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IN THIS ISSUE
READING BEER AND CIDER FESTIVAL IS MOVING TO CHRISTCHURCH MEADOWS. READ MORE INSIDE THE CAMRA MAGAZINE FOR READING AND MID BERKSHIRE ISSUE THIRTY SEVEN • SPRING 2016 • FREE - PLEASE TAKE A COPY
Branch Diary All events start at 20.00 and are open to everybody unless specified.
Sun 6: CAMRA v RURAS Pub Games Night. Hop Leaf, 163165 Southampton Street, Reading, RG1 2QZ. 19.30 start. Tue 8: Branch meeting. Castle Tap, 120 Castle Street, Reading, RG1 7RJ. CAMRA members only, please. Sun 20: Ale Trail Walk. Meet 12.00 at Reading Station, north entrance. 5 mile walk visiting several ale trail pubs in Caversham and Reading and finishing about 17.30. Contact Chris Hinton on firstname.lastname@example.org / 0118 987 3203. More details in the Small Beer section of this magazine. April
Contact Us Useful contact details for this magazine, CAMRA and other important things… Mine's a Pint Circulation: 3,000. Outlets: Over 70 across the region. Editor: Phil Gill email@example.com 0771 455 0293 81 Addison Road, Reading, RG1 8EG Magazine published on behalf of Reading and Mid Berkshire CAMRA by:
Orchard House Media Ltd firstname.lastname@example.org For advertising enquiries please contact Jane Michelson: 01778 382718 email@example.com
Fri 1: Southall Curry Night. Meet 19.30 onwards for drinks at the Conservative Club, High Street, Southall, UB1 3HB, then Nagina Karahi restaurant at 20.45. Contact John Robinson on Reading & Mid Berkshire CAMRA www.readingcamra.org.uk firstname.lastname@example.org / 0118 940 2787 / 0790 434 3187. Social Secretary: Rich Croton Thu 7: First Thursday of the Month Social (quiz night). Fox and Hounds, 51 Gosbrook Road, Caversham, RG4 8BN. Sun 10: End of the Ale Trail. All entries to be received by midnight. See website for participating pubs. Thu 14: Branch meeting. Foresters Arms, 79-81 Brunswick Street, Reading, RG1 6NY. CAMRA members only, please.
READING BEER AND CIDER FESTIVAL Thu 28 April – Sun 1 May. NEW LOCATION at Christchurch Meadows, Caversham. See www.readingbeerfestival.org.uk for more details including how to buy tickets. May
There will be no First Thursday social in May because of the proximity to the beer festival. Mon 16: Branch meeting. Volunteer, Church Street, Theale, RG7 5BX. CAMRA members only, please. See www.readingcamra.org.uk for details of these events as they come available. For details of an event with no contact listed, to suggest an event or to receive regular e-mail updates of the branch diary, contact Rich Croton: email@example.com
firstname.lastname@example.org Contact for all other branch matters: Katrina Fletcher email@example.com 0779 401 9437
Local Trading Standards Reading Borough Council: www.reading.gov.uk 0118 937 3737 West Berkshire Council: www.westberks.gov.uk 01635 519930 Royal Borough of Windsor & Maidenhead: www.rbwm.gov.uk 01628 683800 Wokingham Borough Council: www.wokingham.gov.uk 0118 974 6400 The next issue of Mine’s a Pint will be published in June. Please feel free to submit copy or ideas by 8 May. The opinions expressed in Mine’s a Pint are not necessarily those of the editor or the Campaign for Real Ale. © Campaign for Real Ale 2016.
From the Editor There’s been a lot to celebrate lately in the world of real ale.
nothing we can do if we don’t know about it until it’s happened.
• Send us your beer scores. Entries for the Good Beer Guide and shortlisting for Pub of the Year all rely on information about beer quality in pubs and, the more people that send in beer scores, the more reliable that information gets. If you haven't tried beer scoring before there's a handy article in this magazine to guide you through it.
Two new breweries have started up since our last issue – Bond Brews and Elusive Brewing – and you can read more about them in this magazine.
… Pubs … More local pubs continue to be registered as Assets of Community Value, including our cover star last time, the Nags Head.
… and Festivals Reading Beer and Cider Festival is on the move! A licence has now been granted for the brand new venue at Christchurch Meadows in Caversham – not far from the old site – which means that planning is now well under way for this year's event. It's not all good news of course. Pubs continue to close at an alarming rate – the latest figures published by CAMRA, compiled by independent research company CGA Strategy, show that 27 pubs a week closed in the second half of 2015. Although slightly down on the previous figure of 29 a week in the previous six months, that's still far too many and each of those pub closures leaves a community much poorer.
• Visit your local pub. This is the single easiest and most important thing you can do. Pubs are nothing without their communities, and communities are nothing without their pubs. If we don't want our local to become one of those 27 that close every week, then we all need to go in and put some money across the bar. It’s not difficult and you get some lovely beer in return! So, support your local pub and remember to get your tickets for the Reading Beer and Cider Festival. Cheers! Phil Gill - Editor firstname.lastname@example.org
Contents Branch Diary
From the Editor
If you’d like to help our pubs survive, there are several things you can do. Here are just a few.
Pub & Brewery News Small Beer
• Join CAMRA. Every new member adds extra weight to our campaigns. There's a handy form in this magazine that you can use, or go online to www.camra.org.uk/join
Reading Beer Festival 2016
Behind the Bar
The Early History of Lager
• Tell us your news. Whether it's news about a pub under threat, a change of landlord, a new pub menu or a change in the beer range, we want to know. Particularly if a pub is about to close, there’s
The Village Festival 2016 Beer Scoring Join CAMRA
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26 28-29 30
Pub & Brewery News BEENHAM Starting with news from a little outside our area, but worth reporting – the WINNING HAND on Bath Road has closed. The staff have relocated to Pincents Manor Hotel in Calcot.
BURGHFIELD An appeal against refusal of planning permission for residential conversion of the BANTAM on Omers Rise was held in January, with the result unknown as we went to press. A decision on an application to register the pub as an Asset of Community Value was also outstanding.
another way, your pint of real ale or real cider is just £1 when you come in for your ale trail sticker and order food. During the week the food is rolls, available daytime. Up the road at the top of Prospect Street, the PRINCE OF WALES has brought in a range of bottled beers to complement the cask ales from the Marstons list.
