Tuesday, 6 December 2011

Sign of the Seagull

The pub that used to be the Seagull is in Broad Street, Old Portsmouth, Hampshire. It was built for Jewell's brewery in 1900 and ceased to be a pub in 1970. An Estate Agents now occupies the premises. My own photos of the pub are intended to highlight the valuable photographic resource that is "RIBApix, a growing database dedicated to providing you with exceptional and unique images from the collections of the British Architectural Library at the Royal Institute of British Architects, the world’s most extensive visual archive devoted to architecture."

The black and white photograph from the RIBA collection shows the mosaic wall sign in 1952, taken by Reginald Hugo de Burgh Galwey, (1917-1971).

Click on my exterior photograph to see that the attractively decorative pair of "Jewell's Ales" lower-windows have since disappeared. Also to be noted is the distinctive modelled seagull under the corner turret. The RIBApix collection has a close-up, again taken in 1952 by Reginald Hugo de Burgh Galwey. Compare his image with my own (below). The half-timbered and turreted exterior design is characteristic of the Portsmouth pub architect Arthur Edward Cogswell (1858-1934) and the Portsmouth Pubs website notes that The Seagull "is of very similar external design to the Florist on Fratton Road ", also a Cogswell pub. Nonetheless, the Seagull is listed on excellent website of Portsmouth local historian, Stephen Pomeroy, as having been designed by local architect George Charles Vernon-Inkpen, with a date of 1904.

The following abbreviated information on this architect is taken from Pomeroy's website. "George Charles Vernon-Inkpen (1857-1926) was born at Bethnal Green, the son of a carpenter, and had a practice in London in 1879, but in 1881 he was lodging in Oving, probably because his practice from 1882 to 1890 was at The Cross, Chichester. In 1887 the practice of Inkpen and Stallard (Stallard is unknown and the only recorded work of the practice was in the Old Kent Road, London) appears in Southsea and Havant and in 1891 Inkpen was living in Southsea. In 1893-94 with a partner called Swinburne he had addresses in Midhurst and Bognor. Swinburne has also not been identified for sure, but Frank Swinburne (b. 1863), architect and surveyor of West Street, Emsworth, who was also surveyor to Warblington Urban District Council, seems a likely candidate. He was a Londoner by birth, but later lived with his parents in the town; in 1891 all three of them were supported by their own means".

"By 1895 Vernon-Inkpen (his use of the hyphenated form does not appear earlier) was alone at 6 Kings Road, Southsea and in that year his status was sufficient to be elected a Borough Councillor, which he remained in 1899. During this time he moved, for in 1898 he was living, still on his own, at 75 Kings Road, though in 1901 he was at Idsworth, near Petersfield. Between 1914 and 1926, when his business address was 40 Commercial Road, Southsea, he was also without a partner, yet a year after his death, there was a branch of Inkpen and Rogers (who must have been the last of his elusive partners, if only briefly) in South Street, Chichester. Inkpen designed schools, and domestic, commercial and industrial work, mostly in the Portsmouth area or Dorset. In 1898 he proudly announced his possession of a Special Diploma in Sanitary Sciences."







Friday, 25 November 2011

For People Who Like Real Ale In Sussex – And Beyond

Comrades! Join the Sussex Drinker revolution. Follow us into Surrey, London, Kent and Hampshire as the cover of our autumn issue implores. In fact, follow us from anywhere in the globe if you are registered for a Facebook account. Just enter Sussex Drinker into the search box at the top of your Facebook page, bring up the magazine’s page and ‘Like’ us. This will enable you to receive news feeds from us and, conversely, allow you to feed us with news items – particularly useful if you are a pub holding a beer festival, a brewery promoting new products, or a customer wanting to update us with positive new developments on the Sussex real ale and pub scene.

