Posts Tagged ‘marstons’

Dales Way Pubs: The Red Lion, Sedbergh, Cumbria

Our first day on The Dales Way (foreshortened and in reverse) was from Kendal to Millthorp on Easter Sunday.  This was a really beautiful walk on a sunny day, passing over some lovely pasture before crossing over the West Coast Mainline and the M6 to join the Lune river at Crook of Lune bridge and following it south to join the Rawthay river.

The end of our walk that day was Millthorp Bridge, but 1km up the road from the finish point is Sedbergh, the place where Kate and I are getting married in October (*knock wood*).  Opposite the church in the centre of the village is The Red Lion pub, the first of three “lions” on our journey.

Much as we’d accidentally stumbled upon a beer festival in Kendal before starting the walk, we were lucky enough to find a beer festival going on in the pub, or rather in a satisfyingly cool stone shed out the back.  A very helpful barman who was there specially for the beer festival took us out to the back and told us about the selection.

As usual, I had been daydreaming for the last few hours about the beer I would have at the end of the stage.  My thoughts were in the region of pale, hoppy, thirst-quenching beers, such as Hawkshead Windermere Pale or Ilkley Mary Jane.  Although they didn’t have either of those, they did have BrewDog Trashy Blonde.

It might have been the sunburn, the thirst or the tiredness and reflief at the end of the first day, but that Trashy Blonde was one of the most enjoyable pints I’ve ever had.  Just cool enough, bitter and fruity and seemingly a real improvement on the bottle of the same beer I’d had in Leeds previously.  I obviously inhaled the first pint before having a second.

We also tried a couple of the the other beers.  Marston’s Royal Wedding beer Perfect Union was a nice light hoppy beer and Rooster’s Leghorn was also fine, but on this occassion, both gentleman and lady preferred the Blonde.  This was a very promising end to the first day, and seemed to bode well for the rest of the walk.  However the next day we would be less fortunate.

M&S IPA: Marstons v St Austell v Adnams

January 27, 2011 4 comments

Working reasonably long hours, I often find it difficult to get to the shops on a weekday, and as a result end up spending slightly over the odds in the Marks & Spencer Simply Food in Leeds station.  Whilst M&S is typically quite expensive, it does have a reliable range of beers commissioned from decent breweries, including Cropton’s M&S Yorkshire Bitter and a Meantime M&S London Porter.

When I noticed that they had three different IPAs from three different breweries, I thought it was worth comparing them:

Marstons M&S Staffordshire IPA (5.5%)

This beer is sold as a hoppy traditional Burton IPA.  It has very little nose with perhaps a slight biscuity smell.  It has a refreshing flavour with a slightly acidic, broadly fruity hoppiness coming through into the aftertaste.  It’s quite a light-tasting beer for 5.5%, but has a nice mouthfeel.

Initially not a particularly interesting beer, it grew on me as I got towards the bottom of the glass and the bitterness started to build up.  Probably good for a session, if you can cope with a few at this strength.


St Austell M&S Cornish IPA (5%)

A slightly weaker beer, this immediately smells much more interesting, with a fresh, piney, grapefruity smell that carries through into a wonderful wash of bitterness.  Unlike the Staffordshire IPA this beer is bottle conditioned, resulting in smaller, more delicate bubbles that perfectly compliment the balanced but powerful American hop taste.

St Austell’s Proper Job – a lovely, unusually oily IPA made with Williamette, Cascade and Chinook hops – became one of my favourite cask beers when I was on holiday in Cormwall last summer.  Without a bottle of Proper Job to compare the Cornish IPA to, this nonetheless seems like a very similar recipe, although it is 0.5% stronger*.  A very nice beer indeed and one that I often pick up when I buy my dinner in Marks.

Adnam’s M&S Southwold Winter IPA (6.7%)

I was pleasantly surprised to see such a strong IPA in M&S, and suspect that a number of well-to-do wives may inadvertently find their husbands in a slightly more louche mood at the end of the evening.  This beer has a slightly boozy smell, a viscous mouthfeel and wheaty maltiness that leaves you at risk of missing the hops, which are apparently Boadicea, Columbus and Styrgian Goldings.  An interesting beer, but not quite as enjoyable as the St Austell one.

These are all good beers and it’s a credit to M&S that they bring these beers to the middle class, but you do have to consider the price.  £2.19, £2.39 and £2.39 respectively is a fair amount to pay for a 500ml bottles to take away.  Nonetheless I remain happy to part with my cash for the Cornish IPA in particular, which is the most expensive and the weakest at the same time.


* This is the cask strength Proper Job.  Dean from Mr Foley’s has pointed out that the bottled one has a higher ABV.

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