CAMPAIGN for REAL ALE
IN THIS ISSUE
Pub & Brewery News Small Beer Belfast - Real Ale Desert? Join CAMRA Craft Beer - What’s it all about? National Winter Ales Festival
PUB OF THE YEAR VOTING
CAN THE CURRENT CHAMPION RETAIN ITS TITLE? THE CAMRA MAGAZINE FOR READING AND MID BERKSHIRE ISSUE FORTY • WINTER 2016/17 • FREE - PLEASE TAKE A COPY
Branch Diary All events start at 20.00 and are open to everybody unless specified.
Thu 5: First Thursday of the Month Social. Nags Head, 5 Russell Street, Reading, RG1 7XD. Tue 17: Branch meeting. Royal Oak, Ruscombe Lane, Ruscombe, RG10 9JN. CAMRA members only, please. Sat 28: Pub Crawl of London. A joint crawl with all the branches in CAMRA Central Southern region. Start at the Parcel Yard, Kings Cross Station, N1C 4AP. Contact Sue Thirlaway: 07899 980307. February
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 firstname.lastname@example.org 0771 455 0293 81 Addison Road, Reading, RG1 8EG Magazine published on behalf of Reading and Mid Berkshire CAMRA by:
Orchard House Media Ltd email@example.com
Thu 2: First Thursday of the Month Social. Swan, Basingstoke For advertising enquiries please contact Road, Three Mile Cross, RG7 1AT. Wed 22: Branch meeting. Griffin, 10/12 Church Road, Caversham, RG4 7AD. 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 e-mail updates of the branch diary, contact Rich Croton: firstname.lastname@example.org
New Shire Horses at Hook Norton Hook Norton Brewery in Oxfordshire has expanded its shire horse and dray team with the arrival of Winston and Roger, two black, pure bred shires. Aged 10 and 8 respectively and standing at over 18 hands they will be working alongside the existing pair of Major and Nelson. The shires deliver Hooky beer to the local pubs on Thursdays and Fridays (weather permitting) and are also out around Hook Norton on the first Saturday of every month. Shire horses have been an integral part of brewery life since it began in 1849 and for many, many years, were the reliable backbone of its delivery system. The shire horses will be looked after by long serving drayman, Roger Hughes along with new groom Elizabeth Csak and will make their home in the brewery stables. Brewery tours include a tour of the stables so there is a great opportunity to see these magnificent horses. The shires team will also be venturing further afield attending various game fairs, country shows and beer festivals during the coming year.
Jane Michelson: 01778 382718 email@example.com Reading & Mid Berkshire CAMRA www.readingcamra.org.uk Social Secretary: Rich Croton 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 early March. Please feel free to submit copy or ideas by 4 February 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 2016/17.
From the Editor How would you like to help decide our Pub of the Year? From a shortlist of six, put together with input from local CAMRA members, only one can be victorious and your vote could help your favourite to lift the title. We’d like to get more people involved in the process this year and so there’s a new online voting form, which you can fill in while you’re in the pub to make sure your scores are as accurate as possible. If you prefer the old paper forms then don't worry, they’re still in use too. Read more about the process in the article in this issue. Can the Fox and Hounds in Caversham win the title for the third year in a row or will one of the many other high quality pubs in the area take the crown? As a CAMRA member you can help decide where the title goes so please take the opportunity to visit some great pubs, enjoy some great beers and ciders, and send in
your votes. The competition closes on 28 February 2017 – good luck to all the contestants! Phil Gill - Editor firstname.lastname@example.org
Contents Branch Diary
From the Editor
Pub & Brewery News CAMRA AGM
Belfast - Real Ale Desert?
Craft Beer - What’s it all about?
Pub of the Year Voting
Craft Theory Festival
Obituary - Ian Mihell
Pub & Brewery News Pub News
CAVERSHAM The GROSVENOR on Kidmore Road now has a house beer. Ember Inns Pale Ale is a 4% golden bitter that has been brewed specially for the pub chain by Black Sheep Brewery in Masham, North Yorkshire. It’s described as “a well-balanced premium beer with a crisp, bitter finish, made with Fuggles and WGV hops along with the finest Maris Otter British barley.” CAMRA members get a discount off every pint of this and all the other real ales (usually about four) available. There has been a change of licensee at the CROWN ON THE BRIDGE (Bridge Street) – welcome to Julie and Allan. Four beers are still available, with Doom Bar and Young’s Bitter as regulars and another two rotating guests from the Enterprise Inns list. There is a new menu and the pub has a hidden garden and shows sports on TV. Just round the corner in Church Road the GRIFFIN continues to offer LocAle beers often from Binghams or Loddon. Their regular ales include Courage Best; Greene King IPA and Brain’s The Reverend James with White Horse Brewery also featuring. This is a Chef & Brewer eatery but there are tables for drinkers and the pub has an upstairs function room (rare in the Reading area). The CLIFTON ARMS on Gosbrook Road has made some alterations to its beer range. Brakspear Bitter is still there but the Oxford Gold has been replaced with Wychwood Hobgoblin Gold and Pedigree has been seen as well. A recent discovery is BOATERS bar at the Thames & Kennet Marina off the Henley Road. This little bar offers Rebellion beers
(one or two depending on trade). You will need to phone to get the security code to gain entry to the marina and the bar doesn’t open until 5 pm during the week but all day on Saturday and Sunday. Because of the bizarre line the county boundary takes it's actually in South Oxfordshire, but you can see right across the Thames to Reading from their patio. A new delicatessen LEWIS & JAMES in Prospect Street stocks a selection of bottled beers, mainly from LocAle brewers such as Binghams, Loddon, West Berks and Rebellion.
