Saturday, September 26, 2009


The Hobgoblin Pub in Reading

Highly recommended establishment. I'm amazed it is still going and that the site hasn't been bought out by some souless High Street chain. It's one of the few Real Ale pubs in Reading and a stopping off point for trips to the cinema. There's a main bar area (which is small) and three little areas at the back that probably accommodate 10 people in total. In good weather, the overflow goes outside into the Broad Steet pedestrianised area.

Here's me in one of the alcoves waiting for Gavin. A rare shot as finding a free alcove is uncommon.


Sunday, August 23, 2009


Portsmouth Beer Festival 2009











Silver Star











Dark Star





Ginger Bear




Triple Champion



De Troch




Rother Valley

Level Best



De Trock



So less than 5 pints as the fruit beers were only 250ml bottles.

The festival must have started running out after 9pm. When I returned to the main hall to get a drink after spending a while in the foreign beers/cider/games room, I was surprised to see so many dead barrels - maybe 90% - with still over an hour to go. Luckily I was leaving early for the train back to Reading.

With my remaining tokens I did buy a 330ml bottle of Hoegaarden Grand Cru to take away for the train journey back. Fortunately, I decided against consuming this 8.5% brew and will save it for another day.

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Thursday, April 30, 2009


Thursday night is Beer night

First time I think I've gone to a Beerfest on a Thursday. Might do it more often as Friday/Saturday get pretty packed and Sunday can start to run out of beer.

This year I went with a "Flight" theme so all my drinks had to have some association, either through name or Brewery:

6:47Flight of FancyLoddon4.2%
6:56Summer AleGargoyles4.4%
7:09Red HeronNorth Curry4.3%
7:26Hornets NestLoddon4.3%
7:50Finchcocks OriginalWesterham3.5%
8:44Fly the FlagGreat Oakley4.1%
9:01Black DragonGwynt Y Ddraig7.2% Cider
9:23Dragon AleProspect4.4%
?:??"Angels"Opa Hay's 
10:38Bees KneesGreat Western4.2%

The "Angels" entry I should have taken better note of what I was actually given. I explained to the volunteer bar staff what I was after and they had a look around for me - and this time of night a lot of barrels were empty and wouldn't get replaced until Friday so the choice was not as wide as earlier. "Angels", I was informed, was the drink that would suit my needs, given their wings. What he failed to say initially was that the barrel actually said "Engels" but I took the beer anyway. Unfortunately I didn't make a note of the beer's name - I'll assume it was Engel's Best Bitter.


Sunday, April 26, 2009


Better get ready!

Only a few days to go!

Thursday 30th April : 4:30pm - 11:00pm (£5)
Friday 1st May : 11:00am - 11:00pm (£7)
Saturday 2nd May : 11:00am - 11:00pm (£7)
Sunday 3rd May : 12:00pm - 7:00pm (£5)

Glass Hire £2 (Refundable)


Tuesday, September 30, 2008



When I returned to the UK from Stockholm and unpacked my luggage last week, I discovered that there is an item missing. On the Thursday evening of our stay in Sweden I had attended the Beer Festival at Nacka Strand and brought back to the hotel a special commemorative glass. The cleaning staff must have removed it the following morning, thinking it was just a dirty glass from the hotel bar and not my property.

After pinging off a (polite) email, they searched for the glass and posted it to me here in the UK, arriving today!

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Thursday, September 18, 2008


Stockholm - day 4 - Beer!

Eventually, after much negotiation and herding of cats, I managed to arrange to go to the beer festival with two other Microsofties. The trip there also included a ferry to add some scenic interest and a chance for Niklas to demonstrate his extensive local knowledge. First József and I had to go back to the hotel, dump our stuff, and jump on to the metro into Stockholm - not too bad as we managed to get to the train just as it arrived. Second we had to get to the boat from the station. Luckily we had a map. Unluckily we couldn't read the road signs properly which meant we actually started to doubt the mass-produced printed tourist map - like that was going to be wrong. Kungsträdgården ("King's Garden") has - unknown to us - three exits which are nearly 400m apart. Because, they are so far apart, you don't always spot the other exits when you look at the map. So on the map we thought we should be on the junction of Kungsträdgårdsgaten and Arsenalsgaten but next to us was the junction of Regeringsgaten and Jakobsgaten. Unfortunately about 800m away is the junction of Regeringsgaten and Jakobsbergsgaten so if you don't take time to read the signs, you get really confused. Luckily some polite locals helped out and pointed us in the right direction. With lost time through confusion and having taken the further exit from the station, we had to move it to be in time for the last boat of the day. Shortly we were at Nybroplan and ... wondering which of the many boats was ours. Luckily, Niklas was there waiting for us and the boat hadn't arrived yet so the panic was over.
The ferry ride on the M/S Ballerina was cheap at 40 SEK and the 4 mile, 3-stop trip showed a surprising amount of Stockholm. Well, surprising if you haven't yet grasped how much waterfront there is in the city and that everything is one island or another.