“Sussex inns are as numberless and glorious as stars in the galaxy”, wrote Denzil Batchelor, journalist, bon vivant and author of The English Inn (London: Batsford, 1963). Why not come and visit Sussex and explore the glorious inns and pubs of our real ale scene for yourself? Or heed the clarion call on the cover of our winter issue. With an inspirational nod to the Russian artist Alexander Rodchenko you are urged to attend any or all of our six CAMRA Beer Festivals in All Areas of Sussex. The next one is the big one, the Sussex CAMRA Branches Beer & Cider Festival at Hove, from 8-10 March 2012. For details of opening times and ticket prices see the advert (left).

Over the past two years the Sussex Drinker has become bigger (up from 32-40 pages), better (one of the outstanding CAMRA magazines in the UK) and more popular than ever before (an increased print run from 5000-12000 copies).

This would not have been possible without the superb design skills of Daniel Speed (Tamoko Design). To meet unprecedented demand we now regularly deliver outside of our county boundaries, as shown by the front page photos of the autumn issue: reading clockwise from top left, Bricklayer’s Arms, Putney; Hole in the Wall, Southsea; Grove Tavern, Tunbridge Wells; White Horse, Parsons Green. If you would like to advertise your pub, brewery or business to this wider readership in the Sussex Drinker, please contact Neil Richards MBE of Matelot Marketing, responsible for the production side of the magazine. Neil can be contacted on Tel: 01536 358670 / Mob: 07710 281381 / Email: N.Richards@btinternet.com

As for regular features in the Sussex Drinker, the ‘Sussex Pub Scratchings’ news pages has contributions from our readers; the latest ‘Bus to the Pub’ around Sussex programme is organised by Arun & Adur branch member, Stuart Elms. ‘Beer Festivals and Other Delights’ are our diary dates (for which inclusion is free).

‘History and Heritage’ is a celebration by yours truly of a CAMRA National or Regional Inventory pub in Sussex or some other aspect of local pub and brewery history. Web sites on the history of pubs in Worthing and in Hastings and St. Leonards have featured in recent issues.

‘Cider House Notes’ is by our Regional Cider Coordinator, Jackie Johnson; ‘Star Behind the Bar’ is an informal introduction to one of our pub licensees; and there are ‘LocAle updates’ on our pubs that stock locally-sourced real ales from breweries within a designated radius.

‘Bru News’ consists of up-to-date reports by CAMRA Brewery Liaison Officers on all of the breweries in our county, while ‘Spotlight on Breweries', as seen below, is for more specific, in-depth news items.

If you are unable to pick up a hard copy of the Sussex Drinker in our usual numerous outlets, a PDF version is accessible at the following CAMRA branch web sites:


Monday, 14 November 2011

A Holy Alliance

The flat buzzer sounded and there at the door was the postman with a parcel for me. I wasn’t expecting a delivery so peered at the box label while I signed for the item. It was from those nice people at the St Peter’s Brewery in Suffolk. Inside were two of their iconic oval 500mm beer bottles - one The Saints Whisky Beer, the other Suffolk Smokey - with an accompanying press release. A delightful present such as this deserves some reciprocal publicity on the Blog, so here we go.

Suffolk brewer St Peter’s has crossed the county border into Norfolk to team up with the English Whisky Co., England’s first registered whisky distilling company for over a century. Their production facility, St George’s Distillery, is based in the historic Breckland area of Norfolk, just thirty miles from St. Peter’s. The above photograph, taken at St George’s Distillery, shows David Fitt, Head Distiller at St George’s, and Mark Slater, Head Brewer at St Peter’s Brewery.

The Saints Whisky Beer is produced by St Peter’s Brewery with the same peated malt used at St George’s Distillery in their whisky production. Following fermentation, English Whisky Co.’s Chapter 9 peated / smokey single malt whisky is added, before bottling, to produce a superbly balanced 4.8% beer, rich in flavour with smokey overtones from the peated malt.

