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Cricketers, Kingsley (11 April - TD)
Used the no.13 bus to Kingsley today to visit the Cricketers which is under threat of redevelopment.
Usually two changing ales on but just Palmer's Copper today which was very pleasant. A couple of stops on the 13 took me back to East Worldham for a pint of Fuller's Southern Star, 4%, described as an Australian hopped ale: very drinkable as was the London Pride. Spring Sprinter was also on.
Bus Trip (5 April - TD)
An entertaining East Hampshire CAMRA branch bus outing saw eight hardy souls set off around the village pubs in the north-west quadrant of the branch. Plenty of local ales on offer.
At the Castle of Comfort, Medstead, Courage Best, Fuller's Front Row and Sharp's Doom Bar were available. Although the Front Row proved a little temperamental the Best was on good form.
The Sun, Bentworth featured Palmer's Copper (told it was the customers' favourite), Flack Manor Flack's Double Drop, Hog's Back TEA, Andwell King John and, the one most of us tried, Bowman Yumi, a 3.9% golden ale with citrussy notes. Ales available vary but often feature the breweries represented this evening.
At the Royal Oak, Lasham there was just Andwell Gold Muddler and TEA on. I tried the Gold Muddler which was a decent pint.
The Gliding Society Club Lasham, off The Avenue and open to the public, can sometimes close early if trade is slow on weekday evenings but we found it open around 9.30 with a choice of Bowman Lapwing, another golden ale with plenty of fruity flavour at 4.5%, and Gale's HSB. Flowerpots Bitter had recently gone off. if you want to check if the bar is open ring 01256 384900.
Last port of call on the bus was the Golden Pot, Shalden where the Flowerpots Bitter was pretty good. Bowman Swift One and Upham Punter were also available.
Most of the party ended the evening in the King's Head, Market Street, Alton where I tried two Red Cat beers, Scratch and Mr M's Porter which were on alongside the regular Courage Best. Both were good to very good.
NB from the weekend commencing Friday 6th April the King's Head will be discounting all beers to £2.50 a pint at weekends ie 7 pm Friday to Sunday closing. The 50p off Happy Hour discount will remain in place 4.30 to 7 on weekdays as will the CAMRA discount on ales at other times.
Also watch out for the next King's Head beer festival 27-29 July.
Personal walkabout (24 March - TD)
On Saturday 24th March walked from Alton along St. Swithun's Way to the Church of the Holy Rood by its attractive pond before turning down Church Lane to the White Hart in London Road. This is a Greene King pub and I tried halves of all three ales on - Morland's Original and two guests, Oakham JHB and Timothy Taylor Landlord, all very acceptable. Cask breathers, otherwise known as aspirators, are used here but frankly did not affect quality as far as my jaded taste buds could tell. I believe that CAMRA opinion may be shifting on this.
Down the London Road going back towards Alton on the edge of Anstey Park the Queen's Head is another Greene King pub, but again you wouldn't necessarily think so from the three real ales on the Bar. Only the Olde Trip is a GK brand and the two rotating guests always include a Triple fff offering. This time it was Moondance accompanied by St. Austell Tribute. Tried them both and again between good and very good.
Final port of call was the Railway Arms facing Station Approach. Quite a line-up of Triple fff on handpump, Pressed Rat and Warthog, Alton's Pride, Moondance, Citra Sonic, Hallelujah and the current guest, Dorking Brewery's DB No. 1. Contented myself with a half of the very tasty Hallelujah (4.5%) before calling it a day.
King's Head, Alton (23 February - TD)
Looked in to the King's Head today where Stuart and Christine have been back in charge since Wednesday. The place buzzing and three ales on: the regular Courage Best, Flack Manor Flack's Double Drop and Itchen Valley Hampshire Rose, all very drinkable. In the coming weeks we should see among others, Red Cat Mr M's Porter and Shepherd Neame Spitfire.
Ivy House, Alton (13 February - TD)
Preview night at the Ivy House for the Wetherspoon Real-ale Festival and five of the 30 ales on.
