The Bartons Arms, Birmingham, England

bartons arms exterior

The Bartons Arms, Villa, Birmingham, dates from 1901 and is a grade II listed building with a stunning interior. It is owned by Oakham Ales of Peterborough. It serves authentic Thai cuisine of a very high standard. Expect a good range of Oakham’s cask ales, a few guest taps and some cider.

bartons arms interior

The Oakham Citra was in fine form and paired very well with the excellent Thai food.

While we walked here from the Bullring, we opted for a quick taxi ride back into the core of Birmingham, landing near to the Wellington and our hotel.

 

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The Ebrington Arms: Classy Goodness

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Whether you come for a pint of cask ale in the front bar, have exquisite food in the dining room, or just wander out to the walled-garden, wherever you land you can be assured of a great experience at The Ebrington Arms.

Located an easy trip of just two miles from Chipping Campden, this is one great pub, dating from around 1660, that one should get to know intimately.

Pause at the bar and you might be engaged by a local farmer with tales galore to share or locals who love beer and want you to taste the best cask ales available locally, there is usually enlightenment to be had!

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The Ebrington Arms brews its own ales, namely: Yubby Bitter, sliding in at 3.8 percent abv, this copper coloured bitter with strong caramel and malt notes carries through a fruity hop character to a pleasant bitter finish. The ‘Yubby’ is the traditional nickname for the pub; Yawnie Bitter, pops up at 4.4 percent abv, and is a full bodied chestnut coloured ale that is balanced with toffee and malt notes, with a complex hop character driving toward a bitter finish. A ‘Yawnie’ is an affectionate term for a village idiot. Brewed with 100 percent British ingredients, Yubby Goldie Ale, YPA, strides in at 4 percent abv and is a refreshing IPA style with a strong, hoppy flavour.

And they also offer a fine selection of guest ales from local breweries such as Box Steam, Donnington, Goff’s, North Cotswold, Severn Vale, Stanway, Stroud and Uley.

316As if this is not enough enticement, you could book a room, one of five, and stay a night or three!?

The Ebrington Arms
Chipping Campden
Gloucestershire
GL55 6NH

 

The Craft Brewers Conference 2016-Philadelphia, PA

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Over 13,000 eager delegates descended on Philadelphia May 2 to 6 to purchase new brewing systems, services or ingredients, learn more about the art and science of brewing and selling beer, drink beer with their buddies from other states and provinces and explore the City of Brotherly Love.

 

 

The showcase BrewExpo America®, which had more than 800 vendors, was of staggering proportions, the enormity of which made the feet tingle after a tour of most of the .5 million square feet of floor space at the Pennsylvania Convention Center.  newlands bellwoods

 

The seminars were thorough and thoughtfully presented, from a Retailer Panel about Selling Craft Beer to a How to Transition from a Nano to a Microbrewery.

 

The economic impact was estimated to be $23.8 million USD for Philadelphia.

 

With literally hundreds of beer related events in and around the city during CBC16, there was never a shortage of things to do or attend.

 

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The Sierra Nevada Brewing Company did not disappoint with an event highlighting its incredible range of beers brewed in collaboration with a number of breweries across the USA called Beer Camp Across America 2016 Collaborations.

 

The beer and food pairings were brilliantly executed and generously set out around the dedicated dining room at Time, 1315 Sansome Street, for happy CBC attendees.

 

This was another great educational and fun Craft Brewers Conference put on by the Brewers Association that delivered big time on all fronts!

Corinium Ales, Cirencester, Gloucestershire, England: A Pint-Sized Brewery with Big Time Flavours!

Robert Hughey and Nick Waloff

Robert Hughey and Nick Waloff

Recently, while visiting England, I met with Nick Waloff, Waloff Associates Ltd. of Lechlade, Gloucestershire, in the Roman town of Cirencester. After a short pub crawl and a delicious crayfish salad roll lunch and a jar of the hop-driven Steady Rolling Man from Deya Brewing at Eat Wild, I was delighted to visit Lucy Cordrey and Colin Knight of Corinium Ales.

Lucy and Colin brew on a .5 barrel plant in a converted garage on their home property. I was invited into their house for a tasting of The Roman Collection, a trio of bottle conditioned ales they brew. Here I was to discover that their house serves as a storeroom for bottles, packaging, hops and finished beers, while they are looking for a nearby unit in an industrial estate.