Commenting on the new product, Andrew Nelstrop, Managing Director of the English Whisky Co. said “we are delighted to be working with St Peter’s Brewery to develop this excellent new and differentiated product. With St Peter’s penetration in worldwide markets, we hope that this new produce with also introduce customers to the English Whisky Co. and our range of whisky products." Colin Cordy, Managing Director of St Peter’s added that “in our consumer trials we have had a very positive reaction to The Saints Whisky Beer. Moreover, distributors in our thirty-two export markets are very excited about this addition to the St Peter’s award-winning range of beers.”

The Saints Whisky Beer will be launched exclusively in the UK in 150 selected Waitrose stores and will also be offered by the UK’s leading on-line grocer, Ocado from early October. The beer will also be available from the St Peter’s on-line shop http://www.stpetersbrewery.co.uk/ and will be sold at St George’s on-site shop and on their webshop http://www.englishwhisky.co.uk/.

Here endeth the press release; back to my own voice. I’m fond of single malt whisky and found very pleasantly enjoyable the delicate balance of St Peter’s beer and St George’s whisky in The Saints Whisky Beer. I can appreciate that the point of the press release is to promote this particular St Peter’s product and, hence, the holy alliance with St George’s, but I thought that Suffolk Smokey deserved more than its two lines, almost as an afterthought at the end of the release. Strong flavours, such as the smoked bacon prominence of Suffolk Smokey, really appeal to me. For further information on the beers please contact:

St Peter’s Brewery: Colin Cordy
Tel: 01986 782322
Email: colin@stpetersbrewery.co.uk

English Whisky Company: Andrew Nelstrop
Tel: 01953 717939
Email: Andrew@englishwhiskycompany.co.uk

Monday, 24 October 2011

Bye-Bye to the Ball Tree: Once a House of Repute in Sussex

The Ball Tree, 1 Busticle Lane, Sompting, West Sussex, is no more. Clips of its demolition have been posted on the Internet. It was already closed and boarded-up when a fire took hold of the premises on 9th May this year. The pub name was said to hark back to the days when local farmers used to gather under a nearby tree for a ‘ball’, probably with beer purchased from the previous retailer on the site, called the Ball but informally known as Aunt Annie’s.

Very much a community pub, the emphasis on families and children, it will no doubt be mourned by some locals but, to be brutally honest, not much missed by real ale drinkers. It did appear in the CAMRA Good Beer Guide during the late 1970s when selling beer from the now-defunct Gale’s brewery of Horndean, Hampshire. In the fall of 2006 I reviewed the Ball Tree for my fanzine The Quaffer. The only real ale was Fuller’s London Pride and in sadly substandard condition it was that day, stale with an off-taste of marzipan.

But I always regarded the Ball Tree as an elegant example of interwar pub architecture. The date 1935 was carved into the stonework support of the pub sign in the centre of the parapet. I regret the loss of the fine brickwork of the flattened front elevation, so typical of the period, and of the mock-Tudor stone-dressed doors and the mullioned windows with lattice-work in the central projecting bay.

The Ball Tree was of too late a date to be listed in a book of the early 1930s, “Houses” of Repute in Sussex, commissioned by the Kemp Town Brewery (henceforth, KTB), Brighton, but the building is so obviously hallmarked as their work. It is instructive to see the design of the Duke of Wellington, Shoreham-by-Sea, another KTB house just a few miles east along the coast, as a kind of inversion of the Ball Tree’s central front elevation. 

I have to thank Jimmy Hastell and his excellent Worthing Pubs web site for confirmation of the Ball Tree being KTB-built. In a black and white photo of the pub posted on the site, KEMP TOWN appears above the left door of the central elevation in white sans serif modernist letting. The Marquis of Granby, just up the road and another mid-1930s rebuild, was owned by the Portsmouth and Brighton United Breweries (it retains a fine set of United Ales leaded windows), while the Gardeners Arms in the village was at that time the local Tamplins outlet. 

