Two historic quayside pubs are adding their particular full-flavoured contributions to the wonderful mix that makes up this great festival.
At the GEORGE & DRAGON today, the armed and dangerous 5.6% Theakston Old Peculier, and this afternoon the mighty Bishop's Finger (5%) from Shepherd Neame, one of my favourite brewers (sparkler off, I suggest). CAMRA's Good Beer Guide says: “A strong ale with a complex hop aroma reminiscent of lemons, oranges and bananas combined with malt, molasses and toffee. Refreshing, with a good malt character, tinged with a lingering bitterness. ”
Just a few yards away is the THREE MARINERS, where now you can try the Hawkshead Brodie’s Prime (4.9%), Banktop Dark Mild (4.0%). Coming soon (hopefully) here and at the Water Witch is a new beer, York Micklegate Porter, which is something to look forward to.
Meanwhile at the GOLDEN LION there is Caledonian Double Dark Oatmeal Stout (4.6%), which has the wonderful signature flavour of a Scottish version of stout, sweetish and easy drinking.
Making a special effort is THE BOROUGH, with four seasonal beers on, and a chalk board on the bar advertising the festival and forthcoming beers. Here we tried the glorious prize-winning Bank Top Mild, a full-flavoured 4% example of this classic style, and the warming, fruity 4.5% Ramsbottom Strong Ale. But stars of the evening for this reporter were Fra Diavolo (Ulverston), a succulent blend of malty, roast and espresso coffee flavours, but quite dry with a hint of vanilla, and the mighty Hawkshead Triple XPB, an incredibly rich, fruity and vinous dark beer that weighs in at 8.5%. Try it before it goes!
On now at THE WATER WITCH: Hawkshead Organic Stout and the delicious Thwaites Nutty Black, one of only a handful of beers to be voted CAMRA's Champion Beer of Britain twice, which manages to pack a load of flavour into its 3.3% abv.
Coming “very soon” to Lancaster University’s GRADBAR are the 4.8% Saltaire Triple Chocaholic, SIBA National Supreme Champion Beer of 2010, and Blue Monkey 99 Red Baboons, a 4.2% red beer, very malty and fruity.
At the PATTEN ARMS (Winmarleigh) it’s well worth the trip to try Wooden Hand Cornish Mutiny, a 4.8% brew, described in CAMRA’s Good Beer Guide as a “rich, full-bodied strong ale with distinctive full hop character. Slightly biscuity and complex flavour with full mouth feel.” I’ll vouch for that! Tom Smeaton, bar manager at this terrific rural local, says that the festival is “going better than we thought. Loddon Hocus Pocus was very popular and soon sold out.”
The WHEATSHEAF (Garstang) has Derwent Auld Kendal (5.7%), a strikingly full-bodied, rich strong bitter with a pronounced hop character and long dry finish. Landlord Graham Lakey reported good sales, noting that the “ Theakston’s Old Peculier went quickly”.
At the GREEN AYRE now, Lancaster Black (4.6%) and Lancaster Red. A special treat to look forward to on Monday or Tuesday is Thwaites OBJ, an old ale that weighs in at 6.5%.
Card-carrying CAMRA members will get 10p a pint off real ale during the current Dark & Winter Ales Festival at three Lancaster pubs — the White Cross, Penny Bank and Merchants. Following this and on-going, they will pay 10p a pint less for real ale bought at all three pubs from Sunday to Thursday. And please note that the White Cross and the Merchants are now Cask Marque accredited.
The White Cross has no fewer than three milds on sale, all selling well. What a glorious taste feast, to have Coach House Gunpowder Mild (3.8%), Bowland Hunter's Moon (3.7%) and Moorhouse Black Cat (3.4%) available at one venue on the same night! All were spot on, and proof if it were needed that a beer doesn't need a sky high strength to pack a flavour punch. I'd not tried Black Cat for some time and had forgotten how wonderfully rich and satisfying it is. And as for the Gunpowder, bar manager Tom Wilkinson said they were already on their second barrel. Also on: Tirril Graduate, a 4.6%, a fruity and spicy ale that epitomises the description “winter warmer ”.
NOW ON AT THE PENNY BANK
- Bowland Hunter’s Moon
- Ossett Treacle Stout
- Tirril Graduate
- Hawkshead Brodie’s Prime
NOW ON AT THE MERCHANTS
- Titantic Lifeboat
- Daleside Porter
- Wychwood Hobgoblin
COMING VERY SOON (TODAY OR TOMORROW)
- White Cross: Tirril Graduate, Bowland Hunter’s Moon, Rudgate Ruby Mild
- Merchants: Beartown Bear Ass, Theakston Old Peculier