Wednesday, 29 January 2014

Beer and Dieting Week 4

It is two weeks since my last update and the rate at which the weight is coming off has slowed which is to be expected but I have stuck rigidly to my diet with no moments of weakness.  I still can't believe I've managed to go a month without any snacks at all but it's true.  A further three and a quarter pounds have been shed which brings a total weight loss to date of 12 pounds.  I've continued to enjoy the meals in the Anna Richardson diet so my sugar intake continues to be very low.  My wife has been following the diet much more strictly than me (not consuming the alcohol for one thing as well as avoiding bread) and has also lost 12 pounds.  We are both feeling much better for it.  It really does work.  

That's enough about the food and weight loss figures though.  What beers have I been enjoying over the past couple of weeks?  As usual I will concentrate on the cask beers as the bottled beers have been reviewed elsewhere in my blog.  At the newly reopened Rainbow in Chichester I had an excellent pint of American Pale Ale (4.8% ABV) from the Longman Brewery.  Longman is based over the border in East Sussex and I have enjoyed this beer previously so knew what to expect.  It is a typical APA with a lovely citrussy aroma and a full sweet hoppy flavour from those delicious American hops.  Grapefruit, lemon, pineapple and mango can all be detected in there and the finish is long and dry but with a little cloying sweetness among the bitterness.  A lovely beer that is highly recommended.

My local pub the Inglenook was a little disappointing the week before last as I got there at the end of the available guest beers so the Palmers 200 was not on top form and the Tally Ho was undrinkable and quickly removed from sale.  A half of Gribble Wobbler (7.2% ABV) was ok but did not greatly improve matters.  My next visit more than made up for this with Dark Star Revelation (5.7% ABV) alongside their Winter Meltdown.  The Winter Meltdown is too spiced for my tastes having tried it previously but when Revelation is available there would be no other choice anyway for me.  This strong American Pale Ale is one of my favourite beers and it was in perfect condition.  This beer is packed with hops (Liberty, Cascade, Centennial and Citra) and dry hopped too.  The citrus flavours are not dominant with this beer though as there are plenty of other flavours in there too.  There's some rich sweet fruits, some grassiness and a little earthiness too.  The combination is superb.  

The CAMRA social last week did not go quite to plan.  I was driving so the beer choices were not too important for me as long as I got to enjoy a decent pint.  The first pub was closed so after visiting the Fullers pub, The Murrell Arms (where I sat miserably with a diet coke whilst everyone else was enjoying an Adnams Ghost Ship), we ended up at the CAMRA Sussex Branches Pub of the Year, The Wilkes Head.  Here I enjoyed my one pint of the evening immensely.  As usual with the Wilkes Head the choice was impressive but the only lower strength beer I had not tried before was the Gooseberry Blonde (4.1% ABV) from Yorkshire's Wharfe Bank Brewery.  This very pale beer was fantastic.  Crisp, zingy and very refreshing with a lovely dry bitter finish.  Could I detect any gooseberry in there?  Not really but there was more to it than simple citrussy notes.  It did have a bit of an edge to it that added grassy, floral and aromatic notes.  This would be a perfect session bitter and it was difficult having to restrict myself to a single pint.  I must check out more from this brewery.

Last week I visited the new micro, Firebird Brewing Company, and enjoyed some samples as well as purchasing a couple of bottles which were reviewed here.  Afterwards I popped in to The Fox Inn at Rudgwick, a former favourite K&B pub of mine now owned by Hall & Woodhouse.  The Tanglefoot (4.9% ABV) was available and quite pleasant.  It's a nice golden fruity beer with a dry bittersweet finish but not the beer it once was.  

On Monday I had to go and survey a pub for possible inclusion the 2015 Good Beer Guide.  I won't say the name of the pub but I was disappointed to see the only cask beers available were Doom Bar and a house beer brewed by Hancocks (Molson Coors).  I really should have held off on the visit as Burning Sky Plateau was due on and I am yet to try this.  Anyway, I could not bring myself to drink either of the available beers so I opted for a bottle of Brewdog Punk IPA.  This was perfect.    
Over the weekend I had enjoyed some more bottled Scottish beers for Burns Night (including another from Brewdog) which will be reviewed later.  Last night it was football at St Marys to see the Saints take on Arsenal.  Traffic congestion and heavy showers meant there was little time to walk down to the excellent Rockstone pub so we went to The Alex for pre-match drinks.  This pub used to have a decent selection of four real ales from Ringwood, Timothy Taylor, Hop Back and Fullers.  Last night only the Landlord (4.3% ABV) and the Ringwood Best Bitter (3.8% ABV) were available.  I had a pint of each and both were perfectly drinkable without setting the taste buds alight.  Landlord is a classic well-balanced beer that has never really excited me.  The Ringwood Best was better than I expected.  It is a traditional chestnut coloured Best Bitter but it did have a nice bitterness to it which went down well.

