Thursday, 9 July 2015

A Stroll Around Shoreham-by-Sea

Shoreham-by-Sea lies midway between Worthing and Brighton and I have always found it to have a few decent pubs.  Tonight I planned to visit four of them which certainly includes the best pub in town.  Arriving at the station I headed west staying north of the trainline before turning left along West Street which brings you out on the High Street.  Shoreham has both a beach and a river frontage (the River Adur) and when you hit the High Street you will see the Bridge Inn, an imposing Fullers pub by the road bridge that crosses the River Adur.  This pub has a large garden at the back overlooking the river so if it is a nice day and you fancy a pint of Fullers then it's a good place to stop but I popped into the tiny pub opposite, Piston Broke.  I went in this pub years ago when it was the Lazy Toad and it still has a good reputation for beer being GBG-listed.  In keeping with the name of the pub there are engine parts to be found lying around including an engine on the window sill at the front.  Not sure what this adds to the place personally.       

It has the appearance of a micropub with the beers mainly being sold from the stillage behind the bar and included Dark Star Revelation, St Austell Proper Job and something from the excellent Kent micro Old Dairy.  There was also a beer called Broke Ale (3.7% ABV) from The Steam Brewery.  I asked the barman where the Steam Brewery was based and he just said Faversham.  I'd never heard of them but I went for it and it was an average best bitter.  Now I don't like to be deceived and when I was told it was Faversham I know alarm bells should have rung in my head.  If the guy had said it was our house beer brewed by Shepherd Neame I'd have avoided it like the plague.  I guess at £2.70 a pint it was a cheap mistake to make.  The pub itself was very cliquey, a bit dark with a single narrow bar with a TV screen at the far end.  Not a bad pub but due to the inexcusable avoidance at being truthful about their beer I will not set foot in there again.  

Leaving Piston Broke I turned left along the High Street and after a few hundred yards, just off the High Street in Star Lane, is the Old Star Ale & Cider House.  I went in this micropub soon after it opened and did not get the best of welcomes from the dour man behind the bar.  However, it is now in new hands and the couple running it are very friendly.  Three beers from Sussex micro Franklins were available and although I like a bit of variety in the choice of brewer I'd have probably chosen the Franklins IPA (5.5% ABV) anyway as it is a gorgeous hoppy brew bursting with citrusy hop flavours.  The pub has simple decor, just a couple of long wooden bench tables and high stools around the bar area.  It was close to last orders when I got there.  Last orders are called at and you have to be out by  Not somewhere to leave for later in the evening.                

It was an evening of small pubs.  Leaving the Old Star I continued along the High Street for just a few yards.  The Ferry Inn is tiny.  The main bar may be small but it does manage to squeeze in a pool table.  There is a small courtyard at the back outside and off to the side there is a room that redefines the word snug.  It is a proper pub though which is sadly let down by both the quantity and quality of their cask ales.  The Harveys Sussex was unavailable which meant it was Courage Directors or nowt and although nowt might have been preferable I indulged in a swift half and it was actually in decent condition.     

I continued to the end of the High Street where the road becomes Brighton Road and after a few hundred yards I reached the Duke of Wellington.  This pub is the gem in Shoreham's crown.  An abundance of real ales as well as a couple of 'craft kegs' make it a beer drinkers paradise with a strong emphasis on Locales.  Dark Star, Burning Sky and Langham Brewery all featured but I went further afield to try my first pint from the Gloucester Brewery.  Their Priory Pale (3.7%ABV) is a fabulous hoppy citrusy blonde session bitter.  The pub has quite a large front bar and there are smaller rooms to the rear as well as a small garden.  There are plans afoot for a Wellington brewhouse too.  It is a relaxed friendly local with plenty of events going on and I stumbled in to 'board game Tuesday'.  The first Tuesday of each month is dedicated to board games and there were plenty laid out for customers to choose from.  I did have a train to catch but I stayed for a swift half of the fabulous Burning Sky Aurora (5.6% ABV) to round off the evening. 

Back at the station there is another large imposing Fullers pub, the Crab Tree, if you have time.  I did not but it is a pub I remember when it was part of the Gales estate.  Also adjacent to the station but to the south of the trainline is the Buckingham Arms, a pub with a vast array of handpumps I am told but another one I did not have time for on this visit.  Next time perhaps as Shoreham is definitely a worthy destination for the beer drinker.


