Vibrant Forest Black Forest Piquant Porter

Vibrant Forest Black Forest Piquant Porter (500ml, 4.9% ABV) Porter was invented in London some time in the early 1700s, along with its cousin, stout. Telling porter and stout apart these days is not an easy thing. Porter used to be either smoky or slightly sour from ageing in wooden barrels, and stout used to…

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Itchen Valley Fagins 4.1%

  Itchen Valley Fagins (500ml, 4.1% ABV) On the bottle and pump clip it’s Fagins, accompanied by an illustration of an appropriately evil looking crime boss, resting his pint on the head of a hapless orphan. On the web site it’s listed as QED, or Quality English Draft. Is it in the throes of a…

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Driftwood Spars Bolster’s Blood

Driftwood Spars Bolster’s Blood (500ml, 5.0% ABV) Parental advisory: contains scenes of dismemberment and terrible attempts at Cornish dialect. Bolster the giant had terrorised the town of St Agnes too long. On his last rampage he had destroyed the town’s only pub. The Tregellas brothers – Gerren, the fisherman; and Perran, the bottlemaker – decided…

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Gyle 59 ‘Low alcohol beer’

Gyle 59 – Take It Easy (500ml, 2.5% ABV) ‘Low alcohol beer’ – now there’s a phrase to prompt all true beer lovers into curling their lip with disdain. Not without justification, either. My memories of low alcohol beer are sullied by two particularly egregious examples: Víking Maltöl (0.9%), a sickly sweet Icelandic ‘malt beer’…

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Padstow Brewing Co. May Day

  Padstow Brewing Co. May Day (568ml, 5.0% ABV) Fancy a pint? You’ll have to go the pub, then – bottles are half a litre, aren’t they? Not necessarily … Samuel Smith’s Brewery in Yorkshire flies in the face of convention by offering their beers in 550ml bottles. And now the Padstow Brewing Company has…

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Gluten Free Ridgeway IPA (500ml, 5.5% ABV)

Gluten Free – Ridgeway IPA (500ml, 5.5% ABV) Coeliac disease affects around 1% of the UK population. It’s a reaction to gluten that can prove serious if not managed correctly. A friend of ours (whose novel I will now shamelessly plug here) is coeliac, and it’s clear when out and about with her that ordering…

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XT 9- more like a Star Wars droid than a beer

XT 9 (500ml, 5.5% ABV) Sounding more like a Star Wars droid than a beer, XT 9 is something of an enigma. The bottle describes it as ‘Black’. So, is it a stout, a porter, a strong mild, a black IPA, or none of the above? Brewed with no fewer than nine malts (I wonder…

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Curious IPA – The taste is a surprise

Curious IPA (330ml, 5.6% ABV) A winemaker brewing beer? Has the world gone mad? It’s like cats and dogs living together. But that’s exactly what Chapel Down Winery has done. Not content with that, they make cider and brandy too. What’s next – a gin distillery, an absinthe laboratory? All of their beers come under…

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Denmead Beer Festival 2016

18th Annual , Denmead Community Centre, Sat 29th Oct 2016 As the only event of its type within staggering distance of my house, I’ve been going to the Denmead Beer Festival for years. It’s a fairly typical setup – a variety of beers, classic and new, local and distant, plus grub (hot dogs, burgers, roast…

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Emsworth Brewhouse Flotilla

Emsworth Brewhouse Flotilla (500ml, 4.4% ABV) Very new, very local and very green. That would be a good way to describe the Emsworth Brewhouse, a new, award-winning business which features a solar powered brewery and zero emission delivery of its products. It’s the brainchild of Grant Thomas, who works at IBM and has graduated from…

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Brewhouse & Kitchen Brewery Experience Day (Part 2)

  Brewhouse & Kitchen Brewery Experience Day (Part 2), Portsmouth, £85, 10:00-17:00 Fri or Sat Read part 1 here. The fact is, I have to drive home at the end of the day, so I sadly refuse some offers of ‘a bit more beer’. Oli uses a laptop and some software to keep tabs on…

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Southampton Airport beers

  Southampton Airport.  Priority Lounge customers at Southampton Airport are now in for a local treat whilst they wait to board their flight. Bottles of Old Dick,Skew, Liberation or Land of Hop and Glory are on offer among a range of other local refreshments. Like Suthwyk Ales,  it has an important heritage of it’s own. In 1936 the first test flight of the Supermarine Spitfire took place at the airport, making the Liberation and Land of Hop & Glory ales an appropriate fit. Unlimited WiFi, refreshments, comfortable seating, high chairs  and desks, laptop and mobile charge points are available for all Priority Lounge customers.  http://www.southamptonairport.com/