Soon we were at Nacka Strand where there is a bergbanor (funicular). You immediately dismiss this as a tourist gimmick until you start climbing the 30 degree, 90m slope staircase. My leg muscles certainly thanked me after that - the only consolation was that the young whipper-snapper József found it tough-going to. As none of us knew exactly where the festival was, we assumed the wisest policy was to follow the groups of men in front of us and soon we arrived at the Factory.

The entrance fee to the festival was 170 SEK which got you a special glass with 150ml and 300ml levels.

Beer glass

That's my authentic Finnish reindeer leather wallet on the left.


First drink of the night was Hell... from Jämtlands bryggeri AB (Östersund, in mid-Sweden)

The price was 15 SEK for a 150ml "taster", so a proper pint would have cost 57 SEK, or nearly £5.00. At the time I didn't quite remember how many millilitres there were to a pint - it's 568 and not 453 (which is the number of grams in a pound) - so I was calculating 3 tasters to the pint rather than nearly 4 and not getting the proper price in my head.

Next was a bottled beer that I didn't get a snap of - it's still tricky to go around photographing everything with a phone without getting embarrassed. I did get a shot of the brewery badge on the stand but this turned out hard to read and didn't match any company on the list.

Until I noticed the lighthouse on the left showing it to be the Grebbestad Bryggeri from the Swedish west coast.

Across the aisle was a more reasonably priced (although this is relative) beer at 10 SEK for a taster - the Wisby Vinterbock from the Gotlands Briggeri.
After browsing the whisky area we stumbled upon the Braunstein stand (from Køge, Denmark) and the Aston Vila supporting Dane working there. Large glasses of Næsgaarden Æble cider (4.5%) was an obvious choice.

Fondberg stocked
the bottle of Warsteiner, a
German beer.

Tomp stocked the bottle of
Bombardier Burning Gold. Gorgeous stuff.
Brewery International provided the draught San Miguel.

Berntson (check out the web site!) stock this Innis and Gunn beer
from Scotland.

Maybe there were more beers - it gets a bit hazy. I remember a long conversation with some stand runner who was unhappy with the high taxes in Sweden. I thought it funny a non-resident lecturing someone on the social benefits of the Swedish taxation system.

But 11pm came round too soon and we retreated off into the night and a nearby pavement to wait for our taxi.

Overall, I enjoyed the evening. The layout was different to what I'm used to in England (lots of stands run by the different companies rather then racks of barrels of beer from different breweries all together, poured out for you by volunteers) although the Portsmouth Beerex does have one stall in the main hall these days.

The food was good although I went for the wild boar before spotting the elk vendor nearby.

I think I complained about the music too much - a lone acoustic guitarist playing UK/US covers.

If I'd known there wasn't a program, I would have printed off the beer list from the website (although I only noticed the list AFTER the event) - hindsight, eh? But then if I had had a list, I might have tracked down the Ridgeway Brewing Company and tried their Bad Elf brews - I don't think that would have been good for my 'elf (Bad Elf - 6,0%, Very Bad Elf - 7,5%, Seriously Bad Elf - 9,0%, Criminally Bad Elf - 10,5%, Insanely Bad Elf - 11,2%).

And the quality of photos would have been better if I'd brought my normal camera. As mentioned earlier, I'd rushed back to the hotel to dump my stuff and also to pick up the camera. I couldn't find it anywhere. On my return from the beer festival, I noticed the camera had been in the rucksack I'd taken with me to work and dumped back at the hotel...

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Saturday, August 23, 2008


Portsmouth Beer Festival 2008

I wanted to go for a theme to the beers I was drinking at the festival instead of just random choice. The first beer that caught my eye was Buffy’s “Norwegian Blue” so I went for a Monty Python feel. Unfortunately I quickly discovered that no other beers or brewers had names that gave themselves. Now a Norwegian Blue is a famous parrot so maybe birds would be a better choice? Highgate’s “Pheasant Plucker” was a refreshing half but Rooster’s “Hooligan” was a no-show at the festival. Hawkshead’s “Lakeland Gold” was not a great drink and Conniston’s “Conniston’s  Bluebird” did not have a barrel available. Goose Eye’s “Pommies Revenge” seemed to be the last beer on-track so I decided to extend my theme to include land animals (Nelson - "Powder Monkey", Everard’s "Tiger", Irvine’s "Frigate" (another bird) and Grainstore’s “Rutland Panther”.

