Friday, 11 September 2015

Some Local Flavour & Character



Although this short post is aimed primarily at a local audience, I have included it as something of a break from all the stuff about Belgium which I have been posting recently. (There’s more to come!).

Yesterday saw one of my favourite local breweries featured on a programme called "Terry and Mason's Great Food Trip". Not being much of tele addict these days, this series had completely passed me by, but basically it features Sir Terry Wogan and London cabbie Mason McQueen "on a food trip around the UK, seeking out weird and wonderful regional British cuisine and discovering how our tastes have changed over the years."

Yesterday’s programme saw the unlikely duo visiting Royal Tunbridge Wells, where they breakfasted at Sankey’s Champagne & Seafood Bar, down on the Pantiles, before moving on to visit local celebrity chef, Rosemary Schrager, at her cookery school in the town. They then ride out in Mason's cab,  to the historic Penshurst Place; described as one of the finest examples of a fortified manor house in the country.

Bob and his team with Sir Terry Wogan & Mason McQueen
The final part of the half hour episode, sees radio presenter and cabbie visiting Larkins Brewery, deep in the Kent countryside on the edge of the village of Chiddingstone. Proprietor, and head brewer, Bob Dockerty takes them on a trip to see the hops he grows, before returning to the brewery to sample the beer. They then join Bob, his nephew Harry (who is learning the trade), office manager Guy Beckett, plus one of the brewery workers, for lunch of shepherd’s pie – washed down of course with several pints of Larkins full-bodied and well-hopped beer.

As you can imagine, the series is all very light-hearted, and only skims the surface of the places visited. For me, it has a very personal interest, because for many years I was CAMRA Brewery Liaison Officer for Larkins, and I know Bob, his staff and the brewery very well. I am also an enormous fan of Larkins beer; especially the 4.4% Best Bitter, and the wonderful 5.2% Porter. The latter is only available during the winter months, but it is always a beer to look forward to.

I have posted a link to the episode on BBCiPlayer, but as the programme will only be available to  view for the next 28 days, enjoy it whilst you can.

5 comments:

m.lawrenson said...

Terry Wiggon eating food and getting pissed on other people's money? Who'd'a thought it?

Paul Bailey said...

It's a tough job, but someone has to do it!

Martin Taylor said...

Like you I'm a fan of Larkins (stand out pint in Chiddingstone Causeway from memory), but don't think I've ever seen the Porter - poor timing on my part !

John Larkins said...

Mr. Bailey, I have enjoyed your blog for several years, but it is always nice to see my name in beery news. Cheers! -JD Larkins(RVA/USA)

Paul Bailey said...

Larkins Porter is really well worth looking out for during the winter months, Martin. The beer is allowed to mature in cask, for a minimum of six weeks before being sent out to trade. Traditionally the brewery waits until Guy Fawkes Night before releasing it.

Normally just two brews are produced; although during exceptionally cold winters a third run may be brewed. The unspoilt, National Trust-owned Castle Inn, in Chiddingstone village is one of the best places to find the porter, but failing that the Rock at Chiddingstone Hoath is another good place to try it. Porter sometimes makes an appearance at the Royal Oak in Tunbridge Wells; although it would be advisable to check with the pub first, especially if you are travelling any distance.