Friday, February 26, 2010

Wetherspoons Devon Beer Festival

3:30 The London Inn, Torquay.
Hiya all, yes Wetherspoons are holding a Devon Beer Festival, featuring the best ales from breweries around Devon. My challenge is to get to as many of the 19 pubs in the Devon area as we can in the next 91/2 hours, hmmmmm.
Well we're starting at the London Inn on Torquay's harbourside the range of ales is quite extensive so i won't try listing them. Our ale of choice is T Spoons an ale specially brewed for spoons by Teignworthy brewery, it's a pale ale with a full bodied flavour, and is going down very well, stay tuned for our next stop, we're heading Exeter way, then on down to Exmouth.

6:20 The Powder Monkey, Exmouth
OK we've reached stop number to on our treck where we've decided to have a beer 'n' burger meal. Thankfully they include the festival ales in the deal so to wash our burgers down we've got Exeter Old Bitter from the Exe Valley Brewery, a smooth well-hopped strong ale with hoppy, malty tastes and bitter aftertaste, and seems to be a perfect choice to go with the burger (it's keeping my normally chatty friend Steve very quiet whilst i type. Next stop back to Exeter.

21:19 Train between Exeter and Paignton
Oooopppsss. Well we stopped at two pubs in Exeter, The Chavalier Inn and the Georges Meeting House, trying two different ales Meadow and Topsham and Exminster breweries Ferryman both very enjoyable ales. Sadly though we were quite tight on time and consequently missed our bus down to Newton Abbot by about 30 seconds (it passed us as we entered the bus station) so now we're on the train heading towards Paignton (we gotta change at Newton so might get time to pop for a quicky there) where we'll visit the Issac Merritt and the Talk of the Town (a recent addition to the wetherspoons name).

22.02 Train change and a brisk walk
The train has just left Newton Abbot heading for Paignton, we had to change trains at Newton so we decided on a short sprint to the Richard Hopkins for a swift half, asking the barmaid for two halves of which ever festival ales she chose she returned with a Bays Devon Dumpling and a Teignworthy T Spoons, both very good ales which were dispatched a little faster than they were poured not ideal but our aim is to visit as many Spoons pubs as we can tasting a festival ale in each then it was a sprint back to the train and on to Paignton.

22.45 The Issac Merritt , Paignton
Well we have made it to Paignton and the Issac Merritt, i was gonna write this post from the Talk of the Town but it isn't open yet silly me i really should pay more attention.
Anyway we are sat enjoying a pint (well one each, i don't do sharing) of O'Hanlons Red Ale which has hints of ribena and toffee with a wine-like smoothness making it very easy to drink, almost too easy. Next stop back to Torquay probably the London Inn first and finishing at the Green Ginger.

1:30 am Green Ginger, taxi and home.
So the end of the evening and also the end of our treck has arrived, intentions were to call in at the London Inn then finish at the Ginger however trade at the London dictated otherwise, we got there at 11:50 to be told that they were closing as it had been quiet, so we about turned and head over to the ginger and finished our journey with a pint of Moondance now after a taxi home i'm contemplating falling into bed. The tally for our journey was 7 pubs 7 ales (i think) and almost 100 miles covered all in the search for real ale, and now i'm off to bed, goodnight.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Photos then ale, food then more ale

Well once again i'm back at my brothers in the village of South Zeal, near Okehampton in Devon.
Both my brother and i are keen photographers (i will include some photo's soon) so we set off looking for some interesting subject to photograph, today we settled on a disused silver and lead mine on Dartmoor and spent nearly two hours taking photo's from a variety of different angles, but poor light meant we didn't gain much. On leaving we decided to stop for a drink. Our first choice was the Dartmoor Inn at Lydford but sadly it was closed so we moved on and came to the Foxand Hounds where i enjoyed a very nice pint of Tribute, (my brother being the driver had to settle on a coffee),also on offer were Dartmoor Breweries Jail and Best Ales. Sadly due to time we only had time for the one drink, then back home for a delightful dinner of battered oak smoked haddock, potato wedges and mushy peas.
After dinner and when my niece and nephew had gone to bed my brother and i headed off down to our "regular" the Kings Arms. I was hoping that they would still have the Teignworthy's Scrum Down that my brother had enjoyed a few days ago, but they didn't, however they did have some very good ales on offer. We started off with a pint of O'Hanlons Port Stout whilst not exactly to our taste it was a very quaffable ale. Next we tried an ale from a brewery new but fairly local to ourselves. The brewery being Country Life Brewery from North Devon, the ale was Old Appledore Ale, at 3.7 it's more of a session ale with a fairly weak taste and cloudy chestnut colour. Wether a bad barrel or a poor ale i'm not sure but it didn't appeal to me and i promptly moved on to Dartmoors Jail Ale, a safe old favourate. Now back home i'm typing this post and enjoying a bottle of Jennings Sneck Lifter, so i'll raise a toast all of those who wish us well those who don't can go to..................

