King’s Arms – Bury St Edmunds

7 05 2012

When I was working in Bury St Edmunds the King’s Arms was our favourite spot to head to for lunch and a few pints on a Friday.

It is a reasonably quiet pub owing to it’s location just off of the main shopping area in town and as such has a nice relaxing vibe that is perfect for winding down after work or chilling out of a weekend.

The pub itself is of a reasonable size and is pretty much what you would expect for a traditional pub in a bustling market town; there is one main bar area with a good amount of seating, a smaller dining area off to one side and a lovely little beer garden which magically seems to always be in full sun….

Food was always good with the usual pub grub that one would expect done to a high standard and served with commendable speed, always a plus when you are on a “working lunch”!

The selection of beers is, or was as the case may now be, excellent. Usual suspects from Greene King, Ruddles and Morland accompanied by a nice choice of two or three guest beers on tap.

All things considered the King’s Arms is well worth a visit if you are passing through this charming little market town.

The King’s Arms, 23 Brentgovel Street, Bury St Edmunds Suffolk
http://gkpubs.co.uk/pubs-in-brentgovel/kingsarms-pub/
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1,300 pubs closed in the UK last year.

16 03 2011

According to the latest figures from the British Beer and Pub Association there were 1,300 pubs in the UK that shut their doors for the final time last year.

The number of pub closures has fallen from 40 a week in 2009 to 25 a week now, with the rate of losses highest in London and north-west England.

The BBPA have stated that these pub closures have resulted in the loss of over 13,000 jobs nationwide.

BBPA  chief executive Brigid Simmonds had this to say:”The closure of 25 pubs every week is bad news for the economy, as the sector plays such a vital role. It’s also a blow for local communities, with pubs often acting as the hub of local life.

“With the right policies, this vital part of our tourism and hospitality sector could be creating new jobs, and helping to bring Britain out of recession.

“If we really do have a pub-friendly Government as the Prime Minister says, the time to act is now – with a freeze in beer duty in the Budget.”

So there we have it folks loss of pubs, loss of choice and loss of livelihoods. Pub closures are a bad thing at anytime but to see this many jobs lost in the midst of one of the worst recessions ever is even worse. Fair enough the rate at which pubs are shutting has slowed but we are still on a slippery slope.

If you are concerend about the closure of British pubs and the loss of jobs then please lobby your local MP or contact CAMRA to see how you can help.





Abbot Ale – 5% English Ale

13 12 2010

Abbot Ale is Greene King’s flagship beer and is also one of the first real ales that I ever had the pleasure of trying back in the day.

As such it is probably a little surprising that it has taken me quite so long to work my way round to writing a review on this particular beer.

I guess the biggest reason is that of choice; there are so many other beers out there and I am so keen to try them all (ambitious I know!) that if I am out in the pub I will drink pretty much anything before I consider heading for an Abbot, likewise if I am in an off-license there are literally hundreds of bottles that would come home with me first.

First things first let me state that this is a cask pint from the Hamilton Hall at Liverpool Street Station. It is NOT – note the capital letters –  from one of these cans with a widget in. I don’t really like most ales in a can and Abbot is no exception.

When poured properly, not like my first pint that was slopped into the glass whilst the barmaid was chatting to her friend, you should see a clear golden/amber pint with a decent white head of about 2 fingers width which slowly fades away to a thin layer which stays throughout.

You can quite clearly make out the smell of malts, some fruity sweetness and a touch of hops but everything is fairly muted with no one aroma standing out from the crowd.

The first flavour that really hits you is a sweet toasted maltiness but before that can start to seem a bit too much you get the hops kicking in, there are some floral notes and a slight Earthiness – some have even said it seems a bit skunky on occasion. After the hops have started to recede a little you get the bitterness of the beer coming through along with a slight hint of citrus/orange  as well.

The flavours in Abbot ale are all quite crisp, strong and well-defined the only slight issue that I have is that everything is a little bit mish-mash and all over the shop, for example there is a fairly distinct cinder toffee note that you get right towards the end of the beer and because there is nothing around to balance it or cut through it you are left with a slightly burnt after taste. Not unpleasant by any standards but possibly a little disconcerting to some.

I have an old friend who always accuses me of being more complementary of Abbot Ale than I should be as a result of it being one of my first real ales. He might have a point but then again sod him,  there is something to be said for flavours or smells that take us back to a certain time or place and if Abbot Ale does that for me then so be it!

When all is said and done I still  have my original problem with Abbot; it is a good beer, there is nothing about it that is unpleasant or even less than pleasing but it isn’t a great beer – I wouldn’t ask for a pint to be bought to me on my death-bed.

If you are looking for a good example of an English Ale than Abbot will see you just fine but there are better beers to be had.

4.0/5





Fuller’s London Porter 5.4%

5 12 2010

Fairly recently I wrote a review on Fuller’s London Pride (here) today I turn my attention to another beer from the London based brewery; Fuller’s London Porter.

I’m not going to prattle on at length about the history and origins of porter – trust me I can if you want 😉 but it is great to see a London brewery still leads the way in producing what I and many others deem to be the gold standard of porters.

Ok so where to begin, well it pours very dark brown, not black close enough, there is a slight ruby sheen to a pint if held up directly to the light. The head is egg-shell white and settles out at around 2 fingers, the head fades away a fair bit but leaves a load of lacing on the glass.

In terms of aroma you can quite clearly make out roasted malt, some bitter coffee notes and a hint of toffee or caramel, there is also a slight nuttiness and a hint of hops.