EARLEY Cask ales are only £2.50 a pint all day Tuesday at the SEVEN RED ROSES. This pub in Maiden Place has a quiz on Monday nights and a range of different events throughout the year, which have included live music, discos, fund-raisers and games nights. Children are welcome until 8pm if dining.
The Bantam in happier times before closure
Seven Red Roses
Several local pubs have been embracing the Ale Trail and the FOX AND HOUNDS in Gosbrook Road is worth a particular note. The “60 / 60” sees the pub showcasing 60 brand new beers in 60 days during the trail, made up of a mix of local brews and those from further afield. Also at weekends there are special food and beer offers for ale traillers. On Saturdays a burger meal and a pint is £9, while on Sundays the famous home-made roast with a pint is £11 (both are only served during the afternoon). Put
Sadly it definitely seems like last orders for the MAIDEN OVER on Silverdale Road. A well-supported community group have waged a hard-fought campaign ever since Enterprise Inns closed the pub and granted a lease to Tesco. However, it looks as though the supermarket company now have all the permissions that they need to turn this pop-
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PUB & BREWERY NEWS CONTINUED ular community pub into a convenience store. Wokingham Borough Council certainly didn’t help their residents by refusing an application to register the pub as an Asset of Community Value.
offerings for vegetarians, vegans and those with intolerances to gluten and dairy. But we were unaware that this major international organisation had heard about our efforts. It’s great to be recognised in this way.”
Other news is the launch of a classic car and bike meet on the second Sunday of every month. Starting in April (Sunday 10th) the pub garden and car park will be opened up to enthusiasts from 9.30 – 11.30am to display their prized possessions. Entry is free and there will be bacon rolls, hot dogs, soup, chips, tea and coffee to enjoy whilst admiring both two and four wheeled wonders. The meets will continue through until the autumn.
Located on Surley Row, just off the 24 bus route, the GARDENERS ARMS has one of the few remaining skittle alleys in the area. It's in a separate function room with a bar, that's available for hire. Two Greene King ales are usually on offer in the pub itself.
HURST Greene King have been advertising the tenancy of the JOLLY FARMER on Davis Street. Their website describes it as “a large rural destination site” with “ample room for the outside bar, BBQ and aunt sally pitch” and says that “this site has great opportunity for a proven food operator.”
READING Happening just after we went to print, the CASTLE TAP on Castle Street will by now have held its first anniversary beer festival. On the same theme, the ALEHOUSE in Broad Street recently held its own winter beer festival with nine casks. The bar staff weren’t always this coordinated …
Jolly Farmer, Hurst
PLAYHATCH The FLOWING SPRING on Henley Road has been named as one of the Top 10 veganfriendly pubs in the UK. The award from PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) reflects the wide variety and good quality of vegan-friendly food on the menu. Licensees Nick and Hazel say that it came out of the blue: “Over the past five years we’ve been expanding our selection of food
Carl and Tim at the Alehouse beer festival. Picture by Sarah Hussey. Not content with 12 real ales and even more real ciders, the NAGS HEAD on Russell Street has added a craft beer wall. Eight craft beers feature, some real (key keg) and others not, but all interesting choices and served in good condition.
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PUB & BREWERY NEWS CONTINUED The new Hungry Horse pub on Basingstoke Road is being called the TROOPER POTTS. Named after war hero and Reading's only holder of the Victoria Cross, Lance Corporal Frederick Owen Potts, the pub was named following a competition late last year and should be open soon. Trooper Potts seems to have seen a resurgence of interest 63 years after his death. A year or two back he was virtually unknown in his home town; now he has a road named after him, a statue by Forbury Gardens and now a pub bears his name too. After being hit by machine gun fire at the Battle of Scimitar Hill in 1915, Potts managed to drag a severely wounded colleague on a shovel for 48 hours, while under fire, until they reached safety. He was awarded the VC in October 1915 for outstanding bravery. The ROYAL on Oxford Road is closed and has been boarded up. The previous “to let” sign from Admiral Taverns has gone too, so the future is uncertain for this pub. MIX cocktail bar in Kings Walk has also closed. While this was never a real ale outlet it's always sad to see an independent bar close down. The closure was attributed to a dispute with the landlord, which seems to have been a common theme amongst businesses in the arcade over the last few months. The HOP LEAF on Southampton Street celebrated 21 years as a Hop Back pub in February by holding a party and a beer festival. The ale is always keenly priced and it's one of the few places in town where you can play bar billiards, so well worth a visit.
In St John’s Street, the RETREAT hosted its renowned annual Pickled Onion Competition in February. Jazz on the last Sunday of the month is popular (Simon Price 15.30 – 17.00) and look out for the Village Festival over the Easter weekend in conjunction with the LYNDHURST and ELDON ARMS – more details elsewhere in this issue. WILD LIME on Friar Street has reopened after a three day refit and real ale is back in the form of Doom Bar. Regular monthly Tap Takeovers at the GREYFRIAR on Greyfriars Road / Tudor Road have included the excellent Vibrant Forest brewery from Lymington, Hants.
SHINFIELD At the BELL AND BOTTLE on School Green, new licensees Mark and Chrissie East are settling in. Food is served every day and, on our visit, the regular ale Plain Sheep Dip was on top form. The pub is fully accessible including a disabled toilet, and the no.3 “Leopard” bus stops nearby.
THEALE The RED LION on Church Street, closed and the subject of numerous failed planning applications for residential conversion, is reported as being for sale as a pub. Just down the road, the VOLUNTEER is very much open and offering a choice of Fullers beers along with food, and an attractive garden for when the weather gets warmer. Dogs are welcome and can even get free dog biscuits at the bar.
