Tardy and busy!

Sometimes I have to look around and just think that wow, haven’t things moved on!   looking back over the last few weeks, months and the life of this blog – wow.   I wish I could just dump my email inbox on to the blog, much of which I am sure that many other bloggers out there get and which I always read, often with my coffee around 11am. Especially some of the bigger UK brewers various PR companies… my comedy moments all to frequently!    I will be editing the Peter Darby interview this week and in my own slightly inept angle of English making the best of it.   Very interesing and something that I should revisit in time…

I also have a big email to reply to from my favourite local micro, which I must do!     I spent a really good friday night at the Planet Thanet BeerFest, with really good friends and great beers!  The down side was waking on Saturday realising I still had £20 of vouchers in my pocket, um, in the modern way, a kinda FAIL!    Saturday of the Bank holiday I went up to see Garrett at the Bull at Horton Kirby.  Interestingly Garrett does a lot of his communications through Facebook – here –  This was an awesome event, despite the weather; The Mussels were some of the best that I have had in years!  They even had bottles of very rare Belgians along with a great selection of draughts.    All in all Kent was a great place to be for beer last weekend!

SO, here we go!

1, The Coach and Horses, Dronfield.

Transformed pub wins Award recognition

After an extensive ballot of its 1050  members the Sheffield and District CAMRA branch, has declared its District  Pub of the Year for 2009 as The Coach & Horses, Sheffield Road,  Dronfield.

This is a remarkable turn around for a pub that  only just over 2 years ago was declared bankrupt and closed by the previous  owners. The pub was in a very poor state of repair. says Simon Webster,  Director of Thornbridge Brewery, who took over the running of the pub in  2007 and much hard work went into its refurbishment before we could reopen  it. The pub has since concentrated on quality beers from not only  Thornbridge (5 hand pumps dispense their beers, which often include one of  the brewery’s one-off experimental specials as well as the award winning  beers such as Jaipur IPA and Kipling) but also lagers and bottled beers from  across the globe.

Turning around a failed pub can take some  time reports Webster but a major step in the success of the pub he says was  the employment of Kiwi couple Catherine Mueller to manage the pub on a day  to day basis and she has been ably assisted by her partner Kelly Ryan – a  man with a unique insight into the Thornbridge beers as by day he is their  Head Brewer!  Catherine and Kelly have done a magnificent job in  making the pub a success and the CAMRA Award is recognition of this,”  continues Webster and he highlights “not only great beer but freshly cooked,  locally sourced food backed with excellent service as the key to the pub’s  incredible transformation.

The Coach and Horses  will now be entered into the East Midland’s County competition an early  round of the National Pub of the Year award. The pub has a celebration event  planned for Sunday May 24th and Monday May 25th when they will showcase a  number of beers from the Us leading micro brewers alongside a gourmet BBQ  and international live Blues Musicians call 01246 413269 for further information.

To further add to this I’m heading to see Kelly this weekend, with @Terry_Tibbs.     Have a listen to this excellent interview with Kelly on the awesome Brewing Networkhere

2, Struise

If you follow my far more regular waffle, um, microblog on Twitter, Struise beers have arrived at the depot.  They will be available in due course.

read this if you need more waffle

3,  more… but wait.

4, fun in October.

5, Bloggers

We frequently get approached for “free beer” as part of recompense for a promise of traffic and links etc.   We like to send beer to those who are putting the effort in, writing regularly, getting out there, getting to events and generally writing about beer from all aspects in a positive and enlightened fashion, about great beer!   We’ve been picked up by a bunch of bloggers who we all regularly read,  like the Reluctant Scooper, (who we hope will come back with flying colours, ), Knut Albert, and Mark Dredge at Pencil and Spoon.   We’ve also been highlighted by Blog-o-Beer which was very cool, very honest reviews too!

So, all in all a very busy period I just hope I can keep up!

Speak soon and Enjoy Beer!



Ok, cards on the table – I have many failings, one of which is that I have a brewery not to far from where I type, now.  I am sat on the beach, a mere moments walk from my house looking at the near french coastline.  Blue skies above, it’s a pretty nice day and a great change to the cold, dank misty crap we’ve had here over the last few weeks.

Getting back to the point, looking left from where I sit at say 10/11 o’clock angle – Belgium is just on the horizon.  If I go to the cliffs behind where I am, I can see the windmills of Dunkerque.   Not toooooo far from there is a little farm, that I have driven past on a number of occasions over the last few years, and more so recently – yet never popped in.   In my frequent mad dashes back and forth across Belgium, I haven’t been able to stop by and say Hi!

This is no ordinary farm.  This is the Struise Farm.

The word Struise will ring bells in many of the hardened beer geeks imagination.    I have seen more Struise beers on sale in the US than here, or Belgium!     My first encounter with Struise Struisellensis, a fantastic sour ale, was in the Maproom, Chicago!     I must admit tho I am fortunate enough to have spent time over the years in their company, I say they as they are but 4 people,  Urbain, Carlo, Phil and Peter.    At a risk of over simplifing everything – they split their duties around their own full time jobs.  Urbain though is the brewer.

I was first introduced to Struise, by Carlo.  We met a few years ago, in the T’Brugs Beertij.   The little brugge bear – Daisy’s place – call it what you will, that legendary bar of Brugge.    Pannepot was the beer and Carlo gave me one to take away.    Incredible stuff.    We still bump into each other around the place, as one does, memorably at the Ratebeer Low Countries Meetings – where once upon a time you could share a table an a beer with luminaries of the beer industry such as Mikkel and various Americans on their Belgian beer imersion tours.  It was from memory – which I must admit is a little hazy – I think there are pictures somewhere.

I still have a 75cl bottle of Aardmonk that sits no more than 10′ from where I sit, with the De Struise glass – gifted at a second Low Countries Ratebeer Gathering – which by that time since our previous meeting a couple of years previous Struise beer had become so much more sought after.

Things have come on over the last few years, brewing 4 times the beer every year on year.      Beers such as the legendary Black Albert,  various guises of Pannepot (reserved in barrels, ex of wine, and Calvados in one instance), they are producing some of the most desirable brews in the world.

Recently a friend from Chicago has started interning at the farm for the next few months – you can catch his blog on the Struise Site

Why am I writing this, well of course they are coming to beermerchants.com, but really I just wanted to make a note of the fact that I haven’t been to the Farm, even though I am 55 miles from there as the crow flies, and a good 30 of that is water… and then see how long it takes to get my ass there.