Tuesday, 9 October 2012

My Goodness! My Guinness!

Recently I was contacted by a person from PeerIndex regarding a promo which is being run by Guinness. It seems quite fun. If you are in certain pubs on a Friday and Saturday night, you can win a one-day drinking session in Dublin, including learning how to pour the black stuff. If that sounds like fun, here is a link to the Guinness facebook page.

One thing this whole Guinness promo has done has made me want to blog a bit about Guinness. So, in the coming days, weeks, whatever, I will post a few thoughts about good old Guinness. In the meantime, here is a picture of what I was drinking last Friday.

*Disclosure: Whilst I did receive a perk from PeerIndex linked to the Guinness promo, blogging, tweeting, or anything else was not a stipulation of receiving the perk. I am doing this since it may mean that you, dear reader, can win some beer. After all, that is what this blog is all about. Beer, sweet, sweet, beer. 

Tuesday, 10 July 2012

The Pheasant, Chesham

Pheasant sign On the way out of Chesham, heading towards Chennies there is a lovely riverside pub called The Pheasant which is run by Jane, her staff, and a couple of dogs.

Located in an area called Waterside, you would be unsurprised to see that the beer garden backs onto the river. In the summer the swans and ducks vie for your attention in the hope of a bit of crisp or anything else food worthy. There are also a couple of pieces of play equipment for the children to climb about on. On a hot summer day, the beer garden at The Pheasant is a wonderful place to laze about in. Although food is not served in the pub, patrons are encouraged to bring their own picnic along. I think it's a great idea. It means you can have a pint in a beer garden on a nice day, but not have to rush home (or to a rival pub) to get some food. Just bring your own!

Inside, the pub has a pool table, dart board, and board games. The pool table is quite well kept as it is the stomping ground of two teams in the Amersham and Chesham Pool leagues. There are also darts and crib teams here during the week.

the pleasant Pheasant The beers are quite expensive, even for the area. A pint of lager is £3.60 or so, and Guinness is £3.70. For me, the best value drinks are the ales (but I am biased!). Jane always has Doom Bar (£3.30/pint) and a guest ale on. At the time of writing this was Courage, Directors (£3.40/pint). Doom Bar is as popular here as everywhere else, which results in a good fresh pint every time. There is also enough interest in the guest ale for it to be nice and fresh as well.

Overall, this is a great pub to stop for a pint in. It's a little expensive, yes, but sitting and relaxing by a river while your kids are able to play with the ducks or on swings and slides is definitely worth it.

Pheasant Sign
The Pleasant Pheasant
© Brapps | Some Rights Reserved

Thursday, 18 November 2010

Ye Olde Mitre, London

Has it really been more than a year since I last wrote an entry in this blog? That is shocking! It appears I spend too much time in pubs and not enough time writing about them. That will have to change....well, the latter part anyway!

Ye Olde Mitre
1 Ely Court,
Ely Place,

The offering for this entry is one of my favourite pubs in the world. I only go there once per year, but I savour every moment of it.
The hidden Mitre

Ye Olde Mitre is a hidden gem in London. It is a fairly small pub, steeped in history. The pub was established in 1546 (yes, I can read the sign!), and is located in an alleyway between Ely Place and Hatton Garden. Blink, and you'll miss it. I did the first time I went searching for the pub.

Inside, the pub is full of dark wood panelling with the bar located centrally between the front bar, back bar (saloon bar?), and the entrance. The selection of beers is excellent. This is the first place I tried Sharps Doom Bar and have been in love with it ever since. When I visited this year I drank Seafarers by Fullers and Deuchars by Caledonian. Lovely beers, both of them.

The food in the Mitre is very simple, and really helps keep the warm homely atmosphere, I feel. There is no kitchen in the pub, so the offerings are limited to what can be heated in a toaster, or microwave. We always have a selection of pork pies and scotch eggs there, but they also provide toasted sandwiches and sausage rolls. I told you it was simple. But you don't go to the Mitre for a gastropub experience. You go there to drink some really well kept beer, and soak up the 460 plus years of history.