WARREN ROW The SNOOTY FOX is reported as closed. Formerly a Brakspear pub, it was the subject of an unsuccessful application for change of use to residential recently. CONTINUED OVERLEAF
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PUB & BREWERY NEWS CONTINUED
WOODLEY The INN ON THE PARK, part of the sports centre, remains closed and the furniture and some fittings have been removed. It looks unlikely to reopen as a pub. Brewery News
NEW BREWERY – BOND BREWS Dean Bond has taken his many years of homebrewing experience and, with the backing of a Brewlab course, set up a commercial brewery. Based in Wokingham, Bond Brews started off at the turn of the year with an initial range of three ales: • Best of British – a 4% coppercoloured best bitter • Goldi-Hops – a 3.9% pale ale with a hint of citrus • Railway Porter – a 4.5% brown porter using five varieties of malt and wheat It's a six barrel plant and, if you were paying attention to the last issue of Mine's a Pint, you'll know that means it can produce up to 24 regular sized casks at a time. Or, in other words, 1,728 pints in each brew. Best of British and Railway Porter were two of the first beers on offer in Reading pubs, and they were very well received. We understand that the beers are to be brewed on a weekly basis in both cask and bottle conditioned form, as the market requires. Find out more at www.bondbrews.co.uk
ANOTHER NEW BREWERY – ELUSIVE BREWING Hot on the heels of Bond Brews, and just down the road in Finchampstead, Elusive Brewing has been set up by Andy Parker. Brewing was expected to commence as we
went to press so we haven't had a chance to sample the beers yet, but we understand that the first three to go into production were planned to be: • Cherrywood Road – a 3.8% subtly smoked mild • D&V – a 5% English pale ale with a hint of apricot in the finish • Level Up – a 5.8% American red ale brewed with Mosaic and Equinox hops This is a five barrel plant (1,440 pints) and as the brewery gets going you should be able to find out more information at www.elusivebrewing.com
ASCOT ALES The next in the popular series of Single Hop IPA (4.6% ABV) will be Admiral. It's a UK variety that has excellent flavour notes which are orangey, citrus and herbal.
BINGHAMS The next two specials will be Bricks and Mortar porter and Total Eclipse Black IPA. The ever popular single hop Craft Hop series continues with US hop Bravo for a fruity hop character with hints of plum and pine.
HOP KING It was announced in January that, owing to constraints on time and finance, the brewery is to be “put on hiatus for the time being”. This is sad news as things just seemed to be getting going but we hope that the brewery will be resurrected in the future.
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BREWERY NEWS CONTINUED will be used to brew an IPA.
If you happen to catch an What's planned is, in the brewery's old re-run of Midsomer words, “a slightly darker than averMurders called “The Night age pale ale, light in ABV (4%), of the Stag” (series 14, clean and crisp but with a good episode 6) you might wonbody, not too thin which will carry der where the featured over and balance out the hops with Midsomer Abbas cider some sweetness in the backbone.” maker is. It's actually The beers will only be released in Loddon Brewery in discask and keg. guise and the filming took place over several days in New beers and expansion of the Night of the Stag 2011. Now you can mark Photo by Loddon Bre brewery in Finchampstead have wery the event with a special unfortunately meant that the tap beer. The golden beer room has been closed. The space is being Night of the Stag is 4.4% ABV and is availused for eight new fermenters, each of 60 able in bottles from the brewery shop. hectolitre capacity. The brewery shop will remain open (although initially not on There you should also find some of the last Saturdays) for the sale of bottles, merchanremaining bottles of 300, the 10% oak-aged dise and glassware, but not draught beer. barley wine that was brewed to celebrate the brewery’s 10th anniversary. It comes in an individually numbered 78 cl bottle in a special presentation tube – great for a special gift.
SHERFIELD VILLAGE The latest collaboration between RURAS and Sherfield Village Brewery is Midnight Oil – as might be expected, a stout. It's 5% and described as very malty with tones of chocolate. The collaboration brews are a regular event and it's great to see a handson student society whose alumni are already active in local pubs, breweries, beer festivals and CAMRA.
SIREN CRAFT Following last year's series of beers under the “Dinner for ...” name, this year's theme is “Proteus”. The idea is that there will be four different “Volumes” of the beer brewed, each with a different selection of three hops. However, there will also be three brews of each Volume, where the chosen hops will be used in different ways to achieve variations of the same beer. At the end of each Volume then the optimum way of combining the hops
WEST BERKSHIRE Building on the success of the matchday bar at the Madejski Stadium, the brewery is to brew a special ale for Reading FC. A bespoke pale ale is to be created for the club and team sponsor Waitrose have agreed, in principle, to stock it in their local stores from early this year. A competition was held to name the new ale and, while we don't yet know the winning name, we're keen to try the beer. The brewery has also launched a reward programme for publicans. The “Good Old Reward Scheme” offers publicans benefits and ongoing rewards for stocking and selling Good Old Boy. The scheme is free to join and publicans can earn points towards a wide number of gifts such as business orientated Point of Sale and glassware, and others which are personal rewards. Each firkin of Good Old Boy delivered has a sticker which is removed and saved by the publican. Each
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BREWERY NEWS CONTINUED sticker equates to one point and the points can be exchanged for anything from bar runners to polo shirts and other branded merchandise.
XT The new annual special is XT-16 – a 6% Belgian Style IPA – quadruple hopped with some of Europe’s finest greenery. It's described as “Belgian speciality malts and a European Union of hops all presided over by a Brussels Abbey Ale Yeast. Plus the XT Brewery is built on the site of an Augustinian Abbey.” Also, the National Trust estate at Waddesdon Manor have commissioned a rather unique beer from XT – a Quince Ale. The Quince is all grown on the estate and XT worked with them to create a very special bottled beer. The new 4.2% Quince Ale will be available exclusively in bottle from Waddesdon Manor from the spring.
