Saturday, 25 January 2014

Dark & Dreary January

It’s a funny time of year; the excesses of Christmas and New Year are now well and truly behind us, and we’ve already nearly seen January out. The weather has been damp, dull and miserable, but thankfully not too cold, so far that is! Work has been rather frantic as we’ve had staff appraisals to fit in alongside all the normal routine stuff, so I’m feeling somewhat cream-crackered at the moment. Thankfully I’ve only got one appraisal left to write up and a nice relaxing weekend to look forward to.

The weekend really started at lunchtime when, wanting to escape the madhouse for a while, I took myself off to nearby Chiddingstone and the wonderfully unspoilt Castle Inn. Sitting in the tranquil surroundings of the public bar, with just the ticking clock and a roaring log fire for company, I managed to regain my sanity for a short time at least, helped by an excellent pint of locally-brewed, Larkins Porter. This delicious 5.2% dark ale, is not that easy to come by, but the Castle is the nearest pub to Larkin’s Brewery, so if anywhere is going to stock the beer then this has to be it.

The Castle doesn’t come cheap at £4.20 a pint, but it was worth every penny so far as I was concerned, just to escape into a more peaceful and far less hurried world. This evening we all enjoyed a really tasty and rather filling Chinese takeaway, and now I’m sitting here tapping away at my computer, listening to music and wondering which beers would best wet my whistle.

Actually I’ve already decided to continue the dark theme I began at lunchtime, and chilling nicely on the back doorstep is a bottle of Budvar Dark, along with one of Bernard Cerny Lezak Dark Lager, brought back from Prague last month. Sunday sees our local CAMRA branch’s Good Beer Guide selection meeting. I shan’t be going along, but hope it all goes smoothly, and the selection process isn't too protracted. Instead I’m saving my energies for next Saturday’s cross-border foray into Sussex, to Crowborough’s Cooper’s Arms and their Dark and Delicious Beer Festival.

This event is a joint social with North Sussex and East & Mid Surrey CAMRA branches, and I’ve been told there will be getting on for a dozen dark and hopefully delicious beers on sale. The Cooper’s Arms is a stiff walk downhill from Crowborough town centre, but is definitely worth visiting. I remember it years ago, when it was Charrington’s pub, but now it’s a thriving, destination free house, which offers a good, and unusual, range of beers.

Three days later I’m heading up to London, as I’ve an invite for the re-launch of a beer from one of the City’s oldest “new-wave” breweries, followed by a guided tasting of some of their other beers. I’m not saying anything further at this stage, but watch this space and all will be revealed. After a month in the doldrums the local beer scene seems to be hotting up nicely.

Notes: Post originally written Friday evening, but not published until Saturday. The Cooper's Arms, Crowborough, doesn't have a website.

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