Harvey's porter at the Royal Oak

royaloakpub.jpgIt’s hardly an original observation, but we have to say that the Royal Oak on Tabard Street in Borough is a great pub, with wonderful beer.

It’s an old-skool pub, with some amazing beards on display, but there were also some youngsters, and even a party of very jolly Spaniards in a corner who were enjoying pints of Best and shepherds pie.

The beers are all good — Sussex Best is a classic, the mild is absurdly drinkable at 3% and the Armada tastes like a weak (but not dumbed-down) IPA. In fact, one of the wonderful things about Harvey’s is their ability to deliver astounding beer in session-able doses.

The star of the show was the porter, the strongest of the offerings at 4.8%. Michael Jackson described the taste as “toasty, faintly anise-like”. It had stacks going on — waves of roastiness and dark fruits, with a very unctuous body and great aftertaste. I think I might even prefer it to Fullers*.

The Royal Oak is on Tabard Street, near Borough station, or a short walk from London Bridge.

*Which, incidentally, you can get on tap at the Euston Flyer. Don’t know if Fullers have responded to my prayers and started doing it all year round, or whether it’s just left over from the autumn, but it’s marvelous!

Picture by da mad pixelist at Flickr, under a Creative Commons license.

Bass museum to shut

This via Appellation beer.

The Coors Visitor Centre, aka the Bass Museum, in Burton on Trent, is to close in June 2008.  Apparently it costs £1m a year to run, and visitor numbers are falling, despite a revamp.  Full story here.

We’ve moaned about the lack of any museum celebrating London’s brewing heritage in the past, and it seems sad that there is no appetite for this kind of thing even in Burton.  Not that we’ve ever been — perhaps there’s a good reason for the decline in visitor numbers…

Anyway, we’ll definitely be making the effort to get there before June – it’s been on our list for a while.

The Coors Visitor Centre site is here.  They make no mention of the closure, so perhaps it’s not true.

York — a great city for beer

york_brewery.jpgIf you like beer, York is a great place to spend a few days. And that doesn’t just apply to fans of real ale.

From our experience, you can’t go too far wrong following your instincts in York — if it looks a friendly pub, it probably is — but here are some pubs we tried and liked.

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Trans-Atlantic Beer Tasting Simul-Post

adnams.jpgOr, “Sadly, we don’t know Mr Bean”.

Last week, we had a pint with Wilson of Brewvana fame. We were several thousand miles apart; he was drinking at lunchtime, we’d just got home from work; and the banter was by email. It kind of worked.

We’d agreed which beers we were going to drink so that we could compare, based on the UK beers Wilson could get in Iowa, and which American beers we could get in London. Somewhat ironically, he found it easier to get hold of Adnams Bitter than we did. So the final line-up was Adnams Broadside and Anchor Porter. Here’s how it went from Wilson’s point of view, and here’s how it went from ours:

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Mann’s Brown Ale and a call for suggestions

manns.jpg

UPDATE APRIL 2013: Apparently, ASDA and Morrison’s sell it, if you’re looking to buy some, as apparently many of you are!

Mann’s Brown Ale is not something you see many people drinking in its own right. Traditionally, it’s used in a ‘brown split’ with ordinary bitter — in other words, to give a bit of oomph to that half a pint of flat, brown keg beer you’ve been thinking about abandoning for fifteen minutes.

But Michael Jackson lists it in his 500 Great Beers book and, at 2.8%, we wondered if it might not fit be just the trick for school nights, when a hangover is simply not an option.

As you can see, it looks nice in the glass — very dark brown, almost black, with an off-white head. The body is remarkable for such a weak beer, and there are some nice aromas of malt and roasted grains.

The taste… well, nice in some parts of the mouth, if that makes any sense. Too sweet at first, with a harsh burnt treacle flavour, but rather pleasant going down, when the slightly bitter chocolate flavours come through. Reminiscent of the sweeter variety of mild, we thought.

On balance, I suspect this would taste wonderful with chocolate cake, which tends to make most beers taste too dry, but it’s not something we’d drink too often.

So, over to you. Any suggestions for other beers under 3% which are worth a go…?

Bonus feature: here’s an old post with an advert for Mann’s featuring Sherlock Holmes.