Friday, 30 July 2010

CAMRA Bans Sandals from GBBF

Yes, it's true. The safety guidelines for all volunteer staff now state that "sensible" footwear must be worn on the "working floor" at all times that the festival is open to the public. Any footwear which has an open toe or high heels is unsuitable. Volunteers who present themselves wearing such footwear may not be permitted to work in these areas and may be re-deployed elsewhere.

And that does not mean redeployment to the GBBF Press Office as we have banned sandals for years - though more for PR and aesthetic reasons than health and safety.

For the avoidance of doubt, all customers ARE permitted to wear their sandals and high heels. Socks, shorts, fleeces, anoraks, beery T-shirts, silly hats, panda-pop bottles, beards and bellies are also most welcome.

Tuesday, 20 July 2010

Great British Beer Festival

The Great British Beer Festival will be held as usual at Earls Court in the first week of August, opening with a trade session at noon on Tuesday 3rd August, and open to the public from 5pm, then every day from noon (11am Sat) until close at 7pm on Saturday 7th.

GBBF website is here

On-line tickets are available here

Foreign beer lists are here

British real ales are here

Trade session tickets are available here

A Girls Guide to Beer tickets are here

A very good preview printed in last week's Publican is here

I will be there all week helping out in the Press and Publicity Office. If anyone needs any information or help just drop me a line - beerjustice at - or Twitter @beerjustice or @gbbf

Monday, 19 July 2010

Real Ale in Ambridge

There are many lengths that I will go to to bring news and recommendations to this blog. However, a step too far is to tune in to the Archers on Radio 4.

I understand that there is a real ale storyline running presently in the radio soap but you will have to follow it up yourselves on BBC's iplayer or wait for one of the northern folk to post it on their blog.

Friday, 16 July 2010

Nicholson's Pubs

One chain of London pubs that has improved in leaps and bounds in recent years is Nicholson's, part of the M&B empire. They have always owned some (most ?) of the most historic pubs in London but traditionally had a reputation as tourist traps with warm, badly kept beer served by inexperienced staff at high prices.

Well, someone is now doing the right thing with these great pubs. A few years ago a decision was made to make these pubs a haven for fine ale. Firstly the quality improved, the staff were all made to be trained by leading brewers, cellar to bar fittings were updated, the beer was given a major focus so throughput increased and some old hardy favourites such as London Pride and Timothy Taylor Landlord were made permanent beers at very keen prices for the Capital.

More recently things have improved again. A much wider choice is now available in many of the pubs and those in charge are obviously right on the button as far as consumer choice is concerned.

Lately, beer lists of the Summer Ale List have appeared outside the pubs with the pub's current offerings ticked on the list. Passing the Princess of Wales in Villiers Street WC2 other day day, I was enticed inside by a tick in the box for Thornbridge Wild Swan. One of my current favourite beers, very pale coloured with a distinct flavoursome hop character and only 3.5% - perfect for a summer evening.

Inside, supping my fresh and cool pint, I discovered the list in booklet form. The beers for summer are listed in their categories, session ales, blondes, IPAs, dark and speciality beers and the choices include Rudgate Viking, Adnams Regatta, Morrissey Fox Aussie IPA (hope to find that one), St Austell Proper Job (another of the finest around) and Brian Turner Golden Ale, a beer created by the celebrity chef together with Thornbridge.

The wine list is in its rightful place at the rear of the booklet together with the seasonal offerings such as Pimms and Crabbies alcoholic ginger beer.

So another of my recommendations for the rest of the summer is a London Nicholson's Pub. Not only some of the finest pub architecture in the world but now some of the finest beer too. Cheers.

Tuesday, 13 July 2010

Slovakian Beer

Not only did I fail to get my world Cup Sweepstake posting finished in time I also left it unfinished in my haste to get to some paid work yesterday. The bits I did not include are :

The local shop web-site for all things Czech and Slovak is

The beer Zlaty Bazant translates as Golden Pheasant - hence the bird on the can.

The beer itself is an acceptable quaffing lager. It is the first tin of beer I have drunk in this country for at least ten years. When are craft brewers here going to realise that canning is no longer a great Satan ?