HURST The new manager at the GREEN MAN is Antony Rudd. He was previously in charge of the kitchen, but our reporter said that he seems to be keen on his beers and hopes to build up the cask beer trade enough to put more beers on tap. The Varsity Bitter tasted on the day was in good nick. The WHEELWRIGHTS ARMS on Davis Way was due to reopen at the end of November. This Wadworths pub is being extended and the garden relandscaped. Daryl and Katie Cooper, who have been running the pub for the last 16 months, said they were “brimming with excitement” for the launch. They said: “If you’re planning a visit to see what all the fuss is about it is a good idea to book, the pub boasts an extended dining area with a warm and characteristic bar of low ceilings and exposed beams from the original pub.”
KNOWL HILL We have heard a strong rumour that Wadworth’s Brewery of Wiltshire is negoti-
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PUB & BREWERY NEWS CONTINUED ating to buy a pub in the village. They already own The Eldon Arms in Reading. We hope to have more on this in our next issue, including which pub it is!
READING The OAKFORD SOCIAL CLUB on Blagrave Street has reopened after a refurbishment. The rooms are more open plan now and the pub has had a repaint, along with an extension to the kitchen, new bar and a makeover for the toilets (not before time). The food and drinks menu is being revamped and beers are on the pricey side with Doom Bar being a regular plus up to three changing guests – Roosters and Dark Star Hophead have been noted. The THREE GUINEAS on Reading station forecourt now has hoardings around it and these display artist’s impressions of the proposed new interiors. Works are well under way and the pub is due to reopen in the New Year. Additional West Berkshire beers have been seen in the BISCUIT TIN. Initially for special events, they were served straight from the barrel and included Tamesis Stout and Dr. Hexter’s Healer. Whether these beers will become a regular feature we don’t know yet but it’s good to see this small bar extending its beer range. The temporary events space opposite has seen several pop up bars in the last few months and doubtless more of these “concepts” will follow in 2017. No real ale, but there are a couple of changes to licensed premises in Friar Street. The troubled TREEHOUSE should now be open as THE KINKY KOALA – a venue bar / nightclub. Also the new REVOLUCION DE CUBA bar is open in the old HMV shop – food / cocktails and standard keg beers will be on offer. Guest beers have been noted in the ROSE AND THISTLE in Argyle Street. Timothy Taylor’s Landlord was sampled recently and
was in good condition at a reasonable price. This is a comfortable Greene King local pub which does appear to offer other brewers’ products on a regular basis. There’s still no news regarding the future of the CORN STORES (Fullers) or the RISING SUN (Brakspear) on Forbury Road, although a Sold sign has appeared on the latter. The LYNDHURST (Queens Road / Watlington Street) recently reopened under new management with chef Kris Dorward and his partner Holly Horne taking over the tenancy. Welcome to both. The pub offers a range of up to four cask beers including Doom Bar and usually something from West Berkshire as well as changing guest ales. Food is available and has been receiving good reviews. We look forward to The Lyndhurst returning to be part of “The Village” with The Retreat and Eldon Arms – with the three pubs holding their annual music festival. Work in now well under way to convert the closed WELLINGTON ARMS on Whitley Street into housing. When complete, expected to be in early 2017, the building will contain a retail unit on the ground floor and “improved and modernised” accommodation for rent on the first and second floors. A walk from there down Southampton Street into town shows a mixed picture with the PHEASANT opposite still open, the
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PUB & BREWERY NEWS CONTINUED HOP LEAF half way down the hill thriving, but the RED COW and RED LION near the Oracle flyover both closed and boarded up. The MONKS’ RETREAT on Friar Street (Town Hall Square) closed as a Wetherspoons at the end of November and reopened as a Stonegate Pub Company pub in early December. Stonegate usually offer a reasonable selection of real ales so we’re feeling positive and will wait and see what happens here. A refurbishment would be welcome. A new German bar and restaurant is to open in Queens Walk (the outside part of Broad Street Mall facing the Penta Hotel). BIERHAUS is to serve a range of German and Belgian beers on draught and in bottles. Owner Mariusz Turek said: “I am delighted to be able to have the opportunity to open the first German bar and restaurant in Berkshire. I want to give people a chance to experience Germany in Reading without travelling the distance. We look forward to showing you how to eat and drink like a German at the Bierhaus.” On a recent visit to BEL AND THE DRAGON the beers available were Rebellion IPA, Autumn Leaves from Upham and Binghams
There’s an interesting planning application for the FISHERMAN'S COTTAGE on Kennetside for “erection of a new extension to form ancillary guest accommodation”. This would take the form of letting rooms at the rear of the pub. Meanwhile in the pub there's a new paella menu courtesy of ilovepaella.co.uk which has been getting good reviews, particularly for the range of vegan dishes available – there are also plenty of vegan beers. Meat eaters can still enjoy a roast on Sundays. Mobile catering company Get Stuffed has taken over the kitchen at the POND HOUSE on Oxford Road and introduced a new range of dishes. Gourmet burgers handmade at Village Butchers in Tilehurst and traditional Sunday lunches are on the newmenu along with a kids’ menu and vegetarian options
SHINFIELD There's a new Caribbean menu at the BELL AND BOTTLE on School Green. Stevie’s Soul Kitchen is offering authentic Caribbean food on Tuesdays – Saturdays at lunch and dinner. Dishes include jerk chicken with rice and peas, with a limited English menu as well and roasts on Sundays (12-4pm).
