Monday, April 29, 2013

Holly Bush

My second performance in England was at the iconic Holly Bush Inn in Makeney. The pub was recently featured on Tony (Baldrick) Robinson's series 'Walking Through History' and is a popular place for locals in search of decent real ales and/or a top-notch Sunday lunch. It is quite close, about five minutes' walk, from another of my favourite Derbyshire pubs, The King William in Milford - so it means I get double the fun whenever I visit the area...
I saw an advert for a Thursday night spotlight evening as I left the pub after enjoying an Easter Sunday pint, so I quickly fired off an email when I got back to my digs. "Can I play?"
Sometime on Monday, I got a response. Affirmative.

We caught a taxi down on the Wednesday night. If anyone needs a taxi in Belper or nearby I can recommend Steve's Taxis. Nice car, top fellow, fair tariff.
We got to the pub and I ordered a beer, as you do. A real ale named 'Halcyon'. It wasn't until I'd paid for it that I realised it was a strong one - 7.4%
"This is like wine", I said to the barman.
"Yeah I know, I probably should have pointed that out..."
I nursed my pint for what must have been a world record duration. The chap running the venue, Howard, was a nice guy and kicked things off with his take on a few timeless classics. A bloke named Gordon assembled what he called a Djembe from some pieces of wood stored in what I thought was a laptop case, and he provided accompaniment for performers, if they wished. Very good it was, too.
The small room filled with performers and punters of all ages.
When it was my time, I explained to my new mate Gordon that he wouldn't know the songs, but I thought he'd manage them without any danger if he wanted to play along. Gordon nodded in a quietly confident manner that suggested I'd not needed to say anything.
I did my set, calling (once again) on songs I've known and loved for years. I didn't have the luxury of rehearsing so it was a case of diving straight in with another borrowed guitar. I managed to get through my short set without resorting to making up lyrics or fudging chords. I guess I know my songs pretty well these days. Somebody has to, I guess...
I'm not sure if it was the novelty of coming from 12,000 miles away (as introduced) or something else but I went down a treat. Again.
We hung around for a while afterwards and watched a few more of the performers. I drained my Halcyon and plumped for a pint of the exotically named 'Jesters Ferrett' - a much gentler 3.6% abv.
It was a shame to leave but time waits for no man, nor does a late night cab booking. As we rose and made our way towards the door my understated attempts at saying farewell and thanks were trumped by spontaneous applause and wishes of goodwill from all and sundry. One lad yelled "Epic!" and I knew my night had peaked.
Well played, Holly Bush. I hope to see you again soon.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Beer Hunter: 20/3/2013-20/4/2013

One of the joys of visiting England is the opportunity to drink a decent beer or two. I am a fan of real ales, from the cask, and here is my 2013 list.
This does not include repeat beers in the same pub, but does include repeat beers in different pubs. If you know what I mean.
There's one beer on the list that wasn't a real ale. See if you can find it.