The Ball Tree was one of those rare pubs that retained two separate bars. On my 2006 visit the left-side “Lounge Bar” contained little to write about: two raised areas, one with dining tables at the front window, the other at the rear where small TV was mounted; just the dark-brown woodwork of the ceiling was from the 1930s. But if my memory serves me correctly the “Sports Bar” on the right was - apart from the pool table and TV – much as it would have looked seventy years earlier: fully wood panelled with parquet floor and original lettering on the toilet doors.

Built at an oblique angle to the left of the pub, a gabled construction with dormer windows was advertised as a Gardens Restaurant and Children’s Room. It is likely that this was originally a wine office for take-away home use, a regular feature of ‘improved’ KTB pubs.

I was intending at some vague and ill-defined point in time to revisit the Ball Tree, trace the remaining architectural clues in more detail and take high-quality digital images, but will have to be content with these 35mm film snaps, taken for the purpose of supplementing my written notes for the 2006 review. They are, at least, a visual record of a now lost KTB house.


Kemp Town Brewery (n.d. but c. 1932), In and Around Brighton: “Houses” of Repute in Sussex, Cheltenham: Ed J. Burrow & Co.

Lowe, Trevor (2004), The Sussex Good Pub Guide 2004-5, Southern Promotions.

‘Sompting’, A History of the County of Sussex: Volume 6 Part 1: Bramber Rape (Southern Part) (1980), pp. 53-64. http://www.british-history.ac.uk/report.aspx?compid=18217&strquery=sompting Date accessed: 24 October 2011

Worthing Pubs, http://www.worthingpubs.com/lancing/balltree/balltree.htm. Date accessed: 24 October 2011

Wednesday, 12 October 2011

Sainsbury’s Great British Beer Hunt

Just over a month ago I was invited by the press office of the supermarket giant Sainsbury’s to attend the grand final of their Great British Beer Hunt, to be held on the last day of September at “the Brewery”, Chiswell Street, London, EC1. The objective was to select two bottled beers to be stocked in Sainsbury’s stores throughout the UK for a minimum of six months. Sainsbury’s had invited entries for all UK brewers in February, then had held four regional judging heats in May – at Edinburgh, Watford, Bristol and Uttoxeter. Beer experts and selected Sainsbury’s customers helped to choose four beers from each region as winners from the 106 entrants. These sixteen beers then appeared at Sainsbury’s stores during September and the two top-sellers from each region formed the eight beers to be judged at the grand final.

Friday 30th was a day of radiant heat. After a stuffy stop-start tube journey on the circle line from Victoria, I changed at Bank for the northern line, emerged at Moorgate into the blinding lunchtime light and strode my way past wavering sheets of shimmering glass to the conference venue that in its former life was Whitbread’s Brewery. http://www.thebrewery.co.uk/

Rushed and flushed I was glad to have the immediate opportunity to quench my thirst with one of the day’s eight finalists, Williams Bros Brewing Co Caesar Augustus, described on the label as a Lager/IPA hybrid. This 4.1% crisp-tasting golden beer was an ideal refresher. Over a leisurely buffet lunch beer-writers and Bloggers had time to chat to each other, to the organizers from Sainsbury’s, to those attending from the involved breweries while, of course, sampling the rest of the beers to be judged.

Our host for the day, Olly Smith, well known a wine-buff, but a beer lover nonetheless and a witty and ebullient compere, invited brewers and their representatives on stage, in turn, while the serious business of tallying the judges scores carried on behind the scenes. “Ladies and gentlemen it’s a close-run thing” Olly exclaimed in his excitement, having been fed the latest news of the count. It was like a cross between an Election Night Special and the Eurovision Song Contest but with a more feverish atmosphere.

As the tension became palpable I fell into conversation with Paul Walker of Hunter’s Brewery. Paul, with his wife and business partner, Eline, began brewing as Hunter’s at a Devon farm in 2008 on a 5-barrel plant. Their 8.0% Full Bore entry at this final was first born out of a mistake over ingredients that resulted in a stronger beer than intended. Dubbed Santa’s Ruin, it was enjoyed by all as a Christmas Ale and laid the foundation for the recipe of today.

