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The free magazine of SWALE CAMRA

Text of Swale Ale Spring 2014


    SPRING 2014

    Shipwrights Arms reopens after floodPage 7

    Bottled Beer Tasting - our verdictPage 20

    The Old Wine Vaults Rebranded Page 19

    Heritage Micropub opens on the Isle of Sheppey

  • 2********SWALE CAMRA PUB OF THE YEAR 2013********

    The Three Hats Welsh Beer Festival 24th- 27th April 2014

    CAMRA card holders will receive a 50p discount off every pint. Thatchers Heritage + 2 Welsh Ciders will also be available Friday night live music from Jumbo Gumbo

    Fabulous Grandads playing Sunday afternoon Food available all weekend

    Any person joining CAMRA at this festival will receive a free pint of their choice + the usual CAMRA membership offers

    ask for more details. Three Hats Milton @Three_Hats1

  • 3Swale Ale Spring 2014

    Published by the Swale Branch of the Campaign for Real Ale Ltd (CAMRA).

    Circulation: 1,500

    Editorial Committee and Contributors:Les Bailey, Derek Cole, Suzanne Collins, Gary Holness, Julian Herrington, Simon Ing, Keith

    Pankhurst, Sam Oatley, Gillian Joiner, Andrew Kitney, Keir Stanley, Jeff Waller, Malcolm Winskill,

    Melvin Hopper

    Print Liaison: Les BaileyAdvertising: Gary Holness

    All correspondence to: Les Bailey

    58 Wallers RoadFaversham

    KentME13 7PL

    Email: [email protected]/swalealeTelephone: 01795 538824

    Any opinions expressed within these pages are those of the individual authors only and do not represent those of CAMRA or any of its officials.

    The existence of this publication in a particular outlet does not imply an endorsement of it by

    Swale CAMRA .

    Printed by:Abbey Print, Faversham

    Branch DetailsChairman: Simon IngSecretary: Les Bailey

    Social Secretary: Steve BennionTreasurer: Les Bailey

    Pubs Officer: Paul Irving


    Welcome to the Spring 2014 edition of Swale Ale. The weather has battered the county over the last few months and we report on one particular pub in the Swale area that has suffered more than most. On the up side another new micro pub has opened on Sheppey so, if you havent already, make time to visit the island and discover it for yourself.

    Among many topics discussed in this issue we enter the heated debate regarding the merits of serving your pint through a sparkler or not and leave the secular world behind and enter the world of the sacred with an article on ales and The Church, (blessed are the beer makers!!)

    For those of you who enjoy home baking you will find an intriguing recipe for English Tea Bread made with beer. From further afield you can read about what it is like to be exiled from the fine ales of the area in a piece written by an ex-pat living across the pond.

    As usual there is plenty of pub and brewery news from right across the Swale area, so now the days are lengthening and (hopefully) the water levels dropping; the daffs beginning to emerge and the promise of Spring in the air, we hope you are able to get out and enjoy some of the fine ales that our region produces.

  • 4Heritage Micropub

    opens its doors

    So after two years of transferring ideas from brain to paper to construction, battles with planning, late sleepless nights and most importantly choosing the ales to serve, on Saturday 25th January, Melvin and Margaret Hopper finally made their dream a reality and opened the doors of The Heritage to the public. Melvin, a retired Metropolitan Police Officer (now working for KCC) and Margaret, a recently retired primary school teacher, had been offered several premises in Sheerness, all of which

    were rejected. They knew they wanted the Halfway area of Sheppey, so when they had the chance of taking on the soon to close Halfway Post Office they made sure they were first in line of possible tenants.

    In October 2013 they got the keys, and with the help of good friend Martin (who is also father-in-law to their son) they began the huge transformation from Post Office to The Heritage. Full credit to all involved it looks great.

    Martin said We spent a lot of time doing research, visiting other micropubs and microbreweries throughout Kent, and tried to pick out the bits we liked. But a huge thank you has to go to Martin who has performed miracles, doing 95% of the work on his own, with no plans to work from, just scribbles and text messages and an

    amazing ability to read my mind and know what I wanted.

    All this hard work and commitment over the past three months has resulted in a warm comfortable ale house, with two separate areas known as the High Butts and Cosy Corner. High Butts has the well known format of high benches and high tables and Cosy Corner has traditional pub tables and chairs as well as a converted church pew. However, by cleverly raising the floor, those seated in Cosy Corner are actually at the same level as those in High Butts.

    Like most micropubs, lager and alcopops etc are not served, keeping to traditional cask ales from around the country but with an emphasis on keeping one or two from local breweries across Kent. Their opening night featured ales from Goachers in Maidstone, Mad Cat in Faversham and two ciders from Biddenden, all served by tap direct from the cask. They also serve wine and a variety of soft drinks, as well as snacks, tea and coffee.

    One of the many benefits and characteristics of these ever popular drinking houses is the ability

    Page 5

  • 5Trading Standards

    If you believe that you have been treated unfairly in a local pub or bar you should contact your local trading standards department. Trading Standards exist to ensure that customers are treated fairly and neither cheated nor mislead by traders.

    The Trading Standards organisation in Swale is entitled Environmental and Consumer Protection andcan be contacted on:

    Telephone 01233 898825Email [email protected]

    to conduct a friendly conversation with someone you just met on a wide spectrum of topics not just beer! Listening and talking to visitors that frequented this new venture since opening the verdict is that it certainly passes muster and is well worth taking the time to visit.

    The Heritage micropub is located at 17-19 Minster Road, Halfway, Sheerness ME12 3JE. Their contact number is 01795 664 000 or 07984 167 216

    A regular Arriva bus service operates from various locations in Sheerness (ask for Halfway) or take the Maidstone to Sheerness via Sittingbourne service.

    The stated opening hours are for guidelines only. The Heritage has a full licence that covers opening from 12 11pm every night (except Sunday) it just depends on supply and demand on that particular day.

    [MH & AK]

    Chairmans ChatAre you like me considering investing in a small boat? It might be the only way that I can get to the pub soon. Climate change anyone? But seriously, with more and more rain, flooding and even sink holes appearing, can it get worse? Well yes it can, with water logged fields crops don't grow. So when you do eventually get to the pub (you should still go you know...don't want the pub to close because there are no customers, yes you will get wet...but sit by the fire and gently steam while drinking your pint) you may well find that the price of your pint has risen. Barley and hops grow or don't grow in those water logged fields. With the Environment Agency saying it could take months for water levels to drop and fields to dry out, who knows how

    much we could be paying. If we get a summer (and drought conditions being announced) will any one be able to afford to buy a pint? By the way when I get a boat, I will be running a ferry service to my local. I'll only charge a small fare, I don't think you can be arrested for being drunk in charge of a boat (but I will be checking that) so the trip back from the pub may take longer than the journey to the pub. One more thing - if I get enough fare paying passengers I may even be able to buy that now expensive pint. I may even be persuaded to go and rescue those floating beer barrels before they get too far from the pub!


    Monday: Closed Tuesday: 4pm - 9pm or later Wednesday: 4pm - 9pm or later Thursday: 4pm - 9pm or later Friday: 12pm - 11pm Saturday: 12pm - 11pm Sunday: 12pm - 8pm

    Photos by Andrew Kitney and Melvin Hopper

    Page 3

  • 6 The Ship Inn Conyer email [email protected] Conyer Quay, Teynham TABLE BOOKINGS t 01795 520881 Kent ME9 9HR


    with log fires, comfy arm chairs, dining room, courtyard & garden, set in Conyer which is part of the fabulous Swale walking area with the Saxon Shore Way and Swale Heritage Trail. Footpath to/from Teynham station - 20 minutes walk, Bus 344/345, parking. Dogs & children welcome.

