Friday, 4 May 2018


Last week a fellow CAMRA member spotted, from the upstairs of a bus, that there were two handpulls in the bar of the Guide Post , Springwell Village as the bus went past the pub. Now I have not been in that pub for over 30 years, principally because there was no decent beer on. As it is not too far away , I checked  it out yesterday.

Sure enough, Camerons Strongarm and Theakstons Black Bull. The latter had gone off so had a nice pint of the Strongarm and a bag of Nobbys Nuts from the a la carte menu.

I sat outside and contemplated a few things. My dad was born just round the back of the pub and lived with his 3 brothers. Those three were never out of Springwell Club but dad was teetotal. I really dont know where I got the habit from ! There was none of - "come on son, I'll take you for your first pint !"

Anyone, finishing my pint  and nuts I walked to the front of the pub to take a photo. Behind me was a row of old houses with back yards instead of gardens. A voice behind me said " you can take a picture of me if you want "

Turning round , there was this skinny guy in his early seventies standing there with a paint brush in his hand. I said that he was really lucky living so close to the pub ( it was about 20 paces)

" Not really son, I am teetotal !" Bloody hell, another one !

I  remarked that if I lived where he lived I would never be out of the place. He looked me up and down as if I was some incurable alcoholic and said, waving his paint brush at me like a portent of doom.

" The beer will get you in the end you know !"

I made my excuses and left.   

Sunday, 29 April 2018

KEN'S REVITALISATION - A Week in Tenerife.

Mrs Ken and I have just returned from a week's holiday in Tenerife. We've been to Lanzarote a couple of times so wasn't expecting much from the beer availability.

We flew on the day of the CAMRA AGM so missed all the action while up in the air. Pondering the outcome of the Special Resolutions  while watching the last guy to get on the plane and plonk himself next to me.  " He's just dashed onto the plane from the bar " I thought to myself.

Sure enough after the fasten seat belt signs were switched off he was off his starting blocks to the loos at the back.

An hour in, the trolley made an appearance and he proceeded to order 4 cans of Budweiser. Hmm. Itv was a long flight I was imagining the scenario of him being interested in joining CAMRA, -
Me - " One of the benefits is free entry into a lot of beer festivals"
Him - "Do they sell Budweiser ?"
Me - "Er no"
New tack required here.
Me - "You get 50p off a pint Wetherspoons vouchers"
Him - " Can you get pints of Budweiser ?"
Me - "Er no"
The trolley appeared for a second time, and sure enough another 4 cans of Budweiser made their way onto his drop down table

I am reminded of the time I went to a 50th birthday party and met a guy who only drank Newcastle brown ale. He absolutely loved the stuff. He had brought his own and won't go in a pub that doesn't sell it. Can't imagine recruiting him either then .!

Anyhow I digress , back to Tenerife. Arriving late , the only beers they had in the hotel was San Miguel, San Miguel zero alcohol ( is that not the same thing ? ), And something called Reina. Just the usual boring yellow fizz.

Next day, straight to the nearest Spar , looking for some German and Belgian beers. One of the latter in particular caught my eye. Mort Subite Kreik Lambic. Now I have been researching lambic beers for an article in our branch magazine. They are brewed differently to other beers, using natural fermentation. ( read the article when it comes out).

The beer I had was flavoured with cherry essence . Very tasty - even Mrs Ken liked it. . However, it was a bit strange seeing this style of beer on a Spar supermarket shelf directly above some John Smiths cans.

One final thing. We were staying at the north part of the island, so took a bus down to the south, where all the sunseekers go. Some beach front cafes and bars were selling pints of lager for 95 cents !  ( yes-  Ninety Five!") I refused to indulge as it looked like piss. Bought an ice cream instead- 2 Euros!

Back home now and looking forward to a 2 night village pub beer festival next weekend. Look out for post on that one then !!

Tuesday, 17 April 2018


It was reported in the press overnight that there was some controversy at the recent Hull CAMRA Beer & Cider Festival. The festival was held in a church and at some point over the weekend a pirate performer turned was told to cover up her cleavage. 

The lady in question was part of a local pirate crew performing troupe raising funds to put on a pirate festival in Withernsea. She refused and then left with the rest of her entourage. So its OK to get pissed in a church at a beer festival, but but not bearing some cleavage.

Now looking back to when I visited Oktoberfest in Munich, all the serving girls were dressed in dirndls and were similarly buxom. It was part of the costume. 

I visit The Great British Beer Festival in Olympia London every year and its always full of oddballs dressed up. Two years ago  a group of us were sitting chatting, researching our next beer or eating some overpriced pasties when this tall person with a dark stubble walked passed. "So What?" I hear. Well this bearded one was dressed as a woman, looking very flamboyant. Turned out he/she was working behind the CAMRA cider bar. Just picture Eurovision singer  Conchita Wurst.

Anyhow all perfectly harmless and a good laugh, as it was intended.

Already looking forward to seeing Conchita again in August. May turn up at Hull in my mankini next year and see what happens ( oh my god, did you have to mention that ! - Ed)     

Friday, 6 April 2018


This post is partly inspired by an article in a Midlands CAMRA magazine and a couple of online news items.

First to set the scene. Years ago before I could legally drink the only crisp flavour you could get was ready salted , with the salt in a blue bag inside the crisp packet.

