Sunday, 28 December 2014

Artesian Ales: a double header

More ales, this time a brace, to review and it would appear that they are joined somehow. It would be wrong not to review them as the pair that they are. I picked them up for a pound apiece down at a supermarket I don't get to much - they have a good selection of real ales without being expensive. However, they remain an evil empire, not the Evil Empire, but an evil empire nonetheless. Even so, I was intrigued enough to pick these up as part of my ale-inspired Christmas present from Anna.

It was only after I got them home that I realised the horrible truth: they were both brewed by Shepherd Neame who seem to stalk my every move in beer reviews! Not that I'm complaining, they do appear to be one of my favourite brewers, but it is slightly annoying the way that they turn up without me even looking for them!

Rare, but I know where I stole this from:

And so, tonight, I am reviewing Artesian Dark Ale and Artesian Light Ale - why not - and thus face you with two paths. One will lead back to sanity and normalcy as you click on the address bar and type in a new place to visit, the other, the dangerous path, is to click below and read more. So, what is your choice fair traveller?

Saturday, 27 December 2014

Christmas Ale: OMG!

I know, I know, I usually only post reviews on a Thursday and a Sunday. But, this year, I thought I'd try and review more than my usual amounts of ale. Plus, this is another specifically Christmas ale and so it would be churlish not to review it over the Christmas season. I refer, of course, to the other offering by Thwaites of Old Miserable Git. I saw someone reviewing it as being a good ale last night on the intertubes and thought I would also partake, having seen it locally.

Thus, despite snow and ice on the roads, I went out to pick it up and promptly had it in order to review. Also, to try and balance the disappointment of the Snowman's Revenge (here). Would you like to know more?

Thursday, 25 December 2014

Christmas Review: Beers!

After the morning of frenetic unwrapping and playing on a carousel system (the Boy) or manically changing the dresses on magic clip dolls over and over and over (and over), that would be the Girlie, the wife (Willow) and I sat down to watch an old DVD (Dylan Moran, Monster) and snuggle up. I got out my Christmas ale (yes, I have only the two) and decided to imbibe them during the showing. Originally in scrawled notes and now written up to post online!


I have had Yule Love It (again) by Thwaites and Snowman's Revenge by Wentworth, though this may be a bad batch, we'll see.

Would you like to build a snowman? No? Okay, then read my reviews instead!

Sunday, 21 December 2014

A Trip to Carlisle

So we progressed Oop North recently as part of the Christmas rounds. This was before Anna had spent three days in hospital and had the kidney infection rear it's ugly head for a second and third time. She's home now, as I write up this review, but she's still in pain and not fully well. However, this is not a personal blog, it is a beer blog. And, to that end, I had two ales whilst up where I used to live and they were almost local. Well, one was local. The other was a princely £1.50, which I thought good value. Except I saw it today for 89p. Damn.

Anyway, yes, I shall be reviewing Corby Noir by Cumberland (Carlisle) and Bumblebee by Ballistic Beers as these were the ones I had that rainy, cold evening whilst trying to get the children to bed in my mother's house.

Would ye like to ken meir about the ales? Then travel wimme doon the road at the edge of the Batable Lands an' schott any meetings ye may ha' instead of bidin' wimme a while.

Thursday, 18 December 2014

Beer Review: Aile

It is late in the year, it is dark and the cold is drawing in upon both the landscape and the people. As the night turns black so people turn inward, toward the warmth of hearth and family, huddled against the darkness without in small spaces. Blankets, coats and pyjamas used 'gainst the freeze about lest the fire draw the attention of the eyes of others not of our kith or kin. It is time for beer, time for ealu.

And tonight's guest to the rug before the fire is Aile, being the Manx Celtic for 'fire' or 'flame', which seemed oddly fitting. It is brewed by Okell's in the Isle of Mann and I have a few of theirs hanging around so expect to see them again.

Okay, okay, so I had it at lunch...

Bad poetry aside, this bills itself as a Porter and so I was expecting something heavy and stout-like, if that's not your bag, desist! Otherwise, you know, feel free to dive right in by clicking on this not-at-all ominous and significant link in order to plunge through the dread and eldritch portal.

Sunday, 14 December 2014

Beer Review: Rye Pale Ale

I've been beaten to this ale by another competent reviewer but, being me, I am not deterred. The tree is up, the children and Anna erected it on Friday, and today has been spent running about sorting Christmas stuffs. The Boy.exe stopped working, crashed and failed to reboot from start - we suspect an ear infection - meaning that he has vacillated between running around like a hellion and falling asleep leaning against one or other of his parents. For those keeping track, Willow is feeling better than she was but not out of the woods yet.

The scene was thus set for a proper ale of an evening to help me into the next week of running around and sorting yet more stuffs. Therefore I did not feel quite so bad going for another ale from the evil empire of Tesco, I refer, of course, to Revisionist (this time running cover for Marston's) Rye Pale Ale. Well, why not?