Tried them all starting with Adnams Gun Hill, a darkish mild which was a tad unexciting. Things improved however from then on with Bru Red Ale at $.2% from County Meath; Conwy Riptide (4.3% black IPA); Black Sheep Monty Python's Flying Circus (4.5% IPA); and Wychwood Hobgoblin IPA (5.6% compared to the regular brew's 4.5%) - all flavoursome.
Also a couple of non-festival real ales tried - Fallen Angel Hole Hearted, and the very good indeed Thornbridge Jaipur.
10 more of the Festival ales expected by the end of the event on 25 March with additional ciders and perhaps a perry.
Offf the Rails, Four Marks (10 February - TD)
A worthy selection of Triple fff ales available on what started as quiet Saturday lunchtime but got busier as the rugby came on the TV. Had Pressed Rat & Warthog, Citra Sonic and Hallelujah all on good to very good form. Alton's Pride and Moondance were also on.
NB the guest beers chalked on the board are craft keg.
The log stove gave a pleasant ambience and the cold snacks of speciality scotch eggs and sausage rolls were well appreciated. There are plans to landscape the scrappy seating area cum car park outside into a proper garden (parking will be further down the service road).
Chawton and Alton (8 March - TD)
As a pleasant afternoon on Thursday 9 March walked down into Chawton for the Greyfriar. Had two of the Fullers group offerings, Gales Seafarers which was very nice indeed and Fullers Spring Sprinter, a 4% golden seasonal which was on decent form. London Pride and Front Row also available.
Picked up the 38 bus back into Alton (NB you get on the same side as the pub to come back into the town, the bus stop signs do not help) getting out at the George. Had a decent Bootleg Fool's Gold at 3.9% featuring New World hops and the dark and delicious Jennings Sneck Lifter. Also on were Black Sheep Bitter and the two regular ales, Longdog Red Runner badged as George Best and Sharp's Sea Fury.
Finished in the Eight Bells where had two good ales, Longdog Bunny Chaser 3.6% and Cotleigh Tawny 3.8%. Irving Type 42 was also on alongside the regulars, Swift one and Doom Bar.
King's Head, Alton (28 February - TD)
First visit to King's Head under new manager Amanda and had a decent pint of Itchen Valley Hampshire Rose which will now be a permanent beer alongside the Courage Best. One other ale will alternate (Flack Manor Double Drop just gone off).
Pub has a light and airy feel and a pool table added in the left hand bar. along with the existing dart boards.
Ivy House, Alton (21 February - TD)
Pretty much a tap takeover in the Ivy House with four ales from Loddon featured on handpump. Tried the 3.5% Hoppit and the contrasting 4.6% Hocus Pocus Old, both good in their distinctive ways. Ferryman's Gold and the strong IPA Forbury Lion at 5.5% were also available plus a couple of other guests, Hog's Back England's Glory and Longdog Lamplight Porter and of course a selection of real ciders from the likes of Weston's.
Alton Beer Festival - Winter 2018 (17 February - MP)
I normally try to serve at the ABF (held at Alton College), but missed out this year, so went as a punter to the Saturday lunch session.
It was great to be one of the 'rabble' again, and it lived up to it's reputation as being one of the best beer festivals around.
(As you may know, it is a privately-run festival with all profits going to local charities, who enter a bid for a donation from ABF.)
This year they had the usual 40 or so casks of bitter, around 20 of dark beer, with the addition of a few others, including some "craft" beers.
I am not a dark beer lover, so ignored that section, but sampled 11 halves of different bitters during the afternoon.
My personal favourite (of the ones I tasted obviously) was Broken Bridge "Tessallate" - a 4%, very easy-drinking beer.
Second came Chitern's "1630" - a 1.9% beer (!!) - believe it or not a VERY drinkable beer with a great taste (maybe a good drink for drivers?)
Third was Longdog's "Red Runner" (4.2%) - I've had this before, and find it very quaffable.
