Archive for the 'Food & Beer' Category

Mini Beer Festival

Last Friday I held a “Mini Beer Festival” ’round at my home. Because I got into this rather strange habit of photographing all my real ales before I can drink them, every now and then I end up with a large cupboard full of beer. I normally buy beers in threes (of each type) so that I have one to try, another one in case I really like it, and then one to keep in the cupboard until I photograph it. Yes, strange I know…. but it takes all sorts.

So this was the menu:

Brewery Beer Alc %
Badger Hopping Hare 4.5
Batemans Victory Ale 6.0
Belhaven Twisted Thistle IPA 5.3
Black Sheep Brewery Yorkshire Square Ale 5.0
Brakspear EPA - English Pale Ale 4.2
Brakspear Oxford Gold (Organic Beer) 4.6
Cotleigh Brewery Barn Owl 4.5
Cwmbran Brewery Plum Porter 4.8
Dark Star Brewery Espresso (Superior Coffee Beer) 4.2
Darwin Brewery Rolling Hitch 5.2
Double Maxim Beer Company Double Maxim (Premium Brown Ale) 4.7
Felinfoel Brewery Double Dragon 4.2
Fuller’s Jack Frost 4.5
Harviestoun Bitter & Twisted (Blond Beer) 4.2
Hepworth & Co Brewers Iron Horse 4.8
Hook Norton Brewery 303 AD 4.0
Hook Norton Brewery Double Stout 4.8
Hook Norton Brewery Hooky Bitter 3.6
Hook Norton Brewery Twelve Days 5.5
Innis & Gunn Original (Oak Aged Beer) 6.6
Jennings Sneck Lifter 5.1
Jennings World’s Biggest Liar 4.3
Marston’s Burton Bitter 3.8
Marston’s Double Drop 5.0
Marston’s Pedigree Six 6.0
Marston’s Strong Pale Ale 6.2
Meantime Pale Ale 4.7
Meantime Pilsner 5.4
O’Hanlon’s Goodwill Bitter 5.0
O’Hanlon’s Royal Oak 5.0
O’Hanlon’s Thomas Hardy’s Ale 11.7
RCH Brewery Firebox 6.0
Ridley’s Old Bob 5.1
Ringwood Brewery Best Bitter 4.0
Ringwood Brewery Fortyniner 4.9
Ringwood Brewery Huffkin 4.4
Ringwood Brewery Old Thumper 5.6
Sharp’s Brewery Chalky’s Bite 6.8
Shepherd Neame Goldings 4.7
Shepherd Neame Whitstable Bay Organic Ale 4.5
St Peter’s Best Bitter 3.7
St Peter’s Cream Stout 6.5
St Peter’s India Pale Ale 5.5
St Peter’s Organic Best Bitter 4.1
St Peter’s Ruby Red Ale 4.3
Theakston Grouse Beater 4.2
Theakston Old Peculier 5.6
Theakston Paradise Ale 4.2
Thwaites Double Century 5.2
Ushers Founders English Ale 4.7
Wadworth The Bishop’s Tipple 6.5
Wells Bombardier Burning Gold 4.7
Wells Bombardier Satanic Mills 5.0
Westerham Brewery Co. Freedom Ale (william Wilberforce) 4.8
Wychwood BeeWyched Honey’d Ale 5.0
Wychwood Circlemaster (Golden Pale Ale) 4.7
Wychwood White Wych (Golden Ale) 4.0
Wychwood Wychcraft (Blonde Beer) 4.5
Wyre Piddle Brewery Piddle In The Hole 4.0

As you can see, there was quite a lot to choose from! We made a rather feeble attempt at getting through it all, so if you know me and fancy coming to the next ‘event’ then let me know!

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Linton Festival - a chance to try my 5D

IMG_0674, uploaded by Mark Sweeting.

I went to the Saturday evening portion of the annual Linton Festival last weekend, which gave me a chance to try out my new camera (Canon EOS 5D).

The festival was great, with a nice selection of real ales and some good bands (mainly blues while I was there, though there was some jazz too earlier on).

I was messing around with my 17-40mm lens most of the time, which on the full frame sensor gives an amazing wide angle view! As it got darker I switched to my 24-70mm lens, which is great for low light and was used for the photo above.

Although I’ve still not really put the camera through it’s paces, I’m very pleased with it so far! It looks like the EOS 5D Mark II is still a while off, so glad I finally jumped in now while the prices are (relativley) low!

The low light performance of the camera seems excellent (with very low noise), and the bigger viewfinder makes it much easier to see if the subject is in focus! I still feel that it slightly over-exposes the images compared to my EOS 20D, but I guess I just need to get used to the meter.

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Great British Beer Festival

I popped up to the GBBF on Saturday morning to meet a friend and try some new beers. It was a hot day, and sadly most of the beers had sold out by the time I got there (@ 12:30 ish).


