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Archive for the ‘pubs’ Category

The Cat’s Back – A welcome London survior

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Can there be a better street corner pub? There is something endearingly attractive about this pub. Even its name is eccentric. Built in 1865, it was called Ye Olde House and Home, and provided a place where lightermen from the Thames and Wandle could drink pints of liquid Cat's Back Exterior - Cat's Backbread. But at some time the landlord’s moggy went walkabout – and after a month’s absence it returned – and the rest they say is history.

The pub is a survivor, standing shoulder to shoulder with row upon row of luxury apartments. It was bought by Sussex brewer Harveys in 2012. This backstreet boozer is a hidden gem amidst the high rises of Wandsworth. Recently refurbished the bright and airy, front bar is cosy and comfortable with a bohemian community atmosphere, which is in keeping to the pub’s local, communal and traditional roots.

It is a Victorian survivor which now nestles in the new riverside quarter between Wandsworth and Putney in South West London. The pub recently won Joint first Place for the Campaign for Real Ale’s Joe Goodwin Award for the Best Corner Street Local National Pub Design. Upstairs allows for more space and privacy away from the front bar area with a dual use function room.

A small, decked beer garden is out the back and it is only a five-minute walk from the ever moving Thames.

The food is wholeheartedly pubby, rather than foodie, but that doesn’t stop it being it being memorable. Home-made pies and tarts, hearty sandwiches, seasonal soups, daily specials, traditional desserts and Sunday roasts are the order of the day. And for anyone who likes ale, what could be better than a glass of Harveys Sussex Bitter. Full bodied and golden brown, its aroma of swirling Goldings hops is in near perfect balance of with the barley malt in the beer.

The pub will feature in a new edition of London’s Riverside pubs which publishes next year.

86-88 Point Pleasant, SW18 1NN

 

 

 

 

Written by timhampson

November 24, 2015 at 10:43 am

Posted in pubs, Uncategorized

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Turtley Corn Mill, Avowick is the cream of Devon

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A former chicken hatchery has been transformed into a fine pub

You do not have to be driven to the Turtley Corn Mill in an open topped car on a still warm, end of summer’s day, but it helps as is it is a glorious, exhilarating ride though the undulating Devon countryside from the city of Exeter.

The mill wheel remains as a tribute to its former life

The location is idyllic; the original mill is set in six acres of grounds bordered by the River Glazebrook, in Avonwick, South Brent. It has its own small lake complete with an island, perfect for sunny days, idle wandering, the watching of quacking ducks and people playing lawn chess.

Check mate?

Once the site sounded to the clucking and chirping of fowl as for many years it was a chicken hatchery before becoming a pub in the 1970’s. The former mill was transformed by a radical refurbishment in 2005, which has introduced oak and slate floors, bookcases, old furniture and loads of local pictures. However, the old mill wheel remains as a striking reminder of the building’s previous existence. Inside, the style is light and fresh with no music, fruit machines or pool tables, just newspapers to read, books to browse, good food and great local beers.

There is plenty of space in the garden for drinking

My friend opted for a cream topped hot chocolate. I preferred a glass of Otter Bitter from a farm based brewery in East Devon’s Blackdown Hills. The Otter Brewery was set up in 1990 by the McCaig family. Its eco-systems should make most people green with envy. It has a semi-underground eco-cellar built with clay blocks and a sedum roof. And the effluent safely flows out into its own reed bed. I have a particular liking for a bottled beer Otter brewed for sale in the US, Hoppy Otter at 6.8 per cent ABV, which I do not think was ever sold in the UK. However, for me the really great British beers are brewed at about 3.6 per cent ABV. It needs real skill to get so much taste into something we often call in an understated way “ordinary bitter”. There is nothing ordinary about Otter’s Bitter, it is complex and full of ripe fruit notes. With my lunch, I had a glass of St Austell’s IPA, it went well with the local haddock fillet fried in a real ale batter. Well I know it is not a proper IPA, but it is an easy drinking malty –and toffee flavoured beer balanced by some refreshing citrus hops.

