This is my original blog – all my blogs  since I started in 2009 - are here including those from The Ale Archive – all the beers I’ve sampled at home and on our travels since 2012.

Since 2012 most of our travel has involved a caravan. I now have a specific caravanning blog called (Get Your) Legs Down which documents all our trips and includes product reviews and pubs! It too is on Facebook and Twitter.

Sunday, 30 November 2014

Harveys – Sussex Best Bitter

IMAG0221 What they say: A superbly balanced bitter with a prominent hop character. Our most famous and popular brand – it makes up over 90% of our total brewing capacity.

It was only whilst writing up the last beer – Otter Ale – that I realised that I had not yet featured the consistently excellent Harveys Sussex Best. So, it’s fitting that this great local beer is the 100th beer to be featured this year. A cracking bitter, and as a permanent feature in our local watering hole The Rottingdean Club, it sets the standard for any guest beers that may feature. 4.0% A.B.V.

Otter – Otter Ale

WP_20141129_002 What they say: “…..

Otter Ale is a very well balanced beer that
delivers the flavours of quality floor malted barley and finishes with a combination of fruit and some bitterness. Its nose is a
balance of malt and fruit

The latest guest in our local The Rottingdean Club and my 99th new beer this year. The malt seemed to edge it taste wise and the strength of the beer was clear from the taste. Enjoyable but  a couple was enough, although the occasion dictated that I had three! 4.3% A.B.V.

The club always has Harveys Sussex Bitter on and it is always excellent so litmus test for any guest beer at the club is whether I would stick with the  guest or go back to the Harvey’s. This time around the Harvey’s wins – but not by much.

Saturday, 22 November 2014

Hydes - Bitter

WP_20141120_002 What they say: A truly classic highly popular English session ale made with Best Pale Ale and medium colour Crystal malts.  Bitterness is well balanced using English Fuggle and Wye Challenger hops to give a fruity and spicy palate.  Like all Hydes classic ales, Original is still dry hopped to the cask at racking with Fuggles to add further aroma and depth.

Not sure about the fruity spicy bit but nevertheless I really enjoyed this. Bitter but not to hoppy, this was guesting at what is becoming our regular Thursday night haunt, The Spanish Lady. Again, just a little too cold but otherwise excellent and reasonably priced too – for the south-east anyway! 3.8% A.B.V so a great session beer.

Sunday, 16 November 2014

Redemption - Hopspur


What they say: Amber Ale with some citrus fruit aromas, chewy biscuity malt flavours, slight sticky sweetness and grapefruit piney hop flavours. Well balanced with hop flavours to the fore and an easy bitter finish

On offer at the lovely The Bank micro pub in Willingham from this North London brewery and as with the Solus Simcoe, poured straight from the cask. A little too fruity for me but The Portly Partner enjoyed it. 4.5% A.B.V

The Star Brewery - Solus Simcoe

WP_20141024_004What they say? Well, nothing that I could find as at the time of typing they don’t have their own website however the good folk at reckon this:

Next in Star's Solus series, Simcoe is something
of a cult hop amongst American Craft
Brewers. It is closely associated with IPA
styles and is highly aromatic, often described
as both fruity and having an herbal, earthy,
pine fragrance

The last few days of our Autumn half-term break saw us in Cambridgeshire to catch up with family and friends and staying on a site near the village of Willingham - although sadly not within walking distance.

An unexpected - and sadly rather late - find was The Bank micro pub offering half a dozen ales poured direct from the cask. Sadly we only got to try one each but a return visit for Christmas - along with the services of a local taxi - promises more ‘research’ opportunities.

As you may have guessed from perfect pint’s description, this golden ale from this young (2012)Lincolnshire based brewery was not really to my taste but I look forward to trying some of their other brews when the chance arises.

Long Man - Scary Man

WP_20141115_003What they say:

A full bodied Malty Monster of a beer, with undertones of molasses and oozing
fresh hoppy aromas from an all British blend – Scarily Good!

The latest beer to guest in our local The Rottingdean Club from just 12 miles away in Litlington and available only in October. A little too malty for me but I had a second pint just to make sure. Always good to see local beers on offer though. I hope Long Man are represented again soon as they rarely disappoint. 4.3% A.B.V.

