Fish Key Red IPA

Fish Key Red IPA (500ml, 4.9% ABV) In her seminal 1818 novel, Frankenstein, Mary Shelley imagines a creature brought to life from the parts of dead people. And she seemed like such a nice, sensible girl. I blame it on the influence of that Lord Byron … Breweries are much in the habit of Frankensteining these days,…

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Oktoberfest It’s like a stag do that never ends.

Hacker-Pschorr Oktoberfest Märzen (500ml, 5.8% ABV) If you believe what you read in the press – and who does? – the average wedding in Britain now costs a wallet-shredding £27,000. Compared to Crown Prince Ludwig of Bavaria, though, this is chicken feed. He got hitched to the lovely Therese of Saxe-Hildburghausen in 1810, and effectively the…

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Wooden Hand Dab Hand Session IPA (500ml, 4.5% ABV)

  Wooden Hand Dab Hand Session IPA (500ml, 4.5% ABV) Wooden Hand have been around since 2002, brewing in Truro, Cornwall. For 2017 they’ve decided to rebrand: gone are the previous, rather murky, bottle labels, and in their place is something lighter and fresher. The graphics now feature silhouettes of hands in different configurations and making…

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Ballards Brewery Split

Ballards Brewery Split (275ml, 8.5% ABV) Barley wine. The name gives you a clue: it’s made from barley (in other words, it’s beer) but it has something in common with the grapey stuff – the strength. At 8.5%, Ballard’s Split is a beer to be sipped, not guzzled. The drawing on the label shows a man…

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Robbies Red by Adur Brewery 

Robbies Red -Adur Brewery Sometimes it’s hard to describe a beer. Yes, I know – your heart bleeds for me. (500ml, 5.2% ABV) You know those ‘fruits of the forest’ yoghurts, where you know some red fruits have gone into it but you can’t quite put your finger on which? That’s what Robbies Red is like.…

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Renegade Brewery West Coast Pale (330ml, 5.1% ABV)

Renegade Brewery West Coast Pale (330ml, 5.1% ABV) Renegade are an offshoot of the West Berkshire Brewery, a chance to do things a bit differently while their parent company carries on with the more traditional side of things. They’re the Radiohead to the West Berkshire Brewery’s Rolling Stones, the David Lynch to their Steven Spielberg, the George…

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Good Chemistry Redstart Rye (660ml, 5.3% ABV)

Good Chemistry Redstart Rye (660ml, 5.3% ABV) If Breaking Bad gave chemistry a bad name, perhaps Good Chemistry aims to redress the balance. It’s the brainchild of Kelly and Bob of Bristol, who founded the brewery in 2015. Redstart Rye, like all of their beers, comes in a whopping great vessel that looks like a piece…

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Summer Luvin

Summer Luvin (500ml, 4.2% ABV) Piddle Brewery  And so to a brewery whose name is designed to make you think of urine. You have to hand it to the Piddle Brewery – they’ve got a very brave marketing department. The logo is interesting too – the dot of the ‘i’ comes at the end of a…

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Real Ale Train, Alton to Alresford

Real Ale Train, Alton to Alresford, 24th June 2017 What could be more English than taking a journey on a steam train through the old green and pleasant, while drinking real ale? That’s the proposition of the Real Ale Train (or RAT, as it’s affectionately dubbed). It starts from Alton, and chugs to Alresford and back,…

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Dark Side of the Wight

Dark Side of the Wight (500ml, 5.0% ABV) Yates’ Brewery, not to be confused with Yates Brewery, is a drinks distributor and brewer based in Newchurch on the Isle of Wight. They’ve been making beer since 2000 and are run by father and son partnership Dave Senior and Dave Junior. Dark Side of the Wight is their strongest…

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Hole Hearted – Fallen Acorn

  Hole Hearted – Fallen Acorn  (500ml, 4.7% ABV) They’re back! After the sad demise of the Oakleaf Brewery, one of my favourite local purveyors of beer, they arise Phoenix-like from the ashes as Fallen Acorn (geddit?). Similar resurrections have taken place across the south. The Havant Brewery may no longer have brewing premises, but…

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Hoptimus Prime 6.5% ABV)

Hoptimus Prime (330ml, 6.5% ABV) As well as a stable of four regular beers, Fallen Acorn are also brew up experiments as part of their ‘Nutty’ range, which currently consists of no fewer than eight beers. Some of these are pretty wild (fancy a tangerine infused weissbier or a rye beer made with Rooibos tea?).…

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Southwick Revival

Southwick Revival (Sat/Sun 10/11 June 2017) Good grief, what’s going on here? The wife and I pop into Southwick for a quiet pint and look at all this to-do! Couldn’t even get into the centre of the village – it was blocked off to traffic unless you happened to possess an army jeep, a bus…

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Harbour Brewing Co Amber Ale

Harbour Brewing  Amber Ale (500ml, 4.4% ABV) In recent years, prompted by the American craft beer boom, the fashion has been for hops, hops and more hops. Not that I have any problem with that – a hoppy beer is a wonderful thing – but outside the realm of stouts and porters, the humble malted…

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Downton Brewery Solstice

Downton Brewery Solstice (500ml, 4.6% ABV) Stonehenge – a word that evokes the ingenuity of prehistoric engineering, the druids, and the heroic incompetence of Spinal Tap. It’s also the image featured on Downton Brewery’s Solstice, a beer mysterious enough not to feature on their website. It’s the brainchild of Wiltshire-based Downton Brewery, who have been…

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Palmerston’s Folly

With almost a year out to give way for our ‘V.E Day’ special and, the now permanent fixture, ‘Land of Hop and Glory’, we are very happy to announce that Palmerston’s Folly will be back on the shelves and in cask tomorrow! Sitting on the top of Portsdown Hill, the forts (Lord Palmerston’s Follies) were…

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London Fields Brewery Easy IPA

London Fields Brewery Easy IPA (500ml, 5% ABV) Born in 2011 in the London borough of ‘Ackney, the London Fields Brewery (or LFB to their friends) makes a range of beers including IPAs, a porter, wheat beer, red ale and craft lager. Not content just to brew beer, they also have a taproom which serves…

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The Smoke Padstow Brewing Co.

The Smoke (568ml, 4.9% ABV) For me, the concept of smoked beer always bring to mind one particular example of the genre: Heller-Trum Schlenkerla Rauchbier, a 6.5% German classic that tastes like drinking liquified smoked ham during a house fire. Padstow’s offering might be called The Smoke, but it’s an altogether more restrained affair. It’s…

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XT 13 Pacific Red Ale

XT 13 Pacific Red Ale (500ml, 4.5% ABV) Sounding more like a 1920s numberplate than a beer, it’s another bottle from the enigmatic XT brewery, this time from their ‘special’ (rather than ‘core’) range. One thing I didn’t realise about their labels: the background is colour-coded, so you can tell what the beer will look…

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Staggeringly Good Dawn Stealer

Staggeringly Good Dawn Stealer (500ml, 5.2% ABV) Some breweries trade on their sense of history, proud of their heritage and respectful of tradition. Some breweries plaster their bottles with dinosaurs wearing top hats and monocles. Staggeringly Good of Portsmouth are one of the latter. They’ve made a big commitment not to use finings such as…

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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 –…

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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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