My fly-by visit to Greene King brewery in Suffolk! More »
What's in your Fantasy TV beer show? #beerontv More »
‘What would you like?’ John asked me. Those words were music to my ears. I was standing in the Greene King brewery visitor centre shop. And John isn’t just any old John. He is in fact John Bexon, Head Brewer. 37 years experience in brewing, a good ten years plus of those with the biggest brewery & pub chain in Bury St Edmunds, in Suffolk. I dropped by to check out their annual Food & Drink festival last weekend. A foodie paradise over two days, packed out with local independent food and drink producers, and local bands on stage in Westbury Gardens within the brewery grounds. I’d screwed my timings up, but abfab PR & Events Manager, Claire stepped into the breach to see if John could find some time for me in his busy morning for us. We had a good old natter and I had a quick mooch around!
There’s been some brewery canoodling going on. Again! I’ve just had a sip of a new love child: a beer that’s come about from a bit of a love-in between esteemed London brewery, Fuller’s, and Belgian trappist brewery, Chimay . It’s a story of two breweries - steeped in heritage and quality - colliding to make something that works well for the tastebuds for both of their fans. And something that might well draw in new fans too! Chimay Doree (Doree meaning Golden) is 4.8%, with a distinct coriander nose. It’s smooth and sweet – a hint of honey I feel along with something of juicy seedless green grapes too! It’s totally drinkable and delicious. It was an extra-special treat to meet some of the directors from both Fuller’s and Chimay in the wonderfully spooky and pretty (if a venue can be the same thing at once!) Crypt of St Etheldreda’s in Holborn. Go get yourself some. And report back to me. List of Fuller’s pubs it’s where it’s on sale below.
The sight of a demonic skeleton, baring his teeth in rage as he charges towards you and dressed as a warrior armed with a Union Jack flag is enough to scare anyone. Except die-hard Iron Maiden fans that is. It’s the label on the Trooper bottle, the beer brewed by Stockport-based, 175-year-old brewery Robinson’s in close consultation with the band’s lead singer and real ale enthusiast Bruce Dickinson.
Thousands of them worldwide will have enjoyed their first ever sip of the alcoholic rock juice designed for them to feel closer to the band they idolise. The first few bottles were shipped out just before the weekend. Pre-orders were secured from 184 countries around the world. Much of those propelled, no doubt, by the mounting online excitement amongst Iron Maiden’s 8.8 million-plus Facebook fans, when the release of Trooper was announced in March.
It’s been brewing for ages, this one (geddit??) But today is the day. With beer appearing not once, but TWICE on the tellybox today, I couldn’t resist. And to hell with my book-keeping. I’ve been distracted by This Morning doing beer cocktails with mixologist Oskar Kinberg (Calm down all you beer purists out there!) and then tonight hit show, The Apprentice has the candidates making beer (and having some serious issues!). I hear Tring Brewery, Banks’s and Brewdog all feature somewhere tonight!
My wonderful beer blogging chums Leigh and Phil have gone down this road too (thanks to them for mentioning me and my forays into championing beer on the TV). So your homework over the next few days is to conjure up and tell me what your Fantasy TV Beer Show is. I don’t mean YouTube channels, I mean Freeview or subscription channels. And no, it can’t feature David Beckham presenting in his skimpy keks or Louise Redknap in a bikini (!) You heard me. I said ‘NO!’
The second city to me has always been grand. It’s my home. It’s the city of my birth and I love it. And Birmingham is about to get even more grand with the revelation of the first half of our brand spanking new train station. It’s 150 years old and hasn’t seen so much as a lick of paint since it was redeveloped back in 1967. Well, no, that’s a fib. Of course it has. But for years for many people Birmingham New Street station has been dark, tired and resembled something akin to a rather sinister underground mortuary. As of Sunday 28th April 2013, it’s all change! The old concourse and entrance closes for good and it moves aspect to Stephenson Street where we get a new bright, light concourse and lots of lovely shiny-ness to greet us whenever we head off on our journeys. What has this got to do with pubs?? Well, the change of entrance to what will eventually be called ‘Grand Central Birmingham’ (eh?!?? who thought that one up?) means you’re even closer to some of my fair city’s superb pubs and beer bars! So I thought I’d draw up my personal list of the finest hostelries in walking distance from the train station.