SONNING The COPPA CLUB (part of The Great House Hotel) recently had a major refurbishment, and is now a huge open bar / restaurant with patio doors opening out onto the large garden which leads down to the Thames. There are usually two beers available – Loddon Hoppit and often another of that brewery’s products or the ubiquitous Doom Bar.
WOODLEY Space Hoppy. There's usually a good choice of local beers at this upmarket restaurant in Gas Works Road, and the bar operates independently so you can go in for a drink without needing to eat as well.
The CHEQUERS in Crockhamwell Road has reopened following refurbishment. This Punch Taverns pub had a six week refit and
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PUB & BREWERY NEWS CONTINUED now includes one single bar linking the various areas within the venue, with updated decoration, furniture, fixtures and fittings. Andy Clark is the new publican and said: “The investment marks a new era for The Chequers and one which I am delighted to be a part of. The pub benefits from a great location at the heart of Woodley and it will relaunch as a quality community venue
where customers can expect fantastic service and a new food and drinks offer, alongside its already popular live sports and entertainment programme. I would like to welcome customers new and old to join in celebrating this exciting beginning for the pub – I can’t wait to meet everyone.” The THATCHERS in Fairwater Drive should now have reopened as the WATERSIDE. One of the major changes in this refurbishment is the creation of a “theatre kitchen” on the ground floor, with a new menu specialising in international food. New licensee Ted Docherty said: “Good food is what we want to be known for, and also a space for people in the community to socialise.”
The refurbished Chequers. Photo from Peter Bloodworth / getreading.
Porter is back by popular demand. As the days get colder this 5.2% rich winter warmer will be ever-more enticing. Visit www.andwells.com to order and for many other Christmas gift ideas.
Binghams have a new series of beers which are extra pale, 4.5% ABV and hoppy. They're called The Binghams Hop Project and opened with Citra Amarillo which was hopped, unsurprisingly perhaps, from Citra and Amarillo hops. Next will be Amarillo Wakatu, then Simcoe Citra. The first two brews in the series sold out very fast so keep an eye out for The Hop Project at your local pub, or pop into the brewery shop to have a taster.
ASCOT ALES The new seasonal beer available from December is Winter Reserve. At 5.2% this is a perfect winter warmer with lightly spiced aromas of cinnamon and ginger. The palate is full, with a pleasant spicing coming through. Very smooth and drinkable.
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BREWERY NEWS CONTINUED Since winning CAMRA Supreme Champion Beer of Britain 2016 with Vanilla Stout, the brewery has had to adjust the brew schedule to keep up with demand both from pubs and from wholesalers from all parts of the UK. Vanilla Stout is now available in bottles from the brewery shop and selected independent farm shops and off-licences. They recommend getting your Christmas polypin and minipin orders in early to prevent having to queue to pay, and avoid disappointment if your favourite beer runs out.
BOND BREWS Night Screamer was a dry stout brewed for Halloween, using dark malts and wheat. Admiral hops provided “biteerness” and Goldings gave a delicate and slightly spicy finale. New brews frequently emerge from Bonds so we have high hopes for a Christmas special.
CHILTERN Brothers George and Tom Jenkinson and The Chiltern Brewery have been voted “The Pride of Berkshire and Buckinghamshire Life” by the leading regional magazine title at their annual food and drink awards. This special award recognises individuals and businesses which actively and proudly pro-
mote the great local produce Berks and Bucks have to offer. Since they started brewing in 1980 George, Tom and their team have taken inspiration from their rural surroundings and the geography and history of the area. “This was a complete surprise and a real honour” said Tom, the Head Brewer and joint owner. “To be voted pride of two counties that have such fabulous food heritages is superb.” Bottle-conditioned Bodger’s Barley Wine at 8.5% was voted a 3 Star Beer by the inaugural Beer Awards and two further bottled ales – Monument Gold Pale Ale 3.8% and John Hampden’s Golden Harvest Ale 4.8% both won Bronze at SIBA’s Midland Independent Beer Awards 2016 (small pack category). Special limited edition draught seasonal ales for autumn and winter are Foxtrot Winter Ale 3.9% - with tastes of dark berries and chocolate – and dark amber robust and malty award-winning 300’s Old Ale 4.9%. Bottle-conditioned Glad Tidings Winter Stout 4.6% is back and is a classic vintage according to its brewer, Dave. Good news too for coeliacs and those gluten-intolerant as four of the bottled beers have just been certified as Gluten Free. Bottled beers can be ordered online for delivery. There's also a Christmas brewery shop open with unique gift ideas and brewery tours too.
ELUSIVE BREWING Shadow of the Beast (Cascadian Dark Ale) was awarded beer of the festival at the Concrete Pint 2016 beer festival in Milton Keynes in October.