Rottingdean, East Sussex, November 2014

Coronado - Mermaid’s Red

WP_20141021_001What they say: Mermaid's Red™ bucks the shallow mid-range red ale stereotype. Loaded with Cascade hops, it delivers a fresh floral aroma and sharp bitter notes, all while delivering a solid kick of roasted malts that fades seamlessly into a rich, chocolaty finish with hints of clove and caramel.

Our last pint in Warwick was this offering at Wetherspoons and brewed by Wadworths in Devizes. Another alcohol loaded ale from across the Atlantic - too strong for a session and a bit syrupy in my opinion. 5.7% A.B.V.

Warwick - October 2014.

Purity - Pure Gold

WP_20141020_018What they say: “………is a refreshing golden ale with a dry and bitter finish. Brewed with English Maris Otter, Caragold and Wheat malts, plus Hallertau Northern Brewer, Bobeck and Hereford Goldings hops. Winner of nine awards.”

A true golden ale so not really to my taste but it WAS refreshing and I would look forward to a pint or two on a nice warm summers day. 3.8% A.B.V. so session strength too.

Warwick - October 2014

Purity - Pure UBU


What they say: “UBU (4.5% ABV) is our strongest and darkest beer: a distinctive, full flavoured beer with a sweeter finish. Brewed with English Maris Otter, Crystal, Black and Wheat malts, with Hallertau Northern Brewer and Cascade hops.”

Named after  a dog on site allegedly called ‘Useless Bl**dy Urchin’ and a real tasty offering from this Warwickshire brewer established in 2005 and found in the Rose & Crown in Warwick town centre. October 2014

Byatt’s - Big Cat

WP_20141020_017What they say: Big Cat is a pale bronze ale with a nice touch of biscuity sweetness. Light fruit, spice notes & very refreshing.

The Fourpenny was a frequent halt during our stay in Warwick thanks to their range of real ales. This wasn’t one of my better choices however - there was nothing wrong with it, but regular readers will know it wasn’t for me. 4.0% A.B.V.

Warwick - October 2014.

J. W. Lees - John Willie’s 100

WP_20141020_009What they say: John Willie’s 100 has been brewed to commemorate the centenary of the First World War. The pump clip features ‘Little Willie’ one of the first tanks or ‘land boats’ used in battle that shares its name with our founder. Like the illustration the beer is robust, with plenty of Challenger hops to give it flavour. The crystal malt blend makes it a more flavourful beer with a toasted mild sweetness.

Another offering in Wetherspoons International Real Ale festival and a great tasting bitter. Enjoyable and at 4.2% A.B.V. flavoursome but not too strong

Sixpoint - Bklyn Bitter

What they say: "...with an abundance of American hops, imparts a floral, citrus aroma and a spicy flavour, overlaying a decent malt backbone..."

Another offering at Wetherspoons International Real Ale Festival whilst we were staying in Warwick and brewed by Adnams in Suffolk for Sixpoint in Brooklyn. 5.5% so not one for sloshing back unless you're a masochist and like headaches. It accompanied a large mixed grill but I wouldn't want more than one - grill or beer!

Wetherspoons, Warwick - October 2014

Thursday, 13 November 2014

Caledonian – Trojan Horse

WP_20141020_007 What they say: Black beer with citric floral & herbal aroma bittersweet dark malt & citric hop

What better than a black ale for the Blogger in Black? – and this seasonal offering from the makers of Deuchars & 80/- was VERY black. The aforementioned ‘citric floral & herbal aroma’ was not overpowering. Strong stuff at 5.5% A.B.V but a great winter warmer.

Wetherspoons:  Warwick – October 2014.

Hook Norton - Hooky

WP_20141020_005 Our week in Warwick brought with it yet more research opportunities helped in no small part by the town being within walking distance of the caravan site. Coincidentally Wetherspoons were running their International Ale Festival as well, so the local branch did quite well out of us, but there were other pubs too offering plenty of ‘research’ options. Found this in The Lazy Cow

What they say:
A subtly balanced, golden bitter, hoppy to the nose, malty on the palate
- the classic session beer, eminently drinkable.

Yep, agree with all of that. Not as well known perhaps as ‘Old Hooky’ but very agreeable and at only 3.5% A.B.V, easier on the body too.

