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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.
Personal trip (30 December - TD)
At the Greyfriar in Chawton I had two decent beers - guest Andwell Gold Muddler and Fuller's London Pride. ESB was also on - at 5.5% gave it a miss on first stop of the afternoon.
In the French Horn six ales on offer, Sharp's Doom Bar and Sea Fury, TT Landlord, Courage Best, St Austell Tribute and the one I tried - Reunion Frost Fair, a spicy porter at 4.5%.
The George had another flavoursome Porter, Bottlewreck from Hammerpot alongside Andwell King John, Irving Type 42, Sharp's Sea Fury, and Bowman Wallop's Wood coming on as I left.
The Eight Bells (14 December - TD)
At the Eight Bells a pleasant pale ale from Black Sheep called Brian in honour of Monty Python. Also tried the very good Red Cat Mr. M's Porter. Ramsbury Same Again also alongside the regular Doom Bar and Swift One. There was a delivery from West Berkshire while I was in.
Branch walkabout (7 December - TD)
A group of seven braved a wintry evening for an Alton town centre walkabout starting with the Railway Arms where a good selection of Triple fff included Bitter End, Alton's Pride, Moondance, Citra Sonic and Comfortably Numb plus a very good guest, Surrey Hills Hammer Mild. Prices are very competitive starting around £3 a pint.
In the Eight Bells, as well as the usual 3.8-4% ABV offerings, there was the very tasty Cotleigh Snowy at 5%, as well as guest Andwell Resolute, also good. Red Cat Mr M's Porter should be in residence week commencing 11 December.
The King's Head featured Itchen Valley Watercress Best (a new one on us, with an unusual but not unpleasant after-taste that we couldn't identify (watercress perhaps?)), and from Sharp's, Doom Bar and Atlantic.
In the Ivy House, Langham's Halfway to Heaven was a good example (like Triple fff Bitter End) of a lower gravity ale with good body and a nice balance. Ringwood XXXX and Andwell King John on alongside the usual offerings and a good selection of cider boxes.
Our final port of call was the George which had a good selection - all well received - comprising Exeter Avocet, Bowman Wallops Wood, Sadler Peaky Blinder, Sharp's Sea Fury and Longdog Lamplight Porter.
Offf the Rails (1 December - TD)
The Triple fff brewery tap ("Offf the Rails"), next to the off-licence at the Four Marks brewery, is a wecome addition to the beer (let alone real ale) desert in the village centre.
It opened in early November and has rapidly established itself as a community centre and shortly after opening time on a Thursday evening it was busy and buzzing.
The opening times are 5-9pm Thursday-Friday, 12-9pm Saturday and 12-6 Sunday - extended licensing hours are being sought.
It is not just a beerhouse with Triple fff casks and craft/foreign beers in can and bottle: wines and spirits are also available plus cold bar snacks and in winter the log stove provides a comfortable ambience.
There were five ales on tap - four being the Bitter End (very flavoursome given its 3.4% ABV); Alton's Pride; Moondance and Comfortably Numb (never was a beer more appropriately named) all good to very good. The fifth was Citra Sonic also on and the beer range will vary with guests from elsewhere sometimes available.
A worthy enterprise that deserves to succeed.
Personal walkabout (29 November - TD)
The Eight Bells today had in 3 ales in addition to Sharp's Doom Bar and Bowman's Swift One -
- Longdog Bunny Chaser, good
- Wickwar Try Time - a 3.8 % golden ale (brewed to celebrate the RBS 6 Nations Rugby championship) with plenty of hops (Styrian Celeia, Challenger and Fuggle plus Flagon and Crystal malts) - close to very good
- Sharp's Atlantic, also very good.
Branch Walkabout (23 November - PH)
5 hardy souls met at the White Horse for a town centre walkabout.
The White Horse had TT Landlord and London Pride on, both surprisingly good at £2.30 a pint!
The Swan Hotel was busy and offered live entertainment (?). Tried the Purple Moose Madog – not bad if a bit chill.
Didn’t visit the Wheatsheaf, opted for the Market Hotel where TT Landlord was the only beer on offer, however Sharp’s Atlantic and Sea Fury should be ready on 24/11.
The King's Head had a variety of beers, we opted for Lister’s Porter and Courage Best – both excellent.
Four of the group then repaired to the GeorgeGeorge where we supped Sadler’s Peaky Blinders, Sharp’s Sea Fury and Longdog Lamplight Porter. All in top order.
Personal walkabout (20/21 November - TD)
The George, Alton: all five ales on handpump tried and nothing less than good.
Working up on ABV Dark Star Hop Head, Bowman Wallops Wood, Slater's Peaky Blinder, Sharp's Sea Fury (best of the bunch) and the ever reliable Longdog Lamplight Porter.
The Ivy House had two decent guests, Arundel Sussex Gold and Andwell Ruddy Darter alongside the usual Greene King and Sharp's offerings.
Personal walkabout (14 November - TD)
Queen's Head, Holybourne. Guest beer currently Triple fff Moondance and Hog's Back TEA, both good. The usual Olde Trip also on.
At the Railway Arms the Triple fff Comfortably Numb very good and the Alton's Pride, Hunky Dory and the guest Dark Star Espresso all very drinkable. Moondance and Citra Sonic also on.
