Tuesday, 5 June 2012

Diamond Jubilee Weekend.

Well  I'm sitting here, enjoying a beer or two whilst watching the end of the Jubilee Concert and there's still one more day to go! The weather's been slightly better than yesterday, which wouldn't be difficult, but hey it's not been a bad Diamond Jubilee Weekend so far.

Saturday saw a group of us attending the beer festival at the Halfway House at Brenchley which, as always, didn't disappoint.  There were fifty cask ales on sale, all in tip top condition, served in the splendid rural setting that is the garden of this legendary West Kent pub. As usual Dave Aucutt of East-West Ales had selected and sourced the beers and also written the tasting notes. Highlights for me were Hawkshead Windermere Pale, Naylor's Velvet, Yeovil Stargazer and York Centurion's Ghost. The weather stayed dry, and the sun even came out for a while in the afternoon. A few of us had walked over, and a couple of us walked back. The festival continues until tomorrow, Tuesday, when a total of 75 different beers will have been served.

Yesterday, we joined friends for an excellent jubilee dinner where, despite the inclement weather we sat out under a gazebo in the garden enjoying our meal and raising a toast to Her Majesty.

Today I've managed to do a bit in the garden as well as catch up on some domestic chores. Alongside the excellent beers I enjoyed at the Halfway House, two bottled beers really stand out this weekend. The first was M & S London Porter. Brewed exclusively for Marks and Spencer by Meantime Brewery of Greenwich, this 5.5% abv beer claims to be brewed to an authentic recipe from 1750. Seven different malts are used in the beer; it doesn't say what they are, (apart from malted barley and wheat!), but the beer is described as having  "A sweet caramel flavour, followed by a smoky maltiness." The beer is dark reddish-brown in colour, as all good porters should be, rather than jet black, (probably a much more authentic colour). There is a definite chocolate flavour, so far as I am concerned, and one that is decidedly moreish.  One would expect a brewery with credentials such as Meantime to have done their research thoroughly, and the end result is one that definitely does not disappoint. This is definitely one of the best beers I have sampled in a long time!

The other beer is an old favourite; Adnams Broadside. The bottled version weighs in at a hefty 6.3% abv, as opposed to just 4.7% for the cask version, but really is the perfect marriage of malt and hops, especially after an hour or so's chilling in the fridge! Enjoying a glass of this excellent beer whilst listening to U2's Beautiful Day blasting out from the computer's speakers really is the way to end a perfect day.

As for tomorrow, well the forecast is showing a promising start, but after that it goes rapidly downhill. If I can finish off what I started earlier in the garden before the rain sets in then perhaps a trip down to our local Wetherspoons in the afternoon is in order, if only to see what beers they've got left on sale. Hopefully the range is more inspiring than it was last time I called in; but that's another story!


Anonymous said...

Must've just missed you - did notice all the other usual West Kent CAMRA suspects though.
Of all the beers I tried, I would not have described them as being in tip top condition, downright undrinkable more like. This came as no surprise, as the beers were in a similar condition at last years fest too, AND the year before that! Shame really as they had some pretty good beers on.
Any consolation the Little Brown Jugs efforts were not much better either. Goes to show it takes alot more effort and skill than just shoving a load of random casks into your beer garden and hoping for the best.


Paul Bailey said...

Not quite sure how you missed me Anonymous Matt, as I was sitting with the rest of the "usual West Kent CAMRA suspects". Next time you are at the same event as me, why not come over and say "Hello", as I'd like to meet you in person.

I must have been luckier in my choice of beers as whilst the odd one or two could perhaps have done with a slightly longer conditioning, I certainly didn't come across any that were undrinkable.

Anonymous said...

Prob see you at the TJ fest then? Fri night for me (unless I can get on the judging panel) as the beers are usually all knackered by the time Sat and Sun comes around.


Paul Bailey said...

Will look out for you Matt, but I probably won't be down there until the Saturday. (Can't see that the beers will lose that much condition overnight!).