22nd-25th Red Cow, Richmond
23rd-24th Willoughby Arms, Kingston
30th-3rd Harefield Harefield Village
30th-3rd White Horse (LocAle) Parson's Green

May 6th-9th Aldborough Hall Farm, North Weald
8th Five Bells
20th-23rd Hope (Mild), Carshalton 28th-31st Red Lion (Champions) Isleworth

June 8th-12th Thurrock CAMRA, Grays
17th-20th Hope (Summer LocAle), Carshalton
25th-26th Kingston CAMRA, Workmen's Club and Institute

July 2nd-4th Princess of Wales Morden Rd, S Wimbledon