Olly was right. It had been a close-run thing; but the two winners, finally announced, had been among my own top-three tips of the day. The runner-up was my first beer sampled, Caesar Augustus. The winner was the beer I’d been drinking most of since that point, Bad King John, by Ridgeway Brewing, a powerful 6.0% black brew with dark chocolate and fruit notes. Look out for these two at Sainsbury’s stores throughout the UK.

That concluded the official proceedings but let me say a word or two about my third favourite entry, the aforementioned Full Bore, by Hunter’s Brewery. Described in the tasting notes as “a full- bodied amber ale”, I found it more akin to a barley-wine and certainly one for keeping, at least until Christmas.

The other five beers? Harviestoun Wild Hop IPA; Ridgeway Ivanhoe; Wye Valley Wye Not?; Holts Two Hoots; and Sadler’s Worcester Sorcerer.

Sunday, 2 October 2011

The Dun Horse, Mannings Heath, Horsham

On the Brighton Road a few miles south of Horsham stands this white-plastered, red brick roadhouse, notable for its very fine Art Nouveau leaded and stained glass windows bearing livery from the long-defunct Rock Brewery, Brighton. The two identical, larger windows feature a dun horse in the central panel. The left side panel advertises ROCK ALES; the right side has WINES & SPIRITS. The windows of the central, projecting bay present (left-side) ROCK ALES and (right-side) PRIVATE BAR.

In the glass of the two doors we have, respectively, GOOD FOOD and GOOD CHEER. The emphasis on food was typical of the interwar ‘improved public house’, of which the Dun Horse is an example. Photographs of the pub c. 1900 show it to have then been a wooden-boarded cottage-style inn advertising Michells Ale from the West Street Brewery, Horsham, taken over by the Rock Brewery in 1912.

In 1794 the inn was called the White Horse but it changed its colour soon afterwards.

The present building dates from 1926, just a couple of years before Rock were acquired by Portsmouth United Breweries to form Portsmouth and Brighton United Breweries Ltd. The interior has two rooms and three distinct areas but it may have been built with four rooms. A left-side public bar has a dartboard and bar billiards table. The bar counter and panelling appears to be a modern replacement.

The right-side door leads into an extended saloon bar with a clear spatial division to the right of the counter.
The parquet floor and matchwood dados remain from the interwar rebuild. The raked and angular matchwood counter is also original but the top half of the bar back is new. This middle area most likely once consisted of two rooms entered by a now blocked-up central doorway. On the right of this arrangement was accessed the Private Bar, as can be deduced from the window glass.

The Dun Horse, Mannings Heath, Horsham, West Sussex. http://www.dunhorseinn.co.uk/index.html

Sunday, 18 September 2011

Tamplins - Brighton's Biggest Brewery

Within one hour on 6th September 1820, the thatched-roofed Southwick Brewery, at that eponymous Sussex town, was consumed by flames. Owner, Richard Tamplin had only purchased the brewery from Nathaniel Hall earlier that same year and was uninsured for the loss of over £10,000. Yet within five months of this setback, Henry Padgen Tamplin, Richard’s eldest son had laid the foundation stone for the family’s new brewery behind the company’s registered office at Richmond Terrace, Brighton. Both this elegant terrace and the brewery were designed by father and son team, Amon and Amon Henry Wilds, architects responsible for some of the town’s finest Regency buildings.

Because this new venture had risen from the ashes of the old, albeit at a different place five miles to the east, the site at Albion Street and Waterloo Street site was called the Phoenix Brewery. It was to become not only Brighton’s biggest brewery but the largest in Sussex with an estate of some 600 pubs, stretching into Hampshire, Kent and Surrey. The biggest concentration, about a third, was in the Brighton area, which meant that by the early 1950s two out of every three pubs in and around the town were owned by Tamplins.