It was good to catch up with Jim, but I have to say I didn’t go a bundle on the atmosphere there; I guess you’re bound to get a nicer atmosphere at the smaller festivals. One thing that was nice to see were groups of (often young) women all enjoying the beer. Good to see the sandal-wearing bearded ale drinker stereotype drifting into the dim and distant past. So when’s the next beer festival? Thankfully not long away — next week will see one in Worcester. Don’t think I’ll be able to make that one though; maybe make the one in Peterborough though :)

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Save the Rising Sun (Riser)

Rising Sun PubI was saddened to hear that the Youngs brewery is planning on stopping the sale of Pilgrim brewery beer in the Rising Sun pub in Epsom.

This is probably my favorite pub at the moment, given that the ale from the Pilgrim brewery is delicious and it is a no smoking pub.

I signed the petition a couple of weeks ago, but it seems this isn’t enough to stop Youngs:

“We spent £900,000 to buy this pub and we haven’t bought it to sell other peoples beer. If people don’t like it, they can drink somewhere else.

We have 210 pubs, and have never before come across a case where someone has refused to comply with our conditions.”
A Young’s spokesperson

I have nothing against Young and Co as a brewery — they make some very nice beer — but I do feel it is against the interest of real ale drinkers to make any changes to this great Surrey pub. So if you like real ale and think this little gem of a pub should be saved, join in the fight!

More information can be found here:

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Recipes by email (for blokes)

Why hasn’t someone invented a recipe service where they email you a (new) recipe each day? Maybe they have. I get so fed up making the same meal every day, and I’m sure I can’t be the only one.

It’s not that I don’t like cooking — I quite enjoy it actually — but I don’t like cooking for one. And making loads of dishes for one little meal seems stupid to me too.

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4th Elysian Beer Festival

Life (and work) is way too busy at the moment, hence the major lack of bloggage these last few months.

Anyway, I managed to find time to pop up to Cambridge this weekend: this time for the 4th Elysian Beer Festival (photos here). I’m sorry to say I’ve misplaced my festival beer list so I can’t tell you what I had and what I thought, but suffice it to say that the beer was of an excellent standard, and the free shuttle bus laid on by the kind people at the Live & Let Live in Cambridge was a great touch.

The following morning was nice and sunny, so Jim, Matt and I went of to Anglesey Abbey (photos here) for a walk. This was pleasant enough, but it would have been nicer if there were some flowers and things out - it must be much better in the summer — or even then spring!

Lunch was in the White Swan in Stow-cum-Quy, and was very tasty indeed (though not as good as last weeks lunch in the Fort St. George, which was accompanied by some exceptionally nice ale), and the afternoon was rounded off by some coffee and cake.

Anyway, Matt and Jim have both agreed to help out on the new BritBlog, so we had a good chat about the possibilities throughout the day. There are some great ideas coming up, and it will be great to get some of them in place for BritBlog.

I really miss not living in Cambridge and being able to throw ideas around with other like-minded people. I keep thinking of getting a job up there, but there are so many geeks in those parts it makes the competition a lot higher! Still, one day…

As I said, the new ideas for BritBlog are coming along nicely, so once our new web server is set up and in place we can start working on it properly.

Right, the oven should be warm now, so time to put the chicken in!

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Windows Small Business Server

I guess starting your first ever install of Windows Small Business Server 2003 at 9.00 PM isn’t such a good idea!

A friend has given me a very nice rack-mount server (2U, 2 x 1 GHz Xeon processors, 4GB RAM, SCSI Ultra 160 disc), and I’ve been meaning to have a look at Small Business Server for some time now, so this is the perfect oportunity. It’s just such a noisy machine!

Ah well, guess I need more beer… Have been working through some Morland’s Hen’s Tooth ale and Tanner’s Jack bitter this evening. Very nice :-)

Update I’ve got the Exchange server POP-connector thing working now, and the web interface version of Outlook 2003 is all working (over SSL).

It’s funney; I’m not a Windows person, but it is often easier to get going than Linux (which I do really like). Of course, easy to setup doesn’t mean secure, and I’m not happy about opening up my firewall for this service, but if I don’t then it’s no use.

Hmm, I think I should have just installed debian… Talking of which, I’ve made a few tweaks to the new BritBlog server - it’s nearly there!

The weekend so far…

I’ve had a good weekend so far. I went up to Cambridge on Friday after work to catch up with Jim et al. It took about 2 1/2 hours as the M25 was pooched.

I woke up on Saturday with a mildly sore head, but this soon cleared up, which was just as well. I’m best man at a wedding in July, and I’ve been trying to find a decent suit to wear at it for ages. I looked in loads of shops and couldn’t really find anything, so I ended up going to Ede & Ravenscroft where I spent rather more than I was planning on. Still, the suit should be OK, and I’m hoping it will fit me properly…

Then we went off for a pub lunch and on to the Cambridge University Botanic Garden. Apart from the beginnings of hay fever, we had a very pleasant walk around the gardens, and, as usual, I took lots and lots of photos!


After that we went off to the beer festival on Jesus Green. This was a bit of a disappointment as there wasn’t really enough staff serving beer. I know they all did the best they could, but when it takes 20 minutes to get served it takes some of the fun out of the event.


As it was getting rather chilly, we ended up going to the pub for the evening. So no change there then!

On a totally different note, I’ve discovered the Mac Mini. These run OSX, which is basically Linux (Free BSD?), and they are very very sweet looking! I want one of those!