Monday, February 15, 2010

Ale, steak and rugby

Good evening to all my followers, (well all two of you), although i haven't written anything for a week, there's not a lot to report. I've only been out twice this week, last Tuesday and last night.
Tuesday i went out visiting a couple of my regular haunts and one or two that i haven't visited for a while, and partaking of a few of my favorate ales including London Pride and Bombadier.
Then yesterday i set out for the Clocktower to watch the last half hour of the rugby, on entering the pub i was pleased to be told that they were now serving a second ale, i'm not sure if this will be on a changing "guest ale" basis or a permanent ale. The offering yesterday was Tribute from the St. Austell brewery, my intention was to start with a Tribute then go on to a London Pride (their other regular ale) but the Tribute was so good i had downed 3 or 4 pints by the end of the rugby and second half of the Crystal Palace v Aston Villa match. On leaving the Clocktower i decided i needed to get something to eat so headed up town to a restaurant called Camelot where i tucked into a nice stilton stuffed sirloin steak, sadly no ale on offer so i had to settle for a pint of John Smith smoothflow. Next stop was 2 doors up from the restaurant, the Blue Cargo, up until this week they sold Bombadier but now sell Dartmoor breweries Best Bitter on draught, but i also spotted bottles of Fullers London Pride and Tribute in the fridge.
My final stop was JDW's Green Ginger where i supped a couple of pints of Skinner's Figgy Brew then because i had an early start this morning it was time to take a taxi home.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Prince of Orange and a few bottles in

Tonight i'm writting from my sisters abode in the lovelly (cough,cough) area of Torquay called Hele, where I'm enjoying a few bottles of ale, the evening started by going to the shops at Barton in Torquay to get some ales, on route i stopped off at The Prince of Orange in Barton, a pub i haven't visited for several years, although they had two pumps only one was working, the beer on offer was also one i haven't had for a few years Courage Best Bitter which was well kept and enjoyed. As i was with my niece Louise i only had the one, then left to go to the shops where i picked up 5 bottles of beer, Well's Bombardier, London Pride, Old Speckled Hen, and Red Rocks Dark Ness and Drift Wood. So far i've enjoyed the Pride and Bombardier, and am intrigued to see what the Dark Ness is like, that will be a report for another day. For now though i'm off to finish the Speckled Hen.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Taste Notes link now active

Good evening followers, well i don't have anything to report tonight as i've been working and i'm not going to town. Instead i'm gonna stay in with a pint or two of Bays Gold. However i have written up some taste notes and will continue to add more as time goes by, (use the link on the left) if you have any suggestions please e-mail me.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Better late than never

Like the header says its better late than never, i'm refering to the fact that this blog should've been written up last night.
Anyway after a fairly early finish last night 9:00pm i decided to venture down to town sample some of the wares on offer. First stop was The Hole In The Wall, near Torquays harbourside, this CAMRA registered pub is one of the oldest pubs in Torquay and is well known for it's good variety of ales on offer. Tonight was no exception with 7 diferent ales on offer, Butcombe Traditional Bitter, Bays Brewery's Devon Dumpling and Best, Otter Bitter, Shepherd Neame's Spitfire, Doom Bar, Hunters Crackshot. Crackshot was choice for tonight as i haven't tried it before, and was pleasantly surprised by its malty texture and dry, tangy bitter taste. A friend was supposed to meet my there but ended up in the wrong pub and so i adjourned to the nearby Clocktower where Steve had a pint of London Pride waiting for me. After enjoying this favourate of mine we returned to the Hole in the Wall for a pint of Doom.
Next stop was Wetherspoons London Inn where the offerings were Pedigree, Cottage Brewery's Plunge Bitter and Western Glory, Green King Abott Ale,Harrier, Teignworthy Spring Tide, and Ruddles Best. Sadly the Western Glory and Ruddles were not available so i opted for the Plunge which went down very nicely.
Finally we ended up at The Green Ginger, another Wetherspoons pub, ales available were White Horses Wayward Smithy, Holdens Golden Glow, Bays Devon Dumpling, Tring Brewery's Side Pocket for a Toad, Abott Ale, Ruddles Best.Loving the quirkyness of its name i chose the Side Pocket and wasn't disapointed by this straw coloured ale with it's floral aroma and crisp dry finish.
And so home to bed via the takeaway and taxi office.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