On a cold day, where the sun barely managed to beat the frost and melt the ice on the paths about town (and the frost formed after the break of dawn, I watched it happen to the rooves opposite) I lacked stout in the kitchen, but this pale has been waiting a while. An end, then, to waiting! Would you like to come with me further?

Thursday, 11 December 2014

Beer Review: Premier Bitter

Not the first choice for the beginning of winter, I know, but I thought an interesting one and, you know, the fact that the brewery is in Lancashire will mean that it always holds a place close to my heart. Tonight, I am reviewing the rather straight-forwardly named Premier Bitter from Moorhouse's who were introduced to me by my wife a long time ago around a birthday without me quite realising what they were about and then featured heavily at Hallowe'en (here), because reasons. This is now, in part, rectified.

So, yet another jaunt begins into the world of a man who can wax far too lyrical about ales but who, nevertheless, does not care and does it anyway. When I die, this will no doubt make as good an epitaph as any. In the meantime, dare you follow beyond the link?

Sunday, 7 December 2014

Beer Review: Barry Island IPA

This has waited a long time, as it was part of the gift from when I was last in Leeds (link) and something of the powerfully hopped variety. So, on this rather bright day, I decided to actually have it with some food. It was poorly chosen food (that frozen chicken and mushrooms thing I did ages back) but food nevertheless. I refer, of course, to the ale that is referenced in the title up there: Barry Island IPA from Brains who, I suspect, are different to S. A. Brains as I can find no reference to the initials. However, by the same token, one assumes that there is some link. And I have been watching some Monty Python involving long rants so that may be affecting my writing style.

No pubbing again this week due to the fact that it is close to Christmas and so we've been oop North to see people and have only just got home. As I was driving it seemed a bad idea to drink round other people's houses and so I've fallen back on this lovely little number to make good the shortfall.

Without further ado, not adieu, I shall therefore continue on with my beer review what it is mine and this is what it is. A beer review, one of many on this site, what are mine, and this is one of them.

Yes, ahem, would you like to know more?

Thursday, 4 December 2014

Beer Review: Dark Denomination

Tonight it is the time of something dark and eldrich. And forgiveness. Yes, tonight I am attempting to rehabilitate Flipside from Random Toss (here) fame with another go at them (mainly because the local micro-brewery has them at a much reduced rate than where Anna got their last offering). So, it is the turn of Dark Denomination for which I have our friendly Belgian to thank as she paid for it! The choice is entirely my fault though!

It's been a busy week too, last night Anna and I got to go and see a film together - which is the first time since the abysmal (well, no, not that bad) Amazing Grace back in the day, what, 2007? And there are House Plays on and there are reports, deadlines, marking, parents' evenings and all sorts. In this maelstrom of activity and welter of travel plans it made sense to try something heavy and stout-like. What, with saying nice things about students, it also seemed like the best time to try and get Flipside into a position where I could recommend them.

Would you like to scry through the whirling clouds of dark and twisted space now into the depths of the realms of beer? Well, would you? One must simply click below and be transported hence to that world. Mwuhahahahahaaaa!

Sunday, 30 November 2014

Beer Review: Quint Essential

What? No pubbing this week? No, sad to say, no pubbing this week. I have thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity to sample two locals but the illness of Willow has meant that it would be impolitic to go out on the tiles and sample ales. Instead, of course, I shall stay in and sample a single ale. Uh... Brownie points are in minus figures I would guess. Ten points from Hufflepuff. Poor badgers.

Also, last night Derby County lost to Leeds United. This happened in football. I have a passing frame of reference, I once saw Manchester United play some people and briefly flirted with the idea of supporting Tottenham Hotspur because I liked the name Jurgen Klinsmann. So I had to try and level that playing field a little by trying Quint Essential from Derby Brewing Co. that I picked up for a princely sum from our local supermarket.

Are you sure you wish to plunge on after my last Belgian beer review waxed lyrical about something as mundane as a standard Duvel? You are? Oh, good, make yourself comfortable and don't mind the toys left on the floor from the children.

Thursday, 27 November 2014

Beer Review: Speciaalbier

Tonight I am sharing a beer given as a gift from our friendly Belgian with Willow. The last time I had something like this was on a staff do in the old days and I enjoyed it, but couldn't shake the fact that it was pricey and a bit out of my normal range. It was described to me then as a blonde ale, but it's a Belgian golden ale. So... blonde then. For those keeping track, no, this was written before Willow got ill. She is feeling better but not quite up to sharing a decent ale.

It is, of course, Speciaalbier by Duvel. And I have been rather looking forward to it.

Would you like to know more?