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Small Beer ASSETS OF COMMUNITY VALUE Great news in local pub campaigning early this year. Firstly in January our nomination of the Butchers Arms in Tilehurst as an ACV was successful. Then as we were putting together this issue of Mine's a Pint, the wonderful news came through that Reading’s Nags Head had also been granted ACV status, becoming the tenth pub in our branch area to do so. Massive thanks to everybody that helped make the case for the pub: The Nags Head Cavalry, Dale Ingram at Planning For Pubs, the local ward councillors, CAMRA members and pub regulars who all supported the campaign. Now happily free of permitted development rights for
PUBS MAKE YOU HAPPY A study for CAMRA published in early 2016 has shown that people who go to the pub tend to be happier than those that don’t. In his study “Friends on Tap: The Role of Pubs at the Heart of the Community”, Professor Robin Dunbar of the Department of Experimental Psychology at Oxford University concluded that the pub offers an enriching environment where we have the opportunity to meet a greater diversity of people from all walks of life than we might otherwise be able to do. His study found that people who have a “local” or those who patronise small community pubs have more close friends on whom they can depend for support, are more satisfied with their lives and feel more embedded in their local communities than those who said they did not have a local pub.
change of use or demolition, the future of both the Butchers and the Nags is more secure. Sadly the same is not true of the Horns at Crazies Hill. There the local parish council applied to register the pub as an ACV but Wokingham Borough Council rejected the nomination. Wokingham don't seem to have a good record in that department. One of our CAMRA branch objectives this year is to nominate a certain number of pubs as ACVs and we're putting together plans to achieve that, so hopefully there will be more good news in the next issue. Professor Dunbar concluded that “Directly or indirectly (by allowing us to meet face to face), modest alcohol consumption also enables us to build friendships and create a sense of community, and there is considerable evidence that social network size and quality has dramatic effects on health, wellbeing, happiness and even survival.” He recommended that: • Publicans and pub owners work closely with their community to develop a local community atmosphere; • City planners and developers make greater efforts to ensure that communities have local pubs readily available to them; • Government policy on beer tax and business rate relief should consider the positive impacts which community pubs have on health and wellbeing; • If we can persuade people to get off their smart phones and get down to the pub to talk to each other, it is likely to have dramatic effects on health and wellbeing, as well as community cohesion. The full report is available on the CAMRA website www.camra.org.uk
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LOCALE UPDATE There’s a lot to catch up with on the LocAle front, with new local breweries starting up regularly and a great choice of local ales in our pubs. Unfortunately as there’s a lot going on this time we can’t publish a full list of LocAle pubs and breweries, but we hope to do so in the next issue.
ALE TRAIL WALK
PUB OF THE YEAR Judging for the 2016 Branch Pub of the Year award was taking place during February and March, and the winner should be announced soon. Pubs on the shortlist, in alphabetical order, were: • Alehouse, Reading • Bell, Waltham St Lawrence • Castle Tap, Reading • Fox and Hounds, Caversham • Greyfriar, Reading • Nags Head, Reading
Fancy the chance to take a walk around the heart of Reading and Caversham while visiting some Ale Trail pubs along the way? To mark this year's trail, Chris Hinton has organised a walk for Sunday 20 March that explores the two town centres as well as following stretches of the Thames and the Kennet.
...any of which are well worth a visit!
Finish: Alehouse approx. 17:30
GREAT BRITISH BEER FESTIVAL The Great British Beer Festival is organised by CAMRA and offers visitors over 900 real ales, ciders, perries and international beers as well as fantastic entertainment, food, seating areas, and traditional pub games to enjoy. It's all held under one roof in the heart of London, at Olympia, and is a great day out that's easily accessible from Reading. A range of ticket options is now available at gbbf.org.uk including VIP and season tickets, so make sure and get yours early for this popular event. See the advert in this magazine for more details.
Start: North exit of Reading Station at 12:00
Distance: 5 Miles Paths: Pavements, riverside and canal towpath (all tarmac). Ale Trail Pubs: Fox & Hounds, Crown on the Bridge, Fishermans Cottage, Eldon Arms, Retreat and Alehouse. Places of Interest: New Thames Bridge, new beer festival site, Caversham weir and lock, old beer festival site, Horseshoe Bridge, Blakes Lock, Chestnut Walk, Reading Gaol, Forbury Gardens. Contact details: email@example.com / 0118 987 3203
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SMALL BEER - CONTINUED
DRINK / DRIVE LIMITS In December 2014 the Scottish government reduced the alcohol limit for drivers from 80 to 50 milligrams of alcohol in every 100 millilitres of blood. Evidence suggests an increased pressure on licensed premises in rural areas owing to a reduction in trade in the last year.
limit in England and Wales, which have seen a steady reduction in the number of drink-drive related incidents over the last decade.”
The limit in England and Wales remains at 80 mg per 100 ml. Although there have been calls for it to be lowered, the Department for Transport confirmed in February that there are no plans to lower the England and Wales limit to bring it into line with Scotland.
“We would expect the Government to consider the impact that lowering the limit has had on the licensed trade in Scotland, and to reflect upon that experience when considering whether to apply it elsewhere. With the change in Scotland having affected the business of hundreds of rural pubs we'd expect the Government to present robust evidence demonstrating the benefits of any proposed change in other parts of the UK - where adoption of the lower limit is likely to affect the commercial viability of thousands of pubs.”
CAMRA supports responsible drinking and its position on drink drive limits is this: “CAMRA strongly recommends that people do not drink and drive. We would however urge the Government to consider carefully the likely impact of changing the current legal
“Finally, we'd urge everyone to continue to support pubs, especially those situated in remote and rural areas. By using public transport or designated drivers, it's still possible to have a great time, support the British pub trade and stay safe.”
BOTTLE OF BEER
Late last year Canadian brewery Storm Brewing from Vancouver unveiled a limited edition beer that was sold for $1,000 a bottle. “Glacial Mammoth Extinction” was a hefty 25% ABV and described as a “rich, complex, and viscous 100 percent malt beverage” that bears more resemblance and taste to a port than a beer. James Walton from Storm said that he started with the brewery's Imperial Flanders Sour Ale, then exposed it to temperatures of -30 degrees Celsius over a month. This froze the water out of the beer, leaving “sugars, flavors and alcohol”, which was then aged in French oak barrels for two years.