More weight lost and more beers enjoyed.  Only another 18 pounds to lose in 13 weeks and a beery Manchester trip to look forward to at the end of May as my reward.    


Monday, 27 January 2014

Firebird Brewing Company

Firstly a bit of background to this post.  Due to my inclination to always try beer I have never tried before I do not drink a great deal of beer from any one particular brewery.  This has not always been the case and it got me thinking as to which brewery I have probably consumed most from.  I came to the conclusion it is probably King & Barnes.  During my three years of living in Horsham in the 1990s I completed the King & Barnes ale trail three times and most trips to the pub involved drinking their gorgeous Festive or one of their seasonal beers.

Following the closure of King & Barnes, Festive disappeared and Hall & Woodhouse only retained the average K&B Sussex in their portfolio.  I moved from Horsham down to the coast and this chapter in my drinking life closed.  It wasn't the end of the King name though.  A year after selling up to H&W, Bill King returned with his own microbrewery in Horsham.  WJ King recreated the magnificent K&B Old Ale and their premium beer, Red River, was close enough to the old K&B Festive for me to drink it whenever I had a chance.  He even launched his own annual ale trail of independent pubs in Sussex that sold his beers which I completed a couple of times.    

WJ King was sold in 2010 and has undergone some rebranding under the new ownership.  Bill King took time off but I recently read that he has now bounced back with the launch of Firebird Brewing Company with Richard Peters, a guy he studied brewing with at Birmingham University thirty years ago.  After going their separate ways they got back in touch with each other to launch this new joint venture around the middle of last year.  I was therefore keen to check out this new micro so with a bit of time to kill when I was in the area last week I popped in to see what was going on.  

The brewery is part of a major redevelopment that is taking place at the Old Rudgwick Brickworks a few miles to the West of Horsham off the A281.  The site is owned by the family behind Sussex Charmer Cheese and they have a unit selling their produce.  The building housing the brewery and shop now looks complete and impressive but there are still many other units that will be developed behind it.  According to Richard this facility helps them with their plan to be part of the local community.

Bill was busy brewing when I arrived but Richard was happy to chat and show me around.  They have exciting plans for both the brewery and the beers they want to produce.  They aim to brew authentic craft beers using beer styles from all over the world.  Their launch beers were Heritage XX (a traditional best bitter), Paleface APA (an American Pale Ale), Old Ale (a recreation of the old K&B Old) and Bohemia (a pilsner lager).  Future plans will probably include a German Weissbier, a Belgian Pale Ale and a single hopped (New Zealand Pacific Gem) pale ale.


The brewery itself is housed in a spacious unit.  The 10-barrel plant has been purchased from used kit all over the place with much of it coming from Ireland.  The balcony area is being set aside for an indoor beer garden as they want the place to be a meeting point where people can enjoy the beer within the place where it is made.  This is all part of the plan to be part of the local community.  In addition to brewery tours they are also offering the opportunity to be a brewer for a day on an individual basis under the guidance of Bill or Richard.  The cost of £149 will include a 36 pint polypin of the beer you brew.  

The best part of visiting a brewery of course is trying the beer.  Richard kindly offered me a taster of the Heritage XX, the Paleface APA, the Old Ale and a 'beer with no name'.  I took home a bottle of the Bohemia and the Heritage XX and these are reviewed below.  The Paleface APA is a 4.9% ABV American Pale Ale brewed with Cascade and Chinook hops.  They aren't going overboard on the hops but it is a delicately flavoured beer with spicy and aromatic notes.  They had no bottles left for me to buy so it must be proving popular.  The Old Ale (4.5% ABV) was a fine interpretation of the old K&B version with plenty of roasted malt creating some sweet chocolate notes followed by a smooth slightly bitter finish. 

