Tuesday, 29 October 2013

Anguish for a Breton but better news about a Briton

I was pleased to see that our annual Football for a Fiver day at the valley was a virtual sellout.  I did my bit by bringing along a friend and her daughter who thoroughly enjoyed the day. They're Arsenal fans but I'm slowly winning them around to Charlton on the basis that you can actually get a ticket to watch the Addicks and for prices as low as £6 rather than with a few extra noughts on the end.

We missed the first ten minutes as all the buses in Greenwich decided that they were going to hide for 45 minutes and then turned up rammed to the hilt.  Thankful that the weather held up for an exciting although goalless match.  It was good to see Jackson and Kermorgant back on the team sheet, we sorely missed them, although it looks like our favourite Breton may be out for a little longer as his ankle injury played up again just before half time.

Revival of an Old Name
A 0-0 draw was seen by most Charlton fans as a fair result against Wigan who are no slouches and showed no signs of tiredness from their European campaign on Thursday night. We played well and dominated large portions of the game despite the inevitable last ten minute onslaught at our goal mouth (but it wouldn't be Charlton without that would it?). However, we are 12 games into the season and stuck on 11 points and really need to start turning on the goals to ensure safety, but I have faith in my team provided we can keep the injuries down as this is severely hampering our efforts.

The post match debrief was held in a new watering hole. I thought that I had found all the quality pubs in Greenwich but have to thank the excellent blog cafcandnothingelsematters.blogspot.co.uk
for pointing out a newly reopened pub in Greenwich.  Its called RLA’s at the Old Loyal Britons (the original pub on the site) and previously was the SE10 bistro (the signage hasn’t been changed yet).  It’s a couple of hundred yards down the residential side street next to Marks & Spencer, you can’t miss it.

The web link is http://ewbrewery.com/beers.html

I like what they are trying to do there and can see this becoming a regular post match haunt.  The offering is strictly beers from London breweries.  With around 80 of them there is plenty to choose from, and they've made the most of it.  At the weekend they had four ales and two lagers from the likes of By the Horns, Late Knights and Windsor & Eaton Brewery, all kept in top notch condition with some very modern kit tucked away in the cellar, as well as a small but excellent range of bottled boutique beers.  I understand that they will begin brewing their own beer on site once the cellar has been modernised and will look forward to that.

Excellent choice of ales

I had to walk out of a pub over the weekend as the sound system was so pumped up I couldn't hear a word my friend was saying so it was good to hear that RLA will not have music or TVs in the building, so we can keep up the fine art of conversation over a pint.  Its also run by Charlton fans so you’re assured a warm welcome and at £3 a pint its an awful lot cheaper than the offerings from nearby places serving their own locally produced beer.

It deserves a write up on its own but I’ll wait until they are fully up and running before I do. Meanwhile, if you're in the area why not forego your usual pint of mass produced lager and pop in to try some real beer, you never know, you just might like it !

Thursday, 17 October 2013

Oktober Fest in Millwall Park

The weekend of 4-8 of October saw a Munich style beer festival pop up in Millwall park. There was a fair amount of local controversy about the event being staged in the first place. Tower Hamlet council appear to have recently introduced a policy of allowing commercial events to take place in public parks in an apparent move to raise some revenue much to the chagrin of local residents who believe that they should be exclusively for public events and usage.

Millwall rugby club were particularly aggrieved in that the tented area was only a couple of metres away from their pitches where four games were due to be played that weekend. Despite the council allowing the event to go ahead I believe it only received its licence in the week running up to the event.

Impressive Venue

Anyway, I thought it would be worth investigating and so I dug out my authentic Austrian walking hat complete with feather (there are photos but they will remain with me).  My lederhosen remained firmly in the cupboard as I was thirteen the last time I managed to squeeze into them. It was the first night and only got about a third full but plenty of those who turned up, including a lively German expat crowd, determined to get into the spirit of things, with plenty of costumes and festival regalia on show.

Alcohol prices on the face of it were not cheap at £8.50 for a pint and a half Krug of their own unique German beer (apparently they are not allowed to sell it by the litre!), but you have to remember that entry was free and all the entertainment was laid on.  The health & safety brigade had also paid a visit so all the tankards were made out of polycarbonate glassware and even the wine bottles were decanted out into plastic jugs.  There was also a good selection of German food available to soak up the beer.  You could help yourself at the bar or there was service at the tables.

Fest Beer
The tent had a capacity of 3,000 and was set out in long rows of benches just like a traditional beer hall. The staff were all dressed in traditional costumes to add to the authenticity, dirndls for the ladies and lederhosen for the gents, although a black mark goes to the chap serving us who insisted on keeping his trousers on underneath his lederhosen!

 Traditional Costume

The German band was excellent with the right sort of music to get everyone standing on the benches singing and dancing (think Robbie Williams, Joan Jet and a splash of AC/DC). I was just a bit disappointed that apart from the obligatory "Ein Prosit der Gemuetlichkeit" drinking song which cropped up throughout the evening there was no traditional Bavarian"oompah" music.  The nearest they got to German music was Nina's 99 red balloons and not a hint of Falco all night!

