Tuesday, 31 May 2016

The Crook Log

The Crook Log - Friday 27th May 2016

Crook Log, Bexleyheath, Kent DA6 8EQ

Work had been really busy to date as I have been working on a big project that came to a head today. As I was pleased to have completed about 75% of the work and I had just been paid, I thought I would treat the wife and kids to a meal out. The Toby Carvery at The Crook Log does a reasonably priced meal (carvery) just a three minute walk from home.

Whilst waiting for my wife to arrive, I took a look at the drinks menu and saw that they now stock cask ales. "Yes!", was the thought that came to mind, so I duly ordered a can of Brewdog's Dead Pony Club ale. It went down rather rapidly, so before the main course was out, I had ordered up my second can. I have learned not to go for the beer on tap (usually London Pride) as they do not seem to care for it very well and it is nearly always a bit off.

Just as we were finishing our main course, everyone was ready for another drink, so I ordered in what was required and decided to go for the other cask ale on offer; a bottle of Sierra Nevada Pale Ale. They also do a non-alcoholic (well, 0.005%) can of ale, but I decided I would leave that for another day when perhaps I am at a Toby Carvery and need to drive afterwards.

Beers drunk on this visit:
1) Dead Pony Ale (3.8%) - Brewdog brewery, Ellon, Aberdeenshire - an American session pale ale
2) Pale Ale (5.6%) - Sierra Nevada Brewing Co, Chico, California, USA - a sweet, hoppy, amber ale

Number of visits: several

The Kings Arms

The Kings Arms - Thursday 19th May 2016

156 Broadway, Bexleyheath, Kent DA6 7DW

After another gruelling run this evening I was in need of some liquid refreshment. Again, Mrs. Odo made me a lovely meal upon my return from the run and asked if I was popping out again for a pint with MB. I sent him a quick text and he agreed to meet me after he finished work at around 9pm.

I decided to start the evening off with a pint of Guinness and pretty much stayed on it all night until the end of the evening when we decided to go for a bottle of Newcastle Brown Ale. The Kings Arms had changed their standard real ale on tap to Flying Scotsman, but for some reason we kept missing out on ordering it. The first pint was poured aftre beng asked what we wanted but the second pint was pulled just as we were finishing our fist pint. I think that is a good sign of being a regular.

As we left for the evening, we carried on our conversation outside the pub for about an hour. The bar staff had tidied up and bid us "Goodnight" before we decided to head on home.

Beers drunk on this visit:
1) Guinness Cold (4.2%) - Guinness Brewery, Dublin, Ireland - a chilled dry stout
2) Newcastle Brown Ae (4.7%) - John Smith's Brewery, Tadcaster, North Yorkshire - a red-brown strong ale

Number of visits: dozens

Saturday, 14 May 2016

21st Birthday

Kings Arms - Thursday 12th May 2016
156 Broadway, Bexleyheath, Kent DA6 7DW
I had been out for a long run with NW this evening and got home to a great pasta meal prepared by Mrs. Odo. However, after the last few nights out I was still in the mood for some great beer and rock music. On the off-chance I texted MB to ask if he was available, and as luck would have it, he was free.

We met at the Kings Arms at around 9pm. On the way in we noticed bunting and several 21 balloons. At the bar, whilst ordering our pints, we found out that one of the regular barstaff was having his birthday. In fact both of the usual barstaff were off tonight and the bar was run by the landlady and two other young ladies, one of whom served me on my brother-in-law's birthday pub crawl a few months back.

We started off on the Caledonian ale, but it was a little yeasty by the time we hit the bottom of our glasses. This beer has been quite hit-and-miss since we have begun drinking in here regularly. I imagine that it might just be our timing though, as we always seem to get to drink this ale just as it is going "off". Anyway, we moved swiftly onto the Guinness Extra Cold for the rest of the evening. This beer has grown on me recently, and makes for a nice change on occasion.

Anyway, the rock music pounded out of the speakers and the pub was a lot more packed than usual due to the birthday bash. There was a great atmosphere in here this evening, and the barstaff were very friendly, both those behind the bar and the usual two who were celebrating the birthday.

Beers drunk on this visit :
1) Edinburgh Castle (4.1%) - Caledonian Brewery, Edinburgh, Scotland - a malty, hoppy, smooth ruby ale
2) Extra Cold (4.2%) - Guinness Brewery, Dublin, Ireland - a chilled dry stout
Number of visits : several

Bavarian Beerhouse, Tower Hill

The Princess of Wales - Tuesday 10th May
27 Villiers Street, London, Greater London, WC2N 6ND

SH put out the call for another trip to the Bavarian Beerhouse in Tower Hill. MB, RT and I dutifully answered that call. However, we decided to meet up at the Princess of Wales first before heading down to the main event where we would meet SH.

I had forgotten that his was a Nicholsons pub and on arrival at the bar to purchase my pint I noticed that it was the 4th birthday celebration of one of their ales. Typically I missed this until after I had bought and paid for my drink. Ho hum.