Personal walkabout (13 November - TD)
Ivy House, Alton: Vale Red Kite 4.3% on good form, Hog's Back HBB also on alongside the usual Doom Bar, Abbott and a selection of ciders.
At the King's Head, Itchen Valley Pride of the Valley 3.8% and Lister's Best Bitter 3.9% were both good. The usual Courage Best also on.
Personal walkabout (6 November - TD)
Ivy House, Firebird Old Ale in reasonable nick: another dark one, Logdog Lamplight Porter also on plus Langhams LSD, and a collection of ciders on handpump alongside the usual Greene King and Sharp's offerings.
In the King's Head the Lister's Best Bitter 3.9% from Ford, West Sussex was very good (with Lister's Limehouse Porter 4.1%waiting in the cellar). Sharp's Atlantic also on plus the usual Courage Best.
Eight Bells (5 November - TD)
Hog's Back HBB, Flowerpots Bitter and St. Austell Tribute all on good form alongside the usual Doom Bar and Swift One.
The Royal Exchange, Lindford (26 October - TD)
The Royal Exchange had three ales on tap all in decent condition and all local, Tilford EPA , Andwell's Red Mist and Hog's Back TEA.
The pub closes in the afternoon during the week, but a trip out from Alton can be made on the no.13 with a 20 minute walk from Bordon Eco-Station crossroads. There is also the no.18 from Farnham or Haslemere which stops right outside.
Personal walkabout (23 October - TD)
At the Ivy House six new (to me) JDW Festival offerings (although the Festival actually formally finished yesterday). Had two lots of thirds, Cotleigh Chocca Mocca, Truman's Dark Side of the Moon, Inveralmond Daracha, Lee's Weaver's Shuttle, Woodforde's Tundra and Castle Rock Autumn Daze. The Cotleigh and Inveralmond pick of the bunch for me. Four of the original, St. Eriks Midnight Sun, Cerveza Fort Oatmeal Porter, Arcadia Autumn Wheat and Adnam's Tally Ho still on and all Festival beers now reduced to £1.99 a pint - and that's before the 50p off for CAMRA vouchers (accepted for thirds). Only exceptions on the handpumps Ruddles Best and Rosie's Pig cider.
In the King's Head had decent Sharp's Atlantic and Courage Best. Crafty One taken off by Christine as I arrived as at the end of its reasonable life.
Red Cat brewery, Winchester - second open day of 2017 (21 October - MP)
Yet another visit to the Red Cat brewery (at Winnall in Winchester) for their 2nd open day of 2017 on Saturday (21st) - another great day out.
Due to a timing aberration, I arrived about 1030 (before their opening at 1100), and spent the first half-hour sitting in their large marquee - with sides (fortunately) due to the wind (and at times, rain)!
Again they had laid on "background" music (this time a bit loud IMHO), the usual burger bar (more below) - these were again by "Broughton Water Buffalo" farm - and once again they were very busy with sales.
They had 14 cask ales on...
Art of T - a pale ale - 3.6%
Blue Monday (with Broken Bridge Brewing) - prohibition era pale beer - 5.6%
Ginger Hazzard - unfined golden ale - 4%
Kairos - hoppy pale ale - 4.4%
Mr M's Porter - 4.5%
Mr M's Porter 2015 vintage - 4.5% - a special "laid down" for 2 years
Prowler Pale - pale session ale - 3.6%
Raiona - IPA - 6%
Riesenrad - light SMaSH (single malted/single hopped) beer - 2.7%
Scratch - golden ale - 4%
Seven - IPA with 7 hop varieties - 7.7%
Sun Valley - a farmhouse saison - 4%
Tomcat - American pale ale - 4.7%
Guest cask (with Good Chemistry Brewing): Becoming North - a cold fermented Baltic Porter - 6%
Also on were a few keg beers...
Naked Sour - unflavoured kettle sour - 3.5%
Salustiana - kettle sour - 3.5%
Tellicherry - peppercorn Witbier - 5.4%
Guest keg (with London Road Brewhouse): Thirsty Goat - a lager - 6.1%
...plus many bottled ones.
Most beers cost £3.00 per pint, with the stronger ones being £3.50.
Art of T
Reisenrad - only 2.7 but very tasty! (I had 2 of these - well worth trying).
Sun Valley - a great drink, and rated best of the day for me, even though I am normally not that keen on saisons.
The event was well-attended after a slow start (possibly due to the weather), and I estimated that at about mid-way through the afternoon, there must have been 150+ people.
This time I managed to actually get away at 3, and caught the last bus back from Tesco's to the bus station, but then it all "went wrong" again, and I visited another pub (the Eclipse, near the Cathedral) for another pint and a half of UBU by Purity brewing of Great Alne, Warwickshire - details here...
Once again, a great day out, AND with no after-effects the next day (despite having consumed 7.5 pints!).
Getting to the Red Cat brewery is easy - a 64 from Alton to the Broadway (a new stop outside the bus station), then a number 1 (to Tesco - from the same stop), dropping off at the stop at Winnall Close (opposite the Post Office sorting office), then walking into Winnall Close right to the end.
Number 1 buses are about every 15 minutes - NOTE, however, that the last bus back from Tesco's is at 3.15 - after that you have to walk further down the road to Imber Road to catch it; or walk right up to the main road and catch the 64 back home!