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Brewhouse & Kitchen Experience Day

Brewhouse & Kitchen Brewery Experience Day (Part 1), Portsmouth, £85, 10:00-17:00 Fri or Sat Brewhouse & Kitchen is a chain of pubs that brew their own beer on the premises. They also offer a Brewery Experience Day in which you can get your hands dirty and assist them in brewing up a batch. Sounds good…

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Hammerpot Ripa 5% Black IPA

Hammerpot Ripa Black IPA (500ml, 5.0% ABV) The Hammerpot Brewery is located east of Arundel and has been brewing beer since 2005. Rather than aiming at the traditional English market, or making newer American style beers, they sort of do both, with some Aussie influence thrown in for good measure. I’ve long been a fan of their…

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The Golden Lion

The Golden Lion, Southwick Something a bit different this time: a pub review! After all, where better to find beer than in its natural habitat? From the Southwick Brewhouse you can’t fail to spot the Golden Lion, given that the two share a car park. In the interest of a fair review, Helen and I…

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Skinners Hops ‘n’ Honey

  Skinner’s Hops ‘n’ Honey (500ml, 4.0% ABV) Hello, I’m Bob the Bearded Bee! That’s me, just below the logo of Skinner’s Hops ‘n’ Honey. You think I’m looking a bit forlorn? You’re not wrong – I’m the hardest working bee in the whole of the hive. And yet, despite all my efforts, no one’s…

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Red Cat Contemplation American Brown Ale

Red Cat Contemplation American Brown Ale (500ml, 4.7% ABV) Brown. It’s not the most inspiring colour, is it? Wouldn’t you prefer a golden or ruby ale, or something else named after some precious material? Why drink brown? For the same reason you’d eat chocolate or freshly baked bread – taste. Give me great-tasting sludge over…

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Hunters Black Jack

Hunter’s Black Jack Stout (500ml, 6.0% ABV) In my very first beer review, I made a jocular reference to an exploding stout. Well, it had to happen sooner or later … To be fair, Hunter’s Black Jack doesn’t so much explode as rush up the neck of the bottle at me with a foamy tentacle. A…

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Old Dick Cask

Suthwyk Old Dick (cask, 3.8% ABV) The Southwick Brewhouse doesn’t just sell bottles. Ask Matt what he’s got on tap and you’ll be ushered into the back room where several casks lie in wait. It’s a bit like buying something a little naughty (or, err, so I’ve been told) except that it comes in a…

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Ilkley Brewery Mary Jane Export

  Ilkley Brewery Mary Jane Export (330ml, 6.0%) “On Ilkla Moor Baht ‘at” is one of those classic folk songs that every seems to know at least a bit. It also has an educational aspect, in that it acquaints you with how Yorkshiremen don’t speak. Yes, it’s all good merry fun until you realise it’s…

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West Berkshire Brewery Dr Hexter’s Healer

  West Berkshire Brewery Dr Hexter’s Healer (500ml, 5.0%) The West Berkshire Brewery started out in 1995, which makes them almost veterans of the new British beer scene. I’ve been sampling their beers for years because my sister-in-law lives very close to them, and frequently buys me bottles for my birthday. Lots of beers have…

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Oakleaf India Pale Ale

  Oakleaf India Pale Ale (500ml, 5.5%) Picture the scene: summer, 2002. I’ve recently started dating a dark-haired woman who lives in the heart of Portsmouth. A couple of baking hot streets from her flat is the Winchester Arms, a pub serving beer from the Oakleaf Brewery, only established a couple of years prior. And…

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Vibrant Forest Metropolis

Vibrant Forest Metropolis (330ml, 6.0% ABV) Matt, the cheery shopkeeper at the Southwick Brewhouse, has a bit of crush on the Vibrant Forest Brewery. Just mention the name and he starts cooing like a lovelorn teenager. I can’t blame him – Vibrant Forest make a lot of good beers. In fact, they make a lot…

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And Union Summer Wheat Ale

And Union Summer Wheat Ale (500ml, 5.5% ABV) Modernism, eh? James Joyce and T S Eliot. Picasso and Stravinsky. Modernism is difficult. And Union brew modernist Bavarian craft beer. I know this because it says so on their web site. Putting my artistic hat on (which is very fetching, I assure you) it might be…

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Harvey’s Imperial Extra Double Stout

Harvey’s Imperial Extra Double Stout (275ml, 9.0%) “One moment, comrade. What is this you are trying to import into Russia? Beer, you say? But we already have vodka. What we need with beer? Hmm. Quite a name it has. Think it can live up to ‘Imperial’, ‘Extra’ and ‘Double’? Wait a moment. This bottle has…

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