I've decided that Wednesday is not a good day for my weekly weigh-in due to my Tuesday evening visit to the pub and this week it was a trip down to Dorchester to celebrate my mate's birthday. I've therefore extended my diet by a day and week 12 has become an 8-day week. Despite this extension, week 12 was my lowest weight-loss so far as I only lost a quarter pound. Added to the 2.25lb from the previous week my total weight loss is now 23.75lbs. With 5 weeks to go I still need to lose 1.25lb each week to reach my target. Next week I hope to fall below the 14 stone mark for the first time in over a decade. My diet hasn't really changed much at all during the past 12 weeks. Cereal for breakfast (sultana bran) , a sandwich or similar at lunchtime and a healthy evening meal such as a stir-fry with a bit of fruit for snacks now and again. And beer of course. It really has been quite simple.
So what delightful cask beers have I found in the past couple of weeks? After my first visit to The Belle Isle, Chichester, a couple of weeks ago I popped in again (and again) and I enjoyed a couple of refreshing citrussy pints from two breweries based in Cheshire. The Offbeat Outlandish Pale at 3.6% ABV was very pale in colour and was cool, refreshing and lemony. There wasn't a massive amount of bitterness to it but it was a very decent pint. It was not as good as the lovely Redwillow Mirthless (3.9% ABV) though which was much more flavoursome and bursting with a grapefruit and lemon citrus tang with a beautiful dry bitter finish.
Someone must have been busy bringing Redwillow beers down south recently as I then popped into my local, The Inglenook Hotel, Nyetimber, a few days later and found their Sleepless on the bar. This 5.4% ABV red ale appeared quite murky but it certainly passed the taste test. There was plenty going on with this beer with some strong tropical fruit hoppiness alongside some spicy malty undertones and an earthy bitterness in the finish. More Redwillow down here will be more than welcome.
Beer from the excellent Roosters Brewery from Yorkshire have also appeared on the bar in both the Inglenook and The Belle Isle in the past couple of weeks and I particularly enjoyed a pint of their Liberator (4.8% ABV). There were plenty of fruity hoppy notes in this inviting golden ale coming from five different hop varieties and there was a gorgeous lasting bitter finish. Very close to perfection.
Closer to home my local 'Spoons, The Hatters Inn, has begun a strong LocAle policy and for some reason I found myself in there a few times in the past couple of weeks. The superb black IPA from one of my favourites local brewers, Langhams, was available. On this particular occasion the Black Swallow (6.0% ABV) wasn't quite as hoppy as I remember it from last time with much more chocolate malty notes coming through in the finish making for a very smooth dark bitter with a spicy hoppy bite to it in the initial taste. Also from Langham I got to try their LSD (5.2% ABV) for the first time on draught. Langham Special Draught is quite a complex beer with rich malty notes balanced by slightly floral and fruity notes.
The other local brewer I got to experience a couple of beers from at the Hatters was Goldmark. The Goldmark Classic Bitter (4.5% ABV) has a rich malty character with caramel notes to the fore and balanced by quite a dry sweet bitterness in the finish. More to my taste is their pale Hop Idol (3.7% ABV) which is quite a hopfest with plenty of floral and zingy citrussy hop flavours swirling around.
The CAMRA social took us out to deepest Sussex to visit a couple of country pubs just outside the small town of Midhurst. I was the driver on this occasion so I could not grumble and groan about the choice of Youngs Bitter or Doom Bar at the Country Inn, Bepton. This lovely village pub was packed to the rafters for a crib night but it had a disappointing beer selection and I have it on good authority that the Youngs Bitter was extremely poor and not as good as the diet coke I enjoyed. The second pub, the Hamilton Arms at Stedham, is run by a Thai family and incorporates an excellent Thai restaurant. This friendly pub had a good choice of LocAles featuring Arundel's Sussex Gold (4.2% ABV) and Dark Star's Hophead (3.9% ABV). I had a half of each and both were extremely pleasant. This was my first visit to both of these pubs and the latter is a pub that I will look to visit again.
I crossed the county border into Surrey for a change the week before last. The Crown Inn, Chiddingfold, is a very old pub located in the centre of the village overlooking the green and across the road from the church. They had a range of fairly standard national brands but I spied a Long Man Best Bitter (4.0% ABV) which was a lovely malty English bitter full of rich caramel along with some orange spicy bitter notes. It was a spur of the moment visit which rewarded me with an excellent pint.
My trip down to Dorchester on Tuesday night was a little disappointing in terms of beer. Dorchester is dominated by Marston's pubs with a proliferation of Ringwood beers which I wanted to avoid so we began the evening with food and a pint in the Royal Oak, the local 'Spoons. The Conwy Infusion (3.9% ABV) was a delight and the best pint of the evening. Quite a dry floral, fruity bitterness to this one making it a very smooth session ale and a perfect start to the evening. One of our meals came with a free drink so we chose a can of the Sixpoint Bengali Tiger (6.4% ABV) to share. This strong American pale ale is bursting with tropical fruits and I loved it immensely. I'm glad I finally got to try one of these cans from this American craft brewer as everyone seems to love them. Easy to see why.
From the Royal Oak we headed for the GBG-listed Colliton Club, a members club which allows entry to CAMRA members. The St Austell Dartmoor Best (3.5% ABV) was a bland and forgettable brown bitter. My friend was not impressed with the Tribute (4.2% ABV) which surprised me so I gave it a taste and thought it was pretty good with a nice citrussy hoppiness evident. Each to their own I guess.
The Blue Raddle was the next stop. This superb friendly free house usually has a decent beer selection. I tried a pint of Dartmoor IPA (4.0% ABV) which looked inviting but there was very little taste to it. There was a slight fruity and floral bitterness evident but it was quite hard to detect. It was nice to have the drink served in the appropriate glass though.
My mate chose the better beer this time with a Salisbury English Ale (4.1% ABV) which was quite a smooth malty beer with plenty of rich toffee notes. When we moved to pub number 4, Goldies, the same beer was available here too so I went for it this time while my mate had the Town Mill Best (4.5% ABV). However, the beer bore no relation to how it tasted at the Blue Raddle. It didn't taste off but it didn't taste right either. In the end I had to leave it as Tom Browns was calling me. Tom Browns is the premier pub in Dorchester. In addition to the full range of beers from Dorset Brewing Company there were two Dark Star beers available and I encouraged my mate to try a pint of their Original (5.0% ABV). I chose a pint of Augustinian Ale (4.5% ABV) from the Growler brewery, a complex amber ale with plenty of malt character and an underlying spicy bitterness. This was an excellent end to the evening for both of us.
The next two weeks will probably be dominated by the Wetherspoons Beer Festival for which I have the programme of beers sitting in front of me. Plenty of interesting ales to look forward to.