Richard Tamplin was born into a family of mercers on 14th January 1779 at Horsted Keynes to the north of the county. He moved to Brighton in 1811 and was reported to have set up a bank in Castle Square. Richard also brewed and held licensed premises at Worthing both before and subsequent to finding a permanent site at Brighton. Upon Richard’s death in September 1849 the brewery passed to Henry, born in 1801 and died on 16th December 1867 after a hunt meeting. It was Colonel William Cloves Tamplin (b. 1834), son of Henry and already a partner in the business at the time of his father’s death, who in May 1889 registered as a limited liability company Tamplin & Son’s Brewery, Brighton, Ltd, with its 83 hotels, licensed houses and beer houses at a purchase price of £265,000.

When the Colonel died of a heart attack on 26th July 1893 it was the end of the family name on the board of directors; but what was to become a policy of acquisitions had begun the previous March with the takeover of Marcellus P. Castle’s close-by Albion Brewery, Albion Street, with 35 houses. In 1899, 21 licensed houses were purchased from the West Street Brewery, Brighton. A year later the South Malling Steam Brewery, Lewes, with two houses was purchased from M. H. Bishop & Sons, and the Brighton Brewery, Osborne Street, Hove, with 12 houses was purchased from Richard Carey Weekes.

By 1902 the Phoenix Brewery site covered an area of 100,000 square feet with a workforce of 150 men; but its largest acquisitions were to come in the 1920s. At the start of that decade the Southdown & East Grinstead Breweries Ltd. leased its business with 93 houses to Tamplins with an outright purchase following on 27th March 1924. Two years later it was the turn of Kidd & Hotblack, Cannon Brewery, Russell Street, Brighton, with 52 licensed premises. 1928 saw Tamplins acquire two-thirds of the pubs of E. Robins, Anchor Brewery, Waterloo Street, Hove, and the following year 125 houses of Smithers & Sons Ltd. of Brighton and Portslade.

For the following twenty-five years the Brighton pub scene was subject to a duopoly of Tamplins and its local rival the Kemp Town Brewery. In 1955, Tamplins and Friary Holroyd Healey of Guildford famously divided between them the entire estate of Henty & Constable of Chichester, with the pubs ranked according to barrelage and the first pick decided by the cutting of a pack of cards. But two years previously Tamplins had themselves been acquired by the London brewers Watney, Combe, Reid and Co. Ltd. Although allowed to continue to trade as Tamplins until 1969, the writing was on the wall.

By the time a minor name change to the Tamplins Brewery Ltd was registered on 13th February 1962, the infamous Watneys Red Barrel, brewed at Mortlake, London, was being kegged at Brighton.
As the reformed Watney Mann (London & Home Counties), the last brew took place at the Phoenix Brewery on 28th November 1973. But this was not the end of the Tamplins name. When a few years later Watneys - themselves the brewing arm of leisure group Grand Metropolitan - revived real ale, their portfolio included a 1038° Tamplins Bitter, described in the 1982 Good Beer Guide as a “well-balanced brew”.

It was produced in East Anglia at the Norwich Brewery, but marketed for the south coast at the Phoenix Brewery, which in 1976 had become the subsidiary Watneys Southern Ltd. By 1982 the operation at Richmond Terrace was renamed the Phoenix Brewery Co Ltd, although the brewery building itself had been demolished some two years previously. As a non-brewing company, Phoenix controlled 400-500 pubs on the south coast, the large majority serving real ale from such independents as Gale’s and King & Barnes; but Tamplins Bitter was withdrawn in early 1986 following the closure of the Norwich Brewery the previous year. A metal phoenix rising with flame tipped wings can still be seen atop the standing signs of numerous pubs in Sussex that used to be under the control of this company, while the phoenix image on pub lanterns is an even more common survivor.

