Thursday, 2 July 2015

Woking Beer Festival, 6th-7th September 2015

I’ve been asked by friends from the Surrey/Hants Borders Branch of CAMRA to promote their 22nd Woking Beer Festival, to be held in Woking Leisure Centre on 6th-7th November 2015. Tickets priced at £10 (includes programme and festival glass) go on sale on Monday 24th August from the Leisure Centre, tel 01483 771122. CAMRA members get a free pint (up to 5.0% ABV) on presenting their current membership card at the membership stand. Over three sessions, Friday evening, Saturday Lunchtime and Saturday evening, the festival will feature over 70 beers with all being available at all sessions (quality permitting).

A wide range of ciders and perries will be available along with our Foreign Beer Bar. There is also the opportunity to see Len Rawle at the Wurlitzer organ - you can even sing along to favourites such as Jerusalem, Rule Britannia, etc! Further details and staffing forms on website

Tuesday, 30 June 2015

Portsmouth CAMRA Beerex, 4th-5th September 2015

For the second year in a row the Portsmouth and South East Hants branch of CAMRA will be holding their Portsmouth Beerex at the University of Portsmouth Student Union building, Cambridge Road, Portsmouth, Hampshire, PO1 2EF. There will be an extensive drinks list including over 100 different drinks available; LocAle, ale from small UK breweries, traditional cider and perry, international bottled beers and perhaps a few surprises or two.

The event is being held on Friday 4th and Saturday 5th September 2015.

Session times are:

Friday 4th September
Midday to 4.30pm £5, this is a quiet session with no live music
6.30pm to 11pm £8

Saturday 5th September
11.30am to 4.30pm £8
6.30pm to 11pm £6

The ticket price includes entry, festival guide and commemorative glass.
CAMRA members can claim free drinks tokens from the CAMRA membership stand at the festival.

For more information including tickets purchase please visit the festival website:

Friday, 19 June 2015

Friends of the Froth Blowers at the Watermill Vat

In my role as a professional lecturer I speak most of the time to a captive rather than captivated audience. When I address a freely-invited group who, afterwards, in some small way, show their appreciation, it is most flattering. But in my view the best accolade that any speaker can receive is when someone is stimulated enough by the material to do something constructive in consequence. In October 2013, as part of the Lewes October Feast, I gave a talk at the John Harvey Tavern about Ye Ancient Order of Froth Blowers (AOFB), a beer-drinking, charitable, voluntary organisation of the interwar period. A couple of people did confess to me afterwards that, for at least the first ten minutes, they had thought the subject-matter to have been a spoof; but the story of the AOFB did entertain a certain Mr. Bob Oliver (pictured standing in the final photograph of this post) enough for him to go out and form his own Friends of the Froth Blowers branch on the basis of it.

The Friends of the Froth Blowers at the Watermill Vat held their inaugural meeting in November 2013 at the Watermill, Leylands Road, Worlds End, Burgess Hill (pictured below). They now have full and associate members who are keen to keep alive the memory of the AOFB, founded in 1924 by ex-serviceman Mr Bert Temple, in conjunction with eminent surgeon Sir Alfred Fripp as a way of raising funds for the latter’s “Wee Waifs” charities for deprived and invalid children. Branch meetings took place in pubs, clubs and hotels, humorously referred to as “Vats”, where beer was drunk in jovial accordance with rites, rituals and regalia of a spoof Fraternity Organisation or Masonic Lodge. By the time of the AOFB’s demise, in 1931, an astounding £100,000 had been secured for charity. 

The Watermill Vat were pleased to attend the annual plaque wetting of the AOFB on 10th May 2014 at what was the premier Vat No. 0, Swan Inn, Fittleworth, West Sussex. The £60 raised was donated to their locally supported charity, The St Peter & St James Hospice. Since forming they have been able to obtain the following original AOFB artifacts and merchandise: Member’s Booklet No. 345957, with an address in Hampstead; Blaster and Tornado badges plus a couple of branded playing cards; all full members have AOFB cuff links, while a female associate member is the proud owner of a Fairy Belle wristlet. They all have a copy of David Woodhead and Ian Brown’s (2012) The Zestful Gallopers, a full history of the AOFB.

For detail of their future meetings, both in and out of the Watermill, check the following Facebook pages:

Froth Blowers at the Watermill Vat Burgess Hill.!/frothblowerswatermillvat?fref=ts.