South Zeal with the dog in tow

Well folks i'm once again out on the razz in South Zeal, well if you can go on the razz in a village that has 1 shop, 1 church but 2 pubs (at least thay got their priorities right), however this time we've got my brothers dog Diesel in tow ( see pic right)
Tonight i revisited the Kings Arms (i'll soon be classified as a local at this rate) whilst 3 of the 4 ales on offer were the same as my last visit (Jail Ale, Otter Ale and O'Hanlons Goodwill) the fourth was different, this was Skinners Best Bitter which was our first choice and went down very smoothly (as if you'd expect anything less from a Skinners ale). My brother stayed with the best (thats how good it was) but being an ale fan i had to sample the Jail and Otter Ales and as i have come to expect both were impecably kept. Again full marks to the landlord and staff, also to the customers who made me feel so welcome even though i'm not a local.

Monday, February 1, 2010

what a weekend

WOW followers what a weekend i've had, from a friends 25th birthday party, a nights stay in a b&b that seemed locked in the 60's or 70's, to somebodies 40th birthday bash that i only met last night and a substatial quantity of ale in between.
The weekend started on Friday afternoon with us picking three polypins of ale up from Bays Brewery in Torbay and taking them to the cafe at the Buckfastliegh end of the South Devon Steam Railway line, ready for my friend Terry's b'day party the following night. After setting them in position to settle we retired to enjoy a nice evening at an Italian restaurant, the food was wonderful but as there was no ale we had to settle for a very nice bottle of red wine (i can't remember what it was but hey i'm an ale drinker).
On Saturday it was Terry's bash and i was barman which meant i could have as much ale as i wanted (dodgy decision there Terry) but i was a good boy and only had a few pints. The ales we had on offer were Gold, Breaker and Devon Dumpling all from Bays Brewery, whilst i have drank both Gold and Breaker before (in copious quantities) the Devon Dumpling was fairly new to me, but it lacked none of the usual taste and texture you would expect from this relatively new brewery and went down well with all who tried it.
After the bash every-one headed home well except those of us who lived too far away to travel at that time of night. We were booked into a delightful b&b (advertised as a manor, though lookswise may have been exagerating). First impressions were "Oh my god!!!!" Decor seemed lost in the 60's or 70's and the missing batteries from the smoke detector wasn't a good or welcoming sign. However the landlady Jan was very welcoming and friendly, the beds were very comfortable if not maybe a bit too springy (Terry whilst messing around with his girlfriend bounced twice on one bed and before knowing it ended up on the floor), and as for the breakfast well........A bowl yes i said BOWL of toast was brought to us whilst waiting for our cooked breakfast along with two cafetieres of coffee each with enough for 3 cups. the cooked breakfast made up for all the short comings upstairs sausages, 3 rashers of bacon, black pud, fried bread tomatoes (the others also had eggs) and i was set up for the day.
And so onto today well i was supposed to go to my brothers but Terry who was going to take me was still unfit to drive so i'm stopping another night in Sidford, but i did pick up an invite to a 40th birthday party (Terry's girlfriend Gemma's aunts) in nearby Sidbury, so tonight we set off for the Sidbury Social Club, i wasn't sure what to expect when we got there but when we did we found some of the croud were rather merry (lol). There to meet us were Gemma's parents who brought our first round (thankyou). Straight away i noticed 2 ales on offer Branscombes Branoc and Otter's Amber, i opted for the Branoc, having not tried it before, and wasn't too keen on it, so next round i went for the Otter Amber. Being some-one who prefers a darker ale than a golden i spotted some bottles of good old Fullers London Pride in the fridge and so ended the night with an old favourate.
Now back at Terry's i'm about to go sleep then tomorrow move on to my brothers, then back to work on Weds. Over the days from weds i'm hoping to make a start on my taste notes etc. so stay tuned.