Rocking Entertainment

Just as everyone was getting into the swing of things, at 9.30 sharp the band finished and the music was immediately turned down for the last half hour as what looked like a council environmental officer turned up with his microphone to test the noise levels. It felt like a bit of a let down being turfed out at ten pm, just when it felt like things were warming up but it was perhaps understandable given the location of the tent near to residential housing and on a school night.

Tower Hamlets Noise Abatement?

I haven't seen many reviews and comments of the evening but I hope they are allowed to come back again for what I thought was a most enjoyable evening.


Monday, 14 October 2013

A Festival of IPAs at the Gun, Docklands

The International break has given me a little time to catch up on blogging about non-Charlton activities which seem to revolve around real ale.

I'd missed out on the Gun's previous ale festival in June and so when I heard about their latest event in September there was no way I wanted to miss this one even though it was raining cats and dogs.  With over 30 IPAs in Cask, keg and bottle format this was a truly unique occasion.


Now the Gun is a Gastro pub with a good reputation so while there was no entry charge, the prices were somewhat commensurate with its status but I don't mind paying a bit over the odds for a one off and to sample many beers in one place that I would be unlikely to find in a regular pub.

However, it was good to see that they had prepared a handy booklet on the various beers on offer to give you an idea of what you could expect from each one.  Like any good festival there was also an option to buy just a third of a pint to allow you to sample more and they are to be commended for this sound practice. A separate sheet also showed the alcohol content and which beers were on that evening.

Beers well looked after
I started off with a middle of the road Hand Drawn Monkey IPA which I'd have been happy to drink all evening, but of course that would be rather against the point.  It was only after that I found the 2.8% 1/2 Mast from Siren Craft Brew.  As a rule the taste of the higher alcoholic beers tends to dull the taste buds of more subtle beers and so it is usually not worth going back to a lower gravity beer.  However, in this case I have to take my hat off to Siren as the hops still sang through.

It had been heavily pouring all day and there was no sign of a let up that evening.  However, the Gun was well prepared with a large canopy and decent outdoor heaters, so even though it was teaming with rain all concerned had a good time.

I had my first black IPA that evening, Hop Studio's Obsidian.  There was nothing wrong with the beer but like Porters and Milds it was just not to my taste. This was followed by Franklin's Citra IPA which cleared the palate nicely.
A sample of the evening's ales

We finished off with some of the heavyweights.  No IPA session is complete without a sample from the Kernel Brewery in Bermondsey and their Galaxy HBC291 did not disappoint, although with a name like that I think their creative branding department needs revitalising. I'd previously tried Weird Beard's Hit the Lights (a strong tasting IPA) and so was keen to sample the rest of their range and so a sample of their Holy Hoppin' Hell #2 seemed to be in order, but at 9.7% it was definitely going to be the last beer of the evening!

Friendly & Knowledgeable Staff
Rather a soggy evening in E14

Thursday, 3 October 2013

Hold the front page - No more doom & gloom at Charlton

I did have a review of a most enjoyable Pale Ale festival at the Gun in Docklands lined up for publication, and as Andy Reid's wizard of a free kick sailed into the top corner of Ben Hamer's goal in the third minute it seemed like that was going to be an obvious choice.  After all who wants to read about another disappointing defeat for Charlton?

Well thankfully that didn't happen so it will have to wait for another day as the Addicks in one of their best performances of the season held Nottingham Forest to a deserved 1-1 draw.

The talk on twitter during the day was for calm heads and full support and the fans gave it in spades despite the early set back from the former Charlton player.  With an injury ravished squad it wasn't difficult to select the team rather a case if who was fit to play but the selection still left some heads scratching on the formation with no natural right winger starting. The nearest the pre-match crowd in the Rose of Denmark could work out was some form of diamond formation with Harriott providing support to the two strikers, in any case the movement was so fluid it was difficult to follow during the game with many players

We sacrificed the greater possession seen in previous games in return for more shots on goal and it proved the right tactic as wave after wave of attacks reigned into the Forest goal mouth.  As a fan it was great to see the sparkle back from both the team and the crowd.  The most pleasing aspect was the support not settling for the draw and frantically heckling the forest keeper for time wasting in a game most were expecting them to win. 

Wood and Cousins justified their starting places with solid performances, and Laurie Wilson's display made up for what were judged poor performances by some fans in the previous two games.  I can see why Andy Hughes is retained by Powell, his enthusiasm  and vision during his brief spell on the pitch kept spirits high and heads cool. From his mad waving for a free kick to come his way as he slyly broke away from his marker, to choreographing some if the younger players into better positions he has an excellent spacial awareness

With a fully fit squad I can see a few potential selection headaches for the manager. One thing it certainly has done is forced his hand in using the youngsters in the books.  Whereas I think in the past he would have erred on the side if caution with more experienced hands but the likes of Cousins, Pigott and Harriot have shown Powell that they can step up to the mark.

It was also great to see some chivalry in football as Billy Davies congratulated the home team and admitted they were the better side on the night.  Lets hope we can keep up the momentum for the visit of Blackpool on Saturday which I hope to be combining with a visit to the Pelton Arms in Greenwich which has a beer festival this weekend.  Its also the Oktober Fest this weekend in Millwall park so it looks like we'll be back to a few beer related postings shortly.