Fancy A Pint? #31 It’s beer, but not as we know it

IMGP6143County: Selkirkshire, Scotland (now part of the Borders Region).

What is it called? Red Eye Flight

Who made it? Tempest Brewing Co, Tweedbank (website:

What is it? Mocha Porter

Alc Vol: 7.4%

The label says: “A powerful awakening, cold infused cocoa and roast Arabica coffee, galvanise the chocolate and roasted malts. A rich dark complex porter with a fresh ground aroma and intense depth of flavour.”

Retired Blokes says: It is beers like this that make me pause and think of my grandfathers. One was a coal miner, the other a tinplate worker; jobs that gave a man a healthy thirst. They drank pints of bitter, or occasionally of mild. I can only imagine what they would have to say about a craft beer such as this – probably, they would be bemused at the idea of making beer that doesn’t taste like beer. Having said that, I thought it was as flavoursome as the makers claimed, and was very nice – but only as a novelty.

Fancy another? No thanks.

It’s not about the beer: Sir Walter Scott, author of Ivanhoe and Rob Roy among other historical novels and poems, was appointed Sheriff-Depute of Selkirkshire in 1799, an office he held until his death in 1832.

Fancy A Pint? Retirement project to sample beers and ciders made in every county of the United Kingdom.



Fancy A Pint? #30 Welcome return of a well-travelled ale

IMGP6133County: Bedfordshire (but see * note below)

What is it called? Courage Directors’ Superior Ale

Who made it? Wells and Young’s Brewing Company, Bedford.

What is it? An amber ale.

Alc Vol: 4.8%

The label says: “Full of character with a distinctive spicy hop aroma, the perfect balance of Crystal malt with crisp, fruity, nutty hops and a lasting finish.”

With food? No recommendations on the bottle. I drank it with that reliable old staple, a bowl of roasted peanuts.

Retired Bloke Verdict: It has been several years since I last had a pint of this. It was a welcome reminder of how lovely it is. Rich and smooth.

Fancy another? Yes please.

*It’s more complicated than that. The beer was originally brewed exclusively for the directors of the Alton Brewery in Hampshire, in 1903. Since then, it has at different times been made in breweries in Reading, Bermondsey, Bristol, and Tadcaster. So its current geographical connection with Bedfordshire is just the latest stage in its story.

It’s not about the beer: The world’s first tractor was invented in Bedfordshire by a racing cyclist called Daniel Albone. The Ivel Agricultural Motor was patented by Albone in February 1902.

Fancy A Pint? is my retirement project to sample beer and cider from every county in the United Kingdom.

Fancy A Pint? #29: an IPA with a dry edge to it

IMGP6063County: Derbyshire

What is it called? Axe Edge.

Who made it? Buxton Brewery Co Ltd: @BuxtonBrewery

What is it? India Pale Ale

Alc Vol: 6.8%

What it says on the label: “This award-winning (Retired Bloke question: Is there a beer in existence that hasn’t won an award? They all seem to claim that distinction) strong IPA is full flavoured and has a beautiful hoppy aroma. Hopped with a stunning blend of European, North American and New Zealand varieties.”  The website talks about “complex flavours” including mandarin orange, schnapps, pineapple and juicy tropical fruits; that is a lot of flavours for one beer, and certainly more than my unsophisticated palate could detect.

Food combination: None suggested.

Fancy Another? Not really. The incredibly dry finish was overwhelming. One is as many as I could manage.

It’s not about the beer: Buxton has the highest elevation of any market town in England, at 1,000 feet (300 m). In June 1975 it was hit by a freak snowstorm that stopped play during a cricket match.

Fancy A Pint? The retirement project to sample beers and ciders from every county in the United Kingdom.

Fancy a Pint? #28: something dark and strong

The retirement project to try beers and ciders from every county in the United Kingdom.

IMGP6039County: Cumbria (Cumberland).

What’s it called? Sneck Lifter.

Who made it? Jennings Castle Brewery. Established in 1828 in Lorton, a village between Buttermere and Cockermouth in what was then the county of Cumberland, in the heart of the Lake District. The business was purchased in 2005 by Wolverhampton and Dudley Breweries, which was renamed Marston’s in 2007.

What is it? A dark bitter.

Alc Vol: 5.1%

What it says on the label: “Relax, unwind and appreciate the wonderful complex flavours of this award winning, lip smacking, strong and satisfying dark beer.” I get the impression that they are quite proud of it.

