Congratulations to Five Points, Fuller’s, Sambrook’s, Wimbledon and Vale (Aylesbury) breweries who all won awards in the London and South East regional round of CAMRA’s Champion Beer of Britain competition. Those beers that won Gold Awards will go forward to the final judging at the Great British Beer Festival in August. Certificates are awarded for the regional round and I will no doubt report on the presentations in due course.
YOUNG MEMBERS TEST OUT BEER FROM THE WESTWAY
Fresh from their rebrand (which captures my overwhelming thought at any young CAMRA event – ‘Here for the Beer’) Portobello Brewery may look a bit different, but their beers are as great as ever. Welcomed by Rob Jenkins who founded the brewery and is now the managing director, we were swiftly given a glass (some of us were lucky enough to get a new brand glass) and told to get tasting straight from the unfiltered tanks; yummy! Their London Pilsner and Westway Pale Ale are firm favourites, but there’s something for everyone.
My number one on this visit was the Chestnut Ale; perfect for a cold night in February on an industrial estate! Their beers can now be found in more pubs across London than ever before because the brewery has also branched out and purchased a few pubs in the last year or so. This includes one you’d often find me in, King & Co in Clapham, which always has a least ten kegs and five cask lines at any time (if not more). It’s Rob’s kind nature and love of beer that really makes a visit to Portobello worthwhile; he’s passionate and imbued in every aspect of the beer culture. Thanks to Rob and the team for having us. Cheers!
. . . AND ALSO IN WANDSWORTH!
Agreat turnout of over 30 young members accompanied by a handful of assorted ‘others’ met with anticipation in Wandsworth on a cold February evening. We were visiting John Hatch’s private nano-brewery on the old Young’s Ram Brewery site. Entering the brewery through a half disguised door, complete with sliding peep-hole, we were all pleasantly surprised to find ourselves in the former tack room (complete with many original fittings) of the former Young’s brewery. Thankfully, four handpumps have been added to this room and, they were serving four bespoke brews for this event.
The beer and joy flowed in equal measure and a fantastic time was had by all. We were lucky to bear witness to the living history that constitutes this brewery and were equally blessed to have had a short speech and Q & A session from John Hatch himself. His efforts to maintain the brewing tradition of this corner of south London are remarkable and he has fed back to me that he too really enjoyed the evening. Thanks everyone for coming.
RINGING THE BELL
On a recent Wednesday afternoon, members of CAMRA’s Kingston & Leatherhead branch had a tour of the pubs of Molesey, just into Surrey. We met at the Royal Oak, moving on to the Cannon, Europa, Poyntz Arms and finally the Bell for the main business of the day. This 500 year old coaching inn, situated opposite St Mark’s church in Bell Road, has been voted the branch’s Winter Pub of the Season and, apart from the beer of course, we were there to present licensee Emily Balyova with the customary certificate. This is a pub that, in the view of the locals, has in the last year returned to the standard that Emily had achieved before she was absent on maternity leave.
Adrian Palmer made the presentation to Emily while branch members enjoyed a selection of ales from Greene King, Wimbledon and Hogs Back.
NORTH LONDON PUB OF THE SEASON
Many pubs off the main drag are suffering with low awareness and footfall which, often leads to their closure, but nothing can be further from the truth for the Colonel Fawcett. Hidden in the back streets of Camden (but only a few minutes’ walk from Camden Road Station), this pub has gone from strength to strength since it was taken over by the small Tidalwave pub chain in 2011. Finally, after several years of consistency, the pub has won recognition for the quality service and beer it provides by receiving CAMRA North London branch’s Pub of the Season award, beating hundreds of other pubs in the area.
Colin Coyne, Chair of North London branch, commented, “What makes this pub successful is that it has tried to reach out to all parts of the community. Alongside its range of good real ales, it runs a comedy club, a pub quiz, live music and an infamous gin event once a year to celebrate the death of Colonel Fawcett. We wish the pub ongoing success for the future. It’s a great example how hidden gems can be successful with the right attitude.”
Paul Evans from Tidalwave explained his views as to what made the pub successful, “It’s all down to customer service, the way we interact and value the customer. Training and selecting staff with the right attitude is key. It’s nice to be recognised that we are getting it right.”
The pub dates from the early 1800s and was previously known as the Camden Arms. It became the Colonel Fawcett when Tidalwave took over. Colonel Fawcett’s claim to fame is that nearby in 1843 he contested one of the last fatal duels in England, against his brother-in-law, Lieutenant Monro. The colonel lost and died upstairs in the pub. His ghost is reputed to still drink at the hostelry!
For more details, visit their website.
SUCCESS FOR UTTER NUTTER
On 1 February a party of members from CAMRA’s Kingston & Leatherhead Branch travelled to the Kissingate Brewery near Horsham in Sussex to present them with their certificate for winning the Beer of the Festival award at the 2019 Kingston Beer & Cider Festival. The winning beer was their Utter Nutter Stout.
Chris Miller, branch vice chairman, presented the certificate to Gary and Bunny Lucas, proprietors of the brewery.
SOUTH NORWOOD BEER FESTIVAL
Kissingate Brewery also did well at the recent South Norwood Beer Festival. They took the first and third places in the Beer of the Festival voting with Blackeyed Susan (strong mild – 6.8% ABV) and perennial favourite Black Cherry mild (4.2% ABV) respectively. Sandwiched between was Lymestone Brewery’s Cherry Stone (5.2% ABV). Their brewery is located in Stone in Staffordshire.
Compiled by Tony Hedger, except where credited