Taste is where Fuller’s have really won through on this one; everything you can pick up in the aroma of the porter is present and more.  The deep roasted malts come to the fore along with the coffee note and that toffee/caramel sweetness.

The chocolate from the roasted malt comes through in the after taste but in a subtle way, it is very much a supporting character in this porter as is the slightly nutty taste. There is a hint of fruitiness that you just about pick up in the background as well, if I had to try and pin it down I would go with raisins or sultanas with a tiny hit of vanilla creeping in as well.

All in all you come away with a rich complex taste that for me ticks all the right boxes, it is rich and malty, slightly sweet and fruity with an underlying bitterness that is refreshing and cuts through the richness which otherwise might be a tad cloying.

In terms of mouthfeel there is only really one word to describe this porter: smooth. In face we are going beyond smooth we are talking baby’s bottoms or the finest velvet gliding across your tongue  – ok well maybe not baby’s bottoms but you get the picture.

A lot of people far more worthy than I have waxed lyrical about Fuller’s London Porter and have even gone so far as to vote it the World’s best porter on several occasions. I don’t often like to follow crowds or ride along with popular opinion but on this occasion I can’t really disagree with any degree of conviction.

There might be better porters out there but if there are I certainly haven’t found them.

5/5





A pictorial tour of UK pub signs

20 11 2010

I happened to stumble across this whilst I was looking up a particular pub on google and thought I should share it as it is a nice collection of pub signs from all around the UK

http://www.flickr.com/photos/30969151@N04/sets/72157615841581170/

 





Beer anyone?

28 09 2010

A fair bit to report from my ongoing home brewing saga so far.

My second batch of beer has now been bottled, well about 6 days ago! So I am eagerly awaiting my first little taste in order to see how my IPA has turned out and whether playing with the choice of fermentables has backfired or not.

Meanwhile my lager is now into it’s third week since being bottled. My brother and I cracked a bottle open on Saturday evening and I think we were both quite pleasantly surprised at how it is coming along.

There is plenty of carbonation in the beer and it is developing a really good looking head, it is a little cloudy but that that will hopefully clear further and should definitely start to lessen when the lager is chucked in the fridge.

The taste is really rather good if I do say so myself, there is a nice bitterness to the beer and a pleasant slight sweetness coupled with a nice hint of maltiness. It isn’t dissimilar to something like an Erdinger in actual fact.

I will be honest enough to say that it has turned out better than I had hoped.

I think somewhere in the back of my mind I was fearing it would turn out to be like those brewbags that you used to be able to purchase at Boots, the ones that you just tipped water into and left on the back of the airing cupboard door for a month or so. As such the pleasant drinkable nature of the beer has bought a smile to my face





Save our pubs!

29 04 2010

The pub has been a familiar part of the landscape of Britain for generations, whether it is a country pub in a rural village or a town centre establishment standing proudly on a corner. In recent years this landscape has been changing and not for the better. In 2006 the rate of pub closures stood at just 2 pubs per week, this is still over 100 pubs a year that were closing their doors but this figure pales into obscurity compared to the most recent results from 2009. As of 2009 there were 52 pubs shutting each week thats a massive 2,377 pubs that are closing in just one year, accounting for approximately 24,000 jobs. This is a simply staggering number and even if the trend were to be reversed we would never see the same number of pubs re-open. To give my own personal example of the sheer scale of pub closures across the country, I have to walk the best part of a mile to get to my nearest pub; this isn’t a case of being picky or choosing to visit this particular spot, it is simply the closest pub to where I live. Now you could be forgiven for thinking that maybe I live in some idyllic rural village and this is simply due to being in a remote location. Unfortunately you couldn’t be more wrong; I am talking about East London and on my way to the pub (The Coppermill) I have to pass 6 pubs that have closed in recent years. It isn’t so long ago that each of these pubs were thriving establishments, now one of them is being turned into flats and the others are just empty, slowly decaying away. During this same period of time the number of branded pubs and cafe-style bars have increased at a rate of 2 per week, it was also found that pubs that had a strong food offering were less likely to face closure. This is all very well and good but not every pub in the country can suddenly transform itself over night into a trendy gastro pub or city centre bar, it is jut not possible. So what has caused this huge upturn in the number of pubs that are calling last orders for the final time? Well there are a number of issues that are affecting Britain’s pubs today. The recession has caused a large downturn in the number of people that are visiting pubs and it is also affecting the average spend of drinkers, regardless of where the pub might be. The smoking ban has also driven people away from pubs, particularly when coupled with the ridiculously low prices and bargains that the large supermarket chains are offering on alcohol, why would you stand outside in the rain to smoke when you could drink cheaper beer at home and smoke inside if you so wished. The ever increasingly tax on beer has also played a part with the increases every year since 2000, bringing us to a point where the tax on a pint of beer costing an average price of £2.70 is now 70 pence. The bottom line is that pubs are closing and will continue to close unless something is done about it. So what is there that you can do to try to stop pub closures? CAMRA are running and supporting a number of campaigns targeted at slowing and reversing the trend of pub closure, you can sign up to support one such campaign “Back the Pub” here. You can also lobby your local MP to see what they are doing in relation to this, if you need contact details for your local MP you can find them here you simply need to enter your post code in order to get the details you need. But the easiest and most rewarding thing to do is visit your local pub, there is no better support then taking a stroll to the pub and enjoying a pint. I’m not saying not to pick up a bargain at the shops or enjoy a drink at home but remember your local as well, you’ll miss it when it is gone.








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