    Great Cuisine from our light lunch menu to dining la Carte with a wide selection of traditional dishes prepared by our chef from locally sourced ingredients whenever possible. Always ask if you have any special diet requirements. Awarded 5 stars for food hygiene.

    Food served daily ~ see our website for times weekend breakfast from 10am

    FREE HOUSE with good range of cask ales, lagers & wines

    including Adnams, Masterbrew, Whitstable Native & Red Top

    Read about us in the CAMRA Good Beer Guide. CASK MARQUE

  • 7The Shipwrights Arms reopens

    after flood

    The Shipwrights at Hollowshore has been no stranger in the past to flooding, I recall marks on the interior wall showing where the water levels reached in 1953 and 1978, so it is indeed very good news for the regular customers that following the pubs closure after the surge tide on 6th December, and then to top it all a chimney fire on 7th January, the pub is back up and running. It reopened on the weekend 25/26th January and thankfully, aside from the new carpet underfoot and new photographs adorning the fireplace, showing scenes of water surrounding the area, there is little change inside. A job well done. It still retains that comfortably British nautical and historic feel and Derek, the landlord, once again gives you that welcoming smile as he serves you with pints of lovely beer from either Goachers or maybe Whitstable, straight from the cask.

    There is often mention of community pubs and

    the value of such places in our lives but sometimes with all the pub closures reported you might wonder if such values still exist. Quite apart from the personal heartache Derek and Ruth have been through over the Christmas period, their customers have had an element of their life changed with their routine enjoyment of this pub taken away. Shipwrights regulars have had winter walks across the marsh curtailed by the closure and who can possibly guess how the boating fraternity coped. This is why we should all now consider how we can emphasise to others the pubs importance in Community Pubs week in April. Do something for the CAMRA campaign even if you just take time to visit a favourite pub that you have neglected for a while; oh and take friends with you.

    [JW]Enjoy your garden ? But dont enjoy the maintenance.

    Then please call Dave the Gardener on 07952031292

    for all your garden maintenance needs.

    Photos by The Shipwrights

  • 8 A pub for everyone !

    The Swan & Harlequin at Faversham

    Welcome to our traditional English pub. We offer real ales in two contrasting bars and we have eight en-suite bedrooms

    Conduit Street, Faversham, Kent. ME13 7DF Tel: 01795 532341

  • 9Swale Brewery News

    Shepherd Neame

    As the Pilot Brewery is currently mothballed, the Shepherd Neame beers available this quarter will all be produced on the main plant.

    There has been some redesign of pump clips and the beers are divided into four distinct series. There are Seasonal, which are the established beers that run for several months. These will have new rectangular pump clips to the same basic design with each being a different colour. Next there is Heritage and these are the beers that are presented with the retro type of pump clip design. Then there is the Discovery range of short-run summer/autumn beers. Finally there is category that is yet to get a name but could be thought of as seasonal specials. I state the series of each beer in the list.

    6th January to 2nd MarchAmber Ale (4.5%) SeasonalA dark brown ale with fruity aroma, citrus taste and a malty finish.

    3rd February to 6th AprilIndia Pale Ale (4.5%) HeritageA Pale Ale hopped four times with Kentish hops. Well balanced between malt and hops and a spicy aroma.

    3rd March to 3rd JuneEarly Bird (4.3%) SeasonalThis is brewed with Golding hops. It has pine and floral overtones and a soft hop taste.

    7th April to 4th May Dragonfire (4.5%) Series name to be decided.

    The St Georges Day beer; it contains malted Barley, Oats, Rye and Wheat, with medium bitterness. The branch Brewery Liaison Officer is Bob Thompson.


    Hopdaemon recently brewed a special beer for the Dover Winter Beer Festival called Over the Top, 5.2%, pale bronze with a citrus and tropical fruits aroma. The brewery smells like a lemon grove (with a couple of pineapples in there somewhere) at the moment! They have used the hops of the allied forces in WWI...UK, Russia, Serbia(Slovenia), France, Canada, NZ, Australia and the USA, so I think this is a bit of a first. So popular was it at the Dover Beer Festival that it won beer of the festival and both casks sold out before any other cask. Whats more a second batch is being brewed.

    The branch Brewery Liaison Officer is Howard Gates.

    Mad Cat

    The brewery appears to be supplying a good number of pubs in East Kent with Platinum and Auburn Copper Ale both at 4.2%. Their Jet Black Stout at 4.8% is in production and should be available as we go to press. Mad Cat has also brewed some special house beers for The Vaults Cask and Kitchen, Faversham (formally The Old Wine Vaults). For more details see page 19.

    The branch Brewery Liaison Officer is Doris Munday.

    Kent Brewery News

    Old Dairy Brewery

    The brewery now has planning permission for their new site in Tenterden and they aim to be in the new location by the summer. At the new site there will be a brewery shop and brewery tours will be offered by arrangement. A 10% discount is offered to CAMRA members on all their beers when you collect your beer from the brewery show your current CAMRA card to get your discount.

    A pub for everyone !

    The Swan & Harlequin at Faversham

    Welcome to our traditional English pub. We offer real ales in two contrasting bars and we have eight en-suite bedrooms

    Conduit Street, Faversham, Kent. ME13 7DF Tel: 01795 532341

  • 10

    Chris & Marie Annand and staff welcome you to this historic 15th Century inn in the heart of Faversham.

    Immaculately kept Shepherd Neame beers

    Traditional home made lunches served every day

    Join us for our popular Quiz Night held on the last Wednesday of every month

    Find us on Facebook

    The Bear Inn, 3 Market Place, Faversham, Kent ME13 7AG, Tel 01795 532668

    THE BEARFaversham

  • 11

    Swale Pub News


    The Red Lion - rumours are that they are negotiating with Mad Cat Brewery to have a permanent Mad Cat beer on tap. Easter Beer Festival on to be held over the 18th, 19th, 20th & 21st April 2014 which will include both local & national beers and live music.


    The Bowl Inn - rumours are that this pub has been sold to the owner of the Hoodeners Horse and several other pubs.


    The Ship - at the time of going to press this pub was regularly serving Old Dairy and Adnams ales.


    The Phoenix Tavern - continues to have a varied lineup of events including its well publicised dining club. Harveys Sussex Best Bitter and Timothy Taylors Landlord are their regular beers.

    The Old Wine Vaults - recently renamed The Vaults Cask and Kitchen continues to serve up to four ales including (usually) a Kent beer. CAMRA discount is offered on the Kent beer. Two to three real ciders are also served. A recent visit found the beer on good form with Summer Lightning going down particularly well. Nuala and David recently celebrated five years at the Vaults, with Peter Meaney launching a number of new Mad Cat beers.

    The Elephant - continues to serve up to five beers including an occasional house beer which was very nice when sampled recently. Other recent beers have included Dark Star, Caveman, Rother Valley and Northumberland. Jim also has two regular real ciders and continues to offer CAMRA discount.

    The Chimney Boy - currently undergoing a major internal refurbishment this should be open as we go to press. Rumours are that a beer garden is being created to the rear along with the main bar being repositioned. No news has been given on

    whether the refurbishment will include the upstairs function room.

    The Bear - continues to serve at least two Shepherd Neame beers including the seasonal beer. A recent visit found Shepherd Neame Amber Ale on good form.

    The Sun - hosts a number of live bands each month and serves Shepherd Neame Master Brew, Spitfire and other seasonal beers.

    The Brents Tavern - continues to serve two real ales; Courage Best and Directors.

    Swan and Harlequin - continues to offer Dark Star Hophead and American Pale Ale and a recent visit found Gadds Dark Conspiracy. There are rumours that the pub has been sold to be reopened as a boutique hotel with bar.