On the can in large gold lettering are the number - 10%. Though the shopkeeper tried to persuade me that this is the amount of hops in the beer I knew it was a scale which measures the amount of sugar left in the fermentable wort and is an indication of strength. The Czechs/Slovaks use the Balling scale which is similar to degrees Plato and to reach the ABV you need to multiply by .4. This means a 10 per cent degrees Plato or Balling is about 4% ABV and a 12% beer is about 4.8%. In tiny print on the back of the can it suggests 4.3% ABV. The can is well packaged and eye catching. Perhaps the marketeers think that by putting 10% in large gold lettering on the front and 4.3% in tiny print at the rear it will help sell the beer - I think not.

That's it. A post of two halves and not exactly match of the day.

Bring on the footie season and come on you R's

Monday, 12 July 2010

World Cup Beer Sweepstake - Slovakia

It took about half an hour of the first game against USA for England fans to realise that the tournament would end in failure. It took me slightly longer but my effort to join in the beer bloggers world cup sweepstake has also ended in failure.

Six weeks ago, beer bloggers worldwide were invited to join the sweepstake. Each blog would be given a random team from the world cup and be expected to write a blog about beer from that country. We were given plenty of time and the deadline to post the blog was the final whistle of last night's final match. I have clearly failed too.

Those who drew out teams like Honduras and North Korea were in real trouble even getting hold of some beer let alone writing about it. My team was Slovakia which being next door to Czech Republic I had thought would have a wide choice. I was mistaken but a local beer could not have been easier to find - at the end of the street in fact.

Like many newsagents, the one nearest my house has in recent years become more of a mini grocery providing emergency staples like milk and bread saving the inconvenience and time of a walk to the supermarkets. Many of these newsagents in the vicinity have taken to selling authentic Polish produce due to the opening up of Euro borders. My local has two flags on the shopfront, one for Czech Republic and one, luckily of me, for Slovakia.
It could not have been easier for me to pass by the fridge while topping up my oyster to pick up a beer or two from Slovakia and still I failed.

I was engrossed in the tournament, match by match went by without a beer. Slovakia left the tournament a day after England and still I could not be arsed to drink it. Once England had gone and that emotional connection had gone, I started to really enjoy the competition. We knew having seen the football played by Germany, Spain, Holland, Argentina and Brazil that England, like this blog, were well off the pace and not capable of winning the big prize.

And so it was left to the final, Spain v Holland and a cheeky Slovakian beer. I dropped in on the newsagent and picked up a can of Zlaty Bazant, the country's leading brand and settled down to enjoy it in front of the match intending to write about the experience after the final whistle. Well extra time came and went, the stalemate was broken by a winning goal to Spain, the presentation took a while and once I had settled down to watch the after proceedings with James Corden the moment and my deadline had passed and to bed I climbed to dream about the day that I too scored the winner in the world cup final.
So here I am, early morning, paying lip service to the competition, and writing my entry for world cup beer sweepstake. This blog will never be a prize winner. I come from a finance background, more creative accounting than creative writing but I do like to play my part and be involved.

The beer ? Well as you might expect, a light pilsner style - is there such a style ? Perhaps light lager might describe better. My beer was 10% - not by volume but on the Czech Balling scale and about 4%. I gather from Adrian Tierney Jones 1001 Beers book that the brewery also do a 12% beer at 4.8% a more traditional strength for bohemian pilsner. My beer was clearly the "vier" version and suffered with lack of body and flavour for that reason.

Saturday, 10 July 2010

Make Mine a Pint @ RSC

If the Great British Beer Festival is getting a bit exhausting by the time you get to Thursday check out a free lecture being hosted by the Royal Society of Chemistry at Burlington House, Piccadilly, London W1 0BA from 6.30 to 8.30pm on 5 August.

Paul Hughes, Director of the Institute for Brewing and Distilling will be presenting his talk titled Make Mine a Pint as he considers 10,000 years of beer evolution, from a dietary staple to a social lubricant.

Whilst the origins of beer have been lost in prehistory, one of its undoubted successes was due its reliability as a potable source of water. One highly publicised example of this was the apparent immunity of the employees of the Broad Street Brewery during the breakout of the 1854 cholera epidemic.