Dancing with Bez is a surreal experience. The man’s a Manchester legend. His gregarious personality goes far beyond Manchester. You remember Bez and his maracas, right? The Happy Mondays stalwart, on stage next to lead singer, Shaun Ryder, and Rowetta (the glamorous, sassy singer – and new pal of mine – who’s famous for pumping out those cracking soulful harmonies with them on stage). But back to Bez. And beer. Did you know Bez is a beer lover? Well, JW Lees brewery does and they reckoned he was the right man to help put their new beer, MPA – Manchester Pale Ale on the map at a launch at Rain Bar. It was all kicked off with a pub quiz hosted by DJ & comedian, Mark Radcliffe. Then Bez DJ’ed and danced his socks off. I somehow got roped in. And you can see from my video, he’s got some skillz. I, on the other hand, have two left feet.
So Thursday night’s party was amazing. I think there was just short of 40 women in the room. We sampled 6 Fownes Brewing beers along with 6 dishes which I’d devised to complement each beer. Judging by all the smiling faces in the room and the high noise levels, I reckon everyone had a blast. The men in the other bar next door all shot around the corner after 8pm to say how much they’d learn, just by eavesdropping! LOL! So check out some pictures. All in all, another triumph. Don’t forget if you want me to host a beer party for you, just look over to the right hand column of my website at the FOLLOW ME section, and click on the Email icon to make a direct email enquiry
If you’re in the Midlands you might know that Ludlow’s established itself as something of a foodie destination in Shropshire. But there’s another town fast on its heels: Shrewsbury!!!!!!!! And lush restaurant Eat Up Shrewsbury has asked me to host a beer-and-food matching dinner with them next Thursday 25th April. Listen up, Men…You can come too!!!!!!!! I’m very excited as I do believe this is a FIRST of many for me – a mixed audience beer-and-food matching event. Local bastions of Shropshire beer: Three Tuns, Stonehouse and Salopian will be on the menu too during the night alongside delights from Eat Up’s new menu. So what are you waiting for? Go buy your ticket!
Do you know of a city which actively shouts its prowess from the rooftops when comes to beer? No? Me neither. Well, not in the way that Norwich does. Yes, this glorious city isn’t just famous for giving birth to Alan Partridge, you know!!
Norwich is having another City of Ale celebration from the 23rd May to the 2nd June where the whole city rejoices in its beer heritage, microbreweries, pubs and suppliers over ten days by asking locals and tourists to come and join in the fun and entertainment along the way in what’s a full-blown appreciation of Britain’s National Drink, beer. I’ve never been before but I’ve been lucky enough to be invited over for the launch party by the City of Ale team and Visit Norfolk. They aren’t silly these lot: they’re putting me to work too….. I’m thrilled say I’ll be be hosting a Ladies Only beer-and-food matching event on the launch weekend, along with some local female brewers and pub landladies! Wanna know more about all the brilliant goings-on? Keeping reading…
It’s such a beautiful city, that every time I go up there I want to emigrate. I’ve been back and forth to Edinburgh for at least the last seven years, primarily for the Fringe. Always either with a girlfriend (or more recently with The Hubz) to spend 5 days indulging in the finest stand-up comedy shows and to get more than a few beers down us. Nightclubs and dancing the night away also used to be the order for the week, but my legs do that well anymore. But on Wednesday I headed to Glasgow to snoop around Wellpark Brewery where Innis & Gunn beer is brewed, then back over to Edinburgh to get my first taste of Innis and Gunn’s first ever lager and get the low-down on the new brew from Founder and CEO of Innis & Gunn, Dougal Sharp. Check it all out here.