Froth Blowers at Sussex Vats

Information on the history of the AOFB is available at


Thursday, 28 May 2015

19th South Downs Real Ale & Cider Festival, 19th-20th June

Organised and run by the Brighton & South Downs Branch of CAMRA, the 19th South Downs Real Ale & Cider Festival will take place at the usual venue, Lewes Town Hall, on Friday 19th and Saturday 20th June 2015. There will be around 90 cask beers for you to sample, along with a range of bottled beers, ciders and perry. Non alcoholic drinks will also be available, along with a range of hot food and snacks, including vegetarian options supplied by local firm Circa Events. The festival will as usual be music free.

All sessions will be admission by ticket only. Tickets will be on sale from 1 May at the Gardener’s Arms, Harveys Brewery Shop and the Brewers Arms, Lewes, and the Evening Star, Brighton. 

Alternatively, please apply by post to: South Downs Beer Festival Tickets, 139 Elm Grove, Brighton, BN2 3ES, stating session required and enclosing a SAE and cheque, payable to “South Downs Beer & Cider Festival”.

The ticket prices are:

Friday 19th June 11.00 - 15.00 £4.00

Friday 19th June 17.00 - 22.30 £6.50

Saturday 20th June 11.00 - 18.00* £5.00

*or until the beer runs out.

Customers will receive a free festival glass very kindly sponsored by Harveys Brewery, and a programme with tasting notes. The festival always receives a great deal of support from Harveys Brewery. This year they are celebrating their 225th anniversary and this will be reflected on the glass and by a special brew! In addition, CAMRA members will receive £2.00 in beer tokens per session on production of their membership card. We have plans for one-off brews and ‘first available’ beers at this event.

This year’s charity is SERV Sussex (Service by Emergency Rider Volunteers), who provide nighttime transportation of blood, blood products and other urgent medical items for NHS hospitals across Sussex. Please give generously.

The venue - Lewes Town Hall, Fisher Street entrance, Lewes, East Sussex, BN7 2Q5 - is easy to find. From the railway station turn right, climb the hill to the traffic lights, cross over and it is on the right. The town boasts a number of excellent pubs that are well worth seeking out if you have the time, or indeed the capacity.

The local CAMRA branch website is

Thursday, 21 May 2015

Science of Beer, The Observatory Science Centre at Herstmonceux, 20th June

This Blog would like to draw your attention to a unique place in Sussex to enjoy some real ale and a homemade curry on a lovely summer’s evening - The Observatory Science Centre at Herstmonceux, Saturday 20th June from 7.30pm-midnight.

In 1990 The Royal Greenwich Observatory closed its doors at Herstmonceux and moved to Cambridge, leaving the historic telescopes behind. Five years later the Equatorial Group came back to life as The Observatory Science Centre, under the aegis of Science Projects. An extensive programme of repair and upgrading of the buildings and telescopes was completed in 2004 with the aid of a substantial grant from the National Heritage Lottery Fund. It is now a Grade II* listed monument. Along side the historic telescopes there are over 100 interactive hands-on exhibits and exhibitions all available on our Science of Beer evening.

This Science of Beer evening is for adults only and will combine a fascinating talk with some fabulous fun demonstrations all about the process of brewing beer with the chance to sample some local brew! All this plus a curry AND a voucher to sample a free beer of your choice (soft drinks and wine are also available). Vegetarian options are available but we are unable to offer alternatives to the curry.

If the weather is good then there will also be an opportunity to look through the Centre's fantastic historic telescopes at some fascinating night sky objects including VENUS, JUPITER and even SATURN! There will be an opportunity to buy other beers from the brewers but please bring cash with you as credit card transactions will not be available.

Numbers are limited to 80, so book early to secure your place. NOT SUITABLE FOR CHILDREN

The Observatory Science Centre
Wartling Road
East Sussex
BN27 1RN
Location Co-ordinates: 50.868585, 0.348961
Tel: 01323 832731
Fax: 01323 832741

Friday, 15 May 2015

Crawley Beer & Cider Festival, 5th-7th June

Crawley Beer & Cider Festival

5th - 7th June

Crawley Civic Hall

Fri  05 June 5.00 pm - 11.00 pm £6 entry
Sat 06 June 11.00 am - 11.00 pm £7 entry
Sun 07 June 11.00 am - 3.00 pm Free entry

Tickets will be available on the door
Sorry no under 18s can be admitted, proof of age / I.D may be required

40+ beers , 10 ciders and perries plus more!