The Heritage XX (4.0% ABV) is English hopped with Fuggles, Goldings, Challenger and Progress.  It is very much a traditional Best Bitter and it was only when I cracked open the bottle at home that I really appreciated the flavours.  It has a lovely deep golden appearance.  There is plenty of fruity hoppiness with notes of pineapple and peach up front before it gives a delightfully dry bitter finish which gets better and better as you move down the glass.  The 'beer with no name' was based upon the Heritage XX but minus the Progress hop and with some caramalt thrown in which gave it a darker appearance and some sweeter toffee notes.       

The Bohemia Pilsner (4.8% ABV) is a classic Czech style lager.  The label description of crisp, floral and spicy pretty much sums it up.  Very drinkable and  pleasant.  I do enjoy drinking proper lagers and this is a classic example of such.  

Bill King is very much back on the brewing map of Sussex.  It will be interesting to see how this project grows over time as they are definitely in it for the long haul with Bill's son showing an interest in following in his father's footsteps.  Let's hope the King name continues to span the generations and lives on.


Thursday, 23 January 2014

Cobbett's Real Ales

On Tuesday I had the opportunity to go to Dorking for a couple of hours.  After a short refreshment stop my wife headed for The Quilt Room, which I was disappointed to see was housed in a former pub, whilst I headed in the opposite direction to Cobbett's Real Ales.

I have always raved about specialist beer shops in the past and it has been quite some time since I have visited one.  Cobbett's have been in Dorking for over three years now and they can be found on West Street, which is the road you enter Dorking on if you are coming along the A25 from the West.  It is only a short walk from the High Street so parking centrally is your best option.  It is run by a very enthusiastic couple and the shop is well laid out with bottles categorised and clearly labelled with handwritten notes for each.  

The far wall of the shop is covered with pump clips, nicely arranged with hanging hops, showing many of the beers they have sold on cask during their time here.  There was only one cask available when I visited, the excellent Buxton Moor Top (3.6% ABV).  January is notoriously quiet and the number of casks available for take-out is normally up to four and these sit on racks in front of the service counter.  Next to the casks there are a couple of keykeg taps which were both dispensing a beer from that fine Derbyshire brewer, Thornbridge.  These obviously have a longer shelf-life and there are plenty of fine beers to choose from nowadays to be sold by this method of dispense.  The pump-clips at the back was like a who's who of mighty fine beers so it would be difficult not to find one to your liking when you visit.          

I was not looking for cask beers today.  I wanted to replenish the levels of my bottle stock which was a little low after Christmas.  There were plenty of local brewers represented including the excellent Surrey Hills which included a collaboration beer, Collusion, between this local brewer and Cobbett's.  As with the cask beer, I was told that the current stock levels were lower than usual due to the time of year but I was able to find plenty of beers from brewers I was keen to try such as Summer Wine and Sambrooks.  

The beers will all be reviewed in due course but I was delighted to get a selection from Weird Beard as well as a couple from the Bristol Beer Factory.  There was my usual mix of darks and IPAs.  The selection was impressive enough to cope with my usual inclination to buy beers I have never tried before.  This selection is all new to me with the exception of the BBF Milk Stout which I have enjoyed in cask.

Prices are certainly comparable to what I have paid elsewhere for beers of such quality and by visiting on a Tuesday I was able to take advantage of their 10% discount.  This discount is usually reserved for purchases of twelve bottles or more.  A great selection of beers and friendly service is what you can expect from Cobbett's so if you are in the area I would recommend you pay them a visit.  Dorking is not exactly on my doorstep but I will endeavour to visit whenever I am in the area to keep my stock levels high.  You can never have enough bottles at home as you never know when you might get snowed in!! 


Monday, 20 January 2014

War of the Roses

Last week I got to try a couple of beers from brewers either side of the Pennines.  I wasn't sure I was going to make a full post out of this but these beers are so good I could not wait to tell you about them.  Marble Brewery in Greater Manchester is fast becoming a firm favourite of mine.  On the other side we have Saltaire, the latest in what is becoming quite a long list of Yorkshire brewers I am enjoying.  From both brewers I have recently tried a chocolate inspired beer.  The Chocolate Marble is a delight, as is the Saltaire Triple Chocaholic.  The Saltaire was marked one point higher than the Marble.  Who will win this time?