    The Shipwrights Arms - has re-opened following severe flooding before Christmas (refer to article on page 7). The pub is back to normal opening hours and continues to serve three Goachers beers (including a house special Shipwrecked) and a Whitstable Brewery beer.


    The Heritage - this new micopub on the Isle of Sheppey has its house beer produced by Black Tap Brew Co.


    The Red Lion - at the time of going to press it is having its restaurant fully refurbished on the upper floor of the building. This refurbishment will also include a lounge and bar area. They are also planning a music festival at the pub sometime in August.

    Page 13

    In our last magazine we gave the impression that The Brents Tavern was selling the cheapest pint in Faversham at 2.60 for Directors and 2.40 for Courage Best. We have been reminded that Wetherspoons Faversham has beers starting with Greene King Ruddles at 1.99 a pint and guest beers all sell for 2.20 a pint. Sorry for any confusion this may have caused. Remember that CAMRA members can use their 50p off vouchers brining a pint of Ruddles down to 1.49! If you know a cheaper pint please let us know.

  • 12

  • 13

    Lower Halstow

    The Three Tuns - beers at our last visit; Goachers Real Mild, Millis Kentish Best, Kent Fire Starter (smoked taste) and, fairly rare to the area, a Westerham beer, the extremely good Puddledock Porter.

    Milton Regis

    The Three Hats - continues to serve up to three beers. Recent beers have included Fullers ESB and Bath Ales Barnsey both of which were particularly popular. Tribute, Otter Beers and Jail Ale remain regular guests. Malcolm continues to offer CAMRA discount on all beers and is currently starting to plan for his April Beer Festival which will feature around 12 Welsh Beers.


    The Harps Inn - has two beers - on a recent visit Courage Best and Doom Bar. The British Queen and Prince of Waterloo have now been converted to houses.

    Oad Street

    The Plough and Harrow - has been sold and is likely to be converted into a restaurant and bar (there is no news on whether real ale will be available).


    The Old House at Home - (owned by Admiral rather than Enterprise) continues to serve three beers, on a recent visit these were Doom Bar, Youngs Special and Youngs Bitter. The pub continues to have live music every Sunday.

    The Flying Dutchman - has up to two cask ales on - although on a recent visit both the Tribute and Doom Bar were off.


    Royal Hotel - refurbishment is currently taking place and the tenancy is being advertised.

    Wetherspoons - application for a new pub on the High Street is currently with Swale Council but by the time of going to press there was no further news.


    The Fountain - this Shepherd Neame pub close to

    Sittingbourne station continues to have bands on Friday nights and has an excellent Thai menu.

    The Paper Mill - this micropub continues to be popular with Goachers Real Mild on permanently. Two to three other beers tend to favour Kent breweries including Goachers, Kent and Hopdaemon. Recently more national beers have been stocked including Saltaire Blond which went down exceptionally well.

    The Kemsley Arms - remains closed but became Swales first asset of community value in November 2013 following a campaign by a local community group. This status means that the owner has to notify the local Council if it plans to sell the property. The local community group then has six months to raise the money to buy the property.

    The New Inn - due to be part of a major refurbishment by Shepherd Neame over the Summer. This pub has been advertising for a tenant.

    Long Hop - has been sold to the owners of the Billet.

    The Summoner (Wetherspoon) - going from strength to strength and now stocks up to five guest beers including two local ales. Mad Cat and Spencer ale are regulars and the usual CAMRA discounts apply.

    The Vineyard - has been brought from the now defunct Smith and Jones Pub Company.

    The White Horse (Charlotte Street) and Millers remain advertised for sale.

    Ypres Tavern and Bunters have new landlords.


    The Brown Jug - regular beers; Harveys Sussex Best Bitter and Greene King IPA plus two guests, one guest Harveys Old, of course was very tasty, and Master Brew bitter. Harveys Mild was a regular but after 18 months a change was required by the customers.


    The Railway Tavern - has closed with an application with Swale Council for change of use to several dwellings.

    Page 14

    Page 11

  • 14

    The Swan - a free house serving a wide range of beers including Brighton Bier English Garden and Tonbridge Coppernob. Always has at least one beer from Wantsum such as One Hop (first gold), Dynamo or 1381. This pub holds regular beer festivals and has an excellent modern function room to rent.

    Beer FestivalsLondon Drinker Beer and Cider Festival - Camden Centre, London, Wed 12th - Fri 14th March

    Planet Thanet 9th Easter Beer Festival - MargateFriday 18th to 19 April 2014

    Three Hats Welsh Beer Festival - Milton RegisThursday 24th to Sunday 27th April 2014

    Swale CAMRA Beer Stall - Faversham Transport Weekend (normally outside Iceland)Sunday 18th May 2014

    St. Kevins Day Cider Festival - The Vaults Cask and Kitchen, FavershamSaturday 24th to Sunday 25th May 2014

    Kent and East Sussex Railway - CAMRA Beer Festival Friday 13th June (evening) and Saturday 14th June 2014.

    Page 13

    It is with sadness that we report the death of Les Wood, former head brewer of Shepherd Neame, on 11th February 2014. Les Wood started working at the brewery in 1941 after leaving school at 14 and continued full time until 1985. After this he carried on working at the brewery part time running the visitor centre until 2002.

    Les Wood

    Regular updates on pubs in our area can be found on What Pub

  • 15

    The Phoenix Tavern Faversham


    www.thephoenixtavernfaversham - 01795 591462


    Abbey Street, FavershamSIX REAL ALES Changing regularly,

    but always Timothy Taylor Landlord, Harveys Sussex and a Blond!

    REAL FOOD prepared freshly daily on the premisesREAL ATMOSPHERE

    Lovely garden and open inglenook log firesREAL TRADITION - 14th century oak beamed pub

    Five Quality lagers and Quality Wine from Corney and Barrow, Cask and Keg Cider

    Good Beer Guide 2014'Official home of the Timothy Taylor Appreciation Society'. - 01795 591 642

  • 16

  • 17

    Want some sparkle in your life?

    Put down your glasses! Put on your spectacles! Be ready to take part in the most eagerly awaited debate of the past few minutes.

    YES or NO to nozzles on your ale dispense?

    MAMMOTH PROPORTIONSFirstly, calm down, we all know this is a heated

    debate of mammoth proportions, rivalling that of immigration and rising fuel costs. Well let me try and shed some light on the situation.

    It is believed that a bright thinking Yorkshireman (Ive googled it and they do exist) wanted to replicate the just tapped conditions of the cask (years ago in the black and white days, before colour was invented) and attached a device to froth his beer during the pouring stage. This was purely for aesthetic (the most erudite word in this edition of Swale Ale, I thank you) qualities and wasnt thought to have any effect on the taste of the beer. How wrong our Yorkshire friend was later proved to be.


    In researching this hot potato of a topic I took the time out to e-mail some brewers to gauge their opinions on the subject. The response was swift and enlightening and proved certain potential stereotypes:

    Timothy Taylor - they advise the use of sparklers in the dispense of their ales to achieve what they called the tight Northern head. (One can only assume that was still in reference to the beer). They did acknowledge a different flavour profile with the sparkler and were the first to agree to a (fanfare please...) NORTH/SOUTH

    DIVIDE. They were however, very quick to point out that many Southern ales are pictured for advertising purposes after being poured in a Northern style (i.e. with a sparkler).

    Shepherd Neame - it is very clear how much Mr Frost gets asked about this topic when there is an official stance, which is we do not routinely supply creamer nozzles to our accounts. Providing our beers are properly conditioned in cask, they will pour with sufficient head to meet consumers expectations in our trading areas, without the use of such nozzles. However, we will supply them to accounts that specifically ask for them this often occurs where there is a regional preference for this type of presentation.