Sunday, 23 November 2014

Raspberry - insert your own noise

It's been a while since I discussed my own brewing efforts. A combination of factors, mainly my own laziness and the distance (in a car) to travel to pick up the ingredients, as well as having difficulties maintaining temperatures (and a heatwave earlier in the year) have meant that I haven't really got into the whole brewing thing properly. A colleague at work has made me insanely jealous with images of her own brewing efforts (they mash their own stuff and have created their own brewery kit from household items!) and yes...

Anyway, we had company and I finally had a chance to use the last two bottles of the reaspberry ale I'd been brewing. Batch Two Berry Bad Bucket-Brewed Birthday Beer was thus on for tasting with an independent adjudicator on hand to make sure that I was neither too harsh nor too forgiving of my own creation.

Why do I feel like Dr Frankenstein when I say that? Anyway, there were two bottles. One of them had been conditioned straight from the bucket and the other had been bottled two weeks later from the barrel with some added sugar to help it condition. The bucket bottle had been stored in the outhouse and then the kitchen and the other bottle was the one that ticked on bottling.

Would ye be wantin' ta know more, Jim-laaad?

Thursday, 20 November 2014

Beer Review: Black Pepper Ale

Right! Back on track. Something a little different, certainly, but I feel that the lateness of the hour combined with the lateness of the year calls for something of that nature to be imbibed. I've had a Batemans on draught at a lovely inn in Belper with colleagues before and Victory Ale was a nice enough brew chosen for me by my daughter, so when I saw this little number sitting on offer locally I had to try. Tonight I shall be attempting to describe to to you the sensation of drinking Black Pepper Ale or BPA as it advertised.

It is, as you would expect, an ale that is sold on the gimmick of adding a small amount of black pepper to it, from a small pouch secreted in a specially made cardboard jacket effort about the neck. The reason I say all of this is because, in order to pour it and use the pepper, I had to rip the jacket-y thing off and so the below image is not representative of the appearance in a shop.

Because you all buy beer on my recommendations and seek out what I drink out of sheer jealousy, I know, it's a hard life being a trend-setter and an all-round beer-savant. Which is why, being lazy, I'm very glad that I am neither.

Would you like to come further below the depths into the madness?

Sunday, 16 November 2014

Muirhouse Brewery Taps

This could well become a weekly thing, you know. I've never really had the wherewithal to go to a pub of an evening and there are a variety of excuses that I have deployed over the years to justify this. Being within walking distance of some good public houses and having a place of work where there is space on a weekend to have a beer without guilt means that most of these are no longer relevant. And, after the Festival down at JDW, I am now minded to go out and sample the ales on offer.

To that end, I chanced across a local brewery with it's own pub attached. I believe it to be featured in CAMRA's Good Pub guide and, certainly, it was a place where ale was discussed. The publican was there holding forth on his brews, brewing technique, pricing and beer in general. Not to me, I hasten to add, but in a way that was quite reassuring about the pints on offer.

This sums the place up well, and shows what I was trying...

I am very much feeling my way on this one, it may turn into a regular thing too. In the meantime, I shall be mostly babbling about some halves that I had, do you want to know more?

Thursday, 13 November 2014

Beer Review: Traditional English Ale

Back in the mists of time, when Willow and I were married, we went to a lovely hotel on Hog's Back just south of Guildford. Set on an odd local geographical promontory we were able to view London from the balcony near the swimming pool. Also, after lugging suitcases and cots and bits and bobs up and down for two days, I can say that three staircases were a tad excessive - the lift was unfortunately at the wrong end of the building to really offer much help. There's a main road there that does rather spoil the effect, but allows for lovely views when driving along it, and apparently there's a brewery in the vicinity, aptly named Hog's Back Brewery - will wonders never cease?

So it should come as no surprise that when I happened across an ale made by these people I was naturally drawn toward it and thus I review it here: Traditional English Ale or TEA for short (which I find faintly amusing, so sue me). Also, like last week, not drunk at home.

Would you like to sit with me a while and listen to me pontificate upon this chance discovery?

Sunday, 9 November 2014

Beer Review: India Pale Ale

It's yet another IPA here, I have had a few, and I continue to enjoy the style. I was given this as a gift from m'colleague when I last visited (was it all that time ago?) and I finally got round to having it of an evening and reviewing it. It's Remembrance Sunday today and any attempt to 'do things properly' has been torn asunder by family illness, getting lost in an unfamiliar place looking for medical centres and vague guilt at having not marked Year 10 essays. The less said about the mood of the eldest fruit the better.

Tonight it is thus the turn of India Pale Ale, the imaginatively titled ale from Faversham Brewery and Shepherd Neame. I detect a certain element of escaping from the cosh of Spitfire (here), one of the better known ales and one of their least attractive offerings (though that's a tight distinction as most of their offerings are excellent) - that is, not identifying themselves with the mainstream despite being very much part of it.

Would you like to know more?