George (left), Tom and the team from Chiltern
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BREWERY NEWS CONTINUED roasting chestnuts. A stronger version is available in 500ml bottles only – Roasted Nuts Extra at 5.8% is similar in style to the draught brew but with extra malt and hops added to give this beer a fruity, malty character.
LODDON Winter is Coming, as they say on Game of Thrones. Loddon's response is simple – Hocus Pocus is back on draught. The popular old ale is rich, ruby red and delicious. Brewed using English Goldings and Fuggle hops with pale and dark malts and a small amount of invert sugar, this 4.6% winter warmer is a rich, smooth traditional dark ale. The brewery shop is fully stocked for the winter, and alongside the full range of Loddon beers they now have a range of Laithwaites wines, English sparkling wines, Tutts Clump ciders, Loddon preserves and merchandise and – recently added – pickles from Windy Mills in Marlow.
REBELLION For those who prefer a golden ale for Christmas, Finest Hour at 4.2% is available. Golden and crisp, this beer uses Liberty, Motueka, Mosiac and Amarillo hops to load it with aromas of tropical and citrus fruit. More traditional palates will like Roasted Nuts: 4.6%, deep red, rich and malty. This is a flavoursome winter warmer, packed with intense and distinctive malt and hop character. For anyone wondering, there are no nuts added to Roasted Nuts – the name refers to the classic Christmas image of
There’s still scope to create new styles of beer and one recent example from Siren Craft has been Ten Dollar Shake – a “fruit smoothie IPA”. At 6.6% this was a collaboration brew with Brewdog Shepherds Bush and included mango, passionfruit, papaya and lactose. Head Brewer Kyle Larsen has put together a home brew recipe that you can see on their website, and says: “The goal is to create a massively hopped IPA that has an unmistakeable tropical fruit note. Lactose is used to provide a creamy mouthfeel, again it’s all about accentuating tropical fruit notes, this also creates the ‘milkshake/smoothie’ effect.”
VALE November’s monthly special saw a striking pumpclip featuring Vivien Leigh, winner of the best actress Oscar in 1952. This softly hopped deep ruby red ale would be perfect for the festive season and may still be available. The brewery shop is great for Christmas gifts and features draught and bottled Vale beers alongside an extensive range of wines, whiskies and beers from around the world.
WEST BERKSHIRE Two of the brewery's flagship beers have won Gold in the London and South East Area Champion Beer of Britain awards.
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BREWERY NEWS CONTINUED Classic bitter Good Old Boy (4%) won Gold to top the bitter category. First brewed back in 1995, Good Old Boy has been a best seller for the brewery ever since. Maggs’ Magnificent Mild (3.8%) was also named category winner. Maggs' Mild has been the highest award winning beer for the brewery, receiving over 19 awards since it was first brewed by brewery founder, Dave Maggs.
XT / ANIMAL It’s been a busy time at XT – they’ve been celebrating their fifth anniversary, picking up awards for the XPA from SIBA and for the third year running “Lest We Forget” has successfully raised funds for the British Legion poppy appeal. They have been working on a whole host of new Christmas and winter beers including:
Head Brewer Will Twomey said: “We are very proud of our range of beers and this achievement is a testament to the brewing team's hard work and dedication. To be recognised for two of our beers in a fierce competition is a great feeling.” As both beers won their categories they will go forward to the Champion Beer of Britain finals which will be held at the Great British Beer Festival in August 2017.
WILD WEATHER There's an interesting collaboration between Wild Weather and Kevin Black's Blackies Brewery: “Five O’Clock Somewhere”, a 7.5% oatmeal stout. To get some of this limited edition beer, contact the brewery as soon as possible.
WINDSOR AND ETON / UPRISING This autumn there was a very successful beer festival at the brewery with the theme "2 Good!" - focussing on all breweries that are two years old or younger. A mix of cask and keg, there were 14 different breweries featured alongside the hosts, and it attracted a good crowd with plenty of younger drinkers in particular.
Animal: Penguin – for bottle only, a crisp pale ale, single hopped with New Zealand Motueka then lightly spiced to give a warming seasonal twist. Animal: BAA-Humbug is a White Stout, taking roasty coffee flavours, full body and hints of chocolate but in a pale beer. Animal: Meow – a Munich Dunkel, a German style Dark Bier: smooth malty flavour, toasted malt bread flavours and aromas from use of melanoidin-rich Munich malt. Smooth European Nobel Hops add the hop finish. XT-Twenty Five – a rosy red beer for Christmas – an Alt Bier, slow brewed and with late hop additions. There's also a very special Imperial Stout maturing slowly in oak casks. It should be ready in the spring for a new range of bottle conditioned beers. The brewery tasting room is soon going to undergo a makeover, enabling a wider range of beers to be offered for sampling in a more convivial environment.
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Several of our customers are featured in the 2017 CAMRA Good Beer Guide
Small Beer A roundup of news and information. The State of Victoria’s Minister for Planning, Richard Wynne said: "I first heard about the Carlton in Westminster when people started sending me news clips, suggesting the same rebuild order should be levelled at the owners of our own Carlton pub. Australians and the English have a shared love of their history – and their pubs. Rebuild orders for two Carlton pubs in separate hemispheres serve as a warning. People will not stand for illegal demolition of their history.”