Wednesday, 12 November 2014

Old Dairy - Red Top

WP_20141014_001What they say:

Relax and enjoy this classic English ale brewed with Maris Otter, Crystal, Brown and Chocolate malts. Savour the delicious toffee flavours with a hint of coffee, perfectly balanced against the fruitiness, spice and hints of citrus from East Kent Golding, English Cascade and Challenger hops. Goes particularly well with meat or fish.

Another guest at our local - I can’t say I recall the coffee or chocolate but it was very tasty nonetheless and went very well with a cheese & onion toastie. From  a young (2010) brewery in Kent but without the distinctive taste of Kentish hops and at 3.8% A.B.V not too heavy either.

Tuesday, 11 November 2014

O’Shea’s - Traditional Irish Ale

WP_20140714_001Brewed by the Carlow Brewing Company for Aldi stores who also brew O’Hara’s - our favourite Irish Red - and also available for less than €2.00. Not only that, but the A.B.V was the same at 4.3% Hmm!

Bru - rua

WP_20140708_002What they say: “….Brú Rua is a hearty, robust Irish Red Ale made using Irish malts. The backbone of Brú Rua is a conventional caramel and red berry but overlaid with New World hops, providing juicy tangerine top flavours. This beer was named after the mythical warrior Cú Chulainn who was born by the River Boyne at Newgrange, in County Meath….”

A tasty offering from this very young Irish brewery only established in July 2013 and discovered on our trip around Ireland in the summer of 2014. 4.7% A.B.V.

Kenmare - Irish Red Ale

WP_20140703_002Another bottled Irish Red from our summer in Ireland. Cannot find a website for the brewery so cannot give you their tasting notes. It’s been a while since I had this but I would say it’s a typical Irish Red - a lovely colour and a nice warm flavour but overly gassy. Didn’t enjoy it as much as O'Hara's

Long Man - American Pale Ale

WP_20141106_004What they say: Made using only the choicest U.S. hops this triple-hopped American Pale Ale
has a pleasant citrus fruit aroma and characteristic robust bitterness.

Our second choice on our recent visit to The Spanish Lady and couldn’t have been more different to our first ale - Wadworths Blunder Buss. Fruity and hoppy, so not really my thing and again too cold in my opinion. Nice to see local breweries getting a look in though. 4.8% A.B.V.

Thursday, 6 November 2014

Wadworth - Blunder Buss

What they say: A rich red autumn ale, bursting with red berries & spice drawn from rye crystal malt, Fuggles, Golding & Bramling Cross hops & a touch of elderberry. This full body rolls gently into a decisive finish from late Cascade hops.
Back in the Spanish Lady for our Thursday night meal out and their ale festival continues with this seasonal ale from Wadworth in Devizes. It's name is apt, there's nothing subtle about it but perfectly acceptable, although sadly served too cold. 5% A.B.V.

Wednesday, 5 November 2014

Everards - Pumpkin Ale


What they say: “…a rich ruby beer full of all the flavours you would expect for the spookiest time of the year including pumpkin! A burnt, smoky character is balanced with light citrus flavours from Styrian Dana hops and there is a lingering bitter finish.”

Found this seasonal ale guesting at The Spanish Lady in Saltdean as part of their beer festival. It’s fair to see that previous visits to the ‘Lady haven't been very fulfilling beer wise mainly due to the ale being kept too cold. This was very good though, and from the makers of the excellent Tiger, I wouldn't expect anything less. Very enjoyable and at only 3.8% A.B.V easy on the head too!

Hurst Brewery - Founders Best


What they say: “Founder's Best Bitter is our signature ale. Named after the founder of the original Hurst Brewery, George Thomas Saltmarsh, it is nutty brown in colour, has a rounded malty taste and is suffused with subtle caramel flavours.”

Brewed just 15 miles up the road in Hurstpierpoint this was another guest in our local, The Rottingdean Club.

Not too hoppy, not too sweet. My sort of beer and even better that it’s local too. Look forward to another pint sometime. 4.1% A.B.V.

Moorhouse’s - Pride of Pendle

What they say: “An exceptionally fine balance of malt and hops give the beer and long dry and extremely satisfying taste”
The latest guest at our local, a lovely traditional bitter. I really liked this. 4.1% A.B.V.

Tuesday, 4 November 2014

Shepherd Neame – India Pale Ale

WP_20141101_003 What they say: A glorious showcase of the distinct, heavily hopped beers for which Shepherd Neame is famed, India Pale Ale delivers potent bitterness, offset with generous amounts of pale ale malt to deliver a balanced, yet uncompromising brew.