The brewery shop also opens ...
Thursday – 16:00 – 19:00
Friday – 12:00 – 19:00
Saturday – 11:00 – 14:00
- just drop in for a drink/buying.
Walkabout (19 October - TD)
Five of us braved the wind and rain for an evening walkabout in east Alton.
At the Railway Arms there was a good selection of Triple fff (as to be expected) with the likes of Alton's Pride, Moondance, Hunky Dory, Citra Sonic and Pressed Rat on, all in good condition at the usual competitive prices.
In the Crown Hotel there was just Hog's Back TEA and Sharp's Doom Bar, both pretty average, with a similar picture in the Bakers Arms where Doom Bar and Black Sheep Bitter were the only ales on.
In the King's Head there was the regular Courage Best and Sharp's Atlantic, both palatable, with one empty handpump: Stuart told us it was Craft Brewing Crafty One waiting to come on, with offerings from Dark Star also in the cellar.
Finished at the Eight Bells where in addition to the Swift One and Doom Bar, Cotleigh Commando Hoofing, Fallen Acorn Twisted Oak and Flack Manor Romsey Gold were available and on good form.
Ivy House (12 October - TD)
The Wetherspoon Real Ale Festival is off to a good start in the Ivy House with seven handpumps given over to festival beers.
I tried them all as 1/3 third pint tasters - starting with 4% Liberation Ale and Rudgate Green Hop Monster.
At 4.5% there was Morland (GK) Old Nutty Hen and St. Eriks Midnight Sun from Sweden guest brewed at Shepherd Neame.
Working up to the skull splitters I had Cerveza Fort Oatmeal Porter 5.5% from Barcelona brewed at Caledonian, and Arcadia Autumn Wheat 6% from Michigan brewed at Banks's.
The coup de grace was delivered by the strongest beer on the list, Adnams Tally Ho at a stonking 7.2%.
All were at a very reasonable £2.69 a pint and all in good condition - the Old Nutty Hen and Midnight Sun being very good indeed.
In addition to the festival ales there were two Longdogs, Lamplight Porter and Golden Poacher plus Dark Side of the Moose from Purple Moose together with Ruddles and Abbot - but no room for Doom Bar!
I was told that the complete complement of festival ales is waiting in the cellar and will be coming on as space permits so the end date of 22 October might be rather academic.
Eight Bells (5 October - TD)
The Eight Bells now serves 1/3 pints, all at £1.20 so for ales at 4% ABV and upwards no premium at all and good value for money. Today tried Itchen Valley Pride of the Valley at 3.8% and 1/3 of Elgood's Saturday Night Beaver, a pleasant golden ale from Cambridgeshire. Alton's Pride on alongside Doom Bar and Swift One.
Personal walkabout (4 October - TD)
At Queen's Head, Holybourne a very drinkable St. Austell Tribute tried. H&H Olde Trip and Triple fff Alton's Pride also on.
Six ales on at the Railway Arms and tried five. The Triple fff's included Pressed Rat and Warthog, quite good but still lacks something compared with earlier brews imho. The Moondance, Citra Sonic and Distant Sun were all on good form as was the guest Dark Star Espresso. Did not try the Alton's Pride but along with others had a taster of a trial run of a new brew of the Pride brought along in a plastic bottle which was told was a reversion to the original recipe. Interesting but like others thought the jury still out. Mr Whitehead's Equinox Cider also available.
Golden Pheasant, Lower Farringdon (1 October - MP)
Went for lunch here today, and found 7 beers on...
Sharp's Atlantic and Doom Bar
Pitchfork Golden Ale
Hog's Back TEA
Bowman's Swift One
Dark Star Hop Head
I had the Pitchfork (4.3%) - very nice indeed.
The food was up to it's usual high standard, but was disppointed to find that they did no "starters" on a Sunday - only mains and desserts! For me that's a major dislike, as I love a starter and main, but not keen on desserts.
The Ivy House "Meet the Brewer" (28 September - MP)
Instead of our scheduled bus trip to outlying villages today, around 10 of us attended the "Tap Takeover" and "Meet the Brewer" session held at the Ivy House.
The brewer (Phil Robins) was from the Longdog brewery in Basingstoke, and brought with him a selection of ingredients which he proceeded to chat about, telling us how they were used in his brewing process and what they gave to any beer.
He brought 3 types of grain, ranging from a light sugar-supplying type (used in pale ales), to a dark "burnt" type used in Porter; plus an example of the hops he uses.
The session started at about 7.30, and went on until around 9 or so.
Unfotunately there were no beer 'free-bees' - but we did get some snacks (hot ones with dips) kindly donated by the Ivy House.
The "Tap Takeover" lasts until 2 October, and the Longdog beers on tap were...
Bunny Chaser (3.6%); Golden Poacher (3.9); Red Runner (4.2); Kismet (4.5); and Lamplight Porter (5).
All in all a good evening.
The Longdog brewery is open (they have a shop where you can buy beer in various quantities) as follows:
They will also do guided tours if there is enough in any one party (at least 5) - their website is here...