Above: James Walton with his $1,000 beer. Photo from Storm Brewing's Facebook page
To promote the beer's release, Storm made just ten limited edition bottles, hand crafted by Brad Turner, a glass blower from Terminal City Glass Co-op in East Vancouver. In addition to being handmade, each bottle featured a one-of-a-kind prehistoric mammoth ivory and 14 carat gold pendant made by local sculptor Richard Marcus. The ivory used for the pendants was from a real mammoth tusk estimated to be 35,000 years old. Unfortunately if you feel like splashing out, you’re just too late. The bottles sold out within weeks and all the draught beer is now gone too.
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3 West Berkshire Ales 6 Guest Ales German & Belgian Beers Real Cider, Perry and Mead Local CAMRA Pub of the Year 2014 Runner Up Local CAMRA Cider Pub of the Year 2013 & 2014
A Community pub in the e heart of Reading e
Pub quiz first Monday of the month 2 Broad Street Reading, RG1 2BH
01189 508119 thealehousereading.co.uk firstname.lastname@example.org
Follow us on twitter @AlehouseReading
A charming 14th Century Country Inn between Maidenhead and Reading. The Inn serves a host of regularly changing Real Ales.
The beautifully refurbished Restaurant overlooks the garden and the Inglenook fire provides a warm and cosy setting.
20th March, 10th April, 1st May, 22nd May and 12th June
The Inn has 22 en-suite bedrooms - standard, superior and suites. One room is adapted for the disabled. Free wifi available throughout.
Free entry. Winning team get a round of drinks.
The Bird in Hand, Bath Road, Knowl Hill, Twyford, Berks RG10 9UP
Call: 01628 826622 / 2781 Email: email@example.com Visit: www.birdinhand.co.uk
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SMALL BEER - CONTINUED
CAMRA MEMBERS' WEEKEND There’s still just time to register for the CAMRA AGM and Members’ Weekend to be held in Liverpool on 1-3 April. Online registration at camraagm.org.uk/register closes on 11 March. The weekend is where our members discuss our future policy and direction. It offers the opportunity to socialise with friends, visit recommended pubs and go on organised trips. Elections for the National Executive – CAMRA’s board of directors – will also be held. It’s open to all CAMRA members and will be held at the Liverpool Guild of Students. Over 1,000 people usually attend the Members’ Weekend so, if you'd like to be a part of this important and fun event, register today!
BRACKNELL ALE AND WINE FESTIVAL It's not only the Reading Beer Festival that's relocating this year – the Bracknell Ale and Wine Festival is moving to a new venue within the grounds of Lily Hill park at Bracknell Rugby Club. The event will take place on Sunday 29th May – the bank holiday weekend – and run from noon until the late evening. Over 30 real ales, wine and cider as well as good food and some great live music are promised.
Club, Bracknell Football Club, Bracknell Bees Ice Hockey Club or any Bracknell based sports club with a membership system) you can get in for free. It's best to visit the ticket website to download your free ticket in advance. See www.bracknellalefestival.co.uk for more details.
BRITISH PUB CONFEDERATION A new body has been launched with the aim of becoming the voice of pubs and publicans. Building on the success of the Fair Deal For You Local coalition, the British Pub Confederation wants to ensure that the voice of pubs, publicans and pub campaigners will always be heard, whether on the issue of the Market-Rent Only option or any other issue that matters to those groups. Thirteen organisations are members so far, and the Confederation aims to provide a counterpoint to the lobbying of big business interests. Greg Mulholland, Chair of the Confederation, was quoted in The Publican’s Morning Advertiser as saying, “The challenges facing pubs and publicans may be significant – but the success of the Fair Deal For Your Local campaign has shown what can be achieved. We now need similar success on meaningful protection for pubs and on pro-pub taxation and we will be a leading voice on both. Until we see an end to the closure of viable pubs, an end to exploitation of publicans, an end to predatory purchasing of pubs, and end to excessive business rates on pubs and an end to pocket money prices in supermarkets and until we see a more stable, more diverse, more prosperous pub sector we will work, with others, to get positive change to benefit pubs and publicans.”
Best of all, if you’re a CAMRA member or a member or season ticket holder of any Bracknell sports club (Bracknell Rugby
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Reading Beer Festival is Moving! Thursday 28th April to Sunday 1st May 2016
Contains Ordnance Survey data ÂŠ Crown copyright and database right 2016
For the first time in a couple of decades Reading and Mid-Berks Beer and Cider Festival has a new home. Due to the redevelopment of the Lido building, adjacent to our old Kings Meadow site, we have relocated. Our new home is on Christchurch Meadows. It's just a stones throw from the old site on the opposite side of the Thames, so it's pretty easy to find, with easy access from Reading Bridge. The council have even thoughtfully provided a new pedestrian and cycle bridge over the Thames which makes access to the Festival even easier from the train station (although I don't think they actually built it for us!). For those of you using the mapping directions on a smartphone the magic numbers are RG4 8DH.
selection of Foreign Bottled Beers, English white and fizzy Wines, Mead and British Country Wines. All served from the longest bar in the county (and possibly the country). There will be traditional pub games; tombola; live music Friday and Saturday; and children's entertainments and Morris Dancers on the Sunday. I've asked the site
The format will be unchanged from previous years with a huge range of Real Ales (over 550), Ciders and Perry (120+), a large
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READING BEER FESTIVAL 2016 team to order in a delivery of lovely sunny weather but have been told there are no guarantees on that one. But should delivery go as planned you can enjoy the sunshine in our massive Beer Garden. The Beer Festival is run entirely by unpaid volunteers, it's a great deal of fun, and if you are a CAMRA member and fancy popping along to help out (and get free entry!) volunteering forms are available on the website: www.readingbeerfestival.org.uk Once again the Saturday will be split into two sessions with opening times as follows:
THURSDAY 28TH APRIL 16:30 to 23:00
FRIDAY 29TH APRIL 11:00 to 23:00
SATURDAY 30TH APRIL (AFTERNOON) 11:00 to 16:30
The Bull Hotel
SATURDAY 30TH APRIL (EVENING)
High Street,Wargrave RG10 8DD TEL 01189 403120
18:00 to 23:00
A PROPER PUB with bags of character, charm, beams galore and a crackling log fire in our fabulous Inglenook fireplace.