"Fossil Fuel" from the Isle of Purbeck brewery is obviously included as fossils can be from animals - inspired or what?

And Ossett's "Beijing Gold"? Well, Beijing is the name for what we used to call Peking and Peking Duck is a bird - see, it all makes sense.

No, I can't explain the addition of Irvine’s "Captain Buggernuts".



Buffy’s – Norwegian Blue



Highgate – Pheasant Plucker



Hawkshead – Lakeland Gold



Goose Eye – Pommie's Revenge



Irvine – Captain Buggernuts



Nelson - Powder Monkey



Ossett – Beijing Gold



Everards – Tiger



Isle of Purbeck – Fossil Fuel



Irvine – Frigate



Grainstore – Rutland Panther


 Beijing GoldEverards TigerIsle of Purbeck Fossil FuelHawkshead Lakeland GoldBuffy's Norwegian BlueHighgate Pheasant PluckerGoose Eye Pommie's RevengeNelson's Powder MonkeyGrainstore Rutland Panther

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Sunday, May 04, 2008


Reading Beer/Cider Festival 2008

Sunday was pretty quiet compared to what I heard Saturday was like. And quite a few barrels were empty too although enough to keep me going for a few hours.

1:45 - Breconshire Welsh Pale Ale (3.7%)
1:58 - Ballards Best (4.2%)
2:08 - Buntingford Apricot Plover (3.8%)
2:25 - Goofs Guinevere (4.1%)
2:44 - Arbor Trendlewood (4.2%)
3:10 - Isle of Purbeck IPA (4.8%)
3:32 - Zerodegrees Black Lager
4:00 - Waldstop Falling Stone
4:16 - Hammerpot Bottle Wreck Porter (4.7%)
4:44 - Hampshire King Alfred's (3.8%)
5:10 - Dark Star Over the Moon (3.8%)
5:40 - Hidden Pint (3.8%)


Friday, August 17, 2007


Pompey Beerfest 2007

6:50 - Dark Star Espresso Stout (4.2%)
7:05 - Enville Chainmaker Mild (3.6%)
7:17 - Hook Norton Hooky Bitter
7:33 - Bowman Quiver (4.5%)
7:53 - Coach House Gunpowder Strong Mild (3.8%)
8:03 - Cottage Brewery Best Bitter (4.6%)
8:28 - Cottage Brewery Norman Conquest (5.0%)
8:49 - Stumpy's Brewery Grumpy Stumpy (4.5%)
9:07 - Butcombe Gold (4.7%)
9:33 - Ballard's Golden Bine (3.8%)
9:57 - Cottage Brewery Golden Arrow (4.5%)

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Sunday, May 06, 2007


Reading Beer Festival 2007

I managed to make the Reading Beer & Cider Festival this year (missed last time for some reason). One of my work colleagues actually took Friday off as holiday so he could attend Thursday evening, Friday and Saturday. I've just checked the souvenir glass and they gave me last year's, the bastards, so now I have a collection spanning 2004-05-06. Next year I'll have to make sure I collect the 2007 glass!

Sunday is family day so I went along with tee-total Samantha to keep me company. I didn't know if anyone I knew was turning up so it was nice of her to volunteer. In the end I met 3 of my workmates and a dithering couple from gaming ("we've decided not to go Friday night so we'll be going Saturday, or possibly Sunday").

The range of beers available today was heavily diminished by the Saturday drunkards. There were a number of gaps with some barrels up there from one brewery to fill up space - they had beer in but they weren't part of the alphabetical sorting. And the cider/perry stall closed around 5pm, I think. The lack of beers published in the programme meant that it was really hard to create a theme to the drinking so I just randomly chose, as you can see:

2:40Hogs Back TEA (Traditional English Ale)4.2%
3:00Zerodegrees Black Lager4.8%
3:20Loddon Forbury Lion 
3:55Ramsbury Wildly Mildly3.6%
4:10Oxfordshire Ales Triple B3.7%
4:25Keystone Cornerstone 
4:55Loddon Downland Bitter 
5:20Battledown Tipster 4.2%
 Something suspicious going on here. Either I dragged out a half-pint for an hour or - much more likely - I didn't get round to writing in the programme whatever I bought at 6pm.  
6:25Buntingford Pargeter3.7%
6:50Geltsdale Tarnmonath3.8%

One innovation was the choice of glass sizes - "Full pint", "half pint" and "third of a pint". Marvellous idea - with the small glass you can get round loads of beers without having to suffer the ones you don't like too long. Of course, the small size does tend to make a mess of your neatly arranged souvenir glasses.

As I said, it was family day so the larger kids got to get involved in the face painting too:


Sunday, April 01, 2007


Beer means buildings

There is some lovely architecture on the University site at Potterow. I don't know how conducive it is to learning but it certainly looks good.