Thursday, 6 November 2014

Beer Review: Whitstable Bay

So, back to Kent for this one, but one that oddly reminds me more of the Norfolk Broads. Perhaps it is the label or just my contrary nature. For whatever reason, tonight I am reviewing the lovely offering from Shepherd Neame (being brewed under a subsidiary known as Faversham Steam Brewery for reasons unknown) known as Whitstable Bay.

I should, in the interests of fairness, point out that this was drunk at someone else's house. I'm not sure what difference this makes (if any) but thought it worthy of attention.

Would you like to know more?

Sunday, 2 November 2014

Festival Beer: A review of some JDW Ales

So, it appears as though JD Wetherspoon's is hosting a beer festival, of sorts, and has been for the whole of October. I noticed this on a meal out with family late into their festival. At the time I assumed I would be driving and so I singularly failed to try a single ale. Tonight, though, I intended to rectify this and went to our local Wetherspoon's to sample what they had. I noted that they had a 1/3 pint offer, that is sample three ales for the price of one, and so I sampled two such triads of ale. Of course I did.

This is by no means the entire range of what was on offer (one need only check out the posts from another blogger to verify this) and so I know I fall short. Still, in service of you, my limited readers, I am but prostrate and eager to share. Would you like to know more of my fact-finding mission?

Thursday, 30 October 2014

Hallowe'en Showdown!

It's All Hallow's Eve and there are plenty of themed offerings about. I realise that the actual day/evening isn't until tomorrow and that there are plenty of other names for this particular thing (Samhain springs to mind, but was lunar, so not on the same date every year) but I digress. Themed brews means a good excuse to crack open some beer and have a review, doncha think? Also, if I review tonight you may just have time to pick some of this up for yourselves should you so wish.

For reasons that aren't entirely clear to me, this all means that I am pitting Moorhouse's and Wychwood against one another in a kind of battle royale. But, you know, without the Japanese schoolchildren trying to kill each other with a variety of weapons. Oh, and Hunger Games which is the sanitised and slightly badly plotted western film version (no, I haven't read the books).

Now that I have alienated some of my audience of three, would you like to know more?

Sunday, 26 October 2014

Beer Review: Red Stripe

This is a tipple that my father used to have, I know he did because I can recall seeing the tiny little bottles in the garage and, once, under the stairs. I always wondered what it was, whether it was like coke or something and so, naturally, on seeing this in my local supermarket at an insanely cheap price for 300ml I had to try it. It is Red Stripe, being sold as lager, Jamaican Lager Beer no less. Well, thought I, I have to try me some of that.

Would you like to know more?

Thursday, 23 October 2014

Beer Review: Dr. Hardwicke's Double IPA

Only last week I was complaining about beer with long titles and, here, we have a beer with an incredibly long title. Still, I mustn't complain, for I have dined most exquisitely upon cous cous with roasted Mediterranean vegetables, bacon and balsamic vinegar and the remnants of our children's evening meal. All to the lovely soundtrack of Trains Formers 1-5 on youtube and the squeals of pure delight by both cherubic children upon their choice being pre-empted by an even better choice from the other. Invariably this is followed, as one would expect, by the laughter that accompanies being smacked hard by one's sibling and much merriment was had by all.

So, it is without too much ill-will toward the long name that I turn my attentions to the reviewing of Dr. Hardwicke's Double IPA from T. A. Sadler's (told you they'd be coming back), and attempt to ignore the sweet serenade of the Boy complaining that lying down makes him bored and sleepy and gives him bags under his eyes and how not tired he is. Of course.

Yes, that's some Flipside you can see there...
And Bateman's BPA too. They'll come soon enough.

Would you like to delve deeper into this beer-swilling swell's life of pure pleasure as we review together this rather fine US-style ale, all in its Statesian size pint of 330ml (give or take)?

Sunday, 19 October 2014

Home Brew Review: Bubba's APA

This was the second bottle of home brew I was gifted back when I was in Leeds, here, and, alas, the last. It was the nicer of the two brews on the night as I recall and so I was saving it. However, I was also terribly impatient because I drank it when there was nothing special happening beyond the fact that it was the weekend and I fancied a beer.

I refer, of course, to Bubba's American Pale Ale.

This being a home brew, you can't get any more, but I am given to understand that there is a stronger variant being brewed (7% ABV actually) and that if you are very nice to the brewer there is a chance of gaining some to try yourself. So, on that note, would you like to know more?

Thursday, 16 October 2014

Beer Review: Original

Hi-de-hi! Yes, it's another night for reviewing of the brewed stuff and I've gone all the way round back to the mainstream because now the mainstream is pretty darn good when it comes to beers. Not that it beats the littler known stuff (it doesn't) but because the situation with beer is much improved since I was a young warth- no, wait, that was the Lion King. No, it's better than when my Dad drank Red Stripe and called it beer.

Tonight, then, I am drinking Thwaites (or Twats as their sign says after they sacked a bunch of people who were upset about the way they handled it and were still doing basic maintenance before they left - bad show, Twats, bad show) and their Original Best Bitter. Yes, I know that the title is shortened. I don't like long titles and mouthfuls when enjoying a beer.

