The first ever London Irish Beer Festival took place on Saturday 23rd June at London Irish, Sunbury. 24 cask conditioned beers from the local area were on offer, as well as a range of ciders, and some great food including a hog roast; so good it ran out! There were rides and games for the kids, and raise funds for the Amateur Club and kids rugby. It was a hot day, but all ales and ciders were cooled, and oversize glasses lined for thirds, halves and pints were used. A great effort for a first festival, let’s look forward to the second!
Windsor Wander aka Rail Ale Trip
On Tuesday 19th June we headed over to our neighbouring Branch area, for a meet up at the Corner House (a sister pub to the famous Sussex Arms at Twickenham) with numerous handpumps, craft keg and bottled beers on offer, and ‘The Doors’ on the vinyl record deck on our arrival. Amongst many tipples tried were Thornbridge Windle, Mister Swifts Pale Ale, Big Smoke Polaris, Gritchie English Lore, Five Points Pale and ELB Cowcatcher APA. A couple of us had a wander, and a great evening was only slightly dampened by the trains being up the spout on the way home. I felt all grumpy until I found out there’d been some sort of nasty accident at Richmond. Pictured (click on pic to enlarge) are Richard, Spike, Mrs & Mr Les, Geoff, Katia, Curly Sue and Anthony. Why not join us at the next social? Thanks to Les for organising.
Pub of the Year
On Tuesday 5th June we presented our Branch Pub of the Year Award to the Barley Mow at Shepperton. My thanks to Bob, Richard, Les, Colin, Anthony, Ken and Roger, as well as Simon and Kevin from USC for popping along. See our POTY page for further info and picture kindly provided by Les.
Staines Riverside aka Ex-Servicemans Beer Festival. The first beer festival to be organised by the Staines Ex-Services Riverside Club took place from Thursday 24th to Sunday 28th May. There were 15 ales sourced from Thames Side, Windsor & Eton, Twickenham Ales, Reunion and Park Breweries. There was live music, and a BBQ over the weekend. As a Branch we helped out with the stillage, set up, staffing and publicity. My thanks especially to Andy, Les, Bob, Steve and Colin in particular for stepping in. There was still some beer left by the BH Monday, at £1 a pint (thanks for info on Facebook Andy) so Spike popped down to help them drink it …
Happy Man Beer Festival, Englefield Green
There was also a good turnout for our informal Branch Social on the Thursday of the same weekend at the Happy Man BeerFest. There was a great Beer List as usual, and it was good to see Rob, Hugh, Bob, Spike, Simon G from BSE, and a new local member Brian.
We also had an enjoyable get together at the Kings Head, Ashford on Tuesday 1st May, with three well priced ales on offer, made even cheaper by the CAMRA Discount.
There was a good turnout for our St. George’s Day Branch Meeting and Social on Monday 23rd April at the Old Red Lion Leacroft Staines. In honour of the occasion Wells Bomardier Gold was on special offer, and very tasty. The following weekend, our local Pub of the Year 2017 the Thyme at the Tavern, Chertsey held a St.George’s themed Beer Festival, and on Friday 27th a few of us met up – Hugh, Andy, Sue, Spike and our former Chair Tony who popped up from sunny Alton. He just can’t stay away, and is now Secretary of East Hamshire branch!
Brentford Quarter Ramble
Part One of the 235 Bus Ramble was completed on Thursday 12th April by Les, Geoff his partner, and a visitor from Shrewsury and West Shropshire CAMRA. The first pub the Royal Oak did not have any real ale, so they moved onto the Royal Horseguardsman where the ale was …. Windsor & Eton Guardsman. After that, the Brewery Tap, with 4 Fullers Ales, including an excellent pint of HSB, a guest ale, and live jazz for entertainment. Next was the Magpie & Crown in the High Street, with 5 ales on offer. Unfortunately after that the Northumberland Arms and the Six Bells were closed for the evening. Look out for details of Part Two of the 235 Bus Ramble in due course on our Diary page.
Branch Social at the 29th Egham Beer Festival
There was a good turnout for our Branch Social on the preview night of the 29th Egham Beer Festival at the Egham United Services Club. Lots of interesting brews from some of the best and some unusual microbreweries. I think the picture indicates that a good time was had by all…We also took the opportunity later on to present the Club with it’s well deserved 2018 Club of the Year Certificate. (SM/28Mar18)
Meet the Brewer at the Barley Mow Englefield Green
Colin popped along to the Barley Mow for the Meet the Tim Taylor Brewer event. Unfortunately there were only two other couples, who were there for a meal. Whilst being given a talk on each one, tasters of Landlord, Boltmaker and a new blonde beer Knowle Spring were available, together with a potted history of Timothy Taylor’s. Unfortunately as the the Barley Mow is also a very popular Brasserie and it was Pub Quiz night, there wasn’t a seat to be had by then. Colin popped down the road to the Beehive (venue for a recent Branch Meeting) which had Fullers London Pride, Spring Sprinter and a very nice Old Winter Ale. Sounds like it was a good evening. (SM/03Mar18)
A very enjoyable afternoon spent this afternoon Saturday 6th January at the Pie & Porter Festival at the Perseverance Wraysbury, just off our Branch area. Some excellent mini pies and great beer list. PerseverancePieAndPorterBeerListJan2018
ANOTHER Award for Thames Side Brewery
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