Not ANOTHER Award!
Saturday 30th September saw a Joint Social with Kingston & Leatherhead Branch, who visited our local (and only) Thames Side Brewery to present Andy & Michelle with their Kingston Beer Festival ‘Beer of the Festival 2017’ certificate for Mallard Mild. Several of our members made it, and afterwards there was a mini-crawl of Staines. Andy is to be congratulated once again for consistently winning awards for his ales. Available in several outlets, let’s seek them out and find out for ourselves. Talking of which ….
To promote their ales to a wider audience, Thames Side have opened the Thames Side Brewery Tap at Caffe Gusto in Staines. It is open Thursday to Saturday evenings after 5pm, though cafe itself opens throughout the day. Unusually for a micropub, food, wine decent coffee and soft drinks also feature. It is situated on the passageway by the Harvester linking the High Street and Two Rivers shops, cnema and parking. Andy deserves our support in this venture, so let’s pop down and try it out.
Happy Man Englefield Green BeerFest
To mark the start of term at nearby Royal Holloway the Happy Man Englefield Green held another of it’s enjoyable beer festivals from 27th to 30th September. Usual 50p off a pint was available on Thursday for CAMRA members, and 16 additional ales and 8 real ciders were available. Those who popped into the Packhorse on their way down Egham Hill on the Sunday found they were holding an Oktoberfest which included 6 Windsor & Eton Beers, though not all cask.
The 8th Thyme at the Tavern Beer Festival took place from Thursday 21st Sunday 24th September. As usual there was a great selection of ales on offer which included those on the beerlist. A number of us managed to get there over the weekend, which of course incuded our presentation of the North Surrey and Surrey Pub of the Year Awards for 2017. See our POTY page for more details.
27th ‘Unfined’ Egham Beer Festival Social
A number of local branch members got together for a very enjoyable evening at the 27th Egham Beer Festival. There was a great beer & cider list featuring many newer microbreweries, and we had an opportunity to catch up on what’s happening with beer and pubs around the North Surrey area. At time of writing, still a couple of days to catch what ales and ciders are left.
Englefield Green Extravaganza
On Saturday 22nd July, I joined the ‘Englefield Green Extravaganza’ organised by Clive Taylor from Kingston & Leatherhead Branch. We had members from West Middlesex, North London, Kingston & Leatherhead, and myself from North Surrey Branch. Shame it turned out to be one of the wettest days so far this year!
Our first stop was the Beehive in Middle Hill. A Fuller’s Pub, the ales on offer were London Pride and Oliver’s Island at £4 a pint. We discovered that the landlady Bele is leaving on 15th August, and we will miss her support for real ale and of course her schnitzels. Apparently incoming tenants will be a mother & daughter.
Next stop was the Barley Mow on Englefield Green, where were joined by another K&L member. Unfortunately the skies opened as we headed up there, and it rained pretty much for the rest of the day. Ales on arrival were Sharp’s Atlantic & Doom Bar, Timothy Taylor’s Landlord and Little Beer Little Hacka. An interesting range, and £4.05 to £4.10 a pint. Despite now being a White’s Brasserie, a comfortable bar has been retained, with a larger dining area to rear of premises. Loo’s are now located upstairs along a winding corridor, don’t get lost.
Now on to the Fox & Hounds by Bishopsgate entrance to Windsor Great Park. Really chucking it down now, and on arrival we found Brakspears Oxford Gold, Brakspears Bitter at £3.80 a pint, and a house beer Fox’s Bitter which will no doubt be a Marston’s brew. Again a bar area has been retained, but very much a food led pub, and all the busier for it.
We then left to head to our next venue, and the sun shone and the rain stopped. Only kidding, the roads were starting to turn into rivers. On arrival at the Sun in Wick Lane we found the pub going through a major spruce up, with a newly installed manager who was very keen (and knowledgeable) on her ales. Twickenham Sundancer, Purple Moose Elderflower and Courage Best were on offer at £3.80. An eclectic mix, and definitely worth a return visit. Oh, and the sausage and onion sandwich was lovely…
We then headed down the road and cut through Windsor Great Park to the Bailiwick by a pedestrian park gate on Wick Rd. This is a Brunning and Price pub, and very much food led, but a cosy dog (and wet rambler) friendly bar area has been restored at the front of the premises, with a nice wooden floor for us to drip on. As well as the house Original Bitter, there was Windsor & Eton Windsor Knot, Andwell Gold Muggler and Hogsback Tea at £4.10.