Marble Dobber (5.9% ABV)

I love the name of this beer.  I had the cask version a few months ago and fell in love with it so when placing my first order with online retailer Ales By Mail it was on my list of 'must haves'.  It is a lovely pale golden colour and the aroma is delightfully citrussy.  It promises so much and it delivers instantly with an initial taste that is dominated by grapefruit from the powerful New Zealand hops yet there is an underlying biscuity base that keeps everything in check and offers a bit of balance.  There is a light refreshing zinginess (is that a word? - sounds good to me anyway) to it that makes what is quite a potent IPA dangerously drinkable.  There are lemon and peach notes coming through as you drink more of it and the amazing dry bitter finish is softened as you progress down the pint.  For me you cannot get a better IPA than this and it is so easy to give this beer 10/10.  Comparing it to my recent samples of Thornbridge Jaipur I have to say that this is now the winner.  

In May I am planning to visit Manchester and I have already made the Marble Arch one of my must-visit pubs.  I will have to restrain myself from drinking nothing but Marble though that weekend as there are many more  breweries I need to discover.

Saltaire Stateside IPA (6.0% ABV)

I picked up this little gem from online retailer The Beer Hawk.  This beer is packed with the American hops Cascade, Summit and Galena.  In addition, there are some German Magnum hops in here too.  This is very much an American Pale Ale though in both looks and taste compared to the Dobber.  The colour is a deeper golden and the aroma is more fruity with hints of fleshy fruits such as peach and mango.  This beer totally fills the tastebuds with these rich sweet fruits and it does not relent at all as it clings to your teeth and tongue as it smoothly slips down.  The sweetness continues into the finish which is balanced in part by some grassiness which adds a little edge to it and, although it is very different to the Dobber in terms of the taste, it is equally perfect.  This is simply a stunning American Pale Ale and I seem to have struck lucky yet again.  There can only be one award for this beer too and it is a 10/10.              

I set out thinking I would find a distinct winner between these two beers but I simply cannot separate them.  I would rush to enjoy both these beers all over again.  One point I would make though is that I could perhaps enjoy the Dobber in larger quantities.  The sweetness of the Stateside IPA may be too much for an entire session whereas the Dobber I could probably drink all night until I fell over.  


Thursday, 16 January 2014

The Rainbow, Chichester

We are used to seeing many pubs closing around here so it gives me great pleasure to see a pub that has been closed for a while reopening its doors under new management and free of tie.  The Rainbow Inn is just outside the inner ring road and both inside and out it still looks like it is in need of some TLC.  At least it appears it will now be getting some.   

When I popped in yesterday for a quick pint it had three beers available on handpump.  I went for the Longman American Pale Ale (4.8% ABV) which is a lovely golden hoppy beer as you would expect with it being an APA.  The classic session bitter Dark Star Hophead was also available alongside Skinners Betty Stoggs.  A brief chat with the barman (who has moved from the GBG-listed Bull Inn) tells me the Hophead will probably be a regular with the other two hosting a variety of generally local beers with beers from local brewers Irving and Langham already lined up in the cellar.  

Great news indeed and if any of you are in Chichester give it a visit and enjoy a fine pint.  It has only been open a week so I'm sure your support would be appreciated.


Wednesday, 15 January 2014

Beer and Dieting Week 2

I probably won't be updating my progress each week but I will certainly post an update every couple of weeks.  This week has been interesting.  My wife has joined in which is helping as she follows the Anna Richardson Body Blitz diet.  This ensures I get excellent meals so I'm never feeling too hungry.  My sugar intake is vastly reduced and my weekly cake / biscuit / chocolate count for week two is a (low) fat round zero.

In week one I lost 6 lbs so I'm sure you are all waiting with baited breath to know whether I was able to lose any more in week two.  This morning I weighed in and I have lost a further 2.75 lbs so I am now 8.75 lbs towards my 30 lb target with fifteen weeks left.  I'm feeling confident.

In week 1 my beer intake was low.  This week has been a bit closer to my usual intake with three pub visits and a few bottles at home.  This is a beer blog after all so I think each update should contain some highlights and beery recommendations not reviewed elsewhere.  All the bottles I consumed this week have been reviewed (Thwaites and Adnams) so that leaves me with the cask highs and lows.

What has happened to Palmers Tally Ho?  I had a pint of this on Friday in my local and it is now at a strength of 5.5% ABV.  I am sure this beer was less than 5.0% ABV when I last tried it (I am talking many years ago here).