    This message was left on the answer machine and resembled that of a Dalek, monotone and rehearsed and therefore I dont believe it to have been Mr Frost himself.

    Wantsum - finally a rational answer with some personal view points. Wantsum do not give guidance either way and would prefer beer straight

    from the barrel (had to be smart didnt he!!). We do see once again though, the belief that good beer doesnt need assistance in obtaining a smooth head and as the name real ale suggests, no superfluous (the second most erudite word in this edition of Swale Ale, I thank you) device should be necessary.

    Wadworth, Devizes. Brian Yorston - Hate to say it but I am a

    Geordie as you already know so personally I like a head on a beer. This is drilled into you like whether you support Newcastle or the better team - Sunderland.

    As you can clearly see, the passions run deep with this dividing issue and so, I e-mailed Everards, somewhat in the middle of the country to see if they had strong persuasions either way. They, knowing the magnitude of the situation, sat firmly on the fence:

    1. Do you advise the use of nozzles/sparklers on any of your beers? If sparklers/nozzles were to be used we would advise on how to use sparklers

    Page 18

    With SparklerWithout Sparkler

  • 18

    correctly and how to keep clean. 2. Do you think the ale would be inferior with/

    without it? No I dont, the dispense character is obviously different and beer drinkers have their own preference whether they like beer with or without a head.

    3. Would you acknowledge a North/South divide on this issue? I dont think it is as clear cut as a North/South divide, we have 1 or 2 areas within our own core trading area where they prefer not to use sparklers but this is still in the Midlands. Landlords and customers can influence this and you will find some pubs preferring not to use sparklers in various parts of the country.

    4. Would you have personal feelings if ale you had brewed was served with/without one? I think it is one of the charms and character of beer that we can offer choice. Personally I prefer to see and drink beer that is presented with a nice head. I think this sort of presentation has more appeal and it demonstrates the unique character of beer to produce foam and lace the glass as you drink it, to me this is a sign of a well brewed quality ale. I am unaware that any other beverage has this ability.

    However, I respect the views of our customers and if they prefer beer dispensed without a sparkler who am I to tell them otherwise. I would much rather have them drinking cask conditioned ales as they prefer them than not drinking them at all.

    THE SCIENCE It has to be acknowledged that as you pour

    through the holes of the sparkler that the surface area of the liquid is increased, ergo the aeration process is greatly advanced. Some (many in fact) will say that a lot of flavour is then lost to the head of the beer as opposed the liquid itself.

    My personal opinion is somewhat indifferent. I do agree that the addition of a sparkler can sometimes have a profound effect on the quality (both flavour and appearance) of the beer, for good and bad reasons, but not enough to firmly express an opinion either way on the matter.

    In conclusion, the only real answer to the monumental topic at hand is to keep sampling ales from all regions of the country, and occasionally ask the landlord of your frequented Public House to put on a sparkler to see what the difference may be. I know Jim at the Effelump loves to be asked.


    Page 17

    Favershams hidden gemThe Shipwrights Arms, Hollowshore,

    FavershamA 17th Century traditional creek side free house. Selling up to five real ales from Kentish brewers, and

    serving good food.

    Take a trip back in time and savour the delightsof a truly traditional pub.

    Rated by Jamie Oliver as one of the top 100 traditional pubs in the country.

    Home of the Grumpy Landlord.

    Please check website or phone to confirm hours of opening.

    Tel: 01795 590088


    Directions: At Davington School turn into Ham Road and follow the signs across the marsh.

  • 19

    The Old Wine Vaults re-brands

    After five successful and enjoyable years at the helm of The Old Wine Vaults, Faversham, both Nuala and David thought it was time for a change and so on Friday 7th Feb in the company of regulars, friends, family and a familiar local brewery owner The Vaults Cask & Kitchen was launched.

    Speaking to Nuala on the launch night she said Although we have a good working relationship with all local brewers we have a special one with Mad Cat. We were the first pub in Faversham to have Mad Cat owner/head brewer Peter Meaneys beers and as such he felt we could go forward to make our offering unique as a reward for being a loyal and supportive customer. During many discussions and tastings (hard job but has to be done!) we decided that our 5th birthday was a perfect opportunity to launch the ales. We hope that people will continue to enjoy the beer and the pub. After discussions on possible names Peter suggested we go along The Vaults theme and name the beers accordingly. To accompany this we also thought about what food we could do (steaks, grills etc) and matched the taste to our menu. With Peter we like to think we can convince people that beers, not just wine, match food perfectly. CAMRA have done considerable work to promote this as well. We also wanted to give people the opportunity to meet Peter & Mike Meaney and promote their brewery.

    When Nuala and David took on The Hole in the Wall they decided that a new name was needed to assist with the change in ethos and the reputation of the pub. It had had many names since it was first licensed (approx 1602 although the building was selling alcohol many years before that!). Until 1965 it was called The Albion Wine Vaults but to avoid confusion we dropped Albion

    and substituted it with Old, hence The Old Wine Vaults. This served a purpose and certainly helped change the reputation of the pub, however it did not reflect what they did or offered. This new branding better reflects what the pub does and the direction they could see it going in the future. They are not a wine bar! But indeed serve a good variety of cask ales and good food. They are also committed to continue to serve good ales, local and

    national, as well as two cask ciders. If possible they are also looking at expanding the number of ciders if demand is there.

    Nuala added that We are going to try and hold a cider festival this year (May bank holiday) along with the Saint Arnold Beer Festival (first weekend of July). We have also been in talks with Macknade Farm about matching beers to food and so would like to extend this to the pub, maybe holding taster nights for cheese, tapas etc and matching the ales to them.

    Peter Meaney of Mad Cat Brewery at Brogdale Farm,

    Faversham, said that Nuala and David have been customers of Mad Cat almost since we started up at the end of 2012 and have been very supportive of us. In late 2013 the Old Wine Vaults looked at its own brand image and decided to update this under "The Vaults" name. Nuala then expressed an interest in having house ales which could share the new branding and be a way of differentiating the pub's ale range from others; which would be bespoke to The Vaults.

    Photo by Andrew Kitney

    Page 20

  • 20

    Drunk Blind

    Recently some of the members of the Swale branch held a blind beer tasting evening. We followed the example of the excellent articles in CAMRAs Beer magazine and scored the smell and look out of ten and the taste out of twenty.

    Shepherd Neame - 1698 6.5%

    Copper bronze thrice hopped ale with rich resinous notes with spikes of citrus that add to the liquorice, Masala wine, caramel and spicy orange notes.

    Average Scores

    Look 7.5/10

    Smell 7/10

    Taste 13/20

    Total 27.5/40

    The Beers

    Five bottle conditioned dark or strong beers from different Kentish breweries were tasted and the order in which they were sampled was randomly selected.

    The Panel

    Four members of CAMRAs Swale branch gallantly volunteered for the task.

    Wantsum - Black Pig Imperial Russian Stout 4.8%

    Burnt chocolate and smoky malt mixed with delicate hop bitterness and floral notes

    Average Scores

    Look 6.5/10

    Smell 4.5/10

    Taste 8.5/20

    Total 19.5/40

    Mad Cat Brewery have produced three short batch beers which cover a range of flavours - a Best Bitter in the form of Strong Box, an English Pale Ale as Treasure Chest and an American style hoppy ale in Fort Knox. All of these beers are 4.0% abv. The roots of these beers lie in three regular ales Mad Cat produced in 2013, but have modified the burtonisation (water treatment), the final hopping stages and changed the alcohol strengths to produce flavour profiles hopefully more tuned to those flavours the customers of "The Vaults" seem to like.

