Wednesday, 26 February 2014

Beer and Dieting Week 8

I am now nearly halfway in my planned 17 week diet and I am pleased to say I am over halfway to my weight loss target of 30 pounds.  Another 2.5 pounds have been shed over the past two weeks which brings my total to 18.5 pounds.

Half-term did throw up a few difficulties as we went away for a weekend where we ate out twice and add to that a takeaway Indian meal and you see the problem (it tasted really good!).  Despite all of that though I managed to lose a solitary pound in week 7 and then I got back on track this week to lose a further 1.5 pounds.    

Let's talk beer now then.  The two weeks have been spent delivering the latest copy of the regional CAMRA publication Sussex Drinker to a few pubs and it would be rude to go into one and not drink.  Starting in the town of Midhurst I had a swift half of Harveys Old Ale (4.3% ABV) in The Swan.  This superb tied house is the only shining light in a town that is devoid of good beer.  Harveys Old Ale is a timeless winter classic that I simply adore.

Moving swiftly on I popped into the Royal Oak, an Enterprise-owned pub just south of Midhurst on the A286 Chichester Road.  Despite the tie, the owner is a doing a good job at trying to get in a decent beer selection and I had a half of the house beer (Snifter) that is brewed by Hogs Back.  This is probably HBB under a different name but only the brewery could answer that one.  It is certainly a pleasant pale bitter with a nice balance of malt and hops.  Another Locale was available from Upham as well as the dreaded Doom Bar.  This pub is set back off the road and the grounds are vast and it has probably one of the best beer gardens in Sussex.  Inside the high ceilings give a feeling of space with lots of modern comforts to enjoy a dish from the locally sourced menu.        

A short distance away from the Royal Oak on the opposite side of the A286 is The Greyhound.  This pub is much more rustic with a genuine country pub feel.  I first visited this pub way back in the 80s when it was a Gales pub and for many years my wife and I came here for Sunday lunch on a regular basis.  It hasn't changed much in all that time and the beer selection is still pretty decent with Locales usually available from King and/or Langhams alongside Hop Back Summer Lightning and that bloody awful Doom Bar.  On this occasion I had a half of King Horsham Best (3.8% ABV), a decent malty bitter.          

As you travel further along the A286 you pass through the picturesque Downland village of Singleton, which is now sadly lacking a decent pub, before coming to the hamlet of West Dean, home to The Dean.  Here you complete the hat-trick with yet another handpump flogging Doom Barrrrgghhhhhh.  Thankfully this excellent pub has one or two Locales to enjoy and on this occasion I enjoyed a lovely pint of Downlands Pale (4.1% ABV).  This pale hoppy refreshing pint was a joy.        

I completed my deliveries of Sussex Drinker closer to home with a fantastic pint of Gales HSB at the Royal Oak in Lagness which I described in a post last week so I will not mention it again.  Just click here to read it if you wish.

It's been a busy fortnight for CAMRA activities as we had our annual meeting to discuss and vote on the entries for the 2015 Good Beer Guide.  The meeting was held at The Bull in Chichester and the results are of course top secret until the GBG comes out in September.  This genuine free house had a full selection of Locales available and my favourite of the night was the Black Jack Porter (4.6% ABV) from Hampshire brewer Flack Manor.  This full-bodied dark porter with a ruby tinge to it was bursting with roasted malts, liquorice, chocolate and nutty flavours.  The other two beers I enjoyed came from East Sussex brewer 1648 Brewing.  Triple Champion (4.0% ABV) was a chestnut coloured traditional bitter and Gold Angel (5.0% ABV) was fruitier and hoppier with a clean refreshing taste.        

My local, The Inglenook in Pagham, has been excelling itself of late.  With the two awesome Dark Star beers, Revelation and American Pale, both available it was hard to look elsewhere but I must mention two beers here from further afield.  The 5.5% ABV Oregon from West Yorkshire brewer Summer Wine is a golden hoppy ale.  It doesn't go wildly over the top with hops but there is plenty of rich fleshy tropical fruits flavours without them overpowering the citrussy bitterness in the finish.  I reviewed some Summer Wine bottled ales recently and said I didn't like the labels.  I was right though.  Their design looks much better when it is on a pump clip.  So pleased to finally try their cask beer.  Lovely.  

The best beer of the past two weeks has to be the Madness IPA (7.0% ABV) from new Somerset brewer Wild Beer Company which I was delighted to see available when I popped into the Inglenook on Monday.  This beer is simply magnificent.  It is a perfect American Pale Ale swirling with rich sweet tropical fruits before encountering a lovely citrussy bitter finish.  So easy to drink.  Yet another brewery I need to check out more from.  The list is becoming endless.      
It's been a long ramble this time but it has been another successful couple of weeks with more weight lost and some lovely beers enjoyed including a gold medal ale at the end.  With just 11.5 pounds left to lose in 9 weeks I can now see the light at the end of the tunnel.     


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