Tim Hampson's Beer Blog

The quest for the perfect beer

Archive for August 20th, 2010

Some things make you think

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Today is the 70th Anniversary of the Battle of Britain. I’d quite forgotten that I was once asked to write an article, called Last Orders of the Day, about the importance of the pub and beer to airmen in 1940, which was in a publication to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the air battle.

In it there is a quote from Air Vice-Marshall Sir Cecil Bouchier, Commander of Hornchurch Fighter Sector.

He said: “My most enduring memories of those days are not of the battle itself, but rather of the pilots, their thoughts, hopes and fears and the way in which they bore themselves in moments of failure and triumph or deep tragedy.

“Mostly my memories are centred around the mess, for this was their home – the only place each night where taut nerves could unwind and body and mind find refreshment…I remember how the chaps, the lion-hearted Douglas Barder, Al Deere, Stanford Tuck and a host others used to flock up to the mess at the end of each day’s fighting, flop down on the hall floor – and call for their tankards.

“This was their great relaxation at the end of each day – the beer they had dreamt about all day. In those days no-one drank anything but draught beer…..

“In their very real world of the quick and the dead two half cans (half-pints) was usually their self-imposed ration. This was the brief spell they all looked forward to each day, as squatting side by side against the walls they would lap up their beer and swap experiences of the day…….

“Often a Leader bringing his Squadron home just before dark and fearful of being late, would radio me from halfway across the Channel: ‘Please keep the bar open Sir, we we’ll be down in 20 minutes.’ Alas there were many deep personal tragedies and these were always concerned with the unaccountable loss in combat of a friend. Sooner or later during a lull in the general chatter, a voice would anxiously ask if anyone had seen ‘Jimmy go down’.

“The painful silence was usually broken by someone saying ‘come on chaps drink up’ – lets go and eat and they would all get up and file into the mess for supper. Quickly and quietly they would slide off to bed – greedy to grasp the bare four or five hours of sleep available to them before coming to readiness again at dawn.”

Humbly, I think I might enjoy my beer tonight.


Written by timhampson

August 20, 2010 at 6:20 pm

Dove flies to new heights

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The Dove - a must visit pub for any beer lover

Favourite pubs – Dove Street Inn, Ipswich

I discovered my satellite navigation system couldn’t cope with Ipswich’s one-way system as I looked for this street corner pub. Eventually, I had to shun the technology and find someone to ask the way. Why do men so reluctantly ask for directions? “You’ll like it there,” said my guide, “I’ve never known a pub sell so many real ales.”

Quantity doesn’t normally equate to quality when it comes to the selling of beers. However, if the serving of good cask beer marks the very best pubs from those that are just good then the Dove Street Inn is quality personified. Ten hand pumps vie for space on the bar and at least another 10 real ales are served straight from the barrel. Many of the beers are from local brewers, reflecting the vibrancy of Britain’s brewers big and small. So far this year 388 different beers have been served. And if this is not enough there is a fabulous range of bottled beers and craft ciders.

This is a friendly place, run by Karen and Ady, which is staffed by people with welcoming smiles and a confident knowledge about the beers they sell and how they should be served. The Dove Inn is comfortable, well lit by the natural light that floods through the large windows and dances on the wooden floor. The food is simple, the homemade sausage rolls and chilli con carne are to be recommended. “I wish this were my local,” said one customer as he sipped a pint of Old Speckled Hen.

One of Britain’s best ever writers Eric Blair took his nom de plume from the River Orwell, which runs through Ipswich. On his favourite, but mythical pub he wrote ‘The Moon under Water’, is only two minutes from a bus stop, but it is on a side-street, and drunks and rowdies never seem to find their way there, even on Saturday nights.” George Orwell could have been writing about the Dove Street Inn. Good beer served by people who care about what they serve and drunk by those who like good company. Things do not get much better than this.

The pub’s next beer festival starts 12 noon Wednesday 1 September to Sunday 5 September 2010.

76 St Helens Street, Ipswich

01473 211270


Written by timhampson

August 20, 2010 at 9:39 am