Saturday, 3 October 2009

My First Brewday – Blackberry Wine – Part 1

Hot off the back of making Sloe Gin, I started to get into brewing proper. Sloe Gin is just a long cocktail. Whereas making blackberry wine is going to be a bona fide attempt at homebrew.

My first dilemma was the recipe to use. My friend who gave me a fermenting bucket sent me this recipe. It’s a good recipe, I’m sure it works fine. While pondering this, I joined The Homebrew Forum. A brilliant place to read up on and ask questions about anything to do with home brewing. It is there my eyes were opened to many, many different Country Wine recipes.  So after reading their recipes, and asking a few questions, I settled on the following recipe:

  1. 850g Blackberries
  2. 1 Litre apple juice
  3. 750g Sugar
  4. Pectolase
  5. Yeast nutrient
  6. Red wine yeast

Note about the sugar – I have since found out that I should have probably added double the sugar. This will be rectified by adding syrup (750g sugar in water) to the demijohns before adding the strained juice.

So, having crushed the blackberries in the bucket, I added 1 gallon of boiling water and stirred. I then added the apple juice. While all this was going on, I melted my sugar in 2 litres of water to make a syrup which was added to the mixture. Add sterilised water (I boiled a large pot of water for 15 minutes covered and left to cool overnight) to bring the mixture up to 2 gallons (about 10 litres).

Finally add on crushed campden tablet to kill off any unwanted yeasts in the mixture . Cover and leave  overnight.

The next day mix in your pectolase to so that the pectin in the fruit gets broken down ready for the yeast. Cover again and leave for 24 hours.

The next day is when the yeast gets added. From then on it will no longer be glorified blackberry juice.

First of all sterilise everything. You then need to take the temperature of the liquid as well as the starting gravity.  This is not entirely necessary, but will help with determining the final alcohol content of your wine. My blackberry juice had a temperature of 19 degrees Celsius and a starting gravity of 1.040. 

All that needs to be done once you have taken those reading is to add the yeast, cover, and place somewhere to ferment for five days. Mine is on top of the fridge, in a bin bag in case the yeast gets a bit overzealous.


Make sure you give the whole thing a stir every day (some say twice a day). Nothing vigorous, just enough to push the yeast cap into the juice.

That’s is the end of part 1. Part two will be the straining of the pulp, and setting it to ferment in demijohns.

Wednesday, 23 September 2009

Sloe Gin Speakeasy

I wrote recently about my following a new blog called Blagger. Reading the blog has inspired me to broaden my skills in the kitchen. I already make a mean tomato chutney, and a decent loaf of bread. But what of brewing? What can I do when I am not on the lifelongpubrun? Blagger has posted about homemade beer, champagne, wine, and schnapps. So I thought I should give it a go….

My friend recently donated a fermentation bucket, and some sloe berries. A whole world of yeasty bubbliness has opened up to me! But before I run headlong into taking on Anheiser-Busch InBev or Magners, I need somewhere a little smaller to start. So with a spring in my step, I headed home last night to take my first foray into making Sloe Gin.

Sloe Gin is easy, most of the ingredients are mentioned in it title. Gin, Sloes, and some sugar. I used the BBC Food Recipe for this, but any will do.

Step 1 – Prepare Your Equipment

To make sloe gin you will need


450g/1lb sloes
225g/8oz caster sugar
1 litre/1¾ pint gin


1.5 litre bottle with lid
Sterilising powder

It is wise to sterilise the bottle and funnel before starting the mixing process to prevent any spoiling of your drink.

One tip I picked up from talking to friends and passers by about making gin is that the sloes should be frozen beforehand. Some of the other recipes on the internet suggest that freezing the berries simulates a frost and so makes a sweeter drink. My reason for freezing the berries is that it makes them easier to prick.