Also in the running for me were:
Three Daggers' "Blonde" (3.6%)
Ascot Brewery's "5/4 Favourite" (4.6%)
Bond Brew's "Best Of British" (4%)
A large range of ciders were also available.
Food was privided by Four Marks Scout Group again - their "Full breakfast Baguette" is to die for! - and (a change from normal this time) "Sir & Madam"s Thai food (they are based in Guildford).
Music was also laid on, although I am not sure what was playing Sat lunchtime, as I was seated away from it (I prefer quiet when drinking!).
Friday evening and Saturday lunch sessions must have been popular, as I glanced round to see what casks were "up-turned" - ie empty - before I left....
- 9 out of 28 bitter casks were empty on one rack
- only 1 of 20 dark beer casks were empty (does that say something for the 'popularity' of dark beers??)
Looking forward to the Summer festival :-)
Selbourne and the Farringdons (9 February - TD)
The 11.35 am no. 38 bus from Alton dropped me at the Selborne Arms just before noon where four very decent ales on tap. Tried all of them (you can buy paddles of three thirds for the price of a pint (£3.80)), Hogs Back HBB, Bowman Swift One, Weston's Old Cocky and, leaving the best until last, Langham Best. Ringwood 49er should have been on but awaiting a delivery. All beers good as was the prawn jacket potato lunch.
There are infrequent buses back to Alton (weekdays only) but wanting to squeeze the most ale opportunity out of the afternoon walked over Northfield Hill down into Upper Farringdon where the recently re-opened Rose & Crown had another good selection of ales on. Tried Fuller's Front Row and Red Cat Scratch, both in good order, out of a choice that also included Red Cat Mr M's Porter, St. Austell Tribute and the two regular ales London Pride and Dark Star Hophead. With the new manager Andrew Ranson coming from the well regarded (and GBG listed) Hawkley Inn, very definitely one to watch!
Last port of call the Golden Pheasant in Lower Farringdon - about 15 minutes walk from the Rose & Crown. Here the bank of seven pumps offered Dark Star Hophead, Flowerpots Gooden's Gold (both tried and the latter vying with Selborne's Langham Best for pick of the day), Cotleigh Old Hooker, London Pride, two from Sharp's - Doom Bar and Atlantic and one illegible from my notes - sorry! Walked up the disused railway line to Chawton and into Alton, luckily the rain and more wintry showers which were forcast held off for me.
Personal walkabout (8 February - TD)
In the George the Sharp's Sea Fury was very good as usual and the house beer George Best, rebadged Longdog Red Runner, also very palatable. This had had just come on and replaced a Midnight Bell which was on the way out and changed without quibble (always the sign of a good pub). Bath Colorado and Exeter County Best also on.
In the Ivy House tried the good Phoenix Old Ale which was tasty. Also alongside the usual suspects were Oakham Scarlet Macaw, Adnams Ghost Ship and four different ciders.
In the Hop Poles I had the only ale available, St. Austell Tribute which was quite drinkable. Good to see the place busy on a weekday afternoon.
Personal walkabout (7 February - TD)
Two good guest beers were on during Stewart and Christine's last week at the King's Head - Flack Manor Double Drop and Itchen Valley Hampshire Rose. The former had the edge I felt and Courage Best also on.
Rose & Crown Upper Farringdon (6 Feburary - AG)
It is not often that one has the pleasure or even the joy of welcoming the re-opening of a public house after a long period of closure, but it is an absolute delight to find that the Rose & Crown is up and running again!
The new owners Debbie and Steve Newton were greatly assisted in the refurbishment of this hostelry by many local residents who were so pleased to know that the village was to have its own public house once more. Congratulations all round!
The pub is now a “free house”, and is ably managed by Andrew Ranson and Caroline Pring, who previously ran the Hawkley Inn, prior to accepting the challenge of revitalising the Rose & Crown. Andrew grew up in a pub (his parents were landlords of the Market Inn, Petersfield), and tells me that he’s been very busy since they opened for business in late December.