A big thanks to Alison at Twittercamp for giving my the chance to sample this again.  A proper strong IPA but as you can see from the label it’s powerful stuff. Nice but go easy and you wont be disappointed – well I wasn't anyway!

Monday, 3 November 2014

White Gypsy - Ruby

WP_20140707_003 What they say: Our Ruby Ale has a unique flavour profile. It has a caramel like sweetness, a medium body and is light on hops, with a toffee-roast flavour.

An acceptable fuller bodied alternative to the much more widely available Smithwicks. We found this at a bar in Cahir, Co. Tipperary in July 2014. Stronger at 4.6% A.B.V.

Connemara – Pale Ale

WP_20140716_004 What they say: Well, I’m not sure because I haven't as yet been able to find their website. Found this on offer at a bar in Cong, Co. Mayo, Ireland in July. On tap as pretty much all beer is in the Republic of Ireland – it was gassy (obviously) and too pale and flowery for me. An alternative if you get fed up of all the Irish Red ales but we didn’t see it offered anywhere else.

Oakham Ales - JHB

WP_20141022_006What they say:

A golden beer whose aroma is dominated by hops that give characteristic citrus notes. Hops and fruit on the palate are balanced by malt and a bitter base. Dry hoppy finish with soft fruit flavours.

Sampled at the Three Horseshoes Inn in Houghton, Cambridgeshire in August 2014. Regulars to Ale Archive will know from reading the above that it’s not my sort of beer. To me it was akin to drinking a vase of flowers. Nothing wrong with it, but the ‘Bitter’ in the name is a bit of a misnomer in my opinion.

Everards - Tiger

WP_20141022_004What they say: A true award winning best bitter with universal appeal. Tiger Best Bitter is a classic example of getting the perfect balance between sweetness and bitterness. Crystal malt gives the beer its rounded toffee character. Tiger is the Official Beer of the Leicester Tigers.

Have come across this a few times and welcomed the opportunity to sample it again at the Duke of Wellington in Willingham, Cambridgeshire in October 2014.

Couldn't agree more about the balance, this is a truly lovely pint.

Saturday, 1 November 2014

Another Twittercamp

Better late than never? Well, I’ll let you be the judge of that after you’ve read it - as this is my  blog of the second Twittercamp of 2014 held at the Caravan Clubs’ Warwick site a couple of weeks ago. For the uninitiated this is where a bunch of Twittering caravanners  - or maybe caravanning twits - I’m not sure - meet up and talk remarkably little about Twitter or caravanning.

We we first to arrive as per usual, taking advantage of the schools extended half-term break to travel up on the Wednesday. The straightforward journey up the A24, around the M25 and up the M40 was trouble free and we were on site around 12:30pm with our tug Rosie acquitting herself well and returning nearly 31mpg. She’s learning. More MPG equals more beer vouchers - or leather coats. More of that later.

The site sits on the inside of Warwick racecourse so you have to cross the track to get to it. Large plastic traction boards help ingress and egress but a missing one ensured one of Patsy’s wheels got submerged in mud and wood chippings.

We picked a pitch near the entrance, because it was close to the facilities and also because we’re basically nosey and could see all the comings and going. More importantly, we’d be able to pounce on our friends when they arrived.

First up - and the only other arrivals of the day were my cousin Andy and his wife Janet who arrived mid afternoon having travelled up from Colchester. It’s at least partially my fault that they got in to caravanning but I’m so glad they did as we now have something in common and spend much more time together than we ever did before.

Some research was needed - clearly - but we played safe (and cheap) and hit the local Wetherspoons for grub, planning to check out some of the local hostelries later on. The beer was so good though - and even cheaper thanks to my last sheet of CAMRA vouchers that we emerged in to the mild damp night a little later than planned. A couple of other establishments were the recipients of our custom on the way back. I should point out that the town is in easy walking distance of the site. Very convenient but I’m not sure my liver or wallet would agree.

It’s fair to say, we were a little sluggish Thursday morning. Andy & Janet had the right idea and feasted on bacon rolls whilst we forced down cereals and toast. Mind you - they were off to the Caravan Show at the NEC and would need all the help they could get. We took the opportunity to stroll in to town, me sporting my new coat. Black leather (obviously) and extremely long and moreover and absolute steal off eBay. I’m sure that’s what the guy though who sold it too. No pictures exist yet  as I’m no good at selfies and having been before during our visits to the Cotswolds in February 2013 we didn’t bother to bring the ‘big’ camera.

