After a few weeks of covering national issues, I will start with our local area this week.  Firstly hats off to the Ship Inn for a very well organised Festivale, although I only had the chance to pop in for a couple of quick sessions over the weekend, it was a text book model of how to organise a lot of pumps into a relatively small area and still make sure there is space for people to relax.  With 2 bars carrying over 20 ales at any time, the quality of the beer was consistently good, with 5 out of the 6 beers I sampled considered for repeat purchase.  The 6th was merely not my taste, not a bad beer.  The token system for buying beer worked perfectly and kept the queues down, however I can’t remember any of the beer names, as I took the “half pints of sequential pumps on the bar” methodology of selecting my beers and lucked out.

Last weekend also saw a visit to the Cock of the North at Hipperholme, where again the beers were excellent with Lily Fogg and Aussie Kiss hitting the spot.   This pub has never disappointed me, and despite its modest looks consisting of 3 portacabins joined together resembling a staff canteen for the factory next door, it keeps it simple, concentrating on serving up to 12 quality ales all brewed on site.  Typically the bar serves 5 pale / golden beers, at least one of their three ginger flavoured beers and 4 of the darker brews at any time.  The landlord and staff are all very knowledgeable about what they sell, and seem to enjoy the pubs produce themselves.

I also had the good fortune a few weeks ago to do an extended pub walk based around Hipperholme for a series of guided walks I write for another local beer magazine (the research is so hard when dealing with beer).  As well as the real ale meccas which are the Travellers Inn and Cock of the North, you also have the Old White Beare (Norland), the Sun Inn (Lightcliffe) and the Dusty Miller (Hove Edge) on the outskirts of the area all of which provide a good staple ale selection from Timothy Taylor, with guests as well.  The White Beare and Sun Inn also do good food as well.

All of which just emphasised the effort you have to go to just find a pub which does a few decent real ales in Leicester this weekend, with a search for a non Everards pub being aborted on Saturday night after 10 miles of driving.  A couple of pints of their “Tiger” was pleasant enough, if not a very interesting brew.  Thankfully Sunday lunch took me to a better selection, with the Jennings Cumberland Ale and Batemans Hooker suiting me nicely.   I’ve yet to visit another area where there is such a density of real ale offerings than our own, and am thankful of that.

The editor covered this last week, but a Happy 40th Birthday to CAMRA.   Formed from a discussion in an Irish pub and although most ideas born in an Irish pub on an evening generally don’t make it to the morning, this one did thankfully.  It quickly gathered pace and became a major campaigning force in the UK for real ale.  It is a fact that we would not have the major real ale growth we are seeing without their work over the last 40 years.  You only have to look at the size of the Good Beer Guide to see the result of this.  However they will have to adapt in the future if they are to continue to keep their relevance. The internal debate regarding the stance on Keg vs Cask beers between the “old CAMRA” and newer members needs to be resolved sooner rather than later.  It does not matter what it was brewed in, just how good the product coming out of that vessel is.

A bit less than 40 years ago, I mentioned about the “Government’s Responsibility Deal on Alcohol” panel being rather tilted towards the brewers, and it appears the health agencies thought so as well, as 6 of them walked away from the deal last week, citing lack of firm targets going forward.  I think this legislation is a lame duck anyway, and more of a smokescreen to make the government and large brewers “look” more responsible, even though it would have no major effect on drinkers behaviour.

Until next week, here’s to the beer duty tax rise being cancelled.