So, if my combative tone hasn't put you off, you can join me in my mission to review this here ale and learn all the secrets that my tastebuds can unea- no, wait, that's Time Team. Never mind, I shall delve into this brew of Twats... that came out wrong.

Would you like to know more?

Tuesday, 14 October 2014

Default Man and Me

In which I analyse my own behaviour in light of all that I have read, watched and learned since making my last post on Grayson Perry. Not least the fact that there is so much more to the man than his transvestism and the fact that I am now teaching Sociology properly. It behooves me to do some sociology. After all, I teach History by dint of doing some actual historian things now and again.

So, would you like to know more?

Sunday, 12 October 2014

A Birthday Bevy of Beers

No, not my birthday. But there was a birthday bash round our way and it happened to be in our house. Naturally, I bought in ales, and at a cheap price too. They seem relatively new and this seemed as good an excuse as any to have more than one ale on an evening and then to blog about them afterward. A new brewery for me to try too! Box Steam Brewery, as it happens, which was quite disappointing to some of the party guests who were hoping that the BSB proudly displayed on the bottles was a reference to Back Street Boys, whom I believe were back, alright?

From our living room come morning.

Obviously, with a selection known as Criminales I was going to pick them up (and at 89p a pop!) but I'll confess to being a middle-class snob of the highest order as I pronounced it like it was hispanic. On reflection, it's less 'crim-in-ah-lez' and more 'crim-in-ails', I'll probably be hard pushed not to refer to them as the former in my head however.

Would you like to know more?

Thursday, 9 October 2014

Beer Review: Bishop's Finger

It's been a while since I declared, perhaps rather rashly, that my favourite brewery was Shepherd Neame and nary a beer from their stable has made me sit up and shout about them since Dragonfire (link) in June! Indeed, it's been a while since I reviewed anything of them, the last being the rugby themed Up and Under (link) in July. In partial rectification of this, and also to see if they withstand the onslaught of locally brewed beer since I've moved.

Tonight, then, it is the time to have Bishop's Finger and see how we go. Mind how you go, sir, it is a strong ale, sir. And yes, I just said the last sentence in the Cockney accent I remember from things like On the Buses or Up Pompeii.

Would you like to know more?

Tuesday, 7 October 2014

Grayson Perry

I'm not sure whether or not I've spoken of Grayson Perry, the transvestite artist who won the Turner prize and got a CBE from Prince Charles (who, admirably, did not look the least bit startled or abashed in presenting it), before. In introducing him thus, however, I am falling for one of the simplest and most galling tendencies in popular British culture at the moment and, at the same time, being frightfully binary in my discussion of gender.

Perry wins the Turner prize.

Yes, it's going to be one of those posts in which I muse aloud on things such as Feminism and society, so if this is not your bag you maybe want to look away now and hit the 'Beer Review' tag to your right!

Would you like to know more?

Sunday, 5 October 2014

Ender's Game

We watched Ender's Game last night. I was surprised how well the book translated to the big screen, if truth be told. I missed reading the book when I first had a chance back in GCSE English and I wish I could turn back the clock and fix that. I read the book just after University and then, unusually for me, I read it again in my first year of teaching. Why? It was apposite and reminded me that, in schools, often the perception is that the adults are the enemy and that this is totally for valid reasons. I also loved the pace and the immediacy of the book. So, how could they condense all that into a single film that was less than two hours long and maintain any sense of the source material?

The truest depiction of the motif of the
book in a film poster I could find.

Would you like to know more?

Thursday, 2 October 2014

Beer Review: JHB

I was actually rather pleased to have spotted this in my local beer store after being inspired to try it by a review elsewhere on the internets (here). Still, I do rather like Oakham Ales and so it was no personal tragedy to be having tonight JHB (or, to give it the full name: Jeffrey Hudson Bitter). Jeffrey Hudson, by the by, was a three foot tall bruiser in the employ of Charles I apparently.

So, the background is well established, the stage is set and the players are ready to give you their tale. Shall we read on together or wilt thy courage fail and have thee walk, defeated, from the field where the beer is reviewed?

Tuesday, 30 September 2014

Home Brew Review: Milestone IPA

I have been looking forward to trying this particular home brew properly since my trip to Leeds. It was very much over-shadowed by the power and quality of the first home-brew, Bubba's APA, being a dry-hopped and fruity little number. Therefore I was anxious to let this one have a bit of space and time to breathe and work though it in splendid isolation, as I feel it suffered a bit unfairly.

I refer, of course, to Milestone IPA, brewed by m'colleague.

Would you like to know more? I think you should, even if this is beyond your reach, it says something for brewing generally and is a chance for me to capture something that will not oft be repeated, the ultimate in exclusive ale!