ASSETS OF COMMUNITY VALUE Excellent news from west Reading, where the Spread Eagle in Norfolk Road is the latest pub in our area to be registered as an ACV. This heads off any potential sale to developers and should help ensure that the pub remains as a pub and continues to serve the local community.
CARLTON TAVERN DOWN UNDER Further news about the Carlton Tavern in London. If you remember, a development company “CLTX” illegally demolished the pub in April 2015 after being refused planning permission for redevelopment, and Westminster City Council enforced against them. Following the developers losing an appeal against the enforcement notice, they now have a requirement to rebuild the pub in its original form brick by brick. In an incredible coincidence, a pub called the Carlton Inn in Melbourne, Australia suffered the same fate this year. On October 15 this 159 year old pub was also illegally demolished by developers, and now Australian authorities are insisting that it be rebuilt too.
Cllr Robert Davis from Westminster City Council said: “It is truly extraordinary that the local Westminster campaign to get the Carlton Tavern rebuilt brick-by-brick has had such a far reaching impact. Our colleagues in Melbourne deserve a huge amount of credit – they have set a clear precedent that communities will not stand for this kind of scandalous act. I hope that when both of these historic pubs are rebuilt they will stand as a symbol for the power of local communities to stand up for the special heritage of their much-loved public houses.”
COUNTDOWN TO CHRISTMAS If you’re stuck for gift ideas for the real ale drinker in your life, then visit the CAMRA shop at shop.camra.org.uk. Whether you’re after a winter warmer or just a little something for a stocking, you can find a wide range of books, clothing and merchandise. Gift membership starts at £26, or perhaps you like the look of a CAMRA scarf or The Book of Beer Knowledge. Be sure to order early to guarantee delivery in time for Christmas.
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REVITALISATION CAMRA’s Revitalisation project continues, and a survey of members in the autumn found that: Real ale remains a core issue for almost all members There is strong support for cider and perry A majority of members are in favour of recognition of “other high-quality beers” The survey also showed that: There is clear support for pubs remaining at the heart of campaigning, and strong backing for continuing support for clubs A majority of members would also be in favour of CAMRA campaigning for consumption and sale in other on-trade venues such as bars, brewery taps, sporting and musical event venues There is much work still to be done and a third survey was undertaken in November (results not yet available). Proposals from the Revitalisation Steering Committee were due to be considered by CAMRA’s National Executive at the beginning of December. Colin Valentine, CAMRA National Chairman, said that he believed it was necessary to delay the timescale for a final decision by members, originally planned to take place at the Members Weekend in Bournemouth in April next year. As the implications of any decision will be farreaching, the National Executive believe that it would be prudent to use the 2017 Conference for a debate on the proposals and their implications for CAMRA and to then hold a vote at a general meeting at a later date, either within an extraordinary general meeting or at the 2018 Members Weekend in Coventry.
LOCALE UPDATE We're in the process of refining our LocAle scheme ready for the 2017 round of accreditation. The changes are minor – we're keeping our 30 mile distance from Reading to brewery but moving the measuring point in Reading to Town Hall Square. Previously it was Kings Meadow, which made a lot of sense when we held our beer festival there but makes much less sense now that the festival has moved to north of the river. Considering the explosion in the number of breweries in recent years we did consider reducing the qualifying distance to 25 miles so as to keep the list manageable and reliable, but in the end decided to stick with 30 miles as that keeps a wider range of choice for drinkers. A few issues ago we featured the new LocAle brewery Thamesside, based in Staines, and they've now had their official launch. It took place at the Swan pub in Staines and several of the Mayors and Council Chairmen in Surrey travelled there in a Dutch barge, “Anna”, via the brewery where a ceremonial cask was collected as part of the celebrations. All the Thamesside ales are named after river birds and for every pint of White Swan Pale Ale sold, a contribution is made to the Swan Sanctuary in Shepperton for the care of injured and displaced swans and other birds. Owner and Head Brewer Andrew Hayward, who started the business along with his partner Michele Gibson, said: “I wanted to turn my home-brewing hobby into a commercial operation. I’m now pleased to see a beer that I have made on sale in local pubs. We’ve just won our first award, being voted ‘Beer of the Festival’ out of 250 beers at Ascot Beer Festival.”
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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
2 Broad Street Reading, RG1 2BH
A Community pub in the e heart of Reading e
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Follow us on twitter @AlehouseReading
SMALL BEER - CONTINUED Colin said; “The National Executive believe that it is important that CAMRA gets it right, rather than rushing to meet an arbitrary deadline that was set before the work on this fundamental review of our common purpose ever began.”
SUMMER COMES SOONEST IN THE SOUTH If you want to take part in the debate about CAMRA's future then why not register to attend the AGM and members’ weekend in Bournemouth? It's being held at the Bournemouth International Centre between 7-9 April 2017. Alongside the revitalisation debate and conference business this is your chance to help set the future policies of CAMRA and also to enjoy a sunny spring weekend on the south coast. Pub crawls, brewery visits and other beery fun will be on offer. See the advert in this issue for more details about how to register.