    Peter said We look on these as our first stab i.e. "work in progress" and could make more changes as we receive feedback from the pub. Like all development work; what we start with may not be what we end up with so recipe contents like malts and hops are not being given out just yet as

    they may differ from the final versions.I was lucky enough to be present at the launch

    event and first impressions of the Vaults branding and of course the three new house beers was very impressive. As Peter mentioned these are not final versions so I am looking forward to trying further annotations until both Nuala & David and Peter are happy. Their aim and plan will be to always serve at least one of the Mad Cat house beers alongside two or three other guest ales from the range that Enterprise offers.

    [AK]Other pubs with house beers in the Swale branch including:

    The Elephant - On the Hop - HopdeamonThe Shipwrights - Shipwrecked - GoachersThe Heritage - Sheppey Heritage - Black Tap Brew Co.

    Please let us know of more.......

    Page 19

    Page 22

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    Overall Scores

    1st Shepherd Neame - 16982nd Canterbury Brewers Street Light Porter3rd Hopdaemon Leviathan4th Nelson Brewery Nelsons Blood5th Wantsum - Black Pig Imperial Russian Stout

    It was a close run thing with only eight points separating the first and fifth which goes to show that Kentish brewers brew some excellent beers, but the plaudits this time go the 1698, so many congratulations to Shepherd Neame.


    Leviathan 6% (not currently bottle conditioned)

    Strong ruby ale with spicy hop aromas and a rich malty finish.

    Average Scores

    Look 7/10

    Smell 6.5/10

    Taste 11.5/20

    Total 25/40

    Canterbury Brewers Street Light Porter 5.8%

    Dark, malty porter with strong toffee-chocolates and a liquorice finish.

    Average Scores

    Look 7/10

    Smell 6.5/10

    Taste 12.5/20

    Total 26/40

    Nelson Brewery Nelsons Blood 6%

    Strong malty ale with mellow roast tones. Slightly nutty and fruity with a warming after taste.

    Average Scores

    Look 5/10

    Smell 7/10

    Taste 9.5/20

    Total 21.5/40

    Real Ale in bottles is widely available in Swale from major supermarkets and local retailers including Macknade Fine Foods, Simply Fresh and the breweries themselves. Always look out for the CAMRA Says its Real Ale logo.

    The Good Bottled Beer Guide is the definitive guide to bottled beer around the UK. The book features listings for over 550 bottle-conditioned beers from beer expert Jeff Evans, a full directory of breweries around the UK that produce real ale in the bottle and their bottle-conditioned products, and selected details of independent bottle-conditioned beer retailers.

    Perfect for anyone interested in finding the best real ale in a bottle at the local shop or in the local pub.

    Page 20

    *Time and Tide Brewing

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    *Time and Tide Brewing

    10 Real Ales&

    4 Real Ciders

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    Previously in Swale Ale I wrote an article on one of our local cider producers Duddas Tun Cider of Doddington. In this issue I present a piece written on one of our other local producers, namely Kent Cider Company.

    The Kent Cider Co, owned and operated by Mark & Serena Henderson, has been operating for several years now. The company has been the recipient of numerous awards and they are highly respected among their peers. I asked them to tell me how they came into cider making. We have always had an interest in fruit and grew some of our own, we especially enjoy spending time in orchards. It wasnt until moving to live in a very rural area that we saw how many lovely Kentish apples were going to waste. So with some experience as hobbyists and through a fortuitous chain of events including meeting a cider maker who was looking to retire and pass on his knowledge that we formed the Kent Cider Co.

    I asked them about getting started and whether it went as they planned or did changes occur with experience. Right from the start we wanted to produce ciders using traditional, artisan methods using apples that were rarely used including heritage varieties to showcase and celebrate the differences between apple flavours. As a business you are not just catering for your own palette and we both like our cider on the dry side! So we are always exploring other flavours, often trialling small batches at events to see if they get the thumbs up from drinkers.

    Their selection of ciders is in my opinion nicely

    balanced with a range of styles and tastes to suit the occasional cider drinker and the aficionados alike. I asked them about their range and if any proved more popular than others?

    Well, flavoured ciders are hugely popular at the moment and we love to experiment, but the most important thing to us is that we retain a good apple flavour. Our spiced cider is one of our best sellers garnering numerous awards as well as being voted one of the top ten ciders in the U.K.

    by the Independent Newspaper two years in a row! We still also make small limited batches of Whisky & Rum cask matured ciders for the connoisseur and we also produced in time for the 2013 Faversham Hop Festival a cider flavoured with green hops. I also asked them what plans they had for the future. We always have our eye on whats new and different things that we can explore. Our range of ciders is constantly evolving and we have some

    exciting new things to bring to events this year so watch this space!

    Well it appears that we will have to do just that and I for one will be looking forward with great expectation to what they have in store for us. With thanks to Mark & Serena Henderson for their valued assistance in helping me with writing this article.


    Remember to look out

    for the Real Cider Sold

    Here sign in pub windows

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    Sacred Ale

    Much as we all adore real ale Im sure some of you are surprised to see the word sacred next to a word like ale or beer as the title for this piece but for many primitive people, including in our own distant past, beer was used almost exclusively as a part of religious ritual. It wasnt just the consumption of beer that was part of the ritual either; the production of beer was also a highly ritualised and sacred process.

    Ancient beers were created independently in numerous different locations around the world between 10,000 and 30,000 years ago and some of the recipes still in use today by so called primitive cultures date back to that time. Each culture would have used whatever ingredients were available locally and might have been in the form of grains, fruit, root tubers or indeed the whole plant and almost nothing in the process of producing the beer would bear comparison with modern production methods.

    These cultures have remarkably similar creation stories or myths about how the gift of beer was first given to their people and this almost invariably involves a goddess feeling pity for the plight of humanity and bestowing the art of brewing on a woman for in these cultures the brewing of beer was carried out almost exclusively by women.

    The process of making primitive beer varies around the world because of the differences in the cultures making the beer and the ingredients involved, but a representative example might be the process followed by some South American and African tribes that is still in use today. The main ingredient used in this beer is maize. Prayers would be made to the plant throughout the growing process but especially at the time of harvest, when some kind of offering or sacrifice would be made to thank the plants. The maize kernels would be dried in the sun and then ground between two stones to make a kind of rough flour. About a fifth of this flour would be moistened with a little water and made into little cakes which would then be chewed by the women who were involved in the making of the beer. This chewing process would mix saliva with the flour in order to convert the starch in the grain

    into sugars suitable for fermentation and each cake would be chewed until it started to taste sweet. Once all the cakes had been chewed in this way they would be combined with the remaining four-fifths of the flour, mixed with water and heated in a large vessel. The enzyme amylase, which is present in human saliva, would convert all the starch in the chewed flour into sugars and because the enzyme is not altered or destroyed in this process it will still be present in sufficient quantity to convert the starch in the flour that had not been chewed. During the heating process other plants may be added, some for flavour and sometimes for their psychotropic properties. This wort would then be taken to a sacred place where it would be exposed to the atmosphere in controlled conditions in order that wild yeast from the air would combine with it. This long process would be accompanied with much prayer usually until the fermentation process has visibly started at which point the pot

    would be covered and fermentation would be allowed to continue until all the sugar had been turned into alcohol.

    Wild yeasts are inherently unpredictable and unwanted yeast could spoil the whole brew, which is why complex ceremonies have evolved to prevent this sort of thing from happening. Once the spirit of the yeast had been established in the brew most cultures believed it was important that it was left in a very quiet and peaceful situation to continue its work, though it should be noted that a few cultures

    (pun intended) believed the exact opposite and would bang, shout and stamp around the vessel throughout the fermentation process. It is worthy of note that Lambic beers from Belgium still use wild yeast to brew their characteristically sour flavoured beers.