Sunday, 28 September 2014

Beer Review: Lancaster Red

As hinted earlier in the week, I am very much indebted to Steve for these beers, and have been itching to get at them without obstacle. With so much going on and so many beers stacked up, this means it has rather a taken a while. However, the second of these ales is upon us! And I am looking forward to it.

Of course, tonight, and I know it's a Sunday and not in my garden, I think I've probably killed that already, it's Lancaster Brewery's Lancaster Red. Lovely evocative bottle and label - easily my preferred of the two offerings, hence the almost indecent haste to get it reviewed after Mr. Trotter's (here's that link again).

Would you like to know more?

Thursday, 25 September 2014

Beer Review: Mr. Trotter's

Something a bit special tonight, as the nights draw in, a gift from a friend of mine from University from a brewery that is local to him, Lancaster Brewery in, well, Lancaster. He actually gifted a brace and this, a chestnut ale, is the first to be reviewed.

It is, oddly enough, called Mr. Trotter's Great British Chestnut Ale but the blurb makes the shortening to Mr. Trotter's which is how I shall refer to it from here on in.

Would you like to read more?

Sunday, 21 September 2014

Cultural Exchange - A Night in Leeds

Yes, ladies and gentlemen, I have ventured north once more to the fine and fair city of Leeds, there to meet with two erstwhile colleagues who remain good friends. I was shown the pinnacle of hospitality (and I'm not randomly exaggerating that at all!) and had a really good night. I managed to play the hand I was dealt rather poorly but we still had some fantastic beer, good conversation and a reet good night. Also, Leeds happened.

And it goes a little something like this...

In the process I was treated to not one but TWO home brews by my host and, the following day, a much needed romp in the woods. through an old and almost unknown POW camp from the Second World War. His girls were much enamoured of the toilet block (what remained of it) and I loved the references to 1996 that were spray painted on listing the X-Files that may have happened there. All in all, a great weekend (albeit last weekend) and one that deserves a blog post. So, here it is.

For the faint of heart and those with medical conditions, there is a line break here as a salve and shield for your sanity. Would you like to know more?

Thursday, 18 September 2014

Beer Review: Infinity

I should be clear here, when I found and bought this beer in Matlock Bath I did not know that it was also brewed with Citra hops. I just liked the fact that it was pink and vaguely local to Matlock (15 miles up the road according to the lovely fellow in the General Store that sold it to me).

Anyway, tonight I shall be incurring the ire of strangers with a review of Infinity by a littler brewery by the name of Blue Monkey Brewery. I saw four ales made by them today when I bought the one I am now having and intend to one day try them all.

Now that that's out of the way would you like to know more?

Thursday, 11 September 2014

Beer Review: Citra

This one has been sitting in the kitchen for quite some time. I picked it up because Oakham Ales is a good brewery and most people I know who drink beers and drink good beers tell me they are a brewery to watch. Anyway, it looked intriguing, what with the Green Man as art on the bottle, and I thought it would neatly fit the general milieu of this here blog that occasionally covers topics other than beer.

Tonight I shall be wordily and verbosely setting out the virtues and pitfalls of Citra. It is a good looking ale.

Yes, that is another bottle of Blue Fin Stout (link) in the background. They were on offer locally for less than a quid and, you know, it would be rude not to. There's a Double IPA there too if you look hard enough.

Would you like to know more?

Sunday, 7 September 2014

Books that have stayed with me

I was nominated by Steve for this one. I listed but did not explain.

I know, it's a click-bait list article thing, and I can't really rank the books that I like easily. However, I think I can give you ten books that have stayed with me for "some reason" and briefly explain why. I can't promise any order to the list, any rhyme or reason to the inclusion of books or any great themes that I shall be exploring. Equally, there will be books that are missing simply by dint of me having read them too recently for them to have stayed with me yet, like How to be a Woman by Caitlin Moran and Kazuo Ishiguro's Remains of the Day, which are both brilliant books in their own rights and will no doubt make me think for a long while yet but, having only been read in the last few weeks, can't really qualify for the list.

Then there's the influential books that shaped who I am today: Bernard Cornwell's Sharpe series, Tom Clancy's books, Colin Dann's Animals of Farthing Wood series or pretty much anything by John Wyndham (his short story Consider Her Ways was very much part of making me who I am, as was The Trouble with Lichen and, of course, Chocky). Obviously not all of those can make a list of ten books that have stayed with me, so the list will be culled and will be pretty random. Without any further ado then, the list continues after the line break.

Thursday, 4 September 2014

Beer Review: Doom Bar

This one has been a long time in coming. I keep seeing the bottles in the shops and virtually every pub that has ales from the cask and claims of 'real ale' have this as one of their headliners. As a consequence I was quite chuffed to see it as part of a gift from Willow's parents. So, thank you.

It is, of course, Sharp's Doom Bar and the fact that I see it everywhere probably means that it's been reviewed pretty much everywhere. However, none of those people were me on a dark summer's evening, so there!

