Saturday, 23 January 2010
Dark at Last!
At long last I have managed to track down a drop of the dark stuff, in fact I managed it two days on the trot! Friday lunchtime saw myself and a work colleague paying a flying visit to the recently re-opened Rock at Chiddingstone Hoath. The purpose of our visit was to inspect the pub ahead of next weekend's West Kent CAMRA Good Beer Guide 2011 selection meeting.
I have written about the Rock before. It is a fine example of an unspoilt rural alehouse, with low-beamed ceilings, a floor of bare and well-worn bricks and in winter a cosy log fire keeping the place warm. For many years it belonged to the local Larkins Brewery - just down the road in Chiddingstone village, but at the end of last October Larkin's owner Bob Dockerty, decided not to renew the lease on the pub and it reverted back to its original owners. After being closed for most of November, the pub re-opened the following month after an extensive re-fit. This involved replacing the rotten floorboards in the saloon bar, scrubbing the brick floor clean in the public bar, re-painting the ceilings, installing new toilets and, most recently, a new kitchen.
There is a very pleasant young couple running the pub now; those who remember the previous incumbent will breath a huge sigh of relief on that score. Larkins beers are still on sale, alongside Sharp's Doom Bar - a beer that seems to be everywhere at the moment. We were pleased to see Larkins Porter on sale, and can report that this 5.2% dark beer, full of rich roasted and bitter chocolate flavours, was in fine form.
Today, I nipped in to our local Wetherspoons in Tonbridge, and was pleased to see S.O.D (Shefford Old Dark) from B&T Brewery on sale. Like the porter the previous day it too was in excellent condition, and was just the ticket on a damp January afternoon.
Last night I enjoyed a bottle of Guinness Foreign Extra (I bought several last weekend at ASDA for just £1 each!). I had forgotten just how good this high strength version of Guinness could be. I won't have one tonight; I've got a bottle of Marstons Oyster Stout to enjoy instead. I've also got a couple of bottles of Innis & Gunn left over from Christmas to sample, including one that has been matured in a rum cask. Should be an interesting evening!