SUNDAY 1ST MAY 12:00 to 19:30
FINE WINES • GREAT ALES Tickets should be available soon (and probably are available now by the time you read this) from our website. For prices, details of the ticket packages and any other information please check the website. I look forward to having a pint (or maybe two) with you all at the new venue.
(Cask Marque accredited)
TOP QUALITY HOME MADE FOOD
Fish, Chips and Fizz on a Friday night at £25 per couple Jayne's Sunday Roast is a firm favourite - booking highly recommended
5 en suite bedrooms
Please contact Jayne and her staff for more details
Dave Scott Festival Organiser
We have a delightful secluded walled garden which will be open from Easter
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Behind the Bar This is the part of Mine's a Pint where we hand over to a local landlord to tell us about their pub. This time Carl Mellors brings us up to date with the Alehouse on Reading's Broad Street. If you've not been paying attention, you may have missed it, but there has been a change of management at The Alehouse. It has not been obvious, because I became assistant manager back in 2010 under Katrina’s leadership, then continued in this role during Mick’s tenure. I took over in charge at the beginning of October last, and so far the changes have been subtle – but what of the future? The first few months were basically getting settled in and dealing with the very busy Christmas period. So apart from the new beer fridge, which has allowed me to expand the bottled beer range and introduce a changing menu of mostly imported bottled beers, not much has changed so far. What I intend to do can be pretty much summed-up as “consolidate and tweak”. My view is that the pub has an enviable reputation among lovers of real ale, and my job is to both preserve and build on that. With experience in the trade spread over 30 years and 16 years involvement in a number of CAMRA beer festivals, including Cambridge, the Great
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Above: The Alehouse at night. Inset: Carl at the bar British Beer Festival and our own event in Reading, I feel I should be able to do so. There's a lot that’s right with The Alehouse but I would like to improve some of the stuff that we all know needs it. The most obvious example is the decor in the toilets, which requires a lot of work. I hope to get under way with this soon, so please bear with us and we will try to keep any disruption and inconvenience to a minimum. The important thing is the beer, of course, and there are no plans to change policy there. The pub will continue to serve an ever changing range of real ale, cider and perry sourced from around the country. This was exemplified by a Mini Winter Ale festival at the end of January, with nine ales served direct from cask in addition to the normal nine hand pumps, and some German Winter Bocks also on draught. The little festival was a great success, and I'm grateful for all the
support I am receiving from both staff and customers. Ricky in particular is doing a great job in my old role as deputy, taking on responsibility for much of the ale ordering. Hopefully, over the coming months, you will begin to see some improvements, while continuing to enjoy some fine beers, both cask, key-cask and bottled. Don't forget to ask to see the beer menu if you like to try something a bit different. Carl Mellors Manager, The Alehouse
Local Landlords Do you have a story to tell and want to promote your pub? Get in touch – the details are on page 3 – and you could feature in a coming issue of Mine’s a Pint.
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PART ONE: PRODUCTION Although often looked down upon in the UK because of the poor mass-produced nature of many of the products available, lager is an authentic beer style with a long history. Here Paul Dabrowski looks as the early history of lager in the UK. This article deals with production, while part 2 in a future issue will look at the consumption of lager. It was in 1835 that an Edinburgh brewer, John Muir, began lager production utilising a strain of yeast provided to him as a gift by a fellow German brewer. However, lager brewing at the Calton Hill Brewery, established 20 years previously, soon ceased since it proved impossible to keep the yeast strain pure given that other beer styles were still the brewery’s mainstay. Nonetheless, lager was fast becoming popular in the rest of Europe beyond the confines of Germany, usually through imports. The name ‘Bavarian’ became attached to several breweries hoping to capitalise on the fashion for this new, bright, beer. Although only founded in 1860, the Shepton Mallet Pale Ale Brewery, having
built an impressive new brewing complex in 1864, found that taken over by “The AngloBavarian Brewery” in 1871. [According to the Brewery History Society, the Pale Ale Brewery had been acquired by a Garton & Co of Southampton in 1870, ostensibly as a reserve brewery. Little is known about a Hampshire ‘Garton’ concern but, in 1898, the Anglo-Bavarian took over a Charles Garton & Co of Lawrence Hill, Bristol.] Formed a year earlier (1870), the new brewery utilised an unusual process, one designed to replicate German-style beers without the need for extended storage, but was also able to produce a range of standard English ales – it reputedly never produced any lager for home consumption – its raison d’être had been as an export brewery! Unsurprisingly, the ‘Bavarian’ nomenclature was dropped
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THE EARLY HISTORY OF LAGER IN THE UK during the First World War and beer production finally ceased here at the outbreak of the Second World War. It was not until 1881 that Britain’s first dedicated lager-only brewery was established at the former Eltham Brewery (rebuilt 1872) as “The Bayerische Lager Beer Brewery”. However, this concern had traded under myriad owning names previously and, whilst its intention had been to exploit the London market, it is not even certain that any lager was ever produced there! By the late 1880s, the venture had failed and the brewery traded as Kenward Brothers [probably of Kenward & Court of Hadlow, Kent, renown] from 1900 onwards, possibly until the establishment of Kenward’s Lydd brewery. Also, in 1881, the first brewery erected specifically to brew lager was “The Austro-Bavarian Lager Beer Brewery” of Tottenham, owned by a Leopold Seckendorff. At least four beers were produced, including a Tottenham Lager, but, after reforming (and registering) as “The Austro-Bavarian Lager Beer Brewery & Crystal Ice Factory Ltd.” in May 1886, voluntary liquidation followed in May 1895. It then became the “Imperial Lager Brewery Ltd.” for a few years until brewing stopped forever in 1903. The accolade of the first true English brewer of lager goes to Joseph Spink & Sons of Bradford who, in 1877, started production at their Brown Royd brewery. It was only a short-lived experiment. Two years later, William Younger’s Holyrood brewery in Edinburgh commenced brewing lager and persisted for a few years before being defeated, probably, by the increasing popularity of the imported product. The St. Anne’s Well brewery of Exeter also tried out lager pro-
duction in 1881 but, again, this was only as an adjunct to other brewing and soon ceased. The second purposebuilt lager brewery and, by far, the most successful, was in Wrexham, erected between 1882 and 1883 for the “Wrexham Lager Beer Company”. This had actually been founded in 1878 by Ivan Levenstein and Otto Isler as the “Wrexham Brewery Company” but one Robert Græsser had soon acquired a majority shareholding before the name was changed in 1881. Austrian engineers had designed the new brewery, overseen by the general manager, Stanislav Fenzl, by basing it on previous blueprints and it featured lagering cellars containing 200, 1,446 gallon, maturing vessels together with an associated ice machine. Brewing continued under several changes of ownership before being acquired by Ind Coope Ltd. in 1949 who, along with their successors, Carlsberg-Tetley, kept the brewery in production for the rest of the 20th century. Even latterly, apart from a touch of wheat for head retention, Wrexham Lager still conformed to the strictures of the 16th century German pure beer law, or Reinheitsgebot. Ind Coope had earlier commenced production of its c. 1897 ‘Burgomaster’ lager brand c. 1897 at their Burton site alongside Allsopp’s. Also purpose-built, in 1891, was the “English Lager Beer Brewery” of Batheaston, near Bath. Registered as a limited company in early 1890, the brewery itself only lasted a couple of years before the company was voluntarily wound up in mid-1893. Founded 1776, J & R Tennant Ltd. of Glasgow was similarly registered in 1890 and built two completely separate lager
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THE EARLY HISTORY OF LAGER IN THE UK - CONTINUED breweries, the first in 1891 (which brewed until 1906) before opening another to take its place, again on its Wellpark Brewery site, in 1905.