Would you like to know more?

Tuesday, 2 September 2014


Mainly, this is a book review of part of my summer reading, Hereward by James Wilde, loaned to me by a colleague with a warning that it was probably historically suspect. It is a thriller, set in history, and follows a pretty formulaic pattern through a poorly understood and poorly known period in English history. Heck, in British history. No, World history. Anyway, I shall be attempting to plumb the depths of that here.

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Sunday, 31 August 2014

Beer Review: Titanic Stout

Back on the stout as it's been a while. Well, okay, not that long but long enough methinks to try another. Also, because I am capricious and strange, I thought I'd have it out in the garden. See, look, you can see the carrots flowering in the background of the picture. Also for a windy day, it was lovely and warm. So there.

Yes, today in my garden I have been mostly drinking Stout. But, wait a minute, I hear you say, you called it Titanic Stout in the title. Why, yes, I did you observant person, you; but it lacks some distinction to call it just Stout so I added the brewery name as well. Makers of the rather nice Iceberg (link).

Okay, now that introductions are out of the way it's time to get to know one another better, don't you think?

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Friday, 29 August 2014

One Lovely Blog

Normally I don't do this sort of thing. But, in this instance, I shall make an exception. There's a blog hop thing happening called "One Lovely Blog" where one gets nominated by a blogger and the idea is you share seven things about yourself and link to fifteen other blogs and the one that nominated you. I'm not sure I read fifteen other blogs, but I thought I'd try. It goes without saying that I get so little traffic that I'm sure the blogs I recommend won't even notice that I linked them, but should they do so, they ought to feel zero compunction to join in. I suspect I am the blog sharing equivalent of a dead end to be honest.

If this isn't your bag, there's my usual line break coming up. Before that, I was nominated by Willow C Winsham over at Latimer's Library, which is lovely. I think. Now, if you do not wish to know anything about the person that reviews beers and things (and God knows, they will tell you more than you probably wanted to know about me anyway) you can forget you saw this and move on. At least check out the linked blog though.

Thursday, 28 August 2014

Beer Review: Hip Hop

I'm down with it, I know my rap artists and my RnB and my softcore. And, of course, tonight I am reviewing the delights of Hip Hop by the Langham Brewery supplied to me by Willow's parents. I am guessing that this is pretty freely available down in Surrey as it boasts being traditional Sussex ale but I can say that I haven't seen it about up here, so, onward!

I apologise for the poor quality image taken with my phone. I really do look like the porn version of a beer blog at this point, all low quality blurred images and some panting commentary. Maybe I ought to shave the beard and only have a big bushy moustasche. What's that you say? Your beer is behaving strangely? You must come down to see me in my pantry and have a closer look at my barrel, no? I show you some mmm good beers, yes? Okay, I'm done now, you may proceed safely from here.

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Tuesday, 26 August 2014

Three Men in a Boat

It cannot have escaped your notice that I have not been working all these holidays and that I went on a short holiday recently. Or, you know, maybe it can, I know I'm not the most important thing in your life or anything. Whatever your reason for reading my musings (or not, you cruel people that read synopses on social media and then don't hit the link) I'm sure you would like to know about one of the books I have managed to read. Because I don't get to read many books on account of being lazy and clumsy (I stabbed myself with a can lid today). Today, I shall be reviewing Three Men in a Boat because I read it.

Part of me wants to try writing a review in the style of Jerome K. Jerome, but I lack the ability to do his style justice. Instead, I shall probably just review it as I saw it and let you make the discoveries for yourself, because the discoveries are definitely worth it.

Sunday, 24 August 2014

Major Oaks

It's a cultural exchange... sort of. I visited a friend of mine who lives close to the Major Oak in Sherwood Forest and took along some of what I considered to be the best the local breweries could offer and some cheap offer beer from a local supermarket. We watched Doctor Who, YouTube videos, Commando and went walking in the woods. Not in remotely that order. By dint of having halves we demolished quite an ensemble of ale. I should point out that my companion for the evening, having served at numerous beer festivals, now tends to make pronouncements like "that's good beer" when pressed for opinions and not a lot else. He likes to frustrate reviewers and pedants. I fall under both categories.

So, journey with me now into the evening of men lost to fate. We left mainstream politics and entered the Sherwood Zone. Ahem, I mean, yes, click to read further of the evening!

Thursday, 21 August 2014

Beer Review: Proper Job

Tonight I had been doing some extra work (because Lord knows I don't do enough otherwise) and I was feeling like I needed some brew. Now, I'm not complaining about the extra work (and I'm not) because it made me fully appreciate the joy of stopping for beer. I have, however, been reminded of the generosity of family (thank you to Anna's parents for this one among others) and the joy of beer.

What has me waxing so lyrical? Cornwall. For the remainder of the post imagine me speaking in a West Country accent. Why not? It's Proper Job from St Austell, whose Tribute I have had before and enjoyed very much but have failed (twice now) to review.