Many fine walks surround the pub

After lunch we took a 15 minute walk alongside the river, joined by fellow customers trying to wear dogs and children out. Then back to the car and shunning the A38 we took the winding b-roads back into Exeter. http://www.turtleycornmill.com/

Written by timhampson

September 13, 2010 at 5:49 pm

Sometimes they just ask the wrong question.

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So when was the first beer brewed?

“So who knows when the first beer was brewed?”

I’m not sure if our guide Eva Kočková at the Pilsner Brewery museum knew who she was asking. I was in the company of three of the country‘s best beer writers – Peter Brown, Mark Dredge and Adrian Tierney Jones. Beer writers are a bit like economists – get three together and you will have at least four different opinions.

The craft of brewing is as old as civilization. Between 10,000 and 15,000 years ago, some people discontinued their nomadic hunting and gathering and settled down to farm. Grain was the first domesticated crop that started that farming process.

Through hieroglyphics, cuneiform characters and written accounts, some historians have traced the roots of brewing back to ancient African, Egyptian and Sumerian tribes. Here, the oldest proven records of brewing are about 6,000 years old and refer to the Sumerians or Mesopotamia as Eva told us.

However there is some evidence from  China which shows brewing took place more than 8,000 years ago. And in South America there is evidence of some early civilisations, pre-Columbus, making a fermented drink made from corn. In truth we will never know, but it seems fair to assume that brewing like the use of fire could have developed almost simultaneously in different parts of the world.

Na Parkane, a good place to enjoy a beer and some dumplings

The excellent Pilsen Brewery Museum is housed in an old 15th century maltings, one of the many which were once found in this brewing town. It includes a gothic malt house, a mock-up of the laboratory used by the man credited with developing Pilsner style beers Josef Groll and on the remains of the city walls outside, which kept enemies at bay for centuries, there are small plots of barley and hops.

It really is a pleasant place to wile away an hour or so.

On special days actors create scenes from Pilsens beery history, including the improbable tale of the ale connor – a myth which too can be found in many British accounts of the history of beer. According to legend, the quality of beer was judged by the stickiness of beer and whether the ale connor’s leather breeches stuck to a beer soaked bench. The more the trousers stuck, the better the beer. Well it is a good story.

Hard hats are a necessity for the undergound tour

Underneath, a separate tour, for which hard hats are obligatory winds through a 800m labyrinth of narrow tunnels, linking streets and houses. Hewn from the soft sandstone the first tunnels date from 1290.Here can be seen some of the 360 original wells from which brewers drew water to make beer. The temperature is 7’C perfect for lagering. Here too, the citizens sought refuge when the town was under siege.

Josef Groll's laboratory is recreated in the museum

And to end the tour, what could be better than to visit the adjacent Na Parkene pub for a glass of dark, unfiltered beer, and of course some dumplings. Potato or bread?

http://www.plzenskepodzemi.cz/en/

Dwink, Dwink and be merry

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Cheeky chappies Ben McFarland and Tom Sandham

In the firmament of the current group of people doing beer talks two of the shining stars are Ben McFarland and Tom Sandhan.

The cheeky, chappy Dwink duo, which I caught yesterday at a Foodies Festival in Oxford, took an irreverent and sometime bawdy journey through the world of beer and cider. “We do corporate events and consumer tastings, stag events, hen nights and children’s parties, but prefer hen nights,” confides Tom with a mischievous grin and a sparkle in his eye.

Forget the notion that beer tastings are an extravagance of technical terms and facts about hop varieties, international bitterness units and measurements for the colour of malt. In triple quick time, well they had to make way for a Portuguese wine tasting, and a testy stage manager behind the scenes was giving a stern look, the pair took an entranced audience though five beers and an organic cider.