According to, Teviot Row House on Bristo square is one of the Edinburgh University student union buildings, containing several pubs (from 2 to 5, depending on how you count them) which include a quiet local-style pub on the 3rd floor and a Sportsman's Bar with arcades and oodles of pool tables in the basement. Lucky bastards.

On the other hand, McEwan Hall (completed 1897) serves as the venue for graduation ceremonies and other academic events. There is a strong beer connection as the building was financed from Sir William McEwan's bottomless pockets (founder of what is now the Scottish & Newcastle brewing group.

And to think I went to Swansea University which had one bar on campus and that was run by the University (shut on Sundays). What a fool I was.

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Friday, August 18, 2006


Portsmouth Beer Festival 2006

Another successful attendance at this year's Portsmouth Beer Festival - that's every one since 1983 and no sign of stopping  :-)

Only managed 9 halves - gone are the days of indecipherable beer notes in the programme and avoiding any drink under 4%. Nowadays I seem to be avoiding anything over 4.5% but then I am drinking with my dad.

7:06    Footslogger (4.4%)Arundel

(Arundel, West Sussex)

This was my first half of the night. The programme description said "golden, light and very refreshing beer, using Challenger hops to give a good bitter flavour and hoppy aroma." Definitely refreshing and the sort of pint you'd want after a hard day at work - would look out for it again. 
7:17    Black Cat (3.4%)Moorhouses

(Burnley, Lancashire)

"Dark, refreshing beer with a distinct chocolate malt flavour and a smooth hoppy finish." Not sure about the supposed chocolate flavour unless by that they somehow meant burnt as that was the overriding taste for me.
7:35    Barm Pot Bitter (3.8%)Goose Eye

(Keighley, West Yorkshire)

For some reason the programme had this one as "Barn Pot" - not that the real title "Barm Pot" is in any way more sensible. "A good session bitter with hop and citrus flavour balanced by a malty base with a somewhat dry finish." Could smell the lemon here so have to agree.
7:53    Special (4.5%)Young's

(Wandsworth, London)

I don't normally buy beers at festivals from breweries that I can buy from at the local supermarket but I do like the Young's brand and the ram's head label design. Looks very different, modern and stylish - deceptively pagan, even - so "half a Special, please".
8:14    Powder Monkey (4.4%)Nelson nee Flagship (Chatham, Kent)Too late to make the programme but not the festival. 
8:36    Golden Bine (3.8%)Ballard's

(Rogate, West Sussex)

"Golden in colour, with a light floral flavour and aroma."
8:53    Fruit Bat (4.5%)Banks & Taylor

(Shefford, Bedfordshire)

"Exciting, raspberry flavoured, hoppy cask-conditioned fruit beer." Does what it says on the tin - so much lovely fruity goodness that it must be healthy for you. 
9:17    Explorer (4.3%)Adnams

(Southwold, Suffolk)

"Blond beer suffused with aromas of a grapefruit grove, with New World hops delivering its fruity bitterness." Well, with hops named Chinook and Columbus, definitely not Old World but don't recall any grapefruityness.
9:42    Slater's Top Totty (4.0%)Eccleshall

(Eccleshall, Staffordshire)

From an Inn with its own brewery - sounds like a great place to visit. 

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Thursday, September 29, 2005


My first American pub :-)

After our meal at the Space Needle, we met up with Aaron Grady and Neil "MVP" Pike with the intention of chatting over a few beers. Sue was flagging fast so we dropped her off at the hotel and went cruising in Aaron's Land Rover. The first place was sold out and required ID anyway - oops, no passport on me. So after a quick trip to the hotel safe it was on to the Barca for my first alcoholic drink in the US that wasn't bought in a hotel or restaurant. Nice place and would have stayed for a while - definitely beyond a couple of pints of Samuel Adams - if my poor body hadn't started to tire. Pah.

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Sunday, May 01, 2005


Reading Beer Festival 2005

Surrounded by inspiration (beer) as I was tonight, here is my Reading Beer Festival Brewer's 11.

A 4-3-3 formation:

Up front we have

Trusty Servant (Winchester)
Tipton Pride (Toll End)
St George (Old Mill)

In Midfield

Black Gold (Castle Rock)
Pure Gold (Itchen Valley)
Fool's Gold (Teme Valley)

The back four is

Strikes Back (Empire) for coming from a goal down
Hibernator (Old Bear) as we are sleeping giants
Nightmare (Hambleton) for our start of season
Old Slug Porter (RCH) for Moxey

In Goal is

Heart of Oak (Oakleaf)

And the MIB today is

Blind Ref (William Greenwood)


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