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.

Con­tin­ue read­ing “York – a great city for beer”

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:

Con­tin­ue read­ing “Trans-Atlantic Beer Tast­ing Simul-Post”

Mann’s Brown Ale and a call for suggestions


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.

24-hour licensing evaluated

licensing2.jpgLots of stuff in the news today about the pub­li­ca­tion of a Gov­ern­ment report inves­ti­gat­ing the impact of “24-hour licens­ing”. See here for a sam­ple of reac­tions to the report on the Beeb.

Bit of back­ground for read­ers not used to our crazy First World War licens­ing laws. Basi­cal­ly, up until Novem­ber 2005, stan­dard pub open­ing was until 11:20, with last drinks served at 11:00. A dinky lit­tle bell would ring warn­ing you about last orders, prompt­ing a Pavlov­ian response in most Brits to rush to the bar and get anoth­er round in. Yes, pubs could get late licences, but most didn’t. You’d all get turfed onto the street at 11:20, which may or may not be the root of the British “pint and a fight = great night” ethos.

Now, in the brave new era of 24-hour licens­ing, it’s all changed.  Or has it? The vast major­i­ty of pubs still open exact­ly as they used to, or per­haps extend the open­ing time to mid­night at the week­ends.

Few­er than 4% of premis­es (5,100) have applied for round-the-clock pub open­ing – and many that have are hotels, stores and super­mar­kets.

Only 470 pubs, bars and night­clubs are open 24 hours and the aver­age clos­ing time across all licensed premis­es has got just 21 min­utes lat­er.” [BBC]

Crit­ics pre­dict­ed waves of vio­lent crime and rivers of vom­it, the think­ing being that the only thing pre­vent­ing the Brits laps­ing into bar­bar­i­ty was the time lim­it on drink­ing. Opti­mists hoped that the leg­is­la­tion would bring in “con­ti­nen­tal style drink­ing”, i.e. you would no longer feel the need to drink so quick­ly, which would in turn lead us to con­sume more respon­si­bly and over a longer peri­od in the evening (and not get into fights on the way home).

And so along comes this report, say­ing that not a lot has changed. To quote the sum­ma­ry:

Its intro­duc­tion [24hour licens­ing] has not led to the wide­spread prob­lems some feared. Over­all, crime and alco­hol con­sump­tion are down. But alco­hol-relat­ed vio­lence has increased in the ear­ly hours of the morn­ing and some com­mu­ni­ties have seen a rise in dis­or­der”

So it appears that the peo­ple who were get­ting into fights between 11:30 and mid­night are now get­ting into fights at three in the morn­ing. But oth­er than that, there has been no notice­able impact on our pub cul­ture or drink­ing habits.

Not that this stops the more hys­ter­i­cal parts of our press, who have focussed in the spike in vio­lence between 3am and 6am as proof the pol­i­cy has failed.

The full report can be down­loaded hereTan­dle­man cov­ers the sto­ry here.

I decid­ed to fol­low suit with the tabloids and illus­trate this sto­ry with a shock hor­ror pic­ture of a Brit binge­ing.  Aren’t you shocked?  Go on, be shocked.