Still, for the first time ever, when visiting this pub, there was no massive crowd out on the pavement and there was actually a table free when we arrived - nice. There is always a great buzz around this pub and the selection of beers certainly adds to the air of happiness.

Beers drunk on this visit :
1) Sambrook Session Pale Ale (3.4%) - Sambrook Brewery, Battersea, London - a golden session pale ale, easy to drink with a light bitter after taste

Number of visits : 1st / several previous

Bavarian Beerhouse, Tower Hill - Tuesday 10th May

9 Crutched Friars, London EC3N 2AU

Back to one of my favourite haunts in London. The beer is good, the food is tasty and the staff are friendly and very knowledgable about the refreshments on offer.

We all started off on the Krombacher Dunkel beer but after our food (I had the schnitzel, MB and SH had the spicy sausage platter, and RT had potato salad in a bun?) RT moved onto the standard weissbier. The beers slipped down very easily, so I am glad I stuck to the Krombacher rather than the much stronger Erdinger Dunkel which would have led to a rather serious head the next day.

Our waitress was Lina again. We have had her now on three separate occasions. She is always so very helpful, keeping an eye out for us old duffers and making sure we are well-oiled all night.

Beers drunk on this visit :
1) Dunkel (4.3%) - Krombacher Brauerei, Kreuztal-Krombach, Germany - a sweet, malty medium strength dark beer
Number of visits : several

RT had to leave bang on time (our table was only booked until 9:30pm) as he had to return to Luton but the rest of us finished our beers at a more leisurely pace and then headed over the road to the Cheshire Cheese; SH wanted to catch the end of the West Ham vs. Man. Utd. football match - the last ever at Upton Park - West Ham won, so gave the fans and stadium a good send off. I have drunk in this pub before (prior to a previous visit to the Bavarian Beerhouse), but as I only quaffed a soft drink I am only going to give this pub a passing mention. There were several beers on tap and the bar was busy considering it was midweek.

Beers on Free Comic Book Day

Free Comic Book Day - 7th May 2016

Today I was granted a full day pass from Mrs. Odo so I spent the day "up town". I visited the Free Comic Book Day at Orbital Comics where I was able to get a signed 2000AD FCBD 2016 comic in US format for my collection and an unsigned of the same comic to read. I was also able to pick up several other free comics from both Orbital and Forbidden Planet.

After satiating my comic book hunger, I found I was rather famished. So, discount voucher in hand, I visited the Gourmet Burger Kitchen in Frith Street. I had a great "Taxidriver" burger with chunky, skin-on fries as a side, washed down with a peanut butter milk shake. It is a little pricey but very tasty. I think out of all the current UK burger chains I am aware of (and tried), Byron comes out on top for me.

I still had half an hour to kill before going to visit the Crobar (it openened at 4pm), so I wandered around looking for another pub to relax in. I didn't wander too far before I found a pub I have not been in for many, many years.

The Pillars of Hercules
7 Greek St, London W1D 4DF
I forgot that this pub plays some great rock tracks as background noise. I actually ended up staying in here a bit longer than the half-an-hour I initially envisaged, nursing my drink whilst watching the world go by. They had five ales on tap (but six pumps), and a great top shelf. I will most definitely be heading back here again. In fact, see later post, I suggested this to my rugby mates who I usually visit the Bavarian Beerhouse with.

Beers drunk on this visit:

1) Hercules Ale (4.2%) - Shepherd Neame, Fabersham, Kent - a strong but tasty session bitter

Number of visits : 1st / several previous

The Crobar
17 Manette St, London W1D 4AS
I am on a real rock revival these days, so when I planned to visit the comic show, I wanted to check out a rock bar in London for future visits. I decided on the Crobar after several internet searches. I was not disappointed. Even at just after 5pm, the music was pumping; loads of rock anthems from every era. There were only a couple of minor quibbles; the toilets are gross, I mean really gross, and the beers on offer are all bottled only , but at a reasonable price considering it is central London.

I managed to grab a corner table so I could people watch, but wound up chatting to a lovely American couple from Boston. We passed a good hour and a bit chatting about London town and the state of heavy rock music these days.

Beers drunk on this visit :

1) Hop on or Die (6.8%) - DOA Brewery, Mexico - a VERY strong IPA
Number of visits : 1st

I was due to meet a few of my friends at the Bexley Beer Festival at Dartfordians Rugby Club later on in the evening, but on arrival at the club I found that the beer tent was closed; they had sold out earlier that day.

I quickly conferred with MB who arrived shortly after I had and contacted NW who was still on his way to meet us at the Railway Tavern in Bexley Village. I had seen a new chalkboard sign outside the pub earlier that day whilst on my way to the train station that mentioned that they now had a slection of real ales on tap.