Personal walkabout (19 September - TD)
At the George, Alton had a very drinkable intensely bitter Dark Star Hophead and the very contrasting house beer, the malty Longdog Red Runner. Also had the pleasant, sweetish Lees John Willies while Loddon Ferryman's Gold and Sharp's Sea Fury also on. Dark beers promised soon. Apparently I was the last customer to receive the CAMRA discount as being discontinued due to pressure on margins - a familiar story unfortunately.
At the Ivy House had a decent but not outstanding Brain's SA Gold. Hog's Back Surrey Nirvana and a Greene King seasonal alongside the regular offerings
Personal bus trip to Winchester (16th September - TD)
This offered the opportunity for a mini-crawl taking in mainly local ales.
First up the Albion - a Flowerpots house - just down the hill from the rail station, where I had a pretty good Perridge Pale, the even better Sparks (which appears to be an experimental golden seasonal (this was at the Eight Bells Beer Festival - Ed)), and finally the pretty good Gooden's Gold. Also enjoyed one of the pub's black pudding scotch eggs with home-made piccalilli (broccoli rather than cauliflower). Flowerpots Bitter and Orchard Pig cider also available. All very good value with prices ranging from £3-3.40.
Next stop the Old Goalhouse - a Wetherspoon's in Jewry Street - where I hoped to have a dessert, but it was a half hour wait for food, so contented myself with a really nice new seasonal from Upham, Pegasus, a 4.3% ABV tawny bitter. Flack Manor Romsey Gold also on alongside the usual suspects.
Final port of call the Black Boy on corner of Chesil Street and Wharf Hill which had been recommended and I was not disappointed. Tried the Alfred's Brewery Saxon Bronze at £3.70, a tasty mix of citrus hop and malt flavours, apparently the only beer of this brewery which has been going since 2012. Finished with a half of an old reliable Hop Back Summer Lightning at £4.20 equivalent pint. Flowerpots Bitter, Triple fff Moondance and Upham Pegasus also on offer. A pickled egg in a packet of salt and vinegar crisps completed the culinary delights of the day here. The quirky interior, including a substantial portion of a stuffed giraffe, has to be seen to be believed.
Ivy House (14 September - MP)
Called in for a quick pint this lunchtime and found 5 beers on as follows...
James Rose's oatmeal stout
I had the Arundel - a darkish ale but very quaffable.
Eight Bells Beer Festival (9 September - MP)
I called in this afternoon to see what beers Nigel had on / how many people were there.
When I arrived (about 2pm) there were 9 in the bar with a few outside, and as the afternoon wore on this number varied, but hadn't changed much by the time I left (about 5).
There were 12 beers on (all at £3.30 per pint), and you had to order by number (the ones I tried (6!) I have marked with *)...
1) Sharp's 'Doombar' - 4%ABV
2) Hogs Back 'Farnham White' - 4% - brewed with the brewery's own hops
3) Bowman's 'Swift One' - 3.8%
4) Abbeydale 'Daily Bread' - a dark 3.8% *
5) Itchen Valley 'Pride of the Valley' - 3.8% *
6) Flowerpots 'Sparks' - 4.1% - a "more robust perridge"
7) Bedlam 'Benchmark' - 4% *
8) Manning Brewers 'Cave-Man' - 4.2% *
9) Ramsbury 'RPA' - 4% *
10) Fallen Acorn 'Holehearted' - 4.7%
11) Brains 'Rev James' - 4.5% *
12) Longdog 'Lamplight Special' - 5% - with added cranberry
A very good beer selection I think.
All the ones I tried were very good, with the best (IMHO) being the Brains and Ramsbury beers; while one of my colleagues rated the Longdog, and another the Flowerpots.
[I didn't stay for the music - it looked as if it would be loud, judging by the amplifiers/speakers in abundance! ]
Bus trip (7 September - MP)
First port of call (the Worldham Golf Club) was closed - although some people still seemed to be playing golf, we were too late for the club.
Next was the Cricketers at Kingsley, where Sharp's Atlantic and Dartmoor Best were on - I had the Dartmoor (average to good).
Following that was the Blacknest golf club with only one beer on - Fuller's London Pride - I rated that as average.
Next was the Jolly Farmer at Blacknest, which had Fuller's London Pride and Summer Ale (a seasonal beer) - I liked the Summer Ale.
The came the Cedars at Binsted - here there was again ony 1 beer on - Triple fff Alton's pride. I really didn't like this - there definitely seemed to be something wrong with it. It smelled quite "heavy" (hoppy?), and had a sharp taste with a strange after-taste. Others thought it was ok, but I didn't finish the drink I'm afraid.
After that was the White Hart at Holyborne, where three beers were on - TT Landlord (thought to be good by others in our party); Greene King's Moorland's original (I had this and rated this the best of the evening!); and one other beer not remembered.
We finally ended up at the Railway Arms, where I had Alton's Pride again - this time it was as I expected, so something was definitely up with the one at the Cedars I feel.
The King's Head (7 September - MP)
I dropped in after lunch today and found the place almost deserted - only 2 in each bar.
Courage Best, Sharp's Atlantic and Itchen Valley Hampshire Rose were on - I had the Atlantic - very good.
I spent a pleasant hour or so watching the cricket on TV.