    Beer was not produced for general consumption and was never drunk casually. It was generally brewed at very specific times for specific rituals. It was not usually stored and the whole batch would be consumed during the ritual and, along with drumming, chanting and dancing would be used to produce an ecstatic state amongst those taking part in the ritual. This altered state of consciousness was seen as a very sacred state bringing the people closer to their gods and therefore greatly increasing the chances that the ritual would be successful.

    Page 28

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    In this country the Catholic Church had control of the production of beer until the 16th century. Up until this time it was illegal to even grow hops in Britain and the only beer produced was called Gruit Ale a beer flavoured with moderately narcotic herbs, usually including Yarrow, Wild Rosemary and Bog Myrle. It was said to be a highly intoxicating brew narcotic, aphrodisiacal and psychotropic, when consumed in sufficient quantity. In fact it was only Henry VIIIs reformation and break with the Catholic Church that took the monopoly of beer production away from the church and so introduced the use of the (much more soporific) hop as the primary flavour in our beers and hence making the kind of beer we are familiar with today.

    [KP]This article was inspired and informed by the book Sacred and Herbal Healing Beers by Stephen Harrod Buhner.

    Page 27

    THE HERITAGE Sheppeys 1st Micro Pub

    Opening Hours Mon - Closed

    Tues -4-9pm (or later) Wed -4-9pm (or later)

    Thurs - 4-9pm (or later) Friday 12pm-11pm

    Sat - 12pm-11pm Sun- 12-8pm

    Location 1719 Minster Road,

    Sheerness. Kent ME12 3JE

    Tel: 01795 664000 theheritagemicropub

    Proud to follow the traditional

    micro pub formula of no music, lager, spirits, food and TV

    just good old fashioned talking.

    Pop in for a pint and a chat

    Serving quality cask ales and ciders from both Kentish and

    national brewers. We also have a range of bottled Kent ales

    available to purchase (or drink).

    Great Community Pubsthe perfect blend for everyone.

    A great community pub is adaptable to the needs of its locals offering the perfect social environment for all to enjoy. Please support your local in Community Pubs Month, April 2014.

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    Ever changing selection of cask ales

    Large Beer Garden

    Mobile Bar and Catering Service Available for Weddings, Christenings and Birthdays

    No Function too big or small

    Call Malcolm on 07764 842478

    Three Hats, 93 High Street, Milton Regis, Kent, ME10 2AR




    Ever changing selection of cask ales

    Large Beer GardenMobile Bar and Catering Service Available for

    Weddings, Christenings and Birthdays

    No function too big or small

    Call Malcolm on 07764 842478

    The Three Hats, 93 High Street, Milton Regis, Kent, ME10 2AR


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    Whats in a Glass?

    Greetings once again Gentle Reader. Now you might suppose that from the title of this issues piece I am going to regale you with a tale about a beer or two that I have had of late. This is not so, it is in fact about the glass that the beer came in (for indeed I have had a beer or two since we last conversed!).

    It all came about when recently I, to misquote John Cleese in the Monty Python Cheese Shop sketch, sallied forth and infiltrated a place of purveyance to negotiate the vending of some beery comestibles (nothing new in that I hear you cry) and I ordered a pint of the landlords finest (still no revelations there). However what happened next had not happened in a long time (no I dont mean I bought a round). Mien Host asked me if I wanted a straight glass or a jug. I was taken aback for a moment as I could not recall the last time I had been asked what type of receptacle I would like my beer in and it used to happen virtually every time I ordered a pint.

    As I sat supping my ale I began to ponder on when the habit of asking what type of glass you would like died out. This got old Obadiahs cogs turning so I did a bit of research and it turns out that there is more to the humble beer glass than might at first appear. On the face of it, the glass is just a convenient carrier to transfer beer from the bar to your mouth but there have been many changes to the style and shape of the glass over the years.

    Until the end of Victorian times pubs were often dingy and beer was drunk from pewter jugs (especially in the saloon bar, glasses were served to the lower orders in the public bar). Possibly this was to disguise the dingy nature of the beer however as pubs began to brighten up so did the beer as filtration methods improved and drinkers started to demand that they saw what they were drinking. Also canny publicans found that it was

    very difficult for the customer to gauge how much beer was in a pewter tankard so were inclined to serve a short measure!

    As we entered the Edwardian era the usual glass to get your beer in was a straight sided, handleless, conical glass. Now there were several disadvantages to this type of glass as we shall see later. Anyway back to those aficionados of the pewter tankard frequenting the saloon bar.

    Although they wanted to see the clarity of the beer that they were drinking they did not want to be associated with the straight glass drinkers in the public bar. As a result in the late 1920s the fluted, handled glass became popular. You know, the ones that appeared on the Beer is Best posters promoting beer by the Brewers Society in the 1930s (or the tee shirts that are available at beer festivals that show a chap drinking out of said glass with the slogan Beer so much more than a breakfast drink or some such witticism).

    These ten sided glasses were popular with drinkers until the 1950s

    when the dimple jug was introduced. It should be noted that the British drinker is not one to change his habits easily and fluted glasses were still being made up to the 1960s.

    The demise of the fluted glass was due to the introduction of the dimpled glass (you know the one that looks like a second world war Mills

    Page 33

    Pottery Pint MugPhotos by Jeff Waller

    Victorian Sleever

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    Youll find a warm welcome and a great atmosphere at theThree Tuns Pub and Restaurant. Food prepared daily usingthe finest local produce. Kentish real ales & ciders always

    available and a welcoming open fire.

    Good Beer Guide 2014.Kent Life Dining Pub of the Year Finalists

    Produced in Kent Dining Pub of the Year FinalistsSwale CAMRA Pub of the Year Runners Up.

    THE THREE TUNS The Street, Lower Halstow,

    Sittingbourne, Kent. ME9 7DY 01795 842840

    FacebookFind us on [email protected]

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    Bomb type hand grenade). This style of glass was introduced to enhance the look of the amber bitters that were increasingly being brewed at the time in favour of the darker mild beers and it was felt that the dimple glass made the beer look more appealing.

    The popularity of the handled glass was not only from the drinkers but from the landlords as well. The problem with the straight sided conical glasses was they had a tendency to stick together when stacked one inside another when being collected by the bar staff and they had a propensity to chip around the rim when being washed. To reduce this problem the nonic glass was introduced. This style of glass has a bulge a couple of inches from the top which reduced the likelihood of the rims being chipped. This style of glass is becoming less popular as pubs revert back to the straight sided glass conical glass (the name nonic, by the way, seems to derive from no nick as the glasses as I have said had a reduced likelihood of being chipped). This reversion to an older style of straight sided glass can be thought of as retro chic or does it just make the beer look better than in a nonic?

    There is some speculation about a North/South divide when it comes to the straight and the handled form of the glass. It has come to Obadiahs ears from the Northern branch of the Spillage

    Page 31

    For the Modeller

    IIf you have an 00 gauge model railway layout and want a period brewery delivery vehicle then this Faversham Hobby Shop limited edition 1/76th model of Shepherd Neames Reliant could be the answer (or maybe you just want a small souvenir of a visit to the brewery). The detail is amazing; very clear printing of branding and number plates and once you have unscrewed the van from its base you will see the spoked wheels actually work; the tyres may need a bit of plastic moulding flash removing but this can be done in two ticks. 5 secures. [JW]

    family that the dimple glass is a southern trait as we softy Southerners find it hard to get our hands around round a straight glass. However, milud, I call that Southern hard man Michael Caine who in the film Get Carter asks a landlord in a Newcastle pub for a pint of bitter in, and I quote, a thin glass.

    The matter is further complicated by none other than the renowned author George Orwell when he wrote describing his perfect fictional London pub that they are particular about their drinking vessels at The Moon Under Water and never, for example, make the mistake of serving a pint of beer in a handless glass but then apparently Orwell preferred his beer out of a china tankard! I fear that this schism will never be resolved so we are best to leave it there.

