Ale Festival (27th-30th Jan): Duke of Wellington, 119 Balls Pond Road, Dalston, N1

Those who read my recent post on Mason & Taylor would have also read about their sister pub The Duke of Wellington in Dalston. Though being CAMRA“North London Pub Of The Season” Spring 2010 you may already have had the pleasure. It has as yet been unfeatured and I felt it about time to put this right and do a good deed in the process, with a mention of their forthcoming Winter Ale Festival.

As yet I’ve only had a chance to get to one of the Duke’s Festivals as they always seem to fall when I’m out of town or otherwise engaged; and this one is no exception! So if there’s a chance that I can’t make it I can hopefully live vicariously through you. Go on. You know it makes sense. With Burns Night on the 25th January the festival will exclusively feature brewers from North of the Border. Expect to sample:

Fyne Ales (Jarl, Highlander, Vital Spark),

Brewdog (Alpha Dog, Rip Tide, 5am Saint),

Harviestoun (Bitter & Twisted, Schiehallion),

Williams Brothers (7 giraffes, Midnight Sun),

Cairngorm (Trade Winds, Black Gold),

Kelburn (Cart Blanche, Dark Moor),

Tryst (Blathan, Raj IPA),

To name but a few!

It’s sure to be a cracking event as the list above proves; so get yourself down and have a half for me.

Duke of Wellington, 119 Balls Pond Road, Dalston, N1 4BL

Ale Festival (27th-30th Jan): Duke of Wellington, 119 Balls Pond Road, Dalston, N1

Climbing Off The Fence: Back Tracking

In the spirit of my previous post – Climbing Off The Fence – I feel it only right that I post this update. I portrayed myself as a normal CAMRA member. Not in the slightest like the sinister Mr Deltics portrayed by Pete Brown. At the time of posting it was the truth. However since then (a matter  of mere weeks) I have some shocking and rather shameful news. I have been dabbling in Steam. And I liked it. What does this mean? Is this the early onset of an addiction to Steam? It’s a real worry. An addiction like this could spiral downward and before long I’m living in a Croydon bedsit eating from unlabelled tins and surrounded by cats dressed as station masters.

After spending the weekend at All Tomorrows Parties surrounded by the achingly cool, the prospect of a steam train was a strangely welcome one. I’d spent three days watching the likes of Broken Social Scene, Camera Obscura, The Fall, Pavement and The Clear but The West Somerset Railway was just too much of a pull. Running between Minehead and Bishop Lydeard it transports one at a more genteel pace through country and coastal views. Preferable to being thrown round bends on a sweaty bus full of hungover hipsters? Or maybe this is just a cover? I ask myself how long it will be until I am living with the cats and carrying my magazines in a plastic bag.

Does anyone know of any possible treatment?

Climbing Off The Fence: Back Tracking

Climbing off the fence

I have a secret. A dirty little secret which I keep from colleagues, friends and loved ones. They wouldn’t quite understand. No I don’t steal under garments from washing lines. No I didn’t vote Cameron. I’m a… a… I am a card carrying member of CAMRA. I pay about 20 quid a year to join with ohers who love Real Ale. Yes, some have beards and books to tick; and a mind for facts whether they be about great English battles or the age of steam. I have neither beard nor tick book and as for facts let’s just say I don’t know my Battle of Worcester from Bosworth. Our common interest, love and in some cases obsession is of supporting brewers and sellers of real ale. And obviously there is the odd pint involved as well.

A cosy world of appreciation one may think? Little did I know before dipping my toe in the blog pond that tensions exist, with esteemed commentators as non members and a debate around the “noxious culture of entitlement” raging. Who’d have thunk it? It’s debates of this like that make me question whether I should request that my What’s Brewing and Beer be sent in plain brown paper. I should maybe point out that I’ve never been a joiner. Not since being thrown out of the Boys Brigade. So as I took the unusual step to ally myself I must be happy to say I’m a member and share my loose reasons (in no particular order) for joining:

1. Discounts. I am a Yorkshireman, and if there’s one thing we love, it’s a bargain. Either that or we’re tight. As much as 33p off a pint sometimes. I figure I only have to drink in the region of 350,000 pints, pocket the discount and i can buy my own pub.
2. Information and Support. Who doesn’t want to sit on the train at 7.30 reading Beer? If you’ve ever bemoaned the lack of a decent pint, a lack of choice then CAMRA is worthy of support. I could at this point write a serious commentary around the Campaign but I would direct you to the website, while I continue with my ramble.

3. Being in my thirties. On turning 30 many of the preoccupations I had in my teens and twenties (I would write “in my youth”, but that would be too depressing) were replaced by an attitude of doing exactly what I wanted to do, as opposed to what I ought to do. My iPod wasn’t playing just the latest indie band which I should be heard listening to. They were unashamedly rubbing shoulders with John Coltrane, Dolly Parton and Dean Martin. On occasion Jamie Cullum (ok, I may have gone too far with the honesty now). Being associated with stereotype beardies, bores and beer obsessive’s doesn’t bother me in the slightest.

4. Annoyance. Not why I joined but possibly why I will renew. If I knew there was such dislike of members in purist circles (perhaps too worthy to join?) I would have stumped up for membership years ago, got on a train to Sheffield and declared loudly in the Tap “BARMAN. FREE BEER OR I WILL UNLEASH THE WRATH OF CAMRA”… I would expect to be shown the door and sentenced to the local Wetherspoons, but it could be worth it, although the train would cost me at least the discount of 230 pints. What can I say I just like a bit of antagonism.

So that’s it in short. The secrets out. I’ve climbed off the fence. Time for a pint perhaps. Now where’s my membership card. Can’t forget the discount.

Climbing off the fence