finally closed when prohibition was eventually repealed in 1933 and, quite possibly, only met its demise since its original purpose had been overtaken by events.
Allsopp’s of Burton-on-Trent had installed a 60,000 barrel lager plant in a disused part of their premises during 1897. But, with sales never more than 2/3 of this capacity, their American-derived lager plant was moved to Archibald Arroll’s Alloa Brewery in 1921 where, ultimately, production of Skol lager was perpetuated until that brewery was closed, again by Carlsberg-Tetley, in 1998/9.
Finally, the Moss Side Brewery, having produced its Red Tower brand during the 1920s, when German-built equipment was installed on their Manchester site in 1933, a new company was registered as the “Red Tower Lager Brewery Ltd.”. Acquired by Scottish Brewers in 1956, the name was changed to the “Royal Moss Side Brewery” in 1963 coincident with redevelopment of the brewhouse and where production of various forms of lager, Fosters, Harp, Heineken and Kroenenburg, has continued to the present day.
Also, in 1921, one of the two Kenward brothers (either Edward or Peter – it is not known which – of the Kenward & Court Brewery) bought the “Pale Ale Brewery” of Edward Finn & Sons Ltd., Lydd, Kent who had previously been taken over by Style & Winch of Maidstone (also Kent). His intention was to produce a ‘near beer’ for export to the USA during prohibition but, by all accounts, he was ultimately unsuccessful in that endeavour. ‘Near beers’ were categorised by the Volstead Act, which instigated prohibition in 1920, as those containing 0.5% alcohol or less and were therefore permissible. However, many breweries in the USA began to brew these ‘tonics’, as they became known, to avoid going out of business during prohibition and these were undoubtedly derived from the beers previously produced by the predominantly-German dominated industry there. One can only speculate as to the quality of Mr. Kenward’s ‘near beer’ and its ability to withstand the journey across the Atlantic but the fact that his new brewery had been acquired from a pale ale specialist anyway (as had occurred in Shepton Mallet fifty years earlier) suggests a light, even lagerstyle, ‘near beer’ was being brewed for export. The Kenward-owned Lydd brewery
With most attempts at lager production being carried out in older premises with new or adapted plant, the early history of lager brewing in the UK seems to have fared better in Scotland and Wales than in England. Here, only sporadic attempts to brew and sell lager, occasionally for export only, appears to have been the norm, at least until the Second World War, since when the construction of several giant ‘megakeggeries’ occurred to satisfy the manufactured popularity of ersatz versions of an adulterated brew that is often ‘lager’ in name only. Authentic lager production thus came to be effectively subsumed by the development of the kegging process for indigenous beers being extended to almost all mass-market lager production. Paul Dabrowski With acknowledgements to: Beer, Boak & Bailey, CAMRA; Built to Brew, Lynn Pearson, English Heritage; British Film Institute and Where Have All the Breweries Gone?, Norman Barber, Brewery History Society. CAMAL (The Campaign for Authentic Lager – which has no connection with CAMRA) may be of interest. Please visit www.camal.org.uk for more details.
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A UNIQUE, TRADITIONAL BAR
A charming country pub. The friendly & relaxed atmosphere welcomes locals, families, walkers, dogs & cyclists alike
Serving London Pride permanently with weekly changing guest ales
Bar Food Served
• Cosy seating area with wood burner • Ideal for walks & to hack to, very near the Knowl Hill bridle path • Home-made food served Mon - Fri 12-3pm & 6 - 9pm, Sat - Sun 12-9pm • Sunday Roast from 12 noon to 3pm
Monday - Friday noon until 2pm
Hog Roast Specialists Ring for details
Regular Jazz Nights
• Beer garden overlooking fields
01628 822 010 Knowl Hill Common, Berkshire, RG10 9YE
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17th March, 7th April & 28th April Marquee available for events Arborfield Road,Shinfield, Reading,Berkshire,RG2 9EA Tel: 0118 9884130
The Village Festival 2016 “The Village” annual real ale and live music festival is back for 2016. Above: Inside the Eldon Arms – one of the pubs taking part in the Village Festival Due to the runaway success of last year’s festival the three popular Reading “Village” pubs: The Lyndhurst, The Retreat and The Eldon are getting together again to celebrate Easter 2016. Over the Easter weekend there will be 21 live music acts, 21 real ales (plus guest ales) and great food and snacks served throughout the weekend. Heath Thomas, owner of The Lyndhurst, said, “We are really looking forward to this year’s festival after last year’s success. Preparations are well under way and the exciting array of music acts coupled with fantastic real ale across the three pubs, great Lyndhurst food and some extra surprises in store, we are certain that everyone will have a great time. It’s a really important event for the local community too and we are proud to be part of it.”
