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)

Possibly a premature Top 5 Beer list

I didn’t really expect to produce a top 5 beer list so early on in the challenge. In fact, I had no intention to make this list for some time. I was going to wait until a bit further down the line until I had say, 100 beers-150 beers under my belt. But an opportunity arose for me to have my Top 5 beers posted on a website. I replied to a Tweet to have it put on the Cask Marque website. How exciting?! For me, very! (you can check it out by following the link) I don’t think that I have ever done a top 5 beer list before, mainly because I don’t have a very good memory and tend to forget most of the beers that I have drunk. A few have stuck in my memory, like the local beers that I have tasted on frequent occasions, but not enough have stuck in my head to make an informed top 5 beer list, until now. I thought that now I have tried 60 different beers this year, I could have a stab at a list. So here is my top 5 at the moment, in no particular order.


1. Abingdon Bridge from Loose Cannon Brewery

2. Triple chocoholic from Saltaire Brewery

3. Harvest Pale from Castle Rock

4. Conqueror from Windsor and Eton Brewery

5. Caesar Augustus from Williams Bros Brewery

I think there is quite a variety here. A dark brown ale from Loose Cannon, a smooth, chocolatey stout from Saltaire, a blond, pale ale from Castle Rock, a hoppy, black IPA from Windsor and Eton and a peachy, hoppy lager/IPA hybrid from Williams Bros. I mentioned before that this is my top 5 beer list ‘at the moment’ because who knows what amazing beer or two or three or more could be waiting for me around the corner. Maybe in two or three months time I will have a few new beers in the top 5, or maybe a completely new top 5.  There is still a long way to go with the challenge (304 more beers) and anything could happen.

First month done: big tick

Last day of the first month of the Beer for the Year 365 challenge today. It has been a pretty good month. Including the beer that I will have later courtesy of BeerBods, Stringers Dry Stout, I will have had 43 different beers in January, 12 beers ahead of a beer a day. As a Scientist, I know that my fellow Scientists, particularly the Biologists, love statistics. So I thought for this post I would prepare and show some stats for the last month.

Number of new beers tasted: 25/43         58%

Number of beers tasted before: 18/43     42%

Most number of beers in one night:          5

Number of lagers: 10/43                               23%

Challenge progress: 43/365                        12%

Favourite new beer: Saltaire’s Triple Chocoholic

Favourite old beer: Youngs Winter Warmer and Abingdon Bridge

Reflecting on the last month of beer and the availability of beers, I really cannot see that there will be a problem getting hold of and trying 365 different beers (well, another 322). There are plenty to be had at local shops and supermarkets or in local pubs. A weekend away to another place in the UK or abroad will give plenty of opportunity to try beers from other places. Then there is the Beer festivals, the holy grail of getting to meet new beers. An article I was reading the other day said that there were around 1000 regular breweries in the UK serving around 5000 different kinds of beer.  That is a lot of beer. So with that in mind I cannot imagine where I could go wrong!

Beer #21 Chocolatey beer

In my quest to find different beers to fulfil this quite momentous task that I have set for myself, I have signed up to a website called BeerBods. In a nutshell, you pay your money and BeerBods send 12 different beers to your door every 12 weeks. Great! Then on Thursday of every week BeerBods say to you which beer you have to drink that week and have a live twitter tasting. Everyone drinks the same beer and, if you feel like it, you can make a comment on the website rating it. I am not sure about this part as it does seem pretty weird to me *he says writing about beers on a blog entitled ‘Beer For The Year’*. I signed up to this last Sunday (13th January) and by Tuesday afternoon I had in my possession 12 excellent new beers, 11 of which I had never seen or heard of before. I say excellent but I have only sampled one. Last night was the first Thursday after the delivery and BeerBods dictated to me that I should drink the Triple Chocoholic stout by Saltaire Brewery.

WP_001312     WP_001315

Apparently this beer came to life as a result of a bet, trying to be more chocolatey than Youngs Double Chocolate Stout. Now I like chocolate a lot (I know, what a surprise that I have said that) and I like beer a lot (again, what a surprise) but I was not sure about Triple Chocoholic. Currently, I am not a big fan of stouts or very dark beers, although I am sure that will change, and have to change, if I am to make it through to 365 beers. So when I tried this beer, I was pleasantly surprised. It is made with chocolate malts, real chocolate and chocolate syrup but does not taste too sweet, in fact a very balanced taste. The beer is not heavy at all, very smooth and comes without the dark beer bitterness that you normally seem to get with dark beers. So I am a fan of this first beer that I have tasted with BeerBods and shows promise for the rest of the beers. Although BeerBods send an email on Thursday to tell you the next beer to drink, their website shows the beers for the subsequent three weeks. The next beer in the queue is Pure UBU. I am looking forward to trying this one again.