The Brighton premises were retained as a bottling plant and depot until a move to Lewes in 1991. The old Head Offices building at Richmond Terrace remains today as elegant as ever, while still standing in Phoenix Place is the redbrick office building with slate roof and phoenix pediment, designed by C. H. Buckman and completed in 1893.

Behind this is the Free Butt, the old brewery-tap, looking forlorn and no longer a pub but with Tamplin’s Entire on the stonework tablet over the front door. Just to the rear left of the Free Butt once stood the iron gates on stone pillars that marked the entrance to the Phoenix Brewery. New housing now covers most of the site. The Tamplins name with its phoenix trademark can still be found etched into the glass of pub windows, survivors of several decades, or on old prices lists displayed as memorabilia on walls. And even where the name itself does not appear, the motif of birds engraved into old window glass often denotes that such a pub was once part of the vast estate of Brighton’s biggest brewer.


Askey, Derek (1978) Sussex Bottle Collectors Guide, Brighton: Kensington Press.

Barber, Norman (edited by Mike Brown and Ken Smith) (2005) A Century of British Brewers – plus: 1890-2004, Longfield, Kent: Brewery History Society.

Monday, 12 September 2011

Brodie’s Fabulous Beers

Saturday 3rd September found me at the King William IV pub in Leyton, East London for the second Brodie’s beer festival of this year. Brodie’s is perhaps the most idiosyncratic of the capital’s growing number of microbreweries. The King William IV (left) is the brewery-tap, a sprawling late-Victorian pub that houses the 5-barrel plant in the abutting stable block. The Brodie family were part partners in the Sweet William brewery that operated at this same venue for five years from 2000. Eight years later brother and sister team, James (pictured sitting) and Lizzie Brodie revived brewing at the pub, hence this particular festival being a 3rd birthday celebration.

Courtesy of the brewery’s eight fermenting vessels, up to forty Brodie’s beers (ten in the regular range) can be found on the twenty-four hand pumps at the pub during the course one of these festivals, at Easter and September, advertised appropriately as a “Bonanza” or “Bash”. Virtually every style has at some point been offered, for example, English Best (3.9%), Dragon Weiss (3.9%), London Lager (4.5%), Ginger (4.8%) and Triple (13.1%). The traditional often comes with a contemporary twist as in Mint Choc Chip Stout (4.7%), Peanut Butter Mild (3.1%) and Pina Colada Porter (4.2%). Full-on fruit and berry flavours abound - Summer Berry Brew (3.5%), Passion (3.8%) and Pomegranate Pale Ale (4.1%) - while low-level gravity beers like Citra (3.1%) can be as packed with flavour as those towards the upper end of the range such as the 8.8% Noisome Cru.

This sheer range and variety does lend the atmosphere of a jamboree to these occasions. As a summary exemplar of my experiences so far: my American Brown (4.8%) is served hazy with little or no head retention, while Sunshine (4.0%) sparkled crystal-clear in the glass with a tight collar of foam. Green Bullet (4.3%) and the 4.4% version of Blue I failed to finish and never intend to revisit, but the grapefruit-hit of a Pink Pride (3.4%) or Amarilla (4.2%) makes me want to spend the rest of the day drinking just this and nothing but this. And then there is the question of defining exactly what I have been drinking. Three different figures are given for the ABV of West Coast Common depending on whether I consult the pump clip (4.5%), the advert in the London Drinker (4.8%) or the photocopied list available at the bar (4.1%). Sometimes the names of the beers have subtly altered.  