A charming country pub. The friendly & relaxed atmosphere welcomes locals, families, walkers, dogs & cyclists alike • 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 • Beer garden overlooking fields
01628 822 010 Knowl Hill Common, Berkshire, RG10 9YE
YOUR COMMITTEE At the recent branch AGM of Reading & Mid Berkshire CAMRA, Quinten Taylor (Quinno - pictured) took over as Chairman for 2016/17 with James Moore as Deputy Chairman. A full list of people and posts would take up too much space here but we'd particularly like to welcome Zoe Andrews to the team, who has taken on the roles of LocAle Coordinator and Public Affairs Officer. There are a few roles remaining unfilled, in particular Clubs Officer – we need somebody to keep tabs on local clubs that serve real ale. If that appeals, or if you’d just like to join in and help your branch in another way (you won't have to stand for election!), come along to one of our branch meetings or socials and have a chat. Details of events and contact information are on page 3.
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Belfast - Real Ale Desert? I have lost count of the number of travelogues of trips to Bruges I have read or skimmed over in CAMRA magazines but how often do you see a visit to Belfast mentioned? That is doubtless for the very good reason that Belfast has been considered something of a beer desert – and just as you don’t go to the Sahara in search of water… However, branch members with long memories will perhaps recall that one Roy Garraway flew to Belfast and back in – was it 1995? – to attend the first Belfast beer festival. That event was organised by Mark Hutchinson, who currently chairs the Northern Ireland branch of our slightly more elderly sister organisation, the SPBW. And Mark invited members of SPBW for a weekend in Belfast in July to catch up on what was happening in the province. Some 20 took the plunge, many of them also CAMRA members. A good place to stay is the ETAP hotel in Dublin Road but here’s a tip – ask for a room with an odd number. The evens face onto a disco pub called the Filthy Animals.
Filthy or not, the human animals were certainly noisy and rarely have I been more grateful for the anaesthetic qualities of beer. The ETAP, however, is handy for two of Belfast’s best real ale pubs, the Crown Liquor Saloon (Nicholson’s) and the Bridge House (Wetherspoon). The latter also supplies an excellent Ulster breakfast! I had been to Belfast before, back in 2002, visiting the amazing Crown, a heritage pub par excellence but then proffering such dubious delights as Caffreys from Bass Ireland. Now it boasts five gleaming handpumps dispensing beers from the well-established local brewer, Whitewater, as well as more exotic products of Harviestoun, St Austell etc. There the early arrivals gathered on the Thursday evening. The artwork here is breath-taking even if some of it had to be replaced following repeated attempts by the IRA to blow up the Europa Hotel opposite. The programme proper began on Friday lunchtime at Hudson’s Bar which boasted
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BELFAST no real ale but a number of craft kegs from independent brewers. However, our main purpose was to meet a brewer, Tom Ray from Mourne Mountains, a newish brewery mainly distributing its products in bottled versions. The brewer, we found, served his apprenticeship at Crouch Vale in Essex, which gave him a bit of pedigree. The beers included Black Rock Stout and Red Trail, an Irish red ale. Thereafter we proceeded to the Sunflower, an extraordinary little pub which seemed more like the Belfast branch of the Palestine Liberation Front, including some of Yasser Arafat’s cast-offs pinned to the wall! Mark, along with Rob Shacklock from the Northeast branch, had arranged for some beer from Cheshire to appear in wooden casks on the bar – apparently the first time in 22 years that such a phenomenon had been seen in Ulster. Much of the afternoon was spent sampling this although I later visited another craft keg establishment, Bittles Bar, a V-shaped pub reminiscent of the Brunswick in Derby but decorated with murals featuring Gerry Adams, Ian Paisley et al rather than railway memorabilia. Saturday took us to the east of the Lagan river and the Errigle Inn, a splendid example of a 1930s Art Deco pub where a pair of brewers, Niall McMullan (Hercules) and Joseph McMullan (Knockout) – no relation, it would seem – presented their wares. Like the Sunflower, the Errigle had a limited supply of real ale, together with craft keg. Across the road was a modern craft keg establishment, Brewbot, where we had a demonstration of a miniature brewing machine, a sort of cross between a home brewing kit and a micro-brewery. I wasn’t entirely convinced that this was the answer to a beer-drinker’s prayer. We linked up again in the evening at Wetherspoon’s who had made available to us their board room up in the rafters for a
further meet the brewer double session with Geoff Nuttall from Maltmeister and Charles Ballantyne from Ards, who once again produced some excellent bottle-conditioned beers. Sadly Maltmeister has since closed. Sunday drinking began with another session at the Bridge House, with yet another member of the McMullan clan, Barry of that ilk, representing the National Homebrew Club, with some excellent home-made beers. The rest of Sunday was a free day, allowing us to visit a number of other pubs selling real ale and craft keg, including the Botanic, John Hewitt and Garrick. There is a burgeoning real ale scene in Northern Ireland and I found it was possible to survive for around 96 days without a drop of Guinness – something rather difficult in most parts of the republic. Looking forward to the decisions on CAMRA’s revitalization project I am of the opinion that giving CAMRA’s seal of approval to craft keg products (however tasty some of them may be) would not contribute much to the growth of real ale in the province. The craft kegs are rather to be seen as a half-way house, helping to wean the drinkers of Ulster away from the ubiquitous lager in the direction of cask beer. As this is a travelogue I should also mention that there are many fine buildings to view in Belfast and most of the party took the opportunity to visit the stunning late Victorian Baroque Town Hall. In the words attributed to Robert de Niro, if you don’t go, you’ll never know! John Dearing John Dearing (pictured) is Branch Liaison Officer of the Society for the Preservation of Beers from the Wood (SPBW) and a former Chairman of Reading CAMRA. Further information on the Northern Ireland beer scene can be found at http://spbwni.co.uk/breweries.html.