It was perfectly drinkable and it looks very inviting but the liquorice flavours were too dominant.  Twenty years ago this was one of my favourite beers.  Can anyone tell me if I am correct regarding the increase in strength or is my memory playing tricks here?  One final grumble is the pump clip design is now pants.

It was a good week for dark beers.  A pint of Kings Old Ale (4.5% ABV) was enjoyed at my local Wetherspoons.  This dark classic is not as good as the unbeatable Harveys Old this year but it is still a lovely pint with plenty of dark roast malt character with some caramel and liquorice notes.

Last night in the Bull Inn, Chichester, I came across a beer from Yorkshire.  Clark's Knee Deep (4.4% ABV) was absolutely beautiful.   Clark's of Wakefield have a long history going back to the turn of the last century and after a break in brewing operations they resumed in 1982.  This is probably the first time I've seen their beers on the bar for many years.  This dark winter beer was full of coffee and chocolate notes.  I may not be able to eat chocolate but this more than makes up for it and it was close to perfection.

One beer that was perfection last night, and which receives my first 10/10 of 2014, is the Dark Star American Pale Ale (4.7% ABV).  This hoppy classic is always good but last night it was stunning.  It was the monthly branch CAMRA meeting and vast amounts were being consumed by all.  With other beers to try it was just the one pint for me and I finished the night with a pint of Good Old Boy (4.0% ABV) from the West Berkshire Brewery.  This was a fine malty bitter with plenty of caramel notes and these were balanced by a subtle underlying bitterness.  This beer also scored highly with an 8/10 so a very satisfying end to my week of drinking.

With plenty of beer enjoyed and more pounds lost it has been a good week.  Here's to more of the same.


Monday, 13 January 2014

Innovative Adnams

Coming on the back of my 'Crafty Thwaites' post we now have 'Innovative' Adnams.  It seems like many regional brewers are joining the 'craft' bandwagon.  The Adnams 'Jack Brand' range is a range of keg and bottled beers created in small batches which the flexibility of their new brewery makes possible if I am reading things correctly.  I certainly like the branding with Adnams Jack forming the centrepiece of the logo.  Should something innovative be using a retro logo though?  Whatever the thought processes that went into it I think it's cool.             

As far as Adnams is concerned they are probably my favourite regional brewer and they have been for many many years.  Way back in the 1990s I completed a trail around all of their pubs to win a prize consisting of a pint glass, brewery tie and brewery tour with the head brewer at the time.  For my wife and I Southwold has long been a favourite place for weekends away at all times of the year and we have been there quite a few times staying at the superb Adnams-owned Swan Hotel in the centre of town.  

Adnams have always been creative on the brewing front.  I have lost touch with them a little in more recent years as they do have a substantial core range of beers now and I am still to find some of these locally.  I do always look out for their beers on the bar down here on the South coast though and many of their bottled beers are available locally.  Bottled Broadside has always been a big favourite of mine as well as the Explorer.  I had the fabulous Tally Ho as part of my '12 Beers of Xmas' and now I find myself with this little beauty which is the first from their 'Jack Brand' range.

Innovation (6.7% ABV)

The first thing I noticed about this beer was it pours thin and a bit lifeless.  There was no head following the pour and it was lacking a bit of body.  The colour was beautifully golden and the aroma was very inviting with promises of lush fruity hops.  It may have looked a bit flat but the taste had a pleasant carbonation to it.  There was plenty of fruit flavours in there with mango and peach initially evident.  You could taste the alcohol in there too once these flavours dispersed before mandarin, grapefruit and pineapple kick in.  The finish was gorgeously dry and bitter.  Overall a very nice beer which I award a score of 8/10.   

If I am being honest I probably preferred the fuller bodied Thwaites '13 Guns' to this beer.  That was an American IPA though whereas this has English, American and European hops which gives a drier more bitter finish as well as more complexity in the flavours.  They are both excellent beers and it is good to see the regional brewers experimenting in this way.  I will now be looking to try more from the 'Jack Brand' range and I will endeavour to review them when I do.  

Friday, 10 January 2014

Crafty Thwaites

Some excellent beers have been coming out of Lancashire in the past year.  These can be hard to find down here in the South but I always try and keep my eyes peeled and beers can be found in the strangest of places.  The first of these two little gems from Blackburn brewer Thwaites was found in my local farm shop just before Christmas.  Their beer range is fairly ordinary and normally quite local so this one stood out just calling to me.  The second was was found in a convenience store in Leicestershire when I was visiting family when all I went in for was some medicine for my mum.  Lucky finds indeed.  