Personal walkabout (26 August - TD)
In the Queen's Head, an unusual beer for the area; Beartown Bearly Literate, a 4.5% golden ale with citrus and other fruity flavours. Pretty good as was the Alton's Pride. As usual H&H Olde Trip also on.
In the Eight Bells the Butts Organic was a perfectly decent 3.5% session bitter, the Red Cat Prowler Pale good as usual, and the Stonehenge Pigswill just coming on took time to clear, but perfectly decent. The usual Doom Bar and Swift One were also on.
Personal walkabout (22 August - TD)
The King's Head had a very palatable Longdog Kismet - a citrussy golden ale packed with new world hops. Courage Best also on together with Wadworth's 6X 4.5% ABV (or X9 as adjusted by the prankster on the bar).
In the Eight Bells alongside the usual beers there was Suthwyk Old Dick, Stonehenge Spire and a new one from St. Austell - Harvest Moon 4.3% ABV - a nice old fashioned well balanced bitter. All very drinkable.
Branch walkabout (17 August - TD)
Seven of us gathered at the French Horn where there was a decent selection of six ales. The Ringwood Best was average to good, the Timothy Taylor Landlord was definitely good. Courage Best, St. Austell Tribute, Sharp's Doom Bar and Sea Fury were also on, and the hero who tried that at 5% ABV for his first of the evening liked it. No beers attracted adverse criticism except for a general feeling that they might have been a bit below optimum cellar temperature.
At the Conservative Club in Butts Road there was just Wadworth's 6X on and I gathered I was in a charitable minority deeming it average.
There were just bare handpumps in the Hop Poles, and a very crowded Karaoke Night precluded sensible inquiry as to the general state of affairs, so straight to the where there were two decent guests - Langham's Halfway to Heaven and Welton's Googly a 4.1% summer special, alongside the regular Doom Bar, Abbot and the Hog's back offering, currently TEA. Three real ciders were also available.
In the George there was Dark Star Hophead which disappeared quickly and was well liked by those that tried it. The Longdog Bunny Chaser was slightly better than average, but the Sharp's Sea Fury pretty good and the Salopian Lemon Dream, a 4.5%, award winning zesty golden ale very good indeed. Gale's Seafarers was also on.
Personal walkabout (15 August - TD)
The Eight Bells had a very good (indeed) Milk Street Funky Monkey, and a decent Longdog Bunny Chaser.
At the Railway Arms all seven handpumps were in use with Pressed Rat & Warthog back on: appeared lighter in colour - no longer a dark mild? Also on was a very good Isle of Purbeck Studland Bay Wrecked; a tasty (new to me) Triple fff Distant Sun at 5% ABV featuring lager malt and New Zealand hops; and, again very good indeed, the powerful Triple fff Forbidden Fruit at 6.6% ABV. Alton's Pride Moondance and another guest whose name escapes me, were also available.
A week's walkabout (7-12 August - TD)
The Ivy House had Langham Hip Hop (good) and Welton's Horsham Pale (pretty average) alongside the regular GK IPA and Abbot, Hog's Back HBB and Sharp's Doom Bar. A number of real ciders also on handpump.
At the George, West Berkshire Mr Swift's pale Ale was getting on for very good with Andwell King John, Flack Double Drop plus two from Sharp's Doom Bar and Sea Fury also on.
In the Eight Bells a new guest from Nottingham brewery Navigation was the straw-coloured 3.9% New Dawn, good to very good. Cotleigh's Commando Hoofing was good with Andwell Resolute available alongside the regulars.
Finally the King's Head followed up the recent Exmoor Gold guesting with the same brewery's Ale and Wadworth's 6X alongside the Courage Best. All were on good form.
Eight Bells (4 August - TD)
Prices up 10p a pint, £3.40 up to 3.9%, £3.60 for 4% and over, which still appears very reasonable for area. Both Flowerpots Perridge Pale and Irving Type 42 were good to very good with St. Austell Liquid Gold and the usual standbys also on.
Personal walkabout (1 August - TD)
At the George today (1st August) West Country ales swept the board (no Longdog house beer although I was assured it would be returning shortly). The St. Austell Proper Job was good and also on was Tribute from the same brewery, Sharp's Atlantic, Doom Bar and Sea Fury.
Personal walkabout (31 July - TD)
On 31st July the Queen's Head had a new set of guests alongside the H&H Olde Trip, the Triple fff offering being Alton's Pride and also Hop Back Summer Lightning. Both were good to very good.
Out of area, the Jolly Sailor in West St. Farnham (65 bus to and from Alton stops almost outside and picks up just over the road) continues to please. On 31st July there were three guests, Loose Cannon Bombshell, Tillingbourne Whakahari and and Orkney/Belhaven collaboration called Kittiwake alongside the usual Greene King fare. All very quaffable.
Bus trip (20 July - TD)
The Four Marks Golf Club in Headmore Lane is a lonely outpost for real ale in this pub desert of a village. Three handpumps dispense Gale's Seafarers, Fuller's Oliver's Island and Triple fff Moondance. The Moondance, billed as the best seller on the Club website was pretty good, but the two Fuller's offerings rated no more than average and were probably tired. Perhaps a maximum of two ales on at such a venue the solution?