Food combination: Nothing on the bottle. I drank it with a bowl of dry, roasted peanuts, but it would have gone just as well with a steak.

Fancy another? In the right circumstances (e.g. a cold winter’s afternoon). The beer was dark, rich, smoky and ‘liquouricey’. Lovely!

It’s not about the beer (well, in this instance, sort of): I was attracted by the name as much as anything. I had no idea what a sneck lifter was. It turns out a sneck is a door latch, and a sneck lifter was a man’s last sixpence with which he would lift the latch of the pub door and buy himself a pint, hoping to meet friends there who might treat him to one or two more. I bet he was popular (Younger drinkers who read this may wonder what a sixpence was, being one of the coins that disappeared when Britain switched to decimal currency in the early 1970s).

Fancy a Pint? #27: a beer fit for a Pope

The retirement project to try beers and ciders from every county in the United Kingdom.

IMGP5945County: Oxfordshire.

What’s it called? Oxford Gold

Who made it? The Brakspear Brewing Company. Originally brewed at the Brakspear Brewery in Henley; when this closed in 2002, production moved to the redeveloped Wychwood Brewery, Eagle Maltings, The Crofts, Witney. Website:

What is it? A golden ale, made with Pale and Crystal malts infused with Golding, Styrian Golding, Fugle and Admiral hops.

Alc Vol: 4.6%

What it says on the label: “Craft brewed with a zesty aroma and a fruity flavour.”

Food combination: None suggested on the bottle. I drank it with the leftovers of The Current Mrs Feeney’s excellent shepherd’s pie (which itself was made from the leftovers of TCMrsF’s excellent roast lamb dinner.)

Fancy another? Yes, definitely. The pint had a wonderful colour and a foamy head. There were loads of citrussy aromas, and the beer was fruity but with a dry finish.

It’s not about the beer: The brewery founder was related to Adrian IV, Britain’s first (and so far only) Pope. Nicholas Breakspear was Pope from 1154-59. Robert Brakspear founded W.H.Brakspear and Sons in Henley in 1779.

A champion pint from Nottinghamshire

Fancy A Pint? The retirement project to sample a pint of beer or cider brewed or fermented in each county in the United Kingdom.

DSC00087County: Nottinghamshire.

What is it called? Harvest Pale.

Who made it? Castle Rock Brewery, Nottingham. The brewery was formed in 1977 as Tynemill by former Camra chairman Chris Holmes. More information at

What is it? Blonde beer, brewed with Centennial, Cascade and Chinook hops.

Alc Vol: 4.3%

What it says on the label: “The draught version has won many awards, not least in 2010 when it was awarded Champion Beer Of Britain at the Great British Beer Festival. So that you can enjoy Harvest Pale at home, we have created a fuller strength beer, but one that retains the crisp, golden hoppy character we expect from a true champion.”

Food combination: Nothing suggested on the bottle. I drank it on its own.

Retired Bloke Verdict: A lot is expected from a champion beer; I enjoyed the clear taste. The combination of hops produced a typically citrus aroma. Overall, very refreshing.

It’s not about the beer: Traffic lights were invented in Nottingham by High School pupil John Peake Knight. His system had a revolving gas-powered lantern with red and green lights. The first one was placed near the House of Commons in London.

A bitter with a light touch

Fancy A Pint? The retirement project to sample a beer or cider brewed or fermented in each county in the United Kingdom.

DSC00079County: Cambridgeshire.

What is it called? JHB (Jeffrey Hudson Bitter)

Who made it? Oakham Ales, Peterborough.

What is it? A light bitter. It is named after an adventurer, courtier and duellist in the service of King Charles I.

Alc Vol: 4.2%

What it says on the label: “Light and refreshing with a blatant citrus fruitiness and a smooth dry bitter finish”.

Food combination: Nothing on the bottle. I drank it, sat in front of the television watching the football,  with a beef sandwich and a pork sausage roll. It washed down both very nicely.

Retired Bloke Verdict: This beer is filed under Cambridgeshire, but Oakham Ales actually originated in the historic and tiny county of Rutland before moving to its present home. Just to complicate matters further, Peterborough used to be part of neighbouring Northamptonshire. As for the beer; this was much lighter in colour and taste than I associate with a bitter. It delivered the fruitiness and dryness that the label promised.

Fancy another? I will, but I think it would be especially nice when the weather (hopefully) warms up in the Spring.

It’s not about the beer: The Peterborough Chronicle, written by monks of the abbey church in the 12th Century, contains unique information about the history of England after the Norman Conquest.