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Tuesday, 19 August 2014

Fountains of Beer

An update on the brewing situation follows. I'll bet you all though you were safe because of the fact that the SG reading was being strange, didn't you? Well, have no fear, things have moved on apace and I have caused Willow to literally cry with laughter and go white with fear, all within a minute! Yes, it has been an interesting time with the brewing...

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Sunday, 17 August 2014

Beer Review: Hop Bomb

Following on from the American craft beer last week, the inimitable Blue Fin Stout (link), I decided I'd stick with small bottles for the Sunday reviews. Today, in my garden, I had something from T. A. Sadler's, a brewery I can see me having more from as they keep turning up locally, and it gave me an earworm, which I shall share with you: Hop Bomb.

Hop Bomb, Hop Bomb, you're mah hop bomb...

Read on, fair traveller, the worst is past!

Thursday, 14 August 2014

Beer Review: Venus

On a tour of the local ales I found this stocked in the local farm that has a shop and it came from another local brewery, who am I to argue with that? It was very much the one that leapt out to me though there are plenty more from this particular stable, all Roman themed. So, tonight it is the turn of the lovely titled Venus from the Latinate inspired, one assumes, Derventio Brewery.

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Sunday, 10 August 2014

Beer Review: Blue Fin Stout

There's nothing for it, tonight I must be reviewing the beer I had in my garden once more. Can you tell the extra work of marking is officially over and I have free time once more? Probably.

Tonight it is the turn of Blue Fin Stout from the Americas to feel the potency of my lacklustre and vaguely unsettling reviews. Yes, this is from Shipyard Brewing Co. and gosh-darn if I don't feel the urge to do the entire review in the style of a pirate. Yarr. Also, the fact that it is called 'Blue Fin' has me battling the urge to add tuna to the title. Not helped by the fact that there's a picture of a Blue Fin Tuna on the bottle. Curse you, Shipyard Brewing Co., curse you!

And yah boo suck to you, you pretend hurricane/tropical depression/massive rain shower, Bertha! You failed to ruin the sunshine enough for me not to have a beer outdoors. Sucks to be you! No, wait, don't anthropologise the rain, that's crazy talk. Yaaargh.

Anyway, would ye like to be knowen more?

Thursday, 7 August 2014

Beer with a Belgian

It's another multiple beer review which, despite the title, will focus on beers brewed locally and picked up at the local farm with a shop that sells beer. It includes the Nutbrook stable from which I have enjoyed rather a few brews of late (Perfect Fifth linky, Mild Side linkity, and Black Beauty link) and another apparently local brewery by the name of Brampton Brewery. The title, instead, comes from the fact that one of Anna's friends, our Boy's goblin, is over from Belgium and enthusiastically agreed to join in some beer tasting. Yay! She also brought me some Duvel which I shall have to review later (along with the rather delectable Westmaller that I drank after we moved and then didn't review because, well, moving and drinking...). Aaaanyway.

Yes, this could be interesting, only two brews in this but with a tripartite review in full swing they will get a rather good seeing to.

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Wednesday, 6 August 2014

Um... Flat

Which is the unfortunate reaction to my brewing. I tested the S.G. reading today, it was below 0.995. I have no idea what that means but it would appear to be a little overdone on the tasting - that is, there is a head that is vigorous and huge but it dissipates quickly. One shot-glass of it was enough to send me a bit funny and I suspect it to be rather strong.

I'm fairly certain that SG readings don't increase over time and so I think I may have killed this one. We shall see, I shall bottle some and distribute as last time and see if anyone like it. If not, well, chalk it up to experience and don't try brewing in a heatwave in a house without a cellar. In other words, the exact opposite problem that I faced last time. Too much heat and not transferring to a barrel quickly enough will, apparently, kill a beer rather than not.

Monday, 4 August 2014

We Remember...?

As a historian and given the date I ought to be saying something. As an historian of the First World War in particular and given the fact that it's the centenary of that conflict kicking off it would be rude of me not to say something or comment upon it. I have already written about my own attempts to fictionalise the conflict and the work of people such as Frederic Manning and Siegfried Sassoon in this blog. Indeed, I have probably also made known the fact that I have a greater respect for the poetry and message of Sassoon over that of Owen (in part influenced and inspired in equal measure by my own University lecturer on the subject, a Dr Warburton).

And now it is the centenary and everyone will be posting poppies on social media and bleating the same tired phrases about memory and how 'most people' won't share a picture of a poppy and isn't it so sad how the younger generations don't have a clue about the sacrifice that was made in their name in nationalist terms and sponsored by bloody neo-Nazis and aaaaaaargh!

Taken in 2007, this shows students from West Yorks at the
monument to the KOYLIs erected in Bus-les-Artois with some
French veterans (not of the FWW) and villagers.

Be warned, I have bile for this. Read on at your peril!