At the Golden Pheasant, Lower Farringdon there were no such reservations with no less than seven cask ales on offer and those sampled all rated good or better. With Bowman Swift One, Dark Star Hophead, Flack Manor Double Drop, Flowerpots Bitter, Hog's Back TEA, Sharp's Doom Bar and Atlantic we were spoilt for choice.
In the Selborne Arms, Selborne there was a smaller range but a very quirky one. Two of the beers had connections with the Oakleaf Brewery of Gosport, Fallen Acorn Dandelion Moon was a light and zesty saison style with hints of lemongrass. Liberation, brewed to honour the D-Day planning which took place around Portchester was my personal favourite beer of the evening, light in colour with blackcurrant overtones. (Suthwyk Ales are, or were at least at one time, brewed on the Gosport site.) The two other ales were Ringwood 49er and Welton's Quatre Bras brewed to the Belgian kriek style and highly rated by the brave soul who tried it. One handpump was bare on our visit.
Last stop (on the bus) was the Greyfriar in Chawton, a reliably pricey Fuller's house with all ales north of £4 a pint. Quality was however deemed good from a cross section of tastings of the London Pride and the two Gale's brands, HSB and Beachcomber, a zesty lightweight (3.7%) summer ale.
(Added by editor) We finally ended up at the Eight Bells, where Hop Back's Summer Lightning (my personal preference), and Bowman's Swift One were on. (There were two others, but their names escape me.)
Personal walkabout (17/18 July - TD)
17 July - Just one decent guest, Firebird Two Horses, in the Ivy House but the good news for appleheads is that there is a cider festival running until next week and seven pumps have various offerings (20 overall nationally in the Wetherspoons festival).
18 July - In the Eight Bells Nigel strayed out of his comfort zone again with 5% Hop Back Summer Lightning and very good it was too. Also tried other guests, West Berkshire Mr Chubb's Lunchtime Bitter and Triple fff Alton's Pride which were both good.
Personal walkabout (5 July - TD)
Had a pretty good Cotleigh Sea Hawk in the King's Head, Alton. Flack Manor Double Drop and Courage Best also on.
At the Eight Bells there was a welcome return to mild where the Maggs Magnificent was on very good form, as was the Cheddar Gorge Best, a fine example of a traditional bitter. Longdog Bunny Chaser pretty good also and the two regulars, Doom Bar and Bowman's Swift One available of course.
Personal walkabout (2 July - TD)
Took a walk to Farringdon.
In Upper Farringdon, the Rose & Crown is up for sale freehold through Fleuret's. The particulars note that it is registered as an Asset of Community Value within the Upper Farringdon Conservation Area and no mention is made of any redevelopment potential.
At the Golden Pheasant in Lower Farringdon there was some emphasis on west country ales with Atlantic and Doom Bar from Sharp's, Dartmoor Jail Ale, and from the home counties and elsewhere Dark Star Hophead, Wadworth 6X and Flowerpots Bitter. Hancock's HB recently gone off. The Hophead and the Flowerpots good to very good and the Jail Ale (reduced to £3 a pint) fair.
Aftrer a walk up to Chawton along the old Meon Valley railway line the Greyfriar in Chawton had Fuller's Summer Ale and London Pride both good. Gale's HSB was also on.
Cedars, Binsted (24 June – Paul Hawley)
Off to the "Summer Solstice" Beer festival - arrived around 12.30 as things were just getting off. Surveyed the beers available – some interesting choices.
Good to see that Dark Star Espresso Stout was on and was in top order, as was the Bellhaven Golden Bay.
Nice supply of baguettes and chips – later the barbecue was fired up and Shirley and Mik consumed a burger each and said they were good. (As I’d seen off 2 baguettes, a bowl of chips and a large Bakewell Tart I settled for a final half of the golden Bay.)
A good afternoon out!
Noted that the Cedars is up for sale; the owner, apparently, fed up with the SDNP Planners for a lack of decision making - over to the locals!
Personal walkabout (21 June - TD)
In the Ivy House just one guest, Firebird Palaface APA, a decent tasting strong 5.2% golden ale. The regular beers doubled up in places which was disappointing.
Better result at the George where tried their new house beer Longdog Best a well balanced traditional bitter at 4.2%. Also had Flowerpots Bitter which was good. St. Austell Liquid Sunshine, Sharp's Sea Fury and Hammerpot Bottlewreck Porter also on.
Round at the Eight Bells had the Piddle Dorset Rogue 3.9% , good but nearing its end and a very nice Dark Star Hophead.
Branch walkabout (25 May - TD/MP)
On 25th May the following Alton town pubs had beers as follows:
White Horse: Otter Bitter, Sharp's Doom Bar, Wells Bombardier.
Swan Hotel: Greene King IPA, Morlands Old Speckled Hen, Ruddles Bitter.
Wheatsheaf: Sharp's Doom Bar (pretty poor quality).
Market Hotel: Sharp's Atlantic, Timothy Taylor Landlord.
King's Head: Andwell King John, Courage Best, Flack Manor Double Drop.
George: Tomothy Taylor Knowle Spring Blonde, Sharp's Sea Fury, Whitstable Bay Red Ale, Dark Star Hop Head.
Apart from the Doom Bar in the Wheatsheaf all the beers sampled were average to good quality.
Personal walkabout (23 May - TD)
At the White Hart, Holybourne, Timothy Taylor Landlord was on good form. Morland Original, Black Sheep Bitter and Greene King Old Golden Hen also on.