Most loved the Hall & Woodhouse elderflower flavoured Champion. The opening of a flip top bottle of Grolsch became a piece of crowd theatre. The flavour of a Molson Coors Blue Moon, a wheat beer, was enhanced by being poured over a piece of orange. Coopers Pale Ale confused several people as it was cloudy, giving the pair a chance to talk about bottle conditioned beers. The Westons Organic Cider showed there is more to alcoholic apple drinks than Magners or Bulmers. And the tasting ended with a glass of Innis & Gunn, which introduced people to the idea of wood aging beer in whisky barrels. And on the way they took in beer and food pairings, the health benefits of sensible drinking and told everyone that the beer belly was a myth.

The choice of drinks by the Dwink’s pair was clever. All easily available, all approachable and all a marvellous entry into the world of beers. The audience left with smiles on their faces, a greater knowledge about beer and that marvellous of feeling contentment from having had a good beer.

So who have you seen recently who has given a good beer talk?

www.dwink.com

Three year’s ago, the beer world lost its most influential and passionate advocate – Michael Jackson – the Beer Hunter.

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Michael Jackson - the Beer Hunter

It is hard to believe that it is three years since the death of the world’s greatest beer writer, Michael Jackson. Known as the Beer Hunter, he almost singlehandedly transformed the world of beer, bringing it out of brewers’ tasting rooms into people’s front rooms.

Who would have thought that a train ride from Amsterdam to the Roman Catholic south of the Netherlands would forever change the world of beer, beer writing and brewing? It was 1969 and Michael Jackson a tyro journalist, who had trained on the Huddersfield Examiner and worked in London and Edinburgh, was enjoying his first foreign posting. The sixties were in full swing, and Michael revelled in the city’s sex, rock and roll and jazz cafes with beer and whiskey his drugs of choice. As John Lennon and Yoko Ono enjoyed a bed in the Amsterdam Hilton, Jackson decided to travel to the southern Dutch border to write an article on the uninhibited enjoyment he had been told took place at the region’s pre-lent carnivals.

Jackson throughout his life soon tired of uniformity and he was bored with drinking the city’s ubiquitous Pils beers. He wanted to experience the wider range of beers a friend had said was available. And in an unnamed town, where revellers danced to the sounds of the Beatles, a man in a John Lennon mask handed him a chalice with a darker beer. It was a Trappist beer from Belgium, and in a gulp his life changed. Beer was suddenly much more than an alcoholic liquid in a glass. The following day he travelled to Belgium for the first time – sampling the marvels of De Konnick, Westmalle Dubbel and Tripel and an unidentified Gueuze. John Barleycorn had grabbed his heart and soul. And as the beer flowed, so did the words. He dedicated more than 30 years to discovering, recording and then sharing the world’s finest beers and whiskeys in his many books, articles and TV programmes. It was a journey that took him from Alaska to Patagonia and on to Sri Lanka.

He developed a classification system for the world’s classic beers styles and in doing so created consumer interest that saved many beers from extinction. His writing set the standard for beer enthusiasts and brewers alike. He wrote in depth about different brewing techniques, ingredients, flavour profiles, cultural differences, and food parings.

His writing style was wonderfully erudite and bubbled with humanity and humour. His knowledge of beer was unsurpassable. His genius was to be able to write simply and beautifully about beer and the lives of the people who created them. He was an inspiration to hundreds of brewers worldwide. Jackson knew he would never be as famous as Michael Jackson, the rock star, and that was reflected in his many talks. “Hello, my name is Michael Jackson. No, not that Michael Jackson, but I am on a world tour. My tour is in pursuit of exceptional beer. That’s why they call me the Beer Hunter.”

Michael Jackson, Beer Hunter, was born on March 27 1942. He died on August 30 2007.

So what are your memories of Michael, I’d love to know?

Written by timhampson

August 30, 2010 at 4:04 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

www.dovestreetinn.co.uk

Written by timhampson

August 20, 2010 at 9:39 am

Search for best beer writer begins

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Pictured from left - Budweiser Budvar's Ian Moss and Beer Writer of the Year Pete Brown

Search for best beer writer launched –

Have you got the words to be Beer Writer of the Year 2010 and win £1,000?