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When I joined CAMRA in the early 1970s, I joined The Campaign for Real Ale. In those days we fought to persuade pubs and drinkers to try real ale (scarce as it was) and move away from bland, cold, fizzy, keg beers – in fact the words “keg beer” were an anathema to many CAMRA members and were to be avoided at all costs. Now, I accept that life moves on and with it new inventions arrive. In the beer world new styles of brews have been developed and we can now enjoy a huge range of different types and flavours of ale. It was basically Bitter and Best Bitter in “olden days”. However, there are still two phrases
which scare me – “Craft” and “KeyKeg”. Both of these have come into our drinking lives in recent years and in my humble opinion could lead to the thin end of the wedge as far as the future of beer is concerned. “Craft” is, of course, a meaningless word when used for beer as it has been bandied about by all and sundry in the brewing industry. It does not mean that each pint you get has been carefully brewed by hand and only by a small brewery who is struggling to get a foothold against the might of the brewing giants (as happened in America where the phrase came from). Some of the larger, national brewers have been
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CRAFT BEER - WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT?
using the term “craft” and as far as I’m concerned it shouldn’t refer to an operative pushing a button on a computer to start a brew. “KeyKeg” – well what’s that all about, I ask? The word keg immediately reminds me of fizzy beer from a sealed and pressurised container. I also understand that there is a third dispense method called “KeyCask” and that this can be described as real ale as no gas comes into contact with the beer (a bit like the “Beer in a Box Polypin” which you can get from many breweries these days). If so then that would appear to be OK but can we please have a clear indication of which is which? Furthermore, I also understand that the containers are non-returnable which really doesn’t do much for our recycling. Remember that proper beer casks can be sent back, cleaned and reused again and again. Now, I hear you say, “What about the taste and quality of these beers?” Well, I have actually tried them – on “Draft” (not Draught); in bottle and in a can and I have to admit that some of them were pretty good. That’s all that matters, I hear you reply – but they were mostly cold, often slightly gassy, GOH (grossly over-hopped) and very, very expensive! I notice that some beers are available both as cask or “Craft Keg” (another silly expression) so why is one so much more expensive than the other?
I also get worried about CAMRA’s future thinking when I see adverts in local newsletters for pubs that only serve “Craft” or “KeyKeg” beers and contributors are writing about “Craft Keg” beers. My main concern is that these new styles of dispense could lead to the loss of handpumps and real ale in some bars and pubs, with licensees preferring to plug in a keg, serve it at a higher price and then simply chuck away the container when it’s empty. I hope I never see this happening in our local CAMRA approved pubs!
“CRAFT” IS, OF COURSE, A MEANINGLESS WORD WHEN USED FOR BEER AS IT HAS BEEN BANDIED ABOUT BY ALL AND SUNDRY IN THE BREWING INDUSTRY. OK – so I’m probably seen as a Luddite as far as these new methods are concerned but I will stick to my cask beer and push for a Campaign that fights to save the pubs in which it is served. Remember - You Cannot Sell Real Ale In A Closed Pub! Nor any other beer for that matter. If I’m wrong about any of the technical details concerning craft / keykeg / keycask methods then please enlighten me! Dave McKerchar
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Pub of the Year - voting now open! Voting for the Reading and Mid Berkshire CAMRA branch Pub of the Year is now open. This year we’d like as many people as possible to vote, so we’re giving you a lot more time to complete your surveys and have also tried to make it as simple as possible to vote. The easiest way is to use the online form at https://bit.ly/rdgpoty . If you’d like to use the traditional PDF forms and submit them in hard copy then get in touch on email@example.com or download them from our website. To take part you need to be a CAMRA member and you need to visit all six pubs on the shortlist for your vote to count. You're welcome to score any of the pubs more than once – particularly if your ratings are significantly different on different visits.
Multiple votes will be compressed to form an average once the voting has closed. The six Pub of the Year finalists are: The Alehouse, Reading The Bell & Bottle, Shinfield The Eldon Arms, Reading The Fox & Hounds, Caversham The Greyfriar, Reading The Nags Head, Reading For more details on each pub visit www.whatpub.com. We hope that you’ll take part in the voting and we look forward to seeing your scores. Voting is open now and the deadline for forms and votes to be received is 28 February 2017.
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Sandie Gill Competition Coordinator
Craft Theory Festival Craft Theory is a new festival for Reading and is set to capture the imagination of craft beer drinkers who enjoy top quality music along with their tipple. The one day festival to be held at South Street Arts Centre on Saturday 8 April 2017 will showcase some of the country’s best independent breweries as well as some from across the channel. The festival is a collaboration between The Grumpy Goat (Reading's cheese and beer shop) and South Street Arts Centre. Anne-Marie and Charlie (The Grumpy Goat) are excited about the breweries set to attend, which to name just a few include Siren Craft Brew, Arbor Ales and Butchers Tears (Amsterdam). What’s even more exciting is that the breweries themselves will be attending, giving you the opportunity to chat to the brewers.
whatpub.com Featuring over 35,000 real ale pubs
Over 96% of Britain’s real ale pubs featured
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Created by CAMRA who produce the UK’s best beer & pub guide
Thousands of pubs at your fingertips!