Apparently this hostelry dates from 1810, and following refurbishment the pub now has a pleasant warm ambience in which to meet friends, enjoy a drink whilst relaxing in front of a roaring log fire, a feature that is certainly appreciated on a cold wnter’s day.
The selection of beers on tap changes frequently and have included those from Triple fff, Long Dog, Dark Star and Red Cat.
Food is very good too, and the menu offers something for the most discerning of palates.
My wife and I certainly enjoyed our recent visit and we wish Andrew and Caroline every success in their new venture. King’s Head and the George, Alton (6 February – PH)
King's Head - called in (briefly) for a quick Courage Best And Flack’s Double Drop, both excellent and the Flack’s was substituted for the Lister’s Porter, which was at the end of its life!
Learnt that Christine and Stewart would be leaving on 11 Feb to take things a bit easier. Pub will be taken over by Mandy, ex of the Hop Poles.
Decided to call in for lunch (liquid and solid) at the George as a belated birthday treat for me!!, late due to both of us collecting some sort of Winter lurgi which had stopped us downing any alcohol for nearly a month. Celebrated with Bath Colorado Red and Leeds Midnight Bell. Both in top order as was the steak & chips. Other half saw off a bowl of tomato soup (made with real tomatoes!) and Sharp’s Sea Fury, which was also in top order - I was informed.
Personal bus trip (5 February - TD)
The 65 hourly bus service from the centre of Alton drops one right outside the Star Inn, Bentley, which normally has Triple fff Moondance and Sharp's Doom Bar plus a guest on. All ales £3.80 a pint with no premium on halves. Just the Doom Bar and guest Butcombe Bitter available, both quite drinkable and the Triple fff delivery arrived as I was leaving.
Buses back to Alton go from round the corner in Station Road.
Personal walkabout (3 February - TD)
At the George, Bath Colorado, a 4.4% January/February seasonal based on the American red ale style was full of flavour. Also tried Exeter County Best, 4.6%, a traditional premium bitter with predominant malt. Leeds Midnight Bell, Bowman Wallops Wood and Sharp's Sea Fury were also on and was told the house beer, Longdog Red Runner (badged as George Best) will be back shortly.
The King's Head had Lister's Limehouse Porter 4.1% from Ford, West Sussex which provided surprisingly easy drinking. Flack's Double Drop and the usual Courage Best were also on.
East Hampshire post-Christmas social (13 January - TD)
This was held at the George, and over 17 people attended, with a good selection of ales on tap.
The house beer George Best is re-badged Longdog Red Runner and as always on good form.
Old favourites included Andwell Gold Muddler, Sharp's Sea Fury and Longdog Lamplight Porter.
An interesting and very flavoursome new beer for, I think, all of us, was Rat Brewery White Rat a 4%, a straw coloured Maris Otter malt based pale ale from the Huddersfield brewery owned by Ossett.
Personal trip (6 January - TD)
Into my favourite Farnham pub, the Jolly Sailor, very handy for the 65 bus stop back to Alton, where I had two very tasty ales - Loose Cannon Gold, very flavoursome for 3.5%, and Thurston's Milk Stout packing a real punch at 4.5%. Andwell Ruddy Darter and three Greene King offerings also on.
Got off bus on edge of Holybourne for the Queen's Head where had the current Triple fff (always one on these days) Moondance and Goddards Fuggle de Dum - a 4.8% a smokey, spicy red ale from the Isle of Wight. Both on good form. Hardys & Hansons (GK) Olde Trip also on.
Last stop the Railway Arms where as well as the reliable Comfortably Numb they had two very good guests from Red Cat available - Scratch the 4% golden ale good as ever, but the real eye-opener was Murmuration, a 6% "deconstructed stout" with lashings of aroma and roasty, biscuity flavours. The brewery website is tight lipped about this one. Alton's Pride, Moondance and Pressed Rat were also on.