Sadly due to "pressure on beer margins" the CAMRA discount has been discontinued.
Down the road at the Queen's Head, Palmer's Coast Path continues as a very palatable guest beer as does the Robinson's Trooper. Deuchar's IPA and H&H Olde Trip also available.
At the Railway Arms, Alton there was a good mix of Triple fff and guests. The Hallelujah and Indian Brown Ale from the Four Marks brewery both very good and Red Cat 7 (a whopping 7.8% ABV!) quite exceptional. Alton's Pride and Moondance plus Oakham Citra also on but no Pressed Rat and Warthog which I was told has not been moving well lately.
Red Cat brewery, Winchester - first open day of 2017 (20 May - MP)
I went to the Red Cat brewery (at Winnall in Winchester) open day on Saturday (20th) - this was the first of 2017, and was up to their usual standard.
I arrived about 1130 (it had started at 1100), and this time the large marquee with sides was simply one without sides - a bit worrying as the forecast (nay - reality) was rain, rain, rain!
There was the usual seating area in the marquee, together with background music, the usual burger bar (more below), plus TWO portaloos and one inside one (they had obviously learnt from last time!).
The burgers were again by "Broughton Water Buffalo" farm - and this time they didn't run out thank goodness.
They had 10 cask ales on:-
Prowler Pale - 3.6%
Scratch - 4%
Red Willa - 4%
Gyle 171 - 4.2%
Mr Ms Porter - 4.5%
Smoggy - 4.7%
Tomcat - 4.7%
Tellicherry Wit - 5.4%
Huehuetenango - 5.8%
Seven - 7.7%
Broken Bridge - A Darker Shade of Pale - 4.9%
Also on were half a dozen or so keg beers, and many bottled ones.
Most beers cost £3.00 (up from last year), but the stronger ones were £3.50 a pint.
Prowler - this was the best of the day in my opinion.
Red Willa - strange one this - quite dark, but not heavy
A Darker Shade of Pale - not to my taste unfortunately
I estimated that at about mid-way through the afternoon, and despite the weather, there must have been 150+ people - although it started very slow.
Once again, I meant to leave at around 3, but again got 'carried away' and I was still there at closing time (5pm)!
A great day out - I'd recommend it to everyone.
They also open most Thu/Fri/Sat mornings - just drop in - see website:
http://www.redcatbrewing.co.uk/bar-shop-2/ Getting to the Red Cat brewery is easy - a 64 from Alton to the bus station, then a number 1 (to Tesco), dropping off at the stop at Winnall Close (next to the Post Office sorting office), then walking into Winnall Close right to the end.
[Number 1 buses are about every 15 minutes.]
Eight Bells, Alton (16/17 May - TD)
A tasty selection here - Red Cat Scratch, Hanlon's Firefly and Bowman's Swift One good to very good, and the Dark Star Hophead very good indeed.
Cedars, Binsted (10 May - PH)
Went here after being contacted by the new (February this year) manager.
He has complete choice in beers -, had fff Alton's Pride which was good.
Snacks are available, but not a full menu because the kitchen needs an overhaul which is dependant on investment by the owners, and this awaits approval of a planning application for the building of three house within the grounds.
Camping space is no longer available but there is still a huge garden.
He is hoping to do a beer festival on bank holiday weekend.
Personal walkabout (25 April - TD)
At the Queen's Head, Holybourne a refreshing Palmer's Coast Path and a very tasty Caledonian Deuchar's IPA tried. Greene King Olde Trip and Robinson's Trooper (reduced to £2.80 a pint, other beers £3.50) also on.
At the Railway Arms, Alton had a good Triple fff Old Dray at £3.30. The usual Pressed Rat & Warthog, Alton's Pride and Moondance on plus Triple fff Hunky Dory and Andwell Spring Magic.
Walkabout (20 April - MP)
Not many turned up for this walkabout (4 to be precise) - maybe due to holidays?
We started at the Railway Arms - there were about 7 beers on - the usual (and seasonal) Triplefff ones plus Langhams Best which I had. My compatriots had the Old Dray which was deemed very good.
Next to the Crown Hotel - only one beer on here - Doom Bar (the Hogs Back TEA clip was turned round). I'm afraid the Doombar was not very good!
Then to the Bakers Arms - again only 1 beer on - Black Sheep Best Bitter - quite good. The alternative should have been Doom Bar, but they were having trouble with the valve we were told.
Our final port of call was planned to be the Eight Bells, but two of our group were not feeling too well; I wasn't all that bothered (as we often end up at the Eight Bells, and it is scored very often); and the last person also wasn't bothered, so we called it a night (at 9.30!!!).
Bus trip (6 April - TD)
The Castle of Comfort, Medstead had a decent Courage Best. Greene King IPA and Sharp's Doom Bar also on. Nothing exciting but well kept.
At the Sun in Bentworth there were five ales on with one spare handpump. The Andwell Resolute was good. Flack Manor Double Drop, Itchen Valley Hampshire Rose, Hogs Back TEA and Palmer's Copper Ale also on.
The Royal Oak at Lasham had a decent if a bit chilly Andwell Gold Muddler alongside Hogs Back TEA. The bar menu looked good value.