    Recent trends have seen the logo of the brewery and sometimes the specific beer logo on the glass. This is something I am sure you are familiar with if you have ever been to Belgium where every beer seems to have its specific glass. I quite like this. It somehow seems right.

    So there you have it dear reader. I hope you have enjoyed this short foray into the world of beer glasses and I leave you with one last thought. It doesnt matter what shape the glass is so long as there is a hole in the top to let the beer out!! Oh and in case you were wondering I opted for a dimple jug when I was asked.

    Obadiah Spillage

    Ten Sided Pint Mug

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    Hoppy Easter Cake

    Try my Easter adaptation of a traditional English tea bread recipe. You can experiment with a variety of real ales to suit the seasons!

    Gill Joiner

    8oz/225g self-raising flourPinch of salt teaspoonful baking powder3oz/75g butter or baking margarine3oz/75g soft brown sugar1 tablespoonful cocoa teaspoonful mixed spice1 teaspoonful black treacle1 large egg (lightly beaten)2oz/50g raisins2oz/50g chopped walnuts8 glace cherries each cut into 4 pieces

    Approximately 4 fl oz/125ml Batemans Mocha Beer or similar Chocolate Aleyou can drink the rest while the cake is cookingshame to waste!

    1. Grease and line a medium sized loaf tin.

    2. Sieve the flour, salt and baking powder into a bowl.

    3. Rub in the margarine or butter until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs.

    4. Add the mixed spice, cocoa, raisins, walnuts, cherries and mix thoroughly.

    5. Add the black treacle and slightly beaten egg and again mix well.

    6. Slowly add enough chocolate ale so that the mixture forms a soft dropping consistency.

    7. Spoon the mixture evenly into the prepared loaf tin.

    8. Bake in a moderate oven for 45-55 minutes until firm and well risen.

    9. Allow to partially cool in tin, then turn out on to a wire cooling tray before either dusting with icing sugar or topping with the coffee butter icing as suggested.



    For the topping:

    Either dust with icing sugar or for the absolute indulgent icing on the cake, cream 2oz softened butter with enough icing sugar to form a stiff paste, then dissolve I teaspoonful instant coffee with 2 teaspoonful of boiling water and add to the icing.

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    Mix thoroughly, adding more icing sugar/water if needed to form a soft topping on cake. Decorate with chocolate chips, walnut halves or cherries or a combination of all three.


    At Christmas, try substituting the chocolate ale for a good dark porter, the walnuts for almonds and the raisins for dried cranberries, eliminating the cocoa and using a different topping. Or why not try the recipe with your own favourite ale?

    Our beer recipes have been written tried and tested by our own Swale branch members. If you cannot wait for the next recipes in Swale Ale consider purchasing An Appetite for Ale which is available from the CAMRA website.

    This collection of more than 100 simple and approachable recipes has been specially created to show the versatility and fantastic flavour that ale has to offer. With sections on Snacks, Spreads and Dips, Soups, Pasta and Risotto, Seafood, Chicken and other Birds, Meat Feasts, Spicy Foods, Bread and Cheese and Sweet Treats it provides countless ideas for using beer from around the world.

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    To the Editor of Swale Ale,I must say that I have enjoyed the recent editions of Swale Ale and congratulate you thereon.

    Having been a member of CAMRA for many years I need to think back why I joined it and whether I am happy with the intervening changes.

    I joined CAMRA because of my love of real ale and traditional pubs and I now question whether this objective has been fulfilled and whether my own tastes have changed over the years.

    I would first like to address the subject of traditional pubs. My idea of such a pub is one without any form of music apart from a piano, or gaming machine, which dispenses good quality beer from a well managed cellar. I am not familiar with all the pubs in the Swale area but of those with which I am familiar there is only one that almost matches the aforementioned criteria. That is the Black Lion at Lynsted. Would you believe that I have never seen this establishment mentioned in the annual honours list for Pub of the Year. Why has this happened? All that I can think of is that the persons conducting the annual pub reviews are so young that they would not know what a traditional pub was like. Or maybe we are all guilty of taking our eyes off the ball and losing sight of the original objectives.

    I read a lot about the campaigning matters where large pub companies are frowned upon for closing local pubs which are running unprofitably. A recent case is of Marstons who are now clearly focused on the growth market of gastro style pubs which provide good value food alongside the sale of their beers. I am sorry but I cannot support CAMRA on such an issue. In my opinion it is a business case for closing the unprofitable pubs and if CAMRA wish to buy these pubs then they should feel free to do so and see if they can run them profitably. I am sorry but beer drinking is not a social service.

    Whilst I like good beer I find it irritating that I go into pubs nowadays which have a choice of four or five real ales but none of them is more than 4% gravity. I personally find that there is a


    growing trend for brewers to produce low gravity beers, where flavour can be so lacking rather than something that is bursting with flavour. These low gravity beers are often referred to as session beers - well I am sorry but I really do not want to sit in a pub for a whole session and feel sorry for those who do.

    Another minor irritant is the term Beer Festival which I feel is so misused and abused. I can remember when a Beer Festival comprised an array of beers accompanied by marked glasses to commemorate the occasion, a description of the beers on offer plus tasting notes, bunting and bands. Now it has got to the point that one can go to Tesco, pick up a couple of bottled real ales and tell ones mates that you are having a beer festival!!!

    Finally I feel that CAMRAs campaigning efforts should be directed towards the Pensioners pint rather than pub closures. Those who were around in the good old days when pubs were pubs should be rewarded for their contribution to the industry.

    I was thinking in terms of an OAP pass, similar to a bus pass, which would be honoured in all of ones local hostelries - or is this going too far!!!!

    Yours imbibingly,

    Trevor Duncombe

    Trevor DuncombePhoto by Trevor Duncombe

    If you would like to write to or contribute for Swale Ale

    please contact

    [email protected]

  • 37

    A friendly independently run pub restaurant in the picturesque Faversham area. Local beers, wines & ciders and a choice from the constantly changing selection of unique homemade dishes from our blackboard come as standard in our family-run country pub. Come and try from our selection of real ales from the local brewers in Kent.Easter weekend family events see our website for details

    Farmers markets on the green outside the pub from April 2014 and will continue on the 2nd Saturday of each month from 10am to 1pm

    16th May Live music event with Hullabaloo

    4th June Cider & Cheese evening with Kent Cider Co

    July Beer festival keep an eye on the website for datesThe Plough Inn, Stalisfield Road, Faversham, Kent, ME13 Tel: 01795 890 256 Email:

    [email protected]

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    Regular readers of Swale Ale will recall an article in the Autumn 2013 magazine inviting local MP Gordon Henderson to visit my premises in a show of support for Cask Ale week in September 2013. Unfortunately there was no show from Mr Henderson and no response from his back room staff to inform me that he was unable to attend.

    So, when on a quiet January lunchtime, a sound erupted from the mobile phone charging behind the bar, signalling an incoming email, imagine my shock when upon inspection it was a belated reply from my local Member of Parliaments Constituency Office Manger. They apologised for Gordon being unable to attend (well it was party conference


    As I travel the lanes of Kent I expect to taste a new-to-me beer every day. When trespassing into the territories of London there is an even greater plethora of beers. I am told that there are now 50 microbreweries in London. The choice of beer styles, strengths and inventive names is a theatre in itself. More oatmeal stouts are finding their way into the winter mix and I noticed an oatmeal porter the other day which also tasted well. The stronger dark beers are more prevalent this winter. Porters were the first beers brewed in bulk when work moved from the country into the cities, particularly London. Stouts are strong porters and weaker strengths became milds - all porters in style.

