Sunday, 31 January 2010
More Dark Ales
After months of what seemed to be an absolute dearth of dark beers, today's foray across the border into Sussex certainly yielded some results.
Our local branch Good Beer Guide 2011 selection meeting took place earlier today at the Brecknock Arms, just over the Kent-Sussex border. This excellent Harvey's pub is easy to get to by train and. for guide selection purposes, is on neutral territory. Although our numbers were swelled later on, six of us caught the earlier train in order to partake of the Brecknock's Sunday lunch menu. Most of us opted for the roast pork, which was just the right sort of fare on a bright, but freezing cold January day. On arrival at the pub we were pleased to see three dark ales on offer, namely Harvey's Mild, XXXX Old Ale plus, much to our surprise, Fullers London Porter. The latter was totally unexpected, as I didn't think Harvey's allowed guest ales in their pubs, but whatever the brewery policy, I have to say this beer was absolutely superb. The Old Ale was also in tip-top condition, and I ended up having a couple of pints of each. I should perhaps have tried the mild as well, but a friend who did, pointed out that whilst it was in good condition, it was a bit on the thin side.
The selection meeting went remarkably smoothly, with consensus being reached on the majority of the entries. This is not to say that there wasn't the odd moment of lively, and occasionally heated debate, but on the whole the meeting passed off without controversy.
After the meeting ended, a group of us moved on back to Tunbridge Wells. We made our way to the Grove Tavern, a perennial Good Beer Guide entry, where we were pleased to see a further dark ale on sale. This time it was Hogs Back Winter Ale, a well-balanced and tasty, 4.4% dark seasonal ale.
It's probably just as well I don't live in Tunbridge Wells, otherwise I would be in the spending a lot of my spare time in the Grove! Suffice to say, the pub was pleasantly full without being overcrowded. The Hogs' Back Winter Ale was just the right beer to end up on, following an excellent afternoon of sampling the dark stuff.