Thursday, 2 July 2015

Chichester Pubs Part 2

My first tour of Chichester pubs was in the form of a themed pub crawl following the old Roman walls and thereby avoiding the Wetherspoons pub that I particularly hated at the time.  You can read this first review here.  For this second review I will take you into the (much improved) Spoons but be warned - I am having a moan in this post about other pubs.

First up is the Richmond, a strange looking building at the head of the Chichester Canal basin.  The pub has a single bar on the top level with outside seating to the front and at the back you go down to the lower level for more outdoor seating with a view of the canal basin.  There is also a serving hatch from the bar to the front garden so there is no need to actually go in the pub.  However, then you would miss the two large TV screens and the pool table.  The pub is a few hundreds yards to the south of the main train station so easy to find.  The beer is unspectacular to say the least with Doom Bar or Hop Back Summer Lightning your choices.  The former you see everywhere and the latter used to be a very nice pint but I'm not sure what has happened to it.  Obviously it is the wise choice out of the two beers here but it wasn't on particularly good form.  Perhaps you would be wiser to visit the coffee bar in the snug on the lower level which opens at and save your alcohol consumption for later.      

After the Richmond I headed back to the station and entered the Globe, adjacent to the train station on the northern side of the tracks.  This pub is a large open-plan sports bar with pool table.  Lots of open floor space.  This pub does display the Cask Marque sign so I was expecting a decent pint at least.  How wrong could I possibly be?  Why do pubs like this bother to sell real ale.  They obviously have no interest in it.  The bar person was of the grunting variety who told me they vary the cask ales but only one was available.  The Doom Bar pump clip was turned round.  Thank heavens.  That is what I thought until I tasted the Plucking Pheasant (5.0% ABV) from the local Gribble brewery but was more plucking unpleasant.  This place sums up so many pubs that advertise 'we sell real ales' without really caring about them.  They are either merchants of Doom Bar or they sell something 'different' without knowing that 'different' can often mean crap.  This beer was awful and it made me wish for the pint of Doom Bar I suffered last week.  I was also feeling a pang of jealousy at the other people in the pub with their nice cool pints of lager.  Let's face it, anyone trying real ale for the first time in this place would never touch it again.  As an active member of CAMRA I try to check out local pubs (hence the purpose of this little trip) but I'm beginning to wonder why I bother and also why CAMRA bothers to be proud of the fact that nearly every pub serves real ale nowadays.  How many actually serve 'drinkable' real ale?  Anyway, this is one pub I need not bother about entering again and I quickly moved on.                  

I needed something to cheer me up now so I went to the Belle Isle.  This cafe/restaurant/bar is not your normal real ale paradise but you will be pleasantly surprised.    

The place is located across the road from the side of the Dolphin & Anchor, the Wetherspoons pub that sits opposite Chichester cathedral.  This place knows a good brewery and this evening there was something from Rudgate, Ilkley and Bristol Beer Factory.  The Nova I have enjoyed before so I chose a half of the Rudgate Jorvik Blonde (3.8% ABV) and half of the Ilkley Rosa Ostara (4.6% ABV).  I do love this place but both the beers were too warm for my liking.  The Jorvik Blonde was lemony and floral and a bit light in flavour to be honest.  The Rosa Ostara is described as a rose petal pale ale and is one of their experimental beers.  It had a light amber colour and it is brewed with actual rose petals.  I found it to have a bit of an earthy taste as well as the more obvious fragrant notes.  It wasn't bad but not one I could consume lots of.  It has to be said though that this place is a 'must visit' destination for any fan of really great beer and the food is excellent too.         

After the Belle Isle, I walked over the road to the Dolphin & Anchor.  Yes I do have issues with this pub in that I always feel claustrophobic in here when it is busy as the tables are packed in too closely together.  However, the pub is taking real ale and local brewers very seriously with monthly 'meet the brewer' events as well as selling some excellent locales on a regular basis.  Thankfully it was quiet this evening and I was able to enjoy two first class pints served at a perfect temperature.  I had only tried Adnams Ghost Ship (4.5% ABV) in bottles before but I can now confirm it is a tremendous cask beer too.  A refreshing hoppy pale ale.  Class in a glass.  I was also able to enjoy a pint of Langham Saison (3.9% ABV), my favourite cask ale of 2014, and I am glad to report it is still fantastic.   

That was it for this second visit to Chichester.  Next time I will be visiting the rebranded / the reopened and the refurbished along with some others that will hopefully be better than what I suffered earlier this evening.  

Until then, cheers.