Now Ive read this morning in Glasgow Live that a brewery in that fine drinking city called Merchant City have introduced a pale ale made with black tea. I first visualised the buyer of this drink being presented with a teabag to sprinkle the leaves into the bottle then shaking it up like we used to do with the crisp packet.But no, the tea is infused in the brewing process !

There are a couple of Yorkshire breweries have recently introduced rhubarb flavoured beer.

Now Ive nothing against flavoured beers but rhubarb ?. At our 2016 beer festival I had some beetroot cider and it was bloody awful.
This leads me to the article in the Camra mag where the author laments the possible passing of the old fashioned English Bitter. So here, by way of a free service are some classic bitters to look out for and enjoy, instead of this endless stream of IPA's .

Black Sheep Best Bitter
Butcombe Bitter
Coniston Bluebird Bitter
Elgoods Cambridge Bitter
Hawkshead Bitter
Holdens Black Country Bitter
Triple fff Altons Pride
The fightback starts here !!

Friday, 30 March 2018


Every so often I visit a pub for the first time and take to it straight away. Some pubs are just OK, may go back again, some are, no way next time, but sometimes, but not that often one shines out and you say, will have to return there !

Recent examples on my travels have been the Black Horse in Wolsingham and the Bon Accord Glasgow ( see last post).

Last weekend Mrs Ken and I were on a coach trip with the  local Wetherspoons to Harrogate. Not having boozed in the town before I picked out a handful of pubs in the Good Beer Guide and one of them was Major Toms Social. 

Its located in a street called The Ginnel, we would have walked past  if I had not looked it up first. Its a cafe bar located up some stairs in a former antiques emporium, co located with a vinyl record shop. The ground floor is occupied by a design studio.

The bar has 4 real ales, bottled beer , pizzas, art works and an excellent taste in background music.

The seating is mostly long tables with benches, which encourages you to share and converse with your near neighbours. Our bench was very wobbly when you moved.  - It actually reminded me of the Berwick Beer Festival 2 years ago where if you sat on one end, then got up, the empty end would go flying, tipping the poor sods on the other end on the floor.- highly entertaining.

Anyhow,  some young folk ( well everyone was younger than me when we were there !) sat on the other end...this is going to be interesting if we get up first.......

Looking round there was a great atmosphere with enthusiastic staff. Games were available to keep kids ( and adults) occupied.

Sipping a pint of Turning Point Stout ( brewed in Kirkymoorside) it was great to chat and just look around and listen to the music. Suddenly, bearing in mind the kids running the place were in their early twenties, one of my all time favourite Desert Island Disc songs came on....drum roll

The Free Electric Band by Albert Hammond ( 1973). Now you dont get any better than this I thought. Fantastic place ! - and as a bonus, just as we were leaving, Me and Julio down by the Schoolyard - Paul Simon.

Tentatively standing up so the bench wouldn't  go flying ( it didnt) , we reluctantly had to leave to catch the coach back home

This cafe bar was so much different from your standard pub and all the better for it. Highly recommended- even the Mrs liked it ! 


Wednesday, 21 March 2018


As our daughter lives and works in Glasgow we usually visit at least three times a year. For me this is one of the great pub cities in the UK and our favourite pub is The Bon Accord. 

This pub can be found just over the M8 to the west of the city centre and not far from Sauchiehall Street. The Bon Accord was at the forefront of the real ale revival in Glasgow and there are 9 handpulls serving ales from most of the UK and an impressive range over 400 whiskies.

When we go the place is always busy but then staff have the knack of spotting you and serving you straight away. They always have time for you and the customer service is spot on. The beer is always in excellent condition. They have a decent size food range which is won't break the bank . 

Our most recent visit was last Saturday night at about 6pm and the pub was heaving with only one table left for the 3 of us to sit at. There was a friendly buzz about the place as we ordered our food. Looking up I spotted these two very recognisable old men staring at us.

After our meal and a couple of pints under their watchful eye, we set of for the mayhem that was Sauchiehall Street..........   


Sunday, 11 March 2018


The Spring edition of CAMRA Angle , the quarterly magazine of the Sunderland and South Tyneside branch of CAMRA, has  just been published. Copies are being  distributed to real ale pubs throughout the area , and beyond. As usual , this is another full issue and well worth a read.  

The forthcoming CAMRA AGM and the special resolutions regarding Revitilisation are explored, as well as pubco reform and a look at the CAMRA Beer Scoring system and the reasons why it is important to use it more.

There is a look at the branch pub/club of the year 2018 awards and recent announcement of the National Pub/Club of 2017. Also featured is the presentation of a cheque to Roker RNLI.  

There is a write up about a pub crawl in Worcester, and a pub review - The Monument in Penshaw ( hence the front cover.) Another review, this time a book, looks at The Great North East Brewery Guide.

Now there are not many people I know that drink cider, perhaps because its not beer and not to everyones taste. I would urge you to read "Read Cider & Perry Taste Introduction" - while editing it to make it easy to read I learned a hell of  a lot. Another unfamiliar drink in the North East is Mild so there is a brief look at the different styles.                     

A regular section is a news update on beer from the wood, pubs and  breweries in the branch as well as Locale pubs and those that offer discounts.

Issue 51 is rounded off by pub quiz. 

Enjoy the read !!

If you cant find a copy, follow this link to download your own,  and for more branch news. .
And remember, accept no imitations.