Both of these beers come under the Thwaites 'Crafty Dan' range.  These are produced in a separate 20-barrel micro-brewery and I have read good reviews of all the beers that have been created within this innovative range.  Now I finally have a chance to find out for myself.  
13 Guns (5.5% ABV)

This American Pale Ale was produced to commemorate the original 13 states of America.  It does look darker than I expected it to be which is probably due to a bit of caramalt in the mix.  There is also a bit of rye in here too.  The aroma though is a real sweet fruity hoppiness coming from the five American hops (Centennial, Citra, Amarillo, Apollo, Chinook) along with the Kohatu hop from New Zealand.  In the taste there are plenty of fleshy fruit flavours such as mango, apricot and peach and these dominate ahead of the more citrussy flavours to the extent that I would probably have not noticed any Citra hop in there.  My wife thought the finish was short and disappeared a little but to me it comes across as grassy and it has a delightful subtle bitterness.  The more I drank the sweetness took over and it became harder to detect the initial bitterness in the finish and more fruit notes such as pineapple came through.  I absolutely love this beer and it gets a good 9/10 from me.                     

Old Dan (7.4% ABV)

This beer has a lovely chestnut colour to it.  One sniff of this one was enough to intoxicate me.  Wow.  A strong sensation of rich Christmas pudding and sherry.  This one will probably age superbly but I wasn't going to give it a chance.  The taste is equally potent and it does taste even stronger than it is.  This is definitely a beer for sipping slowly.  I found it to be intensely sweet with no real bitterness to it at all.  Both the malts (Maris Otter, Pearl and Crystal) and hops (Fuggles and WGV) in here are British and it is the kind of barley wine that British brewers often do very well with these home-grown varieties.  I enjoyed this beer very much and I would give it a score of 8/10 as it is probably a tad too sweet for my taste.  

It must be my wife's Blackburn roots because she liked both of these beers too but she would probably have swapped my scores around as the Old Dan was definitely her favourite.  She put this down to being a girl.  Is it true that females prefer sweeter beers?  That's a debate for another day perhaps.  These two beers are certainly worth buying when you find them though.  Two crafty classics.  Cheers. 

Tuesday, 7 January 2014

Beer and Dieting

All of the recent comments regarding dry January has got me thinking.  I'm all for people taking control of their health and if that means cutting down on what is causing you problems then it needs to be encouraged.  Some people may look at me and think I am not particularly overweight but I know differently.  The doctors would tell me I need to lose about 40lbs (I still think in imperial when it comes to weight) and they are probably right.  I don't normally have to worry about putting weight on a great deal.  It has stayed pretty constant now for a decade or more.  However, this does mean of course that I've been carrying excess weight for a long time now.  With this is mind I am finally going to address it.  This therefore brings up the question as to whether I need to cut down my beer intake to achieve my goals.

My first rule of dieting is to cut down on things that do you no good.  I currently don't include beer in that category as beer has many beneficial properties.  My problem has always been sugar in the form of chocolate, cake and biscuits.  Sugar is my addiction and beer is very low in sugars.  Giving up alcohol has never been a problem for me.  Giving up chocolate for more than a week is a real struggle.  Working from home has made this harder to the extent that my son has questioned why his chocolate biscuits keep disappearing.  Why he thinks they belong to him is another story altogether but he is correct in that I should not be eating them.
This year I have for the first time set a real target to lose 30lbs and I have come up with a four month time frame in which to reach this level.  This will reduce my weight to a level that I haven't been since I gave up running.  The big question for me is whether I can get there without cutting my beer consumpton.  On New Years Day I weighed in at 220lbs and in 17 weeks I am determined to weigh in at 190lbs.  That should bring me many health benefits.    
As I write this, my first week of dieting is coming to a close and I am five pounds down.  The first week is always easy as it just gets rid of the excesses of Christmas.  My alcohol intake for the week has also been very low.  One bottle of Adnams Tally Ho on New Years Day is all I consumed this week.  Tonight is the first Western Sussex Camra social of the year so the pub is calling and I'll probably drink three pints.  In calorific terms this equates to about 750 calories that my body needs to burn.