Brian Moignard of The Retreat added, “Absolutely. There will be something for everyone across the three pubs over the whole weekend. Where else can you go in Reading and experience first rate live music and so many different ales in one area?” “We are proud to be part of The Village Festival again this year”, said Russell McKenzie, landlord of The Eldon Arms. “The teams are all geared up for what is going to be another exciting, successful Festival. Reading has a long history of live music and real ales and it's great to be a part of that legacy moving forward”. The Village Festival starts at 12pm across all three pubs on Good Friday and runs through to Easter Monday afternoon. Make sure to put a note in your diary so you don’t miss out!
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Beer Scoring Have you ever wondered about how pubs get into the Good Beer Guide (GBG)? Unlike those guides where paid individuals submit reviews, GBG entries are compiled from beer scores submitted by CAMRA members. Every single CAMRA member has the opportunity to contribute to the GBG, by submitting quality scores for the beers they have drunk. While the concept of sitting at the bar with a notebook giving your beer a points score might seem a little obsessive, in fact beer scoring is a vital tool of CAMRA's ongoing campaign for good beer and good pubs. There are over 150 pubs in our branch so we need members from across the region to help us gather information about them year-round. The scores are on an 11 point scale (0-5, by half-mark):
0 = No cask ale available. 1 = Beer that is anything from barely drinkable to drinkable with considerable resentment. Includes beer taken back as being poor and not taken off sale.
2 = Competently kept; drinkable but doesn't inspire in any way. Below what is expected for the GBG.
3 = Good beer in good form. A GBG user (i.e. you!) would not be disappointed with it. You may seek out the beer again in the same session.
4 = Very good: Excellent beer in excellent condition. Exceeds expectations.
5 = Probably the best beer you are likely to find. A seasoned drinker will award this score very rarely.
Don’t give a pint 5 just because it’s (say) Doom Bar and you happen to like Doom Bar. Think: in your experience is this beer in front of you a really good example of a Doom Bar, or a pretty poor one? And don’t give a pint 0 because it’s a stout and you happen to hate stouts. If in doubt, don’t score, or maybe ask a friend what they think. Most people can tell the difference between a beer that just happens to have a flavour that “isn’t for them” and a beer with actual defects. Gradually you’ll accumulate scores and begin to develop your own method of making comparisons. It’s like riding a bike. Soon it becomes second nature. Some people do find beer scoring confusing and are unsure as to the “correct” way to record a beer score. But you don’t need to be particularly knowledgeable about every beer you might come across! The great thing about real ale is the diversity of tastes. Here are a few things to take note of when evaluating an ale:
1. LOOK: Assess the colour, clarity and the foam of the pint. Golden ales should appear bright and clear while darker beers, such as stouts and porters, possess a richer colour and often a thick, creamy head. As a general rule of thumb it’s best to base your view on whether it looks appealing. If it’s got bits in it, or looks very flat (no head) it’s looking like a duffer.
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2. SMELL: Smell is an important part of the drinking experience. Take a short sniff of your drink to assess the aroma. If it’s immediately repulsive – smelling of vinegar or chemicals – then it’s a sure-fire bet that the pint you have is poor. If it smells of alkali chemicals it's likely the remnants of line cleaner which is a corrosive substance - do not be tempted to drink any of the beer, take it straight back and inform the staff.
3. TASTE: Take a sip and let it flow around your mouth before swallowing. Beers can reflect many taste sensations. The intensity of the flavours and the finish (the “aftertaste”) make up the whole taste. Give your taste buds a few seconds to register all the differing sensations. Has the publican kept the beer well enough to allow the flavour to come through fully?
4. MOUTHFEEL: How does it “feel” in the mouth? Most well-kept ales will have a light carbonation and feel “alive”. Well, they are! They should be served at cellar temperature – that means cool, not cold. Ales that are warm and/or as flat as old dishwater are definitely not good. Flat beers can often indicate that the beer has hit the end of the barrel (imagine the dregs left in a bottle of cola that has been open a few hours) – this is a natural part of the cycle of the barrel’s lifespan and a good publican will be happy to check if you suspect an ale is at “bottom” and replace it with a fresh pint from elsewhere. With thousands of ales to choose from, everyone has their own personal favourites and things that they don't like, so please try to give an honest account of how well-kept a particular beer is. If you aren't sure then try to do your scoring based on beers that you know that you normally like when they are in good condition.
It’s up to you how you record your scores while in the pub - scraps of paper, notebooks or on a smart phone, whatever suits you. So how do you submit them? The easiest way is to log onto CAMRA's WhatPub site: whatpub.com. The default username is your CAMRA membership number (without any leading zeroes) and, unless you've set up your own password, it will be your postcode (in upper case with no spaces) at the time of joining. If you have difficulty logging in, there’s help on the screen. In fact, there’s plenty of help for all steps in getting your pub scores entered! If you can’t use the web then there’s a spreadsheet that you can use instead – ask the branch contact for a copy.
SO MUCH FOR SUBMITTING THE SCORES, WHAT HAPPENS NEXT? All the scores recorded for our local pubs are entered into a master spreadsheet. This contains an agreed algorithm that compresses bulk scores and produces the overall figures for multiple-level scores, amongst other things. At the end of the year, those pubs which have scored 80% or above scores of 3+ and have been ‘visited’ at least 20 times (exceptions are occasionally made for our more rural pubs) are presented to the GBG selection meeting. This is part of a general branch meeting so any card-carrying CAMRA member may attend! Usually, the top 10-14 are waived through blind; if they’re this good on the beer quality, they must go in. The rest are then opened up to a general debate to the floor, from which follows a vote to decide the remaining places. Surveys are taken, entries are submitted to CAMRA HQ and then they appear in the following GBG. Simple. So, your vote does count. Judging the best pubs in Britain is something you are uniquely placed to do. Please take the time to beer score and make your contribution to the Good Beer Guide! James Moore and Quinten Taylor
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Reading and Mid Berkshire CAMRA magazine - Spring 2016