£1 entry discount for CAMRA members

Beers from just £3.00 per pint!

Dear CAMRA friends

Please tell your branch members about this year's Crawley Beer Festival in our exciting new venue with a discount for CAMRA members! Perks for volunteer staff are even better with free beer and food on offer! We aim to have tokens instead of cash. Most beers will be from local microbreweries and cider farms and will be available free to workers.

I have some exciting news! We are moving from Three Bridges FC to Crawley Civic Hall, The Boulevard, Crawley, West Sussex, RH10 1UZ, next to the Town Hall and easily reached by train (Crawley station) and bus. We will have an outside marquee and hot food. We will not have music in the evening but hope that Brighton Road and their friends can play for us again on Saturday afternoon.

Gary Lucas is busy running events at his Kissingate Brewery so I will be joined this year by Phil Shoebridge, landlord at the Crown Inn, Turners Hill. Rest assured that we will have the excellent Kissingate beers on sale as well as all the eight local brewery beers and many favourites as well as ciders and perries.

We will again be advertising in Sussex Drinker and offering a discount on entry to CAMRA members. £2 off entry vouchers will also be available at the Crown, Turners Hill and Beer Essentials, Horsham. Both of these are worth stopping at to enjoy a pint or two!

The opening times will be:

Thu 04 June 17.00 – 20.00 (-ish for set up only)
Fri 05   June 17.00 – 23.00 (open to all)
Sat 06  June 11.00 – 17.00 and 17.00 – 23.00 (All one session as per last year but staff choose afternoon or eve)
Sun 07 June 11.00 – 15.00 (free entry)

Once again, we would be glad to welcome you and would very much appreciate any help and assistance whether it be setting up, serving at the bar or front desk or taking down, either from yourselves or friends. We would welcome any suggestions as to how we can improve on last year, especially with regard to staffing. In return for your valued help, we will offer free beer to drink (so long as you can stand up!) and take away with you and also free hot food to staff. We will have a staff room for breaks.

Please let us know if you may be able to kindly help again this year or know of anyone who might like to help and, if not, we hope to see you on the other side of the bar! This is going to be the best ever Crawley Beer & Cider festival!

Best regards

Nigel Bullen (North Sussex CAMRA member, mobile: 07791 872289, email: and Phil Shoebridge.

Tuesday, 5 May 2015

The Watchmaker's Arms, Hove

I avoid making a habit of hanging around outside pubs waiting for them to open, but I had taken an early train and arrived at my destination, the Watchmaker’s Arms, well ahead of schedule. Still, it leaves me with time enough to take a photo or two and salivate at the sight of the chalk board on display advertising the day’s ales. And I suppose it is some kind of accolade to be Brighton and Hove’s first micro pub’s first ever lunchtime customer.

The two couples behind the venture, Dave and Ali White and Rick and Ruth Evans, had originally planned to open a micro pub in Richardson Road, Hove, at the former York House Wines off-licence. That those plans did not come to fruition can now be seen as a blessing in disguise because the Watchmaker’s Arms is situated in a much more convenient location, a busy commercial parade just a hundred yards south of Hove railway station. 

I check my watch – just past 12noon – and hear the turn of the lock behind me. I enter a light and airy interior to receive a warm and friendly greeting. Five beers are on gravity dispense from a cool room behind the bar, prices from £3.60-£4.00 depending on strength. I begin with Top Notch Hop Festival followed by Naked Streaker, both in excellent condition. Still to come over the next days are offerings from Hurst, Brighton Bier, Downlands, Kissingate, Ilkley, Bristol Beer Factory and, all the way from Salford, a cask from First Chop Brewing Arm. 

For those who like real cider, there are three from Wobblegate. Buy a Growler for £2.50 and take some beer and cider home with you. Wine is also available. The pub is dog-friendly - the pooch-in-residence is called Muffin. And the pub gets its own name from the fact that it occupies premises that, a very, very long time ago, was a watchmaker’s.

The Watchmaker’s Arms, 84 Goldstone Villas, Hove, East Sussex, BN3 3RU, 01273 776307, /

Opening hours: Tue-Thur 12noon-2pm, 5-9pm; Fri 12noon-2pm, 5-11pm; Sat 12noon-11pm; Sun 12noon-3pm