There’s not a lot to blog about at the moment. Summer is well and truly over, and even autumn seems to be passing with alarming speed. Now, with winter just around the corner, it’s a pretty quiet time of year, even though the countdown to Christmas is well under way. This is especially true in the retail trade where Christmas goodies (and also a lot of Christmas tat), seem to appear earlier and earlier each year. Also it’s the time of year when events such as Christmas parties and dinners are also planned and booked up in advance. In my own case I’ve got our company Christmas dinner to look forward to, followed by our local CAMRA branch dinner a couple of days later. I perhaps should go on a diet in the weeks leading up to these events; otherwise I’ll be finding that much of my wardrobe doesn’t fit me any more!
Speaking of CAMRA, towards the end of this month we’ve got our branch AGM coming up. This year we’ll be holding it at Tunbridge Wells Constitutional Club; a venue which won the Kent Club of the Year award, for 2013. The AGM is always well worth attending for a look back at what the branch has been up to over the past year, and to look ahead, formulate policy and decide the way forward for the coming year. There are also, of course, matters like approval of the branch accounts and election of officers to sort out. As an incentive to encourage members to attend, there is normally a free buffet. The meeting usually ends with nominations for the following year’s Good Beer Guide which, seeing as surveying and selection is done almost a year in advance, will be the 2015 edition. I don’t intend taking much part in the latter part of the meeting, as my thoughts on the Good Beer Guide are well-known, but I might stick around for the pub-crawl which traditionally takes place after the meeting has ended.
Moving on to the closely allied subject of beer, I’ve noticed a distinct lack of dark ales gracing the counters of local pubs, although the Punch & Judy did have Caledonian Poltergeist Porter on sale the other night. As in previous years though, I’m late in tracking down one of my favourite dark ales, namely Harvey’s Old Ale. This delicious, seasonal dark ale has been out for over a month now, but I still haven’t come across any. Unfortunately, due to a prior engagement, I missed the branch bus trip to Lewes, last weekend, where I’m assured there was Old Ale a plenty. The beer seems mainly confined to Harvey’s tied houses, although I do know from past experience that it is available for the free trade. It seems though that many licensees prefer to play things safe and stick to tried and tested bitter brands, rather than stick their necks out slightly and try something different. I’m certain they would have no trouble in shifting a darker ale, it just looks like they are afraid to move too far out of their comfort zone!
This coming week should see the welcome appearance of another favourite dark ale of mine, in the form of Larkins Porter. I know Bob has brewed a batch, but I also know that like every year, he likes to let the beer mature for six weeks, in tank and cask, before releasing it to an eager public. Bonfire night is usually the time for this dark and delicious, full-bodied beer to appear, so I will be looking out for it with great anticipation.
At the end of the month, the Bailey family are off to Prague for a long weekend, to enjoy the splendours of the Czech capital, and also to experience the city’s Christmas Markets, which set up their stalls around this time. Needless to say there should also be plenty of opportunity to enjoy some of Bohemia’s finest beers, in some atmospheric and unspoilt pubs. A full report will follow when the time comes.
Well that’s about it for the moment, with nothing particularly of note to report, apart from me continuing to stock up on beers for Christmas.