Music will be a big part of the festival too and John Luther from South Street is excited about the high calibre acts he has invited to play at the event. The festival will see two music stages – one with a bit more of a mellow vibe with acoustic acts and the other with an assortment of laptop artists. There will also be food from Tutu’s Ethiopian Table, cheese from The Grumpy Goat and coffee will be on offer from Tamp Culture. South Street, the venue of the festival, was established as an Arts Centre in 1989 after taking over the historic Labour Exchange built in 1933. It has recently completed a major refurbishment after securing £499,999 of funds from Arts Council England to ensure its future. For more details and ticket info visit the website at www.crafttheoryfestival.com or follow them on Facebook and Twitter.
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Obituary - Ian Mihell It is with very great sadness that I have to advise you that one of CAMRA’s pioneers – Ian Mihell – passed away on October 22nd after losing his battle with cancer. Ian will be best known to the older members of the Campaign, but I’m sure that many branch members in Sussex, Suffolk and Berkshire will also remember Ian with much fondness. He was always keen
to be involved with local and national issues and he was very active on the social side as well. Ian joined CAMRA in the early 1970s and he recalled his first ever brewery trip to Gales at Horndean with a party from NALGO – his career was based in local government finance and his last position before retirement was as Head of Finance at Bracknell Forest Council.
LOCAL CAMRA MEMBERS GIVE THEIR REACTIONS TO THE SAD NEWS: “Ian was a very nice man and an unsung hero of CAMRA’s early years. I don’t think it’s an exaggeration to say that CAMRA might not be around today if it hadn’t been for Ian’s work on the NE finance side. I’d like to pay tribute to the great support and help I had from Ian when I was Branch Chairman in the long-off days (which not everyone will remember) when Berkshire South East was a part of the Reading and Mid Berks Branch. Ian took on the difficult job of coordinating the GBG entries and did it with his usual efficiency. He contributed to CAMRA in many other and more important ways and will be much missed.”
“I found Ian knowledgeable and supportive when I was BSE Chairman, despite the fact that every time I launched into something he could be relied on to bang his empty glass on the table and shout 'Beer Break!' I think one of his hobbies was winding me up! His knowledge of which bus went where and when was amazing, not just locally but in many areas of the country. I think the only Regional Pub Crawl Ian missed was this year’s – he emailed a few days before to say he was not well enough. I had hoped he just might make the next.”
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OBITUARY - IAN MIHELL
However, it was in the early days that Ian’s skills were influential in helping the fledgling campaign overcome some financial difficulties and as a result he became Chairman of the Finance Committee on the National Executive for several years. This is where I met him – I became Chairman of Branches Committee also on the N.E. – and we shared many a pleasant pint together. He always taught me to get my “bag on a bed” when we went away for meetings, as in those days we stayed with local branch members so it was good policy to know exactly where you were kipping that night! Ian moved from the South Coast to a new job in Ipswich before making his mark at Bracknell where again he was heavily involved in local branch activities. Members from the London area will also remember Ian as he would often join their pub crawls and other campaigns and
“I was chatting to Ian once on a Reading Beer Festival helpers’ trip. We didn’t know each other before and had just found out that we both worked at Bracknell Forest Council. ‘Ah’, he said, ‘you should meet Sandie* our branch secretary. She works at the council too.’ A few days later I e-mailed this Sandie, not knowing who she was other than a fellow CAMRA member. We went for lunch and never looked back, and have now been married for 13 years. If it wasn’t for Ian we’d probably never have met.” Phil Gill
socials. When he retired to Bournemouth he became an active member of the local East Dorset branch and also helped the Pub Heritage Group with surveys and information. Apart from CAMRA and his career, Ian was very keen on good food, cycling, football (he was a Reading fan), all forms of transport (especially trains and canal boats as they took him all over the country to sample new beers!) and he served as a local councillor for a while as well as being involved with the ambulance service. He was a very sociable and friendly person and I don’t think I ever heard a bad word from him in all the years I knew him and I’m sure his many other friends would say likewise. He was a CAMRA pioneer and he was the type of person whose dedication helped us become what we are today. One of his many endearing features was that despite his senior roles in the past he never threw his weight around at meetings and never bragged about his past achievements. Ian is survived by his wife Sandy who has been at his side all through his illness and who was a perfect match for Ian – except that she enjoys a glass of wine as opposed to a pint or two of real ale! Ian Mihell was just one of those lovely blokes that you could easily enjoy a beer with and listen to his sound and sensible reasoning on all kinds of topics. He was a gentleman and without any doubt will be very sadly missed by all of us who knew him. RIP Ian Mihell 1941 – 2016. Dave McKerchar (on behalf of Ian’s many friends)
* Not Sandy, Ian’s wife.
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The winter 2016 issue of the magazine for Reading and Mid Berkshire Branch of CAMRA.