  1. Ruddles 'Best', Standing Order, Derby 3.7%
  2. Falstaff 'Zsa Zsa Gabor', Spotted Cow, Holbrook 4.0%
  3. Welbeck Abbey 'Henrietta', Dead Poets, Holbrook 3.6%
  4. Ruddles 'Country', Dead Poets 4.3%
  5. Timothy Taylor 'Landlord', White Hart, Bargate 4.3%
  6. Lincoln Green 'Tuck Porter', Dead Poets 4.7%
  7. Ringwood 'Filly Drift', Dead Poets 4.7%
  8. Kimberley 'Best Bitter', White Hart 3.9%
  9. Sharp's 'Doom Bar', Dead Poets 4.0%
  10. Dancing Duck 'Ay Up', Dead Poets 3.9%
  11. Sarah Hughes 'Dark Ruby', Dead Poets 6.0%
  12. Wells 'Bombardier', Smith & Jones, Belper 4.1%
  13. Marston's 'Burton Bitter', Eaton Farm, Long Eaton 3.8%
  14. Marston's 'Pedigree', Eaton Farm, Long Eaton 4.5%
  15. St Austell 'Tribute', Ye Old Dolphin, Derby 4.2%
  16. Nottingham Brewery 'Centurion ND', Ye Old Dolphin 4.9%
  17. Sharp's 'Doom Bar', The Lion, Belper 4.0%
  18. Courage 'Best Bitter', Smith & Jones, Belper 4.0%
  19. Oakham 'Bishops Farewell', Black Bulls Head, Openwoodgate 4.6%
  20. Wadworth '6X', Queens Head, Belper 4.3%
  21. Ringwood 'Boondoggle', Nags Head, Borrowash 4.2%
  22. Marstons 'Pedigree', Nags Head 4.5%
  23. Marstons 'Black Boy', Black Boy, Heage 3.9%
  24. Falstaff 'Phoenix', Hop Inn, Openwoodgate 4.6%
  25. Courage 'Best Bitter', Smith & Jones, Belper 4.0%
  26. Marston's 'Pedigree', The Wheel, Holbrook 4.5%
  27. Navigation 'Lepus', White Hart, Bargate 4.3%
  28. Oakham 'Sweeney's Revenge', Hollybush Inn, Makeney 4.1%
  29. Theakston 'Old Peculier', King William 5.6%
  30. Peak Ales 'Bakewell Best Bitter', Red Lion, Bakewell 4.2%
  31. Caledonian 'Deuchars IPA', Hurt Arms, Ambergate 3.8%
  32. Lancaster 'Blonde', Coach and Horses, Ashbourne 4.1%
  33. The Scottish Borders Brewery 'Foxy Blonde', Hanging Gate, Shottlegate 3.8%
  34. Thornbridge 'Halcyon', Holly Bush, Makeney 7.4%
  35. Oakham 'Jester's Ferret', Holly Bush, Makeney 3.6%
  36. Sharp's 'Doom Bar', The Devonshire, Belper 4.0%
  37. Vale Brewery Co 'Conspiracy', The Telegraph, Bridlington 4.1%
  38. Theakston 'Best Bitter', Ye Old White Hart, Hull 3.8%
  39. Tetley's 'Extra Cold', GW Horners, Hull 3.6%
  40. Jennings 'Cumberland Ale', Stirling Castle, Bridlington 4.0%
  41. Theakston 'Best Bitter', Stirling Castle, Bridlington 3.8%
  42. Timothy Taylor 'Landlord', Stirling Castle, Bridlington 4.3%
  43. Thwaites 'Nutty Black', The Plumbers Arms, Belgravia, London 3.3%
  44. Hogs Back Brewery 'Rip Snorter', The Plumbers Arms, Belgravia, London 5.0%
  45. Fullers 'Brit Hop', The Old Pack Horse, Chiswick 4.1%
  46. George Gale 'Seafarer', The Old Pack Horse, Chiswick 3.6%
  47. Fullers 'London Pride', The Old Pack Horse, Chiswick 4.1%
  48. Thwaites 'Daniel's Hammer', The Eight Bells, Dover 5.0%
  49. Sharp's 'Doom Bar', The Bell, Aldgate, London 4.0%
  50. Timothy Taylor 'Landlord', The Bell, Aldgate, London 4.3%
  51. Fullers 'Chiswick Bitter', Red Lion, Westminster, London 3.5%
  52. Samuel Smith's 'Old Brewery Bitter', The Angel, Covent Garden, London 4.0%
  53. Samuel Smith's 'Old Brewery Bitter', Chandos, Trafalgar Square, London 4.0%
  54. Nicholson's 'Limehouse Cut', The Cambridge, Cambridge Circus, London 4.5%
  55. Portobello 'VPA', The Cambridge, Cambridge Circus, London 4.0%
  56. Fyne Ales 'Avalanche', The Crown, London 4.5%
  57. Shepherd Neame 'Spitfire', The Barley Mow, Westminster, London 4.5%
  58. Harvey's 'Sussex Best Bitter', The Barley Mow, Westminster, London 4.0%
  59. 'Jester Jack', Zetland Arms, South Kensington 4.0%
  60. Butcombe's 'Bitter', King William IV, Totnes 4.0%
  61. Dartmoor Brewery 'Jail Ale'', King William IV, Totnes 4.8%
  62. Hunter's 'Half Bore', Queen's Arms, Brixham 4.0%
  63. St Austell 'Dartmoor Best', Queen's Arms, Brixham 3.5%
  64. Marston's 'Single Hop - Pacific Gem', The Vigilance, Brixham 4.0%
  65. Banks's 'Cereal Thriller', The Vigilance, Brixham 4.0%
  66. Nethergate 'Bowler', The Vigilance, Brixham 5.0%
  67. St Austell 'Trelawny', Blue Anchor, Brixham 3.8%
  68. DBC 'Jurassic', Blue Anchor, Brixham, 4.2%
  69. Bridgetown Brewery 'Whaler Ale', The Dolphin Inn, Dartmouth 4.3%
  70. Otter Brewery 'FBI Bitter', Ferry Boat Inn, Dittisham, 3.6%
  71. Sharp's 'Doom Bar', Ferry Boat Inn, Dittisham, 4.0%
  72. Otter Brewery 'Amber', The Steam Packet, Dartmouth, 4.0%
  73. Wadworth 'Henry's Original IPA', The Steam Packet, Dartmouth, 3.6%
  74. Rudgate 'Pursuit of Hoppyness', The Vigilance, Brixham 4.0%
  75. Orkney '1878 Strong Ale', The Vigilance, Brixham 5.5%
  76. Vasileostrovsky 'Siberian Red', The Vigilance, Brixham 6.0%
  77. Celt Experience 'Continental Drift', The Vigilance, Brixham 5.9%
  78. Hunter's 'Pheasant Plucker', Maratime Inn, Brixham 4.3%
  79. Palmers 'Copper Ale', The Poole Yacht Club, Poole 3.7%