The Gliding Society Club at Lasham had unfortunately closed early, but down the road the Golden Pot at Shalden had a pretty good Wadworth's 6X plus Bowman's Swift One, Gale's HSB and Greene King Old Speckled Hen.
Our final (bus) port of call was the Queen's Head at Holybourne where the Palmer's Copper Ale on good form. Robinson's Trooper also on alongside Olde Trip and Black Sheep Bitter.
Lastly we adjourned to the Eight Bells where the Red Cat Prowler Pale and Surrey Hills Shere Drop got mixed reviews. I liked them.
Another evening out (27 March - TD)
King's Head, Alton - had a very good Lister's Porter and a decent Courage Best. Doom Bar and a Cottage can't recall also on. Itchen Valley QED coming soon.
Eight Bells, Alton - Stonehenge Spire and Crafty Loxhill Biscuit on good form and Cotleigh Commando Hoofing very good. The usual Doom Bar and Swift One also on.
Another boozy trip? (25 March - TD)
Anchor Inn, Lower Froyle: three ales on in the snug bar of this smart country pub. Tried Triple fff Alton's Pride and Moondance, both very drinkable. Marston's EPA also on. Not too pricey, around £3.75 a pint and the bar snacks include pork scratchings elevated to an art form.
White Hart, Holybourne: had a decent Morland Original with a nice malt kick. Timothy Taylor Landlord also on alongside the GK regulars IPA and Old Golden Hen.
Queen's Head, Holybourne: had a very decent Palmer's Copper Ale. Olde Trip, Brain's Bread of Heaven and Black Sheep Bitter also on.
Railway Arms, Alton: a good selection tried, all halves; Pressed Rat & Warthog was good, Old Dray (the Triple fff reinvention of the local classic at 4.8% ABV) better and the Welton's Ira Jones Double IPA very good at 6% ABV. Hunky Dory and Moondance also on.
A walkabout (8-9 March - TD)
Eight Bells, Alton - a good Dark Star Hop Head alongside Upham Punter and Courage Best.
Had a new (experimental?} beer from Flowerpots, Rhapsody #2 at 4.2%, described as a dark bitter it is complex and elegant but no information on brewery website as yet.
The Red Cat Prowler and St. Austell Tribute also pretty good alongside the regulars Doom Bar and Swift One.
King's Head, Alton - here I had a good Dark Star Hop Head alongside Upham Punter and Courage Best.
Coming shortly Itchen Valley Hampshire Rose and QED.
Bakers Arms, Alton - had a decent Black Sheep Bitter, although it would have been better if not a bit on the chilly side.
(Told by lady behind the bar I wasn't the only one to mention this.)
A "walkabout"? (2nd March - TD)
Greyfriar, Chawton - had a very good (it should have been at £4.10 a pint!) London Pride.
Gales HSB and Fullers Front Row also on.
French Horn, Alton - here I had a decent Otter Bitter and pretty good St. Austell Proper Job.
Doom Bar, TT Landlord, St. Austell Tribute and a seasonal Wadworths Dirty Rucker also on.
Golden Pheasant, Lower Farringdon (28 February - P H)
Called in for lunch at this excellent establishment, now has 7 handpumps but six beers on, the one I tried was the Bass Original was in first class condition (at £3.80 a pint).
Also, saw off steak and kidney pie & chips, which I could not fault. Had Rhubarb Crumble with ice cream as a sweet. Again, beyond criticism.
GBG '18 Bus Trip (28 Jan - TD)
The outing to look at possibles for GBG '18 on Saturday 28 January took in five pubs in the south-east of the branch area.
The recently refurbished Royal Exchange in Lindford had three ales on tap and the house beer, Red Mist (named for the small pubco) brewed by Andwell at 4.1% was generally well received. Hop Back HBB and Triple fff Moodance were also on.
The Prince of Wales Hammer Vale, an ex-Gales house, now Fullers, had four ales - Oliver's Island, London Pride, the seasonal Jack Frost and Gales's HSB.
All were good to very good and the cooked meals were worth the wait on a busy lunchtime.
The Royal Oak in Hollywater is not strictly in the running for GBG '18 as it will be changing hands very shortly - the main intention in visiting was to wish the landlady [Dawn] well and enjoy the Spitfire, Doom Bar and Atlantic (which ran out as we arrived).
The Greatham Inn also had Sharp's Doom Bar and Atlantic, plus Timothy Taylor Landlord which people reckoned good. This is a very quirky pub with a rambling interior dominated by a massive fireplace at the rear.
The Selborne Arms (five ales on) has a useful service offering beer bats of three one-thirds for the price of a pint. On the night those on offer were Ballards Best, Bowman's Swift One, Dartmoor IPA, Ringwood 49er and Suthwyk Land of Hop and Glory. The verdicts ranged from good to very good.
Finally after being dropped off back in Alton most of the company repaired to the Eight Bells where Red Cat Mr M's Porter gained most attention from the company and was reckoned very good.
Ale Rider from Twisted Brewing Co was also among the guests, and this was deemed excellent.
Hen and Chicken, Upper Froyle (21 January – DT) Four ales and a cider on, with Pickled Partridge in good order. Hints of honey add a touch of sweetness – nice. The carvery is excellent value and recommended.