We were back at the site in time to welcome Sam & Andy (aka Hubster) to their second Twitercamp and had a good chinwag and catch up whilst enjoying a cuppa and the fruits of Sam’s labours in the kitchen.

Next up was ‘Boss’ aka David with Gary and famous tweeting Caravan Elvis the Elddis, travelling up from Dorset where they had been holidaying. This was Boss’s third twittercamp but Gary’s first although we hope not the last. We got caught up with a few beers later on before hooking up with my cousin for a meal at the Vine - scoped out earlier in the day. The food was good and we were just finishing up as Sam & Andy joined us for a drink - and then another in the Old Fourpenny Shop Hotel on the way back to the site.

Friday was to be our day at the caravan show. David, Sam & Andy joined us in Rosie for the half hour trip up the road to the NEC. It was mercifully quiet compared to our past weekend visits and we even picked up a couple of bits and bobs. We didn’t really look at many caravans, save for Coachman to see what they were doing and Hobby to see why the pik- sorry, travellers like them so much.

The principle reason - for our visit anyway - was Twitter beer o’clock. It was nice to at last put faces to Tranquil Camper and David Bird and we hope to get a chance to meet up for longer soon. Andrew - owner of ‘The Shiny One’ also joined us and would be coming to the site in Warwick on Saturday once his commitments at the show had finished.

Back at the site Alison had arrived with Sid Smiley and so too had Amanda & Allison with their ‘van Gertie. The herd were gathered, we convened by Gertie and fuelled by  a beer or two and more cake, this time from Amanda as well, commenced the quiz put together by Sam & Hubster. Myself and Trev somehow came joint first with David & Garry and fluked the tiebreaker to secure the trophy.

tc quiz01

With it not being warm enough to gather for a BBQ, we met again for the evening meal back at the Vine Inn, this time with Alison's son and his partner joining us along with a friend who was staying at the temporary site at the NEC. Whilst the company was good the food got a mixed reception sadly - some enjoyed it but others didn’t. We adjourned back to the Old Fourpenny Shop Hotel for a de-brief only to find that the ale of choice was on it’s last legs. A swap to the IPA brought some relief, but regardless it was great for us all to be together.IMAG3106

The Saturday was by necessity pretty relaxed. Alison joined me and Trev for breakfast in town and we got the chance for our first good catch up of the weekend. Later on Andrew arrived with ‘The Shiny One’ and Patsy’s pitch was this time the host for more beer and cake.

Six of us dined at the local chippy later on whilst others done their own thing but we all met up again later on in the Four Penny. A place that always seems fairy busy until we arrive when it empties out. How odd! To be fair the fair (sorry!) was in town though but no-one seemed enthused about going so we stayed put. Andrew & David joined us in Patsy for a nightcap later on.

IMAG3113No sooner than had everyone arrived than it was time to start saying goodbye. On the Sunday, Sam & Hubster were the first to leave for their drive back to Dorset. It was great to catch up again and also to get the chance to enjoy Sam’s baking. My cousin was next, heading back to Colchester, then David & Gary for their run north to Leeds.

We met with Amanda & Allison for lunch than had a relaxing afternoon in the ‘van before saying goodbye to Andrew and his gorgeous dog Dougal in the evening. A quiet night in front of the telly and Downton Abbey beckoned, at least until we discovered that we couldn’t get ITV! No amount of repositioning of the aerial would work. Oh well, hardly the end of the world!

IMAG3118Monday saw the last of the departures with Alison heading off first back to Kent. Thank you Ali for all the ale you brought - it was well appreciated, as always!IMAG3128

Last to leave with their ‘van Gertie was Amanda & Allison. They missed out on the spring Twittercamp in Rutland so it was especially great to see them again.

And that, sadly was it. No sooner had our second Twittercamp of the year started and it was over. Thanks to everyone that came and made it another great weekend. In no particular order: Andy, Janet, Sam, Andy, Gary, David, Alison, Amanda, Allison, Andrew. And Dougal. Adam & Jamie couldn’t get booked on the site but it was great to see you both again. Thanks everyone and we’re already looking forward to the next one. Keep Tweeting!