The British Guild of Beer Writers is giving beer communicators the chance to enter their work in six different categories, with one of the category winners to be named as the Beer Writer of the Year and receive the coveted Michael Jackson Gold Tankard Award*.

The competition is open to writers, broadcasters, photographers, poets, illustrators, designers, webmasters and bloggers whose work has broadened the public’s knowledge of beer and pubs. Nominations and entries are being sought for six categories:

Molson Coors’ Award for Best Writing in National Publications – prize £1,000 & £500

For the very best writing or broadcasting aimed at a general audience, published in the national (and international) press, consumer magazines, books, national television and radio.

Adnams Award for Best Writing in Regional Publications – prize £1,000 & £500

For the very best writing or broadcasting aimed at a specific local or regional audience, published in local and regional newspapers, magazines, radio, television and CAMRA newsletters.

Wells & Young’s Awards for Best Writing for the Beer and Pub Trade – prize £1,000 & £500

For the very best writing or broadcasting aimed at the brewing and pub industry, published in trade and company newspapers, newsletters, magazines, reports and websites.

Brains SA Gold Award for Best Online Communication – £1,000 & £500

For the very best use of blogs, websites and social media, whether that be writing or use of other tools such as video or social networking.

Budweiser Budvar John White Travel Bursary – prize £1,000 plus trip to Czech Republic

For the very best travel-themed beer writing (or beer-themed travel writing) or broadcasting. Entries can be from national, local or regional media, books, trade publications or online.

Bishop’s Finger Award for Beer and Food Writing – prize £1,000

For the very best writing or broadcasting on the subject of matching beer with food (an area formerly dominated by wine). Entries can be from national, local or regional media, books, trade publications or online.

How to enter

To enter the British Guild of Beer Writers Annual Awards send four copies (photocopies or printouts from PDFs accepted) of each entry, published or broadcast in the last 12 months up to 30 September 2010 – stating where it has been published. Authors of books need to send four copies of the book.

Website and bloggers entries – please send web address and URLs of the pages you want the judges to read.

Entrants can enter as many categories as they want, but they are limited to a maximum of six entries within each category. Remember, quality is more important than quantity so send one good entry in a category rather than six mediocre ones.

The entry should be accompanied by a letter stating which category or categories are being entered.

Entries should be sent by 8 October to – Beer Writers Competition, c/o  Seal Communications, Commercial Street, Birmingham, B1 1RH

Contact Seal: Nigel Pipkin 0121 616 5800 E: Birmingham@seal.uk.com

Entrants are asked to nominate which category they would like their work to be entered into but the judges reserve the right to consider work for other categories.

Editors, publishers and other third parties can nominate entrants to the competition.

Entrants do not have to be members of the British Guild of Beer Writers – they just have to communicate about beer or beer culture, new products or the ingredients and brewing of beer.

There is no limitation on the number of categories that an individual may enter.

Entries can only be returned if accompanied with a self-addressed, stamped envelope or packaging.

*Michael Jackson (27 March 1942 – 30 August 2007) who was also known as the beer hunter, dedicated more than 30 years to discovering, recording and then sharing the world’s finest beers in his many books, articles and TV programmes. He was the first Chairman of the British Guild of Beer Writers.

Guidelines for entrants can be found at http://www.beerwriters.co.uk/news.php?awards=1&showarticle=23

To book a place at the awards dinner – ticket price is £70 per person or £56 for BGBW individual members. For more information booking at the dinner contact Angie Armitage, at angie@cask-marque.co.uk or on 01206 752212

For more information on the British Guild of Beer Writers Awards contact Tim Hampson Tel: 07768 614283 – Email: tim@infopub.co.uk. Blog: https://beerandpubs.wordpress.com

www.beerwriters.co.uk

Written by timhampson

August 19, 2010 at 9:29 am