    Have publicans never had it so good? Well, I am told that publicans are so inundated with brewers trying to sell their products that they no longer pick up the phone. So, from this angle it might be deduced that there is too much choice. And the question I often hear is 'when is the bubble going to burst' that all these brewers can survive? In one pub in London I was told that an analysis of the sales showed that a cask beer was the top selling brand followed by Meantime's London Lager and

    Jottings of an Itinerant Brewer

    week!) and for failure to inform me of this.Now what triggered this sudden response

    over four months later? Well apparently, our MP had recently come across the article in this local CAMRA magazine, which just goes to show how wide and far our distribution network now extends (please remember, Swale Ale is available on to follow and download at no cost). Now with Swale Ale extending its range into the British Government what better way to put across CAMRAs campaigning issues or any issue you feel strongly about. So why not write an article and send it to [email protected]

    Back to dear Gordon who is happy to visit my pub on another occasion, probably if I give his office four months notice. However Mr Henderson has visited Swales first micropub, The Paper Mill, to show his support for this new venture, which is about 20 yards from his constituency office.

    Reports are that Mr Henderson appeared to enjoy his glass of RED WINE!!!!!!!!!!!!!


    then Peroni. If I tell you that the cask beer was Sharps Doom Bar, which was competing with three other guest beers on the bar, you have to wonder whether the choice of cask beers is sustainable.

    But then these are craft beers of which the relatively new style, black IPA, is a recent development, well, in comparison to the days when porter was brewed. But are all microbreweries craft? I would say yes that they aspire to producing something inspiring, different, something that cannot be mass produced. But craft is up against the easy drinking, not so challenging but tasty enough beer which seems to suit the majority.


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    For just 23* a year, thats less than a pint a month, you can join CAMRA and enjoy the following benefits:

    A quarterly copy of our magazine BEER which is packed with features on pubs, beers and breweries.

    Our monthly newspaper, Whats Brewing, informing you on beer and pub news and detailing events and beer festivals around the country.

    Reduced entry to over 160 national,regional and local beer festivals.

    Socials and brewery trips, with national,regional and local groups.

    The opportunity to campaign to savepubs and breweries under threat of closure.

    The chance to join CAMRA / BreweryComplimentary Clubs that are exclusive to CAMRA members. These clubs offer a variety of promotions including free pint vouchers, brewery trips, competitions, and merchandise offers.

    Discounts on all CAMRA books includingthe Good Beer Guide.

    For more on your CAMRA Membership Benefits please visit* This price is based on the Direct Debit discount. ** Joint CAMRA memberships will receive one set of vouchers to share. CAMRA reserves the right to withdraw any offer at any time without warning and members should check CAMRA website for updated and details of current offers.

    Plus these amazing discounts...




    and growing!CAMRA Membership Benefits

    20 worth of JD Wetherspoon Real Ale Vouchers.**

    15% discount withNational Express coach services.

    10% discount on

    10% savings at Cotswold Outdoor.

    15% off boat hire with start locations form Falkirk to Hilperton.

    20% off brewery and beer tasting tours.

    10% discount on booking with cottages4you.

    10% discount on bookingwith Hoseasons.

    Up to 52% off - with attractions for the family too numerous to many more

  • 40

    What is it about being a great distance from something that makes us even more determined to focus on it than if it was, say, on the corner of the street?

    For example, why did Jimmy Page, Jeff Beck and Eric Clapton become superb blues guitarists even though they lived thousands of miles from the Mississippi Delta or the inner city of Chicago? Quite possibly because the sheer distance fuelled their interest to a far greater degree than if it was something they saw and heard every day.

    Similarly, here I am, an ex-pat Brit living in the suburbs of Nashville, Tennessee, having lived in New York, Delaware and California before ending up here in Music City. I spent my formative years in Kent before I emigrated some 35 years ago, and not surprisingly a fair portion of those years was spent supporting the income of various licensed victuallers who ran my favourite pubs.

    After all these years, there arent a lot of things I still miss about my life in England. But the one thing I DO miss is the Kentish pub. Not the kind with the blaring juke box and big-screen TVs showing endless soccer matches. I mean the pub where the landlord knows how to keep a good ale and theres someone at the bar whom you have never met but with whom you fall into an easy conversation.

    I come back to Kent about once a year and I make a point to visit several of my old haunts, mainly in Faversham and the surrounding countryside. Its always sad to find that, over the years, one or two have finally closed their doors. But it is also heart warming to discover those that have seemed to remain unchanged from my first visits in the 1960s and even from a century before.

    Im fortunate to have remained close friends with Eric Pollard, a former art college mate who seems to know every pub in Swale and far beyond, mainly because of the amazing hand-painted sign writing work that he creates for so many of them. With Eric, I have visited many of the pubs that I remember so well, and have been introduced to

    some that I never knew existed. I was delighted to read in Swale Ale about the

    emergence of micropubs and I am determined to visit one or two during my next visit to Swale. With other pubs having to put up the shutters, the micropub concept sounds like a smart way to keep real ale alive and well in Kent.

    So my point is this: when something is close at hand such as your local pub it is easy to take it for granted. But when you live far away, you really appreciate every opportunity to enjoy a fine ale in good company. Support your local landlord!

    Mike Harris

    Nashville, Tennessee P.S. I was so homesick for a pub that I built one

    in my own house! As you can see, Shepherd Neame odds and sods are alive and well here, even if the beer isnt, and mine is a true micropub with only bar stools for two.

    Ex-pat Brit longs for those Swale


    Mike HarrisPhoto by Mike Harris

    Like Mike you can read Swale Ale online at

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    The Grumpy Landlord

    The demise of the old fashioned barmade

    Now when I was a lad, (yes I can remember that far back), our local pub was ruled over by a barmaid of truly epic proportions and a personality to match. The back bar was her domain and even the landlord trod carefully when he made an infrequent excursion into Flossies territory.

    Watching Flossie at work was a joy. She could serve three people at once, feed the cat and carry on a conversation with old Ted, while keeping a weather eye on everything that was going on in her bar. I once saw three teddy boys trying to start a punch up in the corner. Flossie was out through the hatch in seconds, clutching a spare pump handle that she kept handy. Exit teddy boys clutching their ears and helped on their way by a boot up the backside as they went through the door.

    She was also psychiatrist, psychologist, marriage counsellor, and child care advisor and although she knew all the ins and outs of her regulars private lives, her discretion was absolute.

    Even though we were under-age, we lads knew that we could always spend a pleasant evening in the pub under Flossies watchful eye, making the two half pints we were allowed last as long as possible. The local policeman knew very well that we were under-age, but he also knew where we were and that Flossie would stand no nonsense a clip round the ear, a two week ban and a word in our fathers ears awaited anyone who played up. In fact whenever he popped in to check all was well, he always gave us a nod, just to confirm that he knew what was occurring. We always nodded back, acknowledging the dispensation. Funny though, after a quick look around the pub, he always disappeared out the back, to re-appear five minutes later wiping his mouth with his hand!!!

    One of Flossies attractions were her light ale dresses, (for you youngsters, light ales were kept on the bottom shelf and Flossie had a generous cleavage so had to bend down to get them - work it out).

    There are still the Flossie breed of barmaid to be found, but they are about as rare as hens teeth

    in a chicken run. Now all we seem to have are bar persons or the daftest of all mixologists- who seem to spend most of their time texting friends and give you a nasty look if you interrupt their vital communications by daring to order a drink!

    I may be politically incorrect, but give me a Flossie any time, you knew where you were with her and its her breed who make a proper pub tick. Forget electronic pub games, scratch cards and piped music that sounds like a cow with its udder caught in the milking machine, give me a friendly barmaid who can serve a pint to perfection and lend a sympathetic ear anytime!

    DerekGrumpy Landlord of the Shipwrights Arms

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