Cirencester was second in importance only to London during Roman Britain, hence the link to the Roman Collection. Also of note, construction of the prominent Church of St. John the Baptist in the heart of Cirencester began around 1115.

DSC00193I. Corinium Gold, 4.2 percent abv, is a harvest gold coloured ale that releases fresh malt notes and a hint of hops on first pour. On the palate, malty goodness transcends a gentle hop bitterness. Hops step out of the shadow of malt as the tasting progresses. A luscious hop bitter finish ensues, with a slight spiciness popping out.

II. Centurian, 4.7 percent, is a glassy, pitch black stout having mild chocolate notes residing with roast aromas. On the palate, chocolate and roast are massaged by a soft bitterness that in turn has a hint of spice coming from its core. The finish is led by chocolate flavours enmeshed in roast alongside a subtle hop bitterness. This is a refined stout created with a deft touch of the brewer’s art, or is that hand?

III. Ale Caesar, 5 percent abv, is an amber coloured, non-citric, English style IPA. It has a spicy and hoppy aroma, with a hop forward earthy bitterness that is sustained by a fresh maltiness on the palate. The finish is pleasantly bitter with a kiss of malt to keep it all in balance.

corinium bottles2 - CopyCorinium Ales are showcased on tap at the nearby Marlborough Arms in Cirencester and at the Cirencester and Stroud farmer’s markets.

Cheers to Nick, Lucy and Colin!

The Royal Oak, Gretton, Gloucestershire, Hits all the Right Notes!

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It is always a thrill to find a new and outstanding pub in an area of England, in and around the stunning Cotswolds, which I have traversed and happily explored over the years. Such a pub is The Royal Oak in Gretton, Gloucestershire, near to Cheltenham and Evesham and Broadway, Worcestershire, by car.

Set on two acres, this pub has fine views of the Vale of Evesham with steam trains running by on the Gloucestershire-Warwickshire railway at the foot of the property. Inside you will find warming wood fires, a conservatory, engaging staff, cask ales such as the hop happy Stunner from the Cotswold Spring Brewery in good nick and precise food with tempting flavours.

pints gretton

I had the roast Gressingham duck breast with Dauphinoise potato, roast root vegetables, crispy coated poached egg and red wine jus one time. And on another visit I had a delectable Sunday roast of pink pork and a dessert of sticky toffee pudding.

view out Gretton

I returned to The Royal Oak, which dates from around 1830, a number of times during a three week stay in Broadway because the atmosphere and all the amenities collectively made it feel just right.

Chicago: The Public House

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The Public House (Gastropub and Dining Hall) is an expansive and sharp looking downtown bar with a front patio, which can be viewed from the inside from tables situated just behind folding glass windows. There is a fine tap list to behold alongside some tasty treats on the menu.

On the beer front, there is plenty of variety, from West Coast IPA from Green Flash in California, to Fist City from the Revolution Brewing Company located in Chicago.

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At the back of the house there is an unusual display of inverted green glass bottles contained in a wooden framework and back-lit to good effect. Here at the back you will also find eight-people stations with three taps for drinks, be it beer, wine or whatever you may want to choose from the menu on the computer.

There also an upstairs seating area for special functions and spill-over. While it was certainly a hit with the younger crowd, older people would not feel out of place during the noon hour, though this may change after dark.
Check them out at 400 North State.

Cesky Krumlov: World Heritage Site

Krčma V Šatlavské, Cesky Krumlov, Czech Republic

DSCN0242On the train, actually more of a three-coach tram, one being empty, trundling up a steep incline toward Cesky Krumlov a World Heritage Site in the hills of the Czech Republic, I am told by a local that there is one place, one bar, that he considered to be the very best in the world. Whether or not this is true, I am certainly hooked on the concept of putting his comment to the test.