His presentation will review the historical development of beer, and explore the underlying features of beer production and composition that have help to make beer a safe alternative to water. Additionally, he will consider the ongoing debate concerning beer and health as beer, at least in the western world, has evolved into an elective choice for consumers.

The seminar is free though pre-booking is required at

Friday, 9 July 2010

National Archives - Pub History Podcasts

You may remember me mentioning the Pub History Society Conference that was held earlier in the year at the National Archives in Kew. I have just discovered that two of the talks given at that seminar are now available as podcasts.

You can find my original posting about the conference here.

Two of the talks : Women, Darts and the Pub in the Inter-war Period and Lost London Pubs can now be listened to through the National Archives website here.

I haven't listened to the podcasts yet but remember an excellent conference and hopefully you will find them of some interest.

Wednesday, 7 July 2010

Ealing Beer Festival

My beery recommendation this week will take you to Walpole Park, Ealing where West Middlesex CAMRA are hosting the twenty first Ealing Beer Festival.

Over 170 cask ales will be there including plenty of fruit beers from Coach House Brewery and rare casks of Fuller's Porter and Vintage (2009). I will be seeking out the Grateful Deaf beer from Yorkshire's Elland Brewery; a true American pale ale created by Ken Fisher of the Grateful Deaf Brewing Society based in Oregon. Ken is a regular visitor to the Great British Beer Festival and I am expecting his liaison with the superb Elland brewery to be something special.

There will be the usual mix of ciders and perries for those odd-folk who prefer them (no comment from me). The foreign beer bar has been excellent in past years and I expect it to have a good range from Belgiuum, Germany and Holland including a Dutch mushroom beer for the real fun guys and the legendary Rochefort 10 from Belgium - one of the World's greatest beers.

The festival is open from Wednesday 7th July to Saturday 10th and is a short walk from Ealing Broadway station. Directions are clear on the web-site. Free entry for CAMRA members before 4pm. If it stays dry and the sun comes out, I recommend a visit - see you there perhaps.

Monday, 5 July 2010

London Pride Walk

On Sunday I pitched up to help the Cancer Research UK team who organise the London Pride Walk in Chiswick each year.

The walk starts at Fuller's Brewery and follows the river as far as Chiswick Bridge to the south, crosses the river, follows the south of the river northwards to Hammersmith, over the river again and back to Fullers southbound along the north bank - are those directions clear ?

Ten kilometres, give or take, which most of the four hundred participants take as a leisurely, picturesque walk, though the more energetic run the distance to get back to Fuller's Brewery to rehydrate with London Pride and get an early go at the barbecue, raffle, cakes etc.

The really energetic take a long while to get back. Indeed some don't make it round the route at all. It is unsurprising given the quality of some of the pubs along the route that the most hardy get waylaid. The Ship in Mortlake, the White Hart and Bull's Head in Barnes, the excellent pubs on Hammersmith riverside all took in strays. Those who managed to pass all of those could not resist the Dove, one of London's famous watering holes and a refuge for Fuller's Ales to refresh on the warmest day of the year.

My part was played on the park next to the brewery, helping with supporting the admin and registration team so I did not get to see any riverside pubs. I did not go thirsty though as the clear attraction of the event for me can be supported by these photos.

This is an annual event, volunteer led by Cancer Research UK and Hammersmith Hospital with much tangible support by Richard Fuller, Fuller's Brewery and all of the Fuller's team. Everyone should show much Pride that over a million pounds has been raised over sixteen years. I will definitely flag this date earlier next year and will hopefully see more of my friends along the route.

The runners race off in a chase for a pint of London Pride

Thursday, 1 July 2010

US beers at

I'm continuing on a theme of American Craft Beer as we lead up to Independence Day and the US beer festival at White Horse, Parson's Green at the end of the week.

I am pleased to report that now offers some American beers as part of their ever growing range.

They now list full cases from Anchor, Brooklyn, Dogfishhead, Flying Dog, Goose Island, Sierra Nevada and Victory as well as a selection of mixed cases.

They are continually adding some of the best UK breweries such as Dark Star, Thornbridge, Marble and Saltaire and together with their new range of US beers, it makes myBrewerytap an essential visit in one's quest for good beer by mail order. is fast becoming another hero for the armchair beer drinker in the hunt for great beer.