The Railway Tavern
38 Bexley High St, Bexley, Greater London DA5 1AH
We all arrived within a few minutes of each other and grabbed a table by the window. They had a fairly good selection of beers on tap, as well as the usual mass produced stuff, including the new Guinness ale. I have to admit that I did not really like this beer. It tasted like it contained artificial sweeteners like those found in many soft drinks/squashes that can be bought from the supermarket. I cannot see this beer tempting lager drinkers over from the dark side. The Bexley ales though were a different kettle of fish and several pints of these went down very smoothly throughout the evening.

The evening's entertainment left a heck of a lot to be desired unfortunately. Normally I am all for live music (I have been to hundreds of concerts and countless other live musical events over the years; my father and I have played in many bands between us) but the three acts consisted of two solo artists and a duo. There was no depth to their sound (like there would have been with a full band) and the songs they sang and played were rather poorly rendered.

Beers drunk on this visit :
1) Golden Acre (4.0%) - Bexley Brewery, Erith, Kent - a great session golden ale
2) BOB (4.2%) - Bexley Brewery, Erith, Kent - an easy to drink pale ale
3) Golden Ale (4.5%) - Guinness Brewery, Dublin, Ireland - a saccharine flavoured attempt to lure lager drinkers to sample ale

Number of visits : 1st / several previous

Thursday, 5 May 2016

11th Bexley Beer Festival - 5th-7th May 2016

11th Bexley Beer Festival at Dartfordians Rugby Club - 5th May 2016

Bourne Rd, Bexley DA5 1LW
I went for my usual Thursday evening run with NW and CM but it ended a little early as CM aggravated a thigh injury. Whilst he returned to his car, NW and I finished our run and then met up with him a little later. We had half-decided to go for a beer after the run, but in the end it was just CM and I that turned up at the festival.

The entry fee has gone up a bit since I last went two years ago (£5.50 now), but you still get to keep the souvenir glass. It was quite busy in the main beer tent, but it wasn't heaving; I imagine it will be a lot busier tomorrow and Saturday (if they do not sell out completely this year). I nodded a greeting to the landlord of the Door Hinge on arrival and CM ran into his son's rugby referee friend after we had grabbed our first beer.

As we had just finished our run we had quite a thirst on and the first drink went down a little too quickly. The second and third beers were taken at a more reasonable pace. We stuck to low strength beers on this session as we both had work the next day.

I should be returning with the other two of the Three Muskabeers on Saturday after a planned trip to a comic convention (Free Comic Book Day) at Orbital Comics to try a few more. I will most likely be trying a new rock pub (for me anyway) that is just up the road from the comic shop too, so I will report back on that part of my day out too.

Beers drunk on this visit :
1) Ruby Session Ale (3.7%) - Bexley Brewery, Erith, Kent - a great session bitter
2) Marion Pale Ale (3.8%) - Lincoln Green Brewery, Hucknall, Nottinghamshire - a hoppy, citrus flavoured pale ale
3) Dave (3.8%) - Great Heck Brewery, Great Heck, North Yorkshire - a dark malty bitter

Number of visits: 1st / a few previously (8th, 9th at least, as I don't always keep the glasses)

Monday, 2 May 2016

New beer from Iron Maiden

Iron Maiden, the great British NWOBHM rock band, will be releasing a new beer later this year; September 2016 - just in time for my birthday! It looks like it will be a very strong porter.

I got wind of it on the Kerrang website here

I for one am looking forward to it as I have liked the previous ales in the Trooper range. However, I think this will call for a half rather than a pint. I rewally hope the Kings Arms stocks it, even if only temporarily so I can listen to Maiden whilst supping their new ale.

Sunday, 1 May 2016

Mayday Tipples

Mayday Tipples

I have not been out for a beer in a little while. I missed out on a couple of drinks invites this Thursday just gone; one with my usual real ale drinking buddies at a new pub that has opened in the nearby town of Woolwich (which I would have dearly loved to have visited) and the other was with GW after work in London. I was already booked out for a run, my first since before Christmas due to calf injuries, with my running mates (who also enjoy a beer on occasion), and I do not like to cancel appointments even if something else comes along that I may prefer doing at that moment.

Anyway, to make up for this I got a few beers in from the local supermarket to celebrate May Day. My wife made a fantastic pork roast with all the trimmings and as an accompaniment I drank a bottle of Franziskaner Weissbier.

Looking at the bottle, the brewery has been in existence since 1363, which puts even our longest running brewery, Shepherd Neame (founded 1698, but brewing has occurred on the site since 1573), to shame. The beer is brewed in Munich and adheres to the Bavarian Purity Law of 1516, where the only ingredients in the beer must be barley, hops and water.

I have drunk this beer (5.0%) on several occasions and I love its golden appearance. It is slightly effervescent and throws a great head when poured. It is slightly sour (read citrusy), but I like this flavour anyway, and the wheat and yeast does come through too.

I am off to the Bavarian Beerhuse again with a bunch of mates on Tuesday 10th May, so I am looking forward to some more Erdinger Weissbier and maybe a pork knuckle - their speciality. We should also be discussing our next foray to the Oktoberfest - we have the hotel booked but flights are proving a problem at the moment. I am sure we will get them sorted before we go though.