I find my hotel and quickly dump my bags in the room. On the way out, I see a local tourist office and drop by to make an inquiry as to where the Tavern in Satlavska Street (actually Gothic dungeons of the old town prison) is located. A smiling official says it’s just up the street, turn left as you go out the door and you’ll see it on your right. Not far away, I turn into the bar, find a seat just left of the door, and order a glass of the original Budweiser, Budvar, known for years as Czechvar over in North America due to an on-going legal battle with Anheuser-Busch over rights to the Budweiser name. This has been settled in AB’s favour with the purchase of the Budvar Brewery. Budvar is still a refreshing brew with a good hop quotient matched to a sturdy backbone of malt.DSCN0235

To my right, about half way along the opposite wall, is an open wood fire beneath a four foot by three foot black iron grille, which has two levels of cooking grilles, both on rollers. The waiter, dressed in medieval attire, delivers my beer and then slides over to flip chicken breasts, wild game, spit-roasted pig, and thick sausages on the grilles. He then delivers more beer to other tables, goes to the kitchen to retrieve cooked potatoes and garnish to complement the almost ready meats. Plating the meat, he delivers the dishes to table, returns to my table to take my food order, the mixed grill, and he sets off to tend to the grille again. He rolls out the two grilles, pokes the embers around a bit and then places a couple of logs on the fire, returning the grilles in place after the initial flare-up has subsided.

I return on another night to find the place packed, and find a seat in the caverns nearer to the back of the place. This time both grilles are tightly packed with grilling meat, mainly featuring meats for the mixed grill. It is an impressive sight indeed.

Was the Krčma V Šatlavské (Tavern in the dungeons) actually the best bar or pub I have ever been in over the years? I am reserving judgement as I am quite certain I will be visiting other fine establishments in the coming years. It was certainly a fine and unique place. The food and beer were both top notch. The atmosphere was warm, inviting and genuine. The hard working staff were friendly and helpful. The total experience was fabulous and I have a certain longing to return and sample its wares again. I very much admire the hard working waiters who not only are servers but cooks as well. But with so many other great places around the world, to name just one place seems so unfair, unfair to all the other great pubs and bars awaiting my first visit. And still others that demand a return visit. I await.

http://www.outsideprague.com/cesky_krumlov/satlava_tavern.html

The Left Field Brewery, Toronto: Hits it Big time

DSC00158The Left Field Brewery of Toronto has come out swinging for the fences with beers such as Resin Bag, 6.9 percent abv and 50 IBUs, an American style IPA. Dressed with stylized home plate-shaped neck labels with illustrative art on the flip side, there is nothing but big league here on deck.

Resin Bag pours a rustic burnished chestnut colour, and it is way better than a resin bag on the mound, as it is a hop bag full of fresh green aromatic hops. It leads off with a starburst of hop bitterness down the line, sliding safely in to second with a well-played hop dynamic. The sprint to third is as easy as another sip of this hoppy brew. The finish is sharp and decisively bitter, with an un-tagged run over the plate. This is a fine and well executed beer of the style, that is, without malt overstepping its role as a sturdy backbone for the plentiful hops.
Well, I have to say I wasn’t that fond of this beer in its original incarnation brewed at an away-facility, but now with home field advantage, they’ve nailed it to the fence! Leftfieldbrewery.ca
DSC00157Another beer in the hearty Left Field Brewery lineup is Maris Pale Ale, striding in at 4.5 percent abv, and yes, obviously brewed with Maris Otter malt. It’s brewed in honour of Roger Maris who hit 61 home runs in 1961, breaking the record of legendary NYY Babe Ruth. Maris, while not revered by some Yankee fans, did get the job done. Maris PA delivers, much like its namesake, an early hit of malt that is capably backed up by a smack of hop bitterness in a sustained attack that is both balanced and forthright. Free of constraints, Maris clears the bases and trots home to a warm reception early in his career.

Originally appeared as part of my column in the Great Lakes Brewing News, June, July 2015.

The Bow Bar, Edinburgh, Scotland: Top of the Table

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The Bow Bar is a classic single room ale house that uses traditional Scottish air pressure to dispense its ever changing range of cask ales. There is often a mini-cask fest on tap, as there was when I was there, causing me to attentively watch the chalk board when one ale was being rubbed out and its replacement cask name and style was chalked-in. Cairngorm IPA and Trade Winds come to mind as a splendid pints of real ale.

It is a friendly upright bar, meaning there are only a few table and chairs scattered about. On my first of several visits a couple obligingly gave my wife and I seats near to the bar before they departed.

Crime novelist Ian Rankin can sometimes be found here, as I am quite sure he can be spotted at any number of other great pubs in this fine city, such as the Oxford Bar, where he is known to frequent when he is not on tour promoting his latest crime novel. I didn’t see Rankin at the Bow Bar but I did meet him a few months later in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, where he autographed a book for me following a lively question and answer session, which was live to air.

We had a laugh when I said: “Ian, when I was in Edinburgh in the summer I didn’t see you at the Oxford or the Bow Bar.”