In the past I have always found it difficult to remember how much alcohol I have consumed and it is therefore difficult to put a figure on the units and calories therein.  Since I began blogging it has been somewhat easier but the figure has gone up too.  I will come on to this point again shortly.  I began using Untappd in November last year and every beer I drink is now recorded so I can get an exact figure.  In two months I have made 85 check-ins so I can assume I drink approximately 1.5 beers per day.  This figure has surprised me somewhat as I expected it to be higher.  Some of these beers have been 330ml bottles, some have been 500ml bottles and the rest have been pints in pubs.  This brings my pints per day down to about 1.25 per day (at a rough estimate).  At approximately 240 calories per pint then my daily calorie intake from beer is 300.  This is equivalent to about 3-4 chocolate biscuits per day which is probably the level I was at (not to mention all the cakes, cheese straws and crisps that I was consuming too).  Beer is not therefore an evil when it comes to calories and I am confident I can maintain my current intake as part of this diet.  An extra 30 minutes of walking each day will burn up these calories and that is also part of my new regime.  

Beer is not just about calories of course.  How much beer is bad for you in terms of units of alcohol?  Everyone can probably quote the government figure of 20 units of alcohol per week for males and 14 for females as the amount you should not exceed.  There really is no scientific basis behind this figure and recent studies would suggest people drinking a bit more than this live even longer than those that drink less.  For the past two months my consumption at 1.25 pints per day gives me a figure of approximately 25 units per week.  I do drink stronger beers when I get the chance so I am setting an average here of 3 units per pint.  I conclude that maintaining this figure will therefore not cause any issues at all on this front either.       

My final point are the health benefits of beer and this is a strange one.  Since I began beer blogging I have definitely consumed more beer.  That is a fact.  I used to drink wine at home (mainly red) as much as beer but my wine consumption is now virtually zero.  I have been on blood pressure medication for years and as a result my blood pressure and bloods are regularly monitored.  Since cutting out wine and increasing my beer consumption my average blood pressure reading is now 125/65 which is on the low side.  Beer does contain high levels of potassium and the active ingredient in my blood pressure tablets is potassium.  Potassium levels can be dangerous if too low or too high of course which is why those on blood pressure medication have regular blood tests to check all of this.  With blood pressure though I am told by my doctor that generally lower is better (as long as it doesn't render you unconscious) so swapping beer for wine does seem to have had this benefit.  

The final health benefit of beer of course is that it has made me more sociable, less grumpy and generally happier and more relaxed.  This may also have helped in my blood pressure reduction too of course.  My wife may question all of this but it's true.  I have a much wider circle of friends and the beer community could not be friendlier.    

This all brings me to the conclusion that whilst I need to lose weight I see no reason to cut my beer intake to reach my goal.  I will let you know how it goes of course and I may be totally wrong but by cutting out unhealthy foods and doing a little more exercise I am confident I will reach my goal.

Happy drinking.

Friday, 3 January 2014


Well it's a new year and around this time of year there is always plenty of optimism.  With resolutions made everyone is planning on doing something to improve their lives it seems.  Over-indulgence over the festive period does mean that one popular resolution is to abstain from alcohol for a month.  I can still remember the days when I tried such things but now I like to think I am old enough and wise enough to not over-indulge in the first place so in January I can continue enjoying one of life's great pleasures.

It seems that every month charities are coming up with some scheme to make people part with their money for good causes.  November has been renamed Movember and now January has become Dryanuary.  For pubs out there that are struggling to stay afloat January must be an incredibly difficult month and initiatives like this must not go down too well.  I'm sure pubs have always seen a significant drop-off in trade in January however and it is something they would always expect and budget for after swelling their coffers in December.  The problem nowadays is that the coffers are never swollen enough for many pubs and faced with mounting debts an abandonment in January from a significant percentage of their customer base can be fatal.  So, for those taking part in Dryanuary collecting sponsorship down their local pub I just hope the pub is still around in February for them to collect the money from their fellow drinkers.

As an alternative to Dryanuary may I propose the following as I don't think any of these will hurt your local community.

-  Avoid shopping at Amazon for a month and similar online superstores.  Use your local shops.
-  Avoid buying alcohol from your local supermarket.  If you must cut down then cut down here.

I for one love going to pubs in January.  January is usually the coldest month and there are lots of winter beers out there ready for consumption.  Find a local pub with a roaring fireplace and enjoy a pint or two in the peace and quiet that is often absent from pubs over Christmas.  

Happy drinking.