Tuesday, 18 October 2011

Tap East At Westfields Stratford

Sunday shopping, what other thing could cause fear and dread to leap into my heart? Well, Christmas shopping but that's changing the subject. The husband wanted to have a look at the Apple store so we also got the chance to go to the new Tap East as my treat for actually walking though the shopping centre doors.

It is in the markety bit of the centre so it feels calmer than the main drag of Westfields which is full of people taking their offspring around GAP and Boots. The neighbours of the Tap are some rather nice eateries, Lebanese cuisine instead of McDonalds, Indian instead of Pizza Hut so all good. The Tap itself is rather nicely designed open format bar, with a clear wall section to allow you to see the microbrewery set-up.

For those of us who have been to the Rake in Borough Market, imagine that but bigger and you have it. It is a good well run bar with lots of staff for when it gets busy and also importantly knowledgeable staff that aren't afraid to say 'I don't know but bare with me whilst I ask for you'. Thumbs up for these guys. The beer is well kept and the prices are very reasonable for this part of London.

We enjoyed a couple of good pints before and after shopping, Thornbridge's Seaforth being very quaffable indeed and so was Windsor & Eton's Conqueror. Whilst I still dislike shopping at least the husband has a place he can leave me when shopping in this neck of the woods.

According to the upcoming events the tapping of the first Tap East Microbrewery beer will be on the 9Th November at 4pm for those in the area. :)

Friday, 14 October 2011

Badger Brewery's First Gold

This was the beer that I got as part of my goody bag from the Half Marathon on Sunday. I do rather like the new labels for the Badger beers although I'm sure that the Blandford Flyer was just Blandford Fly before.

The beer itself is a nice light bitter with a smooth citrus finish, at 4% it would make a nice session bitter. It pours quite lively with a fluffy white head which does last until the end, very attractive drink indeed. This would have been a nice bottle to open on that hot Sunday after the race had I not been so knocked about. Maybe next year.

For more information: http://www.hall-woodhouse.co.uk

Thursday, 13 October 2011

Surrey Badger Half Marathon Report

The beer review will be up tomorrow, wasn't able to taste the beer before now due to being sensible after my fall. I do sit here with the glow of achievement and the colour of my various bruises however.

This Half Marathon is one of the best regarded according to the Runners World reports and it is a lovely route of the scenic countryside that is in the Mole valley in Surrey. Dorking main station is only ten minutes by foot but I was lucky enough to get a lift from a friend so could save my legs for the race.

Once I had booked in and got my chip and number (with the usual attempt to pin the number onto skin rather than clothing) I was ready for the off albeit at the back of the track I hate starting near the front as I get overtaken by most folks! There was a really great atmosphere and I could also see the crates of beer being readied for our return!

The route out of Denbies Estate leads onto the A24 which provides a fast track and I did the three miles to Sawmill Hill in 10.30 minute miles which I thought was rather good and so was feeling great until I looked to my left and saw the mountain..er..hill that the faster runners were heading up. Seriously the information when I joined did say hilly, so I did practise hills such as they are around my neck of the woods but nothing prepared me for the Hill of Doom.

I managed to run halfway before realising my walking pace was faster so I ascended the dizzy heights (without oxygen I may add) by walking and then there was a brief dip so I cheerfully headed on my way, not quite as fast as this was now trail with tree roots and leaves. Now into the Surrey countryside I could see why people call it a scenic route, the smell of leaves on the ground and the sounds of woodland life around me made the next 3 mile stretch of the route a pleasure despite the sharp upwards bits. The course photographer managed to snap some shots of me running, in which I look...mmmm...least said.

Now I have to admit I am not built for hills nor speed but I hit mile 6 at 1 hour and 9 miles so I was still feeling good and I saw two buzzards starting a slow climb in the air which was magical to see. I knew I wasn’t going to hit the magical 2hours 15 for the whole thing but I knew that when I saw the Hill of Doom but I was still on for a good time. The next mile and a bit was fine but before mile 8 there was what I can only describe as a tree root ladder, I scrambled up this with about as much dignity as a womble chasing a crisp packet in the wind but I did make it and started my way back on the return journey.

At mile 9, saw the cheering party with the tiny spaniel puppy and entered the trail to the Hill of Doom but luckily I would be going down rather than up this time. This Half Marathon has the best support around the route I have ever had, friendly folk who do make you feel like you are flying along rather than plodding despite what the course photographs try and tell you.

However, disaster! A discarded gel packet in amongst the leafy trail sent me flying, after breaking my fall with my hands I rolled to one side. Luckily my head hit last so was more a knock than a full bang. After checking I was ok, I tried on unfortunately in tears but I still carried on. Warned the marshall at the top of the hill about the gel packets being discarded but as I was in the last lot of runners no-one else took the same trip thankfully.

The last three and bit miles were done in a combo of run and walking, due to pain and I suspect a little bit of ‘I want to go home wahh’ however as I entered the Denbies Estate the runners who finished way before me and were heading to their cars were really encouraging with cheers of you are nearly there and clapping I made it to the end in a time of 2hours 46 minutes, 31 minutes slower than I wanted but I did do it even with falls and mountains involved. And I got my lovely t-shirt and a bottle of Badger Beer!

But I will be back next year though, I will get that time I wanted… You hear me Hill I will beat you!

Thursday, 6 October 2011

Any Ideas?

Ok, twitter had no suggestions on what beer to have after my first half marathon to celebrate so I'm throwing it open to you good folks. Review will be posted up with a long winded prose on my running. :)

Of course I do have a wish for Goose Island's Night Stalker or Bourbon County but since I can't find any where that seems to stock them to buy I'm on the market for a tasty (preferably dark) beer.

What beer would you pick for me to celebrate a great achievement?

Sunday, 2 October 2011

Happy 3rd Birthday Sambrooks!

Yesterday was the birthday bash for one of London's newer breweries. It was a great day for it, sun was shining and all was right with the world. We got there early for the 12pm opening thanks to a winning combination of the cream of London bus rally drivers association otherwise known as Nigel the number 44 driver and a lack of traffic.

As one of the first 20 though the door we got a free t-shirt which even better included a woman's fit option. Rather nice touch, I have numberous t-shirts in trible xl that I can't wear other than as a dress, this one I can wear! :) The whole organisation of the day was smooth, tables with water jugs, friendly staff and live music. It was one of the best laid back events I have gone too.

It was on this day that Sambrooks introduced their membership scheme as seen by the photo of the extra special Pink Floyd edition postcard on this post. There are details on their website and it is a nice way of supporting a local brewery. The husband excitedly went and got his Silver membership, Gold was considered but we just can't guarentee being able to make two events in one year to go for it with our busy diary.

A new beer from Sambrooks was on offer, the Pale Ale (4.2% abv) is a cracking beer, one that went well with the hot temperatures and was indeed very thirst quenching. Another nice touch was the beer playing card size tasting notes that were on each table with the usual food suggestions and cyclops notes. My favourite beer is still the Powerhouse Porter (4.9% abv) and whilst I did try the others it was this one I returned to regularly.

Fantastic day, just hope they hold another event that we can get to again.

For more details on the beers, brewery or the membership scheme: http://www.sambrooksbrewery.co.uk/