Step 2 – Ready the Sloes

With everything measured and clean, you will now need to prepare your sloes to mix with the gin. This involves pricking them to allow the sloe juice to seep into the gin.

As mentioned above, it was suggested to me that using frozen berries works best. Once you start on the pricking process (1lb of sloes took approximately 30 minutes to prick), you will be thankful. The firmness of the iced sloes means that there is no spurting of juice, or staining of hands/carpet/pet. I did find my fingers going numb at about halfway. I intermingled the pricking of the berries with the odd sip of beer… for medicinal purposes only, you understand.

As you prick each berry pop it into your bottle. It saves doing this later, and my funnel was no where wide enough at the bottom to let through the sloes.

Once you have finished with pricking the sloes, pour all of the sugar into the bottle. I used the funnel for this as it makes it easier. Don’t worry if any sugar sticks to the funnel as you will shortly be washing everything over with gin.

Step 3 – Mix Everything Together

Right! Now we’re ready to add the gin. You will now realise why you need a 1.5 litre bottle for 1 litre of gin. As mentioned above, you can use the gin to wash all the remaining sugar from the funnel into the bottle. I managed to get nearly all of the gin in there. Nearly. There was just enough left in the gin bottle for a quick drink to reward a job well done.

Put the lid on and you are now ready to mix all of the ingredients for the first time.

Step 4 – Shake, Rattle, & Store Your Sloe Gin

With all of the ingredients in the bottle, you need to give everything its first mixing. Shake the bottle until all of the sugar has dissolved. This only takes a couple of minutes. Already you should be able to see some purple colouring of the liquid. All that you need to do now is store your sloe gin in a cool dark place.

Depending on which recipe you are following, you now need to shake the mixture every day (or every other day) for two weeks. Then shake the mixture once a week for a month. Finally, give your sloe gin a mix every now and then.

The whole process including sterilisation took about an hour.

So, how long before being able to drink this? Most recipes call for a year of maturation, but you should be able to start tasting your sloe gin after about 3 months. Don’t plan on a great big session then as this stuff only gets better with age. Plan on a minimum of 6 months before really starting to dig in.

Further Reading

While you are waiting for your sloe gin to mature, you should check out everything sloe related from The Cottage Smallholder’s blog. Of particular interest is the article on Wild Damsen and Sloe Gin Recipes. At the bottom of the article are some Tips and Tricks. I particularly like the idea of re-using the sloes by adding medium sherry.

Thursday, 19 June 2008

Cains Brewery Tour

The more I blog, and read beer/pub blogs, the more I want to know about beer. So, last weekend, while on a trip to Liverpool, I went on the Cains brewery tour.  I have had quite a few pints of Cains beer in the past as it is one of the sponsors of the Liverpool Irish Festival of which Mrs. Mouse is the director. I am particularly fond of their Raisin Beer which has a sweet, and savoury taste to it which makes it go down a treat.
Cains has had quite a history. It is the only brewery left in Liverpool, and even then nearly didn't make it. The Dusanj brothers took Cains over in 2002 at a point where production had all but stopped. Since then they have worked tirelessly on bringing the company into profit, and growing year on year.  I don't want to go too much into the history here as the full story can be seen in the history section of the website.




I am not a brewery tour aficionado, the only other tour I have been on being the De Koninck brewery in  Antwerp. I think the Cains tour was better than the one in Antwerp mainly for the accessibility and openness of the tour. We got to see quite a lot of the Terracotta Palace moving our way from the entrance with the Super Lamb Banana, through the canning area, up past the fermenting area, into their craft beer lab, and culminating in the old Hops storeroom just below the big chimney on the top of the building. I think my favourite place on the tour was the beer lab. It was interesting to see some of the different ingredients which go into their craft beers. It was also interesting to hear that Cains is going to be brewing Cobra, formerly brewed somewhere in Poland. Cobra is made using maize and rice instead of hops and barley, which makes it a very delicate beer to brew. Cains have been busy trying to nail down the brewing process in preparation for full scale production.