At last the rain eased off, and we headed back to the village centre via a short cut through the Cemetery past the Village Sons and Daughters Memorial to the Holly Tree in St Judes Road. Our first big disappointment of the day, as no real ale available. We continued on to the nearby Armstrong Gun in Victoria Street, where Courage Best was on offer, but not the Surrey Hills Ranmore which was a shame.
On arrival at the Happy Man in Harvest Road, our regular Pub of the Year or Runner Up, we were suitably cheered by the choice of Hop Back Summer Lightning, Reunion Opening Gambit, Andwell Gold Muggler, and Purity Mad Goose at £3.75. James and Stef kindly provided a very welcome buffet (which hardly touched the sides) and the popular view was we’d finished on a high note.
But isn’t there one more? On our way back down Egham Hill, the recently re-opened Packhorse managed by Royal Holloway Student’s Union, had Windsor & Eton Boatman on offer, though I continued down the hill having had enough. Oh oh, meant going past the US Club….. All in all a great day, 6 miles walked, 9 pubs checked out, 21 different ales seen and all in good company; thanks for organising Clive. Spike
Rebellion Open Day 2017
On Saturday 15th July, 30 keen partakers of real ale joined in Bob Inman’s 32nd and latest bus trip, to the Open Day at the Rebellion Brewery in Marlow Bottom. Well an unbeatable offer, as much beer as seems sensible (staying within government guidelines of course … stop laughing) in return for a donation to a local charity. Scannappeal, provides vital equipment to local hospitals, and an amazing £63,000 was raised on the day, what a fantastic result.
Also visited on the day were the award winning White Horse at Hedgerley, and the Land of Liberty, Peace & Plenty at Heronsgate. What amazing stamina some of our members and friends have! Another geat day thanks to our intrepid Social Secretary Bob Inman. My thanks to Bob and others for passing me info and letting me nick pictures off their Facebook pages. Spike
Club and Pub of the Year 2017
See our Pub and Club of the Year page for details of who won what this year.
Meet the (Kent) Brewer
Another interesting ‘Meet the Brewer’ was held on Thursday 15th June at the Egham United Services Club. There were numerous ales from Kent Brewery on the bar, and all in all a very convivial evening. Our thanks to our Social Secrtary Bob for organising.
Magna Carta Day
The gods were smiling weatherwise on 17th June when he had our usual Magna Carta Day, wander around Egham. We met at the Red Lion in the High Street, then onto the Crown and the USC in Milton Road. Some interesting beers and tan topped up, well as much as I ever tan, must be my Irish genes…
Branch Social @ Happy Man BeerFest
A number of Branch members and friends gathered at our social at the Happy Man BeerFest on Thursday 25th May. 16 ales were on offer from breweries near and far. James and Stef were struggling to cool the beers on the outside stillage due to some unusually warm weather.
Landlord James had to buy 16 towels to dampen and pop over barrels to keep them cool. Still, he’ll have earned some Tesco Clubcard points!
Big brewers gobbling up small brewers – good or bad?
I suppose it’s good news in a way that big brands are interested in aquiring and promoting anything other than bland chemical beers. One of latest is aquisition of London Fields Brewery by Carlsberg. This follows on from ABInBev aquiring Camden, and Asahi buying Meantime. In 2015 CAMRA GBG listed 1,424 breweries in the UK, and no doubt this has grown. Some consolidation is probably inevitable, but let’s hope history is not repeated, with megabrands picking off little guys. Mind you, owner of London Fields owing the taxman £700,00 (allegedly) is probably not a good start … 5th July’17
New techniques producing hazy, unfiltered beers preserve flavour and add silken textures, claim brewers. But how can you tell if you’ve been sold a bad pint? Interesting article on ‘Craft ales’ Read On 18thJun’17
Heineken £400m Punch bid sparks competition concerns
That was the headline in the Evening Standard business section on 13th June 2017. The bid has been known about for months, with the Competition and Markets Authority launching a probe in February. Heineken are after 1900 of the 3200 pubs in the Punch Taverns estate, with a private equity company called Patron Capital Advisers after the rest. Either way probably better news for investors than drinkers.
By the way…
In case you’re wondering why I use links to online articles on say the Guardian, over say the Times, it is because the former has a good beer writer and positive editorial policy towards pubs, and the latter has a £££ paywall preventing access.
Britain is in the midst of a booze epidemic! Well actually …
- Per capita alcohol consumption has dropped by a fifth since 2004
- Alcohol-related deaths have fallen by 7% since 2008
- Alcohol-related violent crime has fallen by 40% since 2007
- Drink driving related accidents fell by 45% between 2003 and 2014 and are now at the lowest rate on record
- The proportion of 45 to 64-year-old males who drink alcohol on five or more days a week has fallen by 29% since 2005