None of this makes it an easy task for those, such as me, who like recording the beers they’ve sampled. But such quirkiness adds to the attraction of these occasions. Yer pays yer money, yer takes yer choice. And as all beers are £1.99 a pint regardless of ABV - ranging from the 2.7% Giddy Blonde to the 22.0% Elizabethan (although the latter is not served in pints) – this is not a great deal of money for such a big choice: 57 different Brodie’s beers so far for me, a figure depending on definition, of course, but a nice Heinz variety of a number nonetheless. Sixteen of the beers are usually on every weekend and I’m already looking forward to my next visit. Tasting notes can be found in the two sources listed below and the websites for the brewery and the pub: http://www.brodiesbeers.co.uk/ and http://www.williamthefourth.net/


Cryne, Christine, (2011) ‘Brodie’s Grows Up’, London Drinker, Vol. 32, No. 6 (Dec/Jan), p. 23.

de Moor, Des, (2011) The CAMRA Guide to London’s Best Beer, Pubs & Bars, St Albans: Campaign for Real Ale.

Tuesday, 30 August 2011

Serving Beer Better with Carbon Dioxide

"Today mine host serves better beer - and serves beer better with carbon dioxide instead of the old beer engine" is what this advertisement in the Brewers Guardian claimed near the start of the shiny-new, chromium-plated, forward-looking, to-hell-with-tradition, modernist decade that was the 1960s. How odd, then, that the bald-headed businessman sitting at the shiny-new, chromium-plated, forward-looking, to-hell-with-tradition, modernist bar that was Snow's in Piccadilly Circus doesn't exactly wear the expression of a man wholly enamoured with his half pint of Wm Youngers. And it's a disgracefully short measure.

Of course, despite this movement towards scientific efficiency that was 'improving' our methods of beer dispense, we could be assured that other traditional attitudes of that time were impervious to change. For an even less palatable flavour of post-war Britain, here's a link to an article about an incident that took place in that very same bar eight years previously http://archive.tribunemagazine.co.uk/article/15th-january-1954/1/no-drink-for-mr-murumbi

And it's not only about 'colour'. Our national consciousness is imbued with a casual Franco-phobia, no doubt as a legacy of our history of wars with that nation across the channel. But what did the French ever do to us to deserve such a fate as we dished out to them in 1962? From the same issue of the Brewers Guardian comes an article on "the continental travelling demonstration unit" that was designed to take the dreaded Watneys Red Barrel to the north of France. My copy of the 1974 Good Beer Guide advises us of this beer to "avoid like the plague". For those of you too young to remember Red Barrel, try this useful link: http://www.retrowow.co.uk/retro_britain/keg_bitter/watneys_red_barrel.html

As much an ersatz horror as the beer is the "attractive" interior of the demonstration unit. Although furnished in dark oak with hunting-scene tapestry and horse-brasses to represent a Tudor-style public house, it looks alarmingly like a bar in some Alpine ski-lodge. The single red barrel sitting on the top of the bar appears suitably  at home in this kitsch. Note the keg residing in the counter front cut-out. No wonder General de Gaulle vetoed Britain's application to join the Common Market the following year.

Wednesday, 24 August 2011

Anchor Springs IPA and L.A. Gold

These two gold nuggets from the Anchor Springs Brewery Co. can usually be found at the brewery-tap, the Crown, Littlehampton, West Sussex. L. A. Gold is the perfect summer-session ale, named after its golden colour and the colloquial pronunciation of Little ‘Ampton. L. A. Gold is brewed with amber and pale malt to an OG of 1039.5° and an ABV of 3.7%. Challenger is used for the bittering hop, Target for the complex middle and Cascade for the citrus end hit. A sweet initial taste leads into a clean, crisp mouthfeel and dry lingering finish.

The IPA on the bar today is not the same beer as the 4.7% Anchor Springs IPA from last summer. The 2011 Frank McCabe-brewed IPA is a much superior beer, light-gold in colour with an OG of 1042.5° OG and 4.0% ABV. This full-bodied ale is brewed with pale malt, Target hops for bittering, EKG then Cascade for aroma. An initial sweetness with light toffee flavours gives way to a distinct middle stage with a full malt mouthfeel then a dry, lingering hop finish.

Anchor Springs: a range of quality premium beers to suit different palates for the discerning drinker. http://www.thecrownlittlehampton.co.uk/