Thursday, 17 November 2016

Crisis 2016

Crisis 2016 - Saturday 5th November 2016

This trip is now firmly on my list of annual pilgrimages. The show is a fantastic wargaming festival that draws in people from all over Europe. This is not really the blog for wargaming, see my other blog Little Odo's Grand Days Out for that, although again I have been very lax lately in updating it. Things will improve in the coming months though, I promise.

Anyway, back to the main thrust of this blog entry. The night before the show, after our long car and train journey to Antwerp, No.1 son and I headed into town after dumping our bags at the hotel for a bite to eat. Here are a few shots of Antwerp Cathedral, only a fifteen minute walk from our hotel and the show hangar...

After a quick walk around the town square (and it was quick as it was wet, windy and cold) we found a lovely Argentinian steak house. We had a wonderful meal and I was able to wash it down with a couple of bottles of dark beer. I think it was a Duvel, but cannot remember now. All I can say is though, that it was very tasty and accompanied the steak meal very well.

The evening following the show, we returned to the hangar for the after show party. After yet another fantastic buffet I went onto the beers. First up was a rather tasty Trappist ale. This weighed in at a hefty 9.6% alcohol by volume. Unfortunately I didn't have time to take too many notes about this beer as it was swiftly followed by another.

After the Westmalle Trappist beer I moved onto a beer that I thought would be a little weaker. I chose a bottle of Duvel thinking that it would be a slightly weaker brew (Duvel in the UK is usually around 8.5%) but I was surprised upon reading the label on the side of the bottle that it was 12.6%

I questioned this with my Belgian friends and they laughed and told me that they export the weak stuff to us and keep the good stuff for themselves!


This is just a catch up post. I have been neglecting the blog a bit recently due to so much going on at home and at work (my current shifts run quite late now, so my evenings are much shorter for pursuing personal stuff). I am still making notes of my drinking sessions and so on but I am finding it very difficult to get to the keyboard to write up my forays into hops and hostelry.

Just to keep things in order, I thought I would mention a beer that I pick up at my local Aldi super market each year for Hallowe'en. It is advertised as a dunkelweizen style beer but is more like a British beer. That aside, it is a very tasty pint and went down very well with my evening meal on Hallowe'en.

Brewery: Wychwood Brewery
Location: 10-12, Eagle Maltings, Eagle Industrial Estate, The Crofts, Witney OX28 4DP
ABV : 4.4%
Notes: a deep, dark brown ale with a strong biscuity flavour

The Wetherspoon's Real Ale Festival Day 11

Another day another trek to find more beers on the Wetherspoon's Real Ale Festival list. This time MB and I decided to try further afield in the hope that we could track down those last few elusive ales. Alas, a flood in Crayford and the distances involved at the behest of public transport meant we were limited to two pubs in the end instead of the three we hoped to get around.

The Great Harry - Saturday 22nd October 2016

79 Wellington St, Woolwich, London SE18 6PQ
I have not been out for a drink in this part of Woolwich for a long time. I have been to the Dial Arch on a couple of occasions but not actually along the main high street area. Again, this is a large pub that seems to cater well for families. From the decor, it is hard to believe it burned down only a few years back. I am glad to see it back up and running and full of customers.

Beers drunk on this visit: 3 of those we had already tried previously including the Deuchars Imperial, the Kentish Saison and another that I forgot to make a note of.

The Flying Boat
36-42 Spital St, Dartford, Kent DA1 2DT
I have seen this building in many guises over the years. A Wetherspoon's pub is its best incarnation though. The evening was going fine until our journey down here - a major flooding event in Crayford meant that buses were on a long diversion and thus we missed out on getting to one more pub. We were also unable to get any Festival ales as they were all "finished". Oh well. We decided to go for the Rockin Robin brewery ales instead. Unfortunately, a fight in the pub (the first I have seen in over three decades in a pub) marred things a little, but I have to take my hat off to the security staff, they stepped in very quickly and stopped the fracas from becoming worse than it actually was.