After the tour, we went to The Brewery Tap, the Cains brewery pub for our buffet and two complimentary beers (not bad for £7.99). The pub is a clean, well kept, bar which has all the Cains beers currently on sale (some are seasonal beers only, and so weren't available). So what to choose? The 14 taps contained a whopping 11 beers to choose from, Finest LagerLiverpool Lager, Organic Wheat Beer (the seasonal choice for July), Finest Bitter, Raisin Beer, 2008 Culture Beer, FA, IPA, and Mild. Or should I choose one of their bottles (Dragonheart, or Double Bock)?
Since Mrs. Mouse wasn't drinking I had a choice of four. With so much choice I found it hard to get my mind around what I wanted. In the end I opted for a pint of Finest Lager, a pint of 2008, a bottle of FA, and Dragonheart.   


First the Finest Lager, which was properly 'lagered' for three months. This was one of the finest pints of beer I have ever had. Crisp, clean, with a grapefruit-style citrus aftertaste. The fullness of flavour was amazing. I firmly believe if I ever see this in a pub down London way, I would start drinking it as a matter of preference. You really realise what you are missing by drinking the commercial lagers.
My second pint was of the 2008 Culture beer. Now I am mainly a lager drinker, but am attempting to broaden my palate. I am very pleased for this attitude of mine as I got to try '08 (as everyone else called it). This bitter was light, not too sweet, and had a dry citrus taste to it which made the pint a pleasure to drink.
Since we had to leg it to the Klimt exhibition at the Tate Liverpool we took the two bottles with us. I have since had these and they were yummy.
The Dragon Heart Brown Ale is "brewed to a 19th century recipe". I quite enjoyed this. It had a sort of smokey toffee taste which made the beer go down smoothly and hides it's 5% ABV.  I think I would quickly get through a few of these and then fall over. I did look down at my pint glass and wonder where my beer had gone.
My final beer was chosen by the landlord and was the Cains FA. Quite honestly, this is the reason I prefer lager to ales/bitters. It was flat. It tasted warm even though it had spent two days in the fridge. Even though I drank it last night, I can't remember what it tasted like (sort of watery and smokey, I think), even though it supposedly the cask conditioning produces a 'fuller flavour'. I will avoid this one in the future.


  So there you have it. I had an excellent time on the tour, and learnt quite a bit about Cains, and beer in general. I think Cains is an excellent brand which you will probably see more and more over the next few years. Their Seasonal Craft Beer initiative is a stroke of genius which will keep drinkers coming back all year round. The light buffet and two pints included in the tour makes the £7.99 more than worth the price.

Finally, I would be interested to hear of any London pubs which are serving the Finest Lager on tap. I  can't wait to try it again... and again... and again....


Cains brewery tours take place Monday through to Friday and begin at 6.30pm - Saturday & Sundays at 1.00PM . Tours must be pre-booked. Tours Cost £7.99 per person (not suitable for the less agile due to being a Victorian Brewery and the number of stairs). Please Telephone Cains Sales office Mon - Fri 0151 709 8734 - or email:tours@cains.co.uk. All tours must be pre-booked.

Tuesday, 3 June 2008

Beer Blogging: Papastonch

A recently created blog is Beer, Walks, & History by Papastonch. It is a blog which is being written by Stonch's father. Papastonch started by writing the odd article for Stonch's blog, but I believe he enjoyed it so much he decided to start his own blog .

In Beer, Walks, & History Papastonch recalls many of his experiences in pubs during walks and visits across the county (and indeed across the world!).
I always look forward to reading his articles as they are very well written and always contain some quirky little tit-bit which makes  you want to wander in the vicinity of his footsteps to see what he was talking about.

I recommend adding him to your blogroll, as I have.