Four score and seven beers ago


“Four score and seven beers ago, I, Richard Gardner , Beer for the Year, set forth on a most excellent adventure. Conceived by my friend and colleague, Simon Peel, this great gentleman was dedicated to give me the proposition, which was true today as it was true two months ago, to drink 365 excellent beers in 365 days… excellent to each other…..and… on dudes!”

Ok, not quite Abraham Lincoln, and more like Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure (I do love that film), I have had the idea for the title of this post in my mind for sometime now, almost since the start of the year. Most people would probably do a review after a milestone such as 100 beers (most people would not be doing a 365 beer challenge) but I thought it would be a good time, at 87 beers (it just so happens to coincide with the two month mark), to look back over the last two months and produce some more beer related statistics.

Beer No 87 came in the middle of a beer festival (no 2 of the year), that I went to with Conchi, Carol and Andy (Carol and Andy are our fairly regular drinking partners), celebrating St David’s day at The Royal Blenheim. The theme, as you may have guessed, was Welsh beers. There was an excellent choice of 21 ales from 9 welsh breweries. I managed to try 5 different ones, steering clear of the pints this time and opting for half pints. My two favourites were Red Dragon and Honey Porter. Red Dragon by Great Orme Brewery was a copper coloured, fruity,zesty ale. It had an unusual taste in that it was a little sweet at the start but had a hoppy, bitter finish.  Honey Porter by Conwy Brewery was a dark brown porter with a dark roasted malt taste. It didn’t taste sweet at all, despite the honey, and had a nice smooth texture and with a slight bitterness to finish. Apparently the beer festival is going to be a annual affair, so I look forward to trying some more Welsh beers next year. Although I am sure there will be a few more Welsh beers drunk this year.

Meantime-LPA   Caesar Augustus    WP_001389

Here are the stats for the last two months, January and February (and March 1st):

Number of new beers tasted: 61/87                     70%

Number of beers tasted before: 26/87                30%

Most number of different beers in one night:     6

Number of lagers: 11.5/87                                     13%

Challenge progress: 87/365                                  24%

My favourite new beers in February were Caesar Augustus by Williams Bros Brewery, a lager/IPA hybrid that was surprisingly good, refreshing and hoppy, and London Pale Ale by Meantime Brewery, a pale ale full of hoppy, fruity, citrus flavours and bitterness. I also had the good fortune to try a new beer by my local brewery, Gunners Gold by Loose Cannon. This ale had a nice golden, yellow colour, not too bitter, with hints of peach and a very smooth taste. I may be a little biased because they are a local brewery but they always make a great beer.

So, as I finish writing this review, the first two months are over and done with and we are now slightly into the third month. I have drunk 92 different beers with only 65 days gone, almost a month ahead of the challenge, if you look at it that way.  However, I have only drunk 2 out of the 51 beers I have in the house, the lure of the pub having overridden drinking beers at home. In fact I have been beer free for the last three days! I am very close to Beer No 100 and have the beer ready that I would like to drink as No 100. This will be the subject of one of the next posts.

Beer for the Year Winter Pub Crawl 2013

Friday night saw the inaugural Beer for the Year pub crawl around Oxford. What better way, apart from a beer festival, to try a few different ales. The organisation of the pub crawl started three weeks ago with a Doodle poll to find a night that everybody could attend. I love Doodle. Doodle is a quick and easy way to set up a  poll to organise a meeting or a night out when multiple people are involved. You create a poll, email the poll link to everyone and they fill out the days and times that are good for them. For the Beer for the Year Pub Crawl Doodle poll, Friday 15th February came out as the favourite night. The route was planned meticulously right down to the times we needed to be at each pub. Some would call me OCD for this, I would call it great planning. The timings were also there so that people knew where to join us if they were running late. I like to look after everyone. There was even a quiz for people to do with questions on each pub visited. Here is the route that we followed and the times we were supposed to be in each pub.


Time in Pub          Name of Pub

6:30 pm                      The Royal Blenheim

7:10 pm                      The Crown

7:50 pm                      The Chequers

8:35 pm                       The Turf Tavern

9:20 pm                      The Kings Arms

10:05 pm                   Lamb and Flag

Answers to quiz highlighted in the text

The night started off well with just four of us (me, Conchi, Carol and Andy) in the first pub, The Royal Blenheim. There is always plenty of beers to choose from in this pub, they have 9 ale hand pumps and one ale on draught. We all had a different beer, Village Idiot and Wayland Smithy by White Horse, Titanic Stout by Titanic and Cosmic by Black Hole brewery. Mine was the Cosmic. At the allotted time, or just after as we were already running a little late, we moved onto The Crown (named so in 1625). Here we were joined by everyone else (Dave and Rebbeca, Rob, Claire, Mili and Anish). The choice of ales here was less than the Blenheim but there were still 6 ales on hand pumps. I went with the golden ale, Ossian by Inveralmond brewery. Again it was time to move on to the next pub, The Chequers. We arrived here at about 8:05 pm. Like The Crown, The Chequers is a Nicholson’s pub. There was plenty of choice on the 9 ale hand pumps, including Brakespear’s Bitter and Gold, Nicholson’s Pale Ale (brewed by St Austell) and Jaipur by Thornbridge (5.9 % golden ale). With the ales and lager and cider drunk, we left for the next pub, The Turf Tavern at about 8:55 pm. Did you know The Turf used to be called The Spotted Cow until 1847! With a choice of 11 ales on hand pumps, it was a difficult beer decision. They even had one of my favourite beers, Triple Chocoholic by Saltaire. I decided that I would have a new ale (to increase the beer count), Dionysus by Milton, and tell everyone else that Triple Chocoholic was amazing and that they should get it, then I could taste a bit of everyone else’s. I think it was even better from the pump than the bottle I had. Everybody was happy, drinking well and were still going strong. We were only running 20 minutes later than scheduled when we left The Turf for The Kings Arms. Two interesting facts about The Kings Arms, it is owned by Wadham College and if you put the name of the brewery that runs The Kings Arms, Youngs, on a scrabble board, you make 10 points. Here I had the most expensive pint I have ever had (from a choice of 12 ales, 10 ales on hand pumps), London Pale Ale by Meantime Brewery. It was good, it was nice and smooth for a Pale Ale, it came in a cool glass, it was £5! After this revelation (I had to ask the barman just in case he overcharged me for my pint and Conchi’s half pint. He hadn’t), it was onto the final pub of the evening, the Lamb and Flag. The Lamb and Flag are also owned by a college, St Johns, and have their own beer, Lamb and Flag Gold which is brewed for them by Palmers. Everybody got their final drink in for the evening and 5 minutes later final orders were called. Phew! So in the end, I think that the night went very well and was enjoyed by all. We ended up only 30 minutes behind schedule, which I don’t think is bad for moving 10 people around 5 different pubs. Everyone had been drinking a mix of beer, lager and cider in each different pub and everyone made it round all the pubs (apart from the first one). One last matter has to be decided, who won the quiz. Well that honour goes to Conchi with 10 points out of 11 (Uh oh, let the accusations fly!!). Rob was second with 9 points. Carol and Andy next with 8 points. Claire was last with 4. I think that Anish and Mili got 5 points but Anish lost the quiz sheet. Muppet! (the first question I left out as not everyone was in The Royal Blenheim)