Beers drunk on this visit:

1) Blizzard of Oz (4.5%) - Rockin Robin Brewery, Maidstone, Kent - a rich, dark, traditional winter warmer
2) Really Rockin (5%) - Rockin Robin Brewery, Maidstone, Kent - a dry, hoppy English Pale Ale

This was the last day of the Festival. Unfortunately, we were unable to get to sample the delights of all the ales on offer. Better luck next time when they run their next one in the New Year.

The Wetherspoon's Real Ale Festival Day 9

The Knight Templar - Thursday 20th October 2016

95 Chancery Lane, London WC2A 1DT
This is a pub I have not been to for many years. It used to be an old bank and thus the decor is rather fantastic inside. Unfortunately, the same could not be said for one or two of the clientel - rude, brash and strutting around as if they owned the place. I was knocked into on three occasions by the same person without a single apology. Luckily none of my beer was spilled but this one particular individual really spoilt this pub for me.

Beers drunk on this visit :
1) Epic Brew (4.5%) - Wadworth Brewery, Wiltshire - A golden, spicy fruit flavoured bitter
2) Northern Knight (4.2%) - Maxim Brewery, County Durham - A blonde easy drinking citrusy beer

The Penderel Oak
283-288 High Holborn, Holborn, London WC1V 7HP
I have only previously been in this pub once or twice but I have walked past it many times, especially in my last job when I used to go for a walk every lunch time, weather permitting, seeing the main sites of the area (especially Lincoln's Inn Fields).

The atmosphere in this Wetherspoons was much more benign than the previous pub. It also sold a very tasty burger along with the beers on offer for the festival.

1) Phoenix Red (5.5%) - Castle Rock Brewery, Nottinghamshire - A hoppy, crisp mahogany beer
2) Old Crafty Hen (6.5%) - Greene King Brewery, Suffolk - A strong, malty fruity amber ale
3) Sloe Porter (5.0%) - Adnams Brewery, Suffolk -A dark porter with a tart, fruity flavour

The Shakespeare's Head
Africa House, 64-78 Kingsway, London WC2B 6AH
Again, a pub I have not been in for many years. This is a very large pub again and has plenty of places to sit or stand. The bar staff were very friendly and the beer was nicely poured. Unfortunately, they only had several beers that we had already had during our festival visits to other pubs. However, we did manage to grab one that was on the list.

1) Pilsner (3.8%) - Liberation Brewery, Channel Islands - A clean, crisp sweet lager - yes, lager!

Not part of the festival
1) Norfolk Nog (4.6%) - Woodfordes Brewery, Norwich, Norfolk -a smooth, rich old fashioned style ale

And this just leaves 13 ales to go!

4) Camerons - Press Gang (4.0%)
5) JW Lees - British Autumn Ale (4.1%)
9) Everard's - Pitch Black (4.3%)
10) Rooster's - Hope & Glory (4.3%)
11) Bentspoke - Braddon Bitter (4.5%)
12) Purity - Pure Era (4.5%)
14) Theakston - Vanilla Stout (4.5%)
20) Arundel - Coffee Milk Stout (5.0%)
21) Birrificio Foglie D'Erba - Hot Night at the Village (5.0%)
22) RCH - Return from the Ashes (5.0%)
23) Titanic - S.E.A. (5.0%)
25) Brewster's - Hop Quest (5.2%)
29) Truman's - Sampson Strong (5.8%)

The Wetherspoon's Real Ale Festival Day 7

The Sir John Hawkshaw - Tuesday 18th October 2016

Cannon Street Station, Cannon St, London EC4N 6AP
Apologies for the lack of updates recently, life has just got in the way of me getting to my keyboard.

The festival was still in full swing when I went out this evening. This was a spur of the moment visit to the pub just so I could chalk up another couple of quick wins in the festival ale list.

Not much more to add other than the fact that each half was accompanied by a bag of spicy snacks.

Beers drunk on this visit :

1) Recreationale (4.7%) - Terrapin Brewery, Georgia, USA - a dry golden ale with pine, citrusy flavour with a malty after-taste
2) Deuchars Imperial (5.5%) - Caledonian Brewery, Edinburgh, Scotland - a pale golden beer with a crisp hoppy flavour