“Portsmouth has the most pubs per square metre than any other city in the UK”. I have always wondered how true this frequently quoted adage was. Okay, so we are a pretty densely populated city, and we do enjoy a rather impressive naval history. Combine these factors and the outcome was always going to be drinking holes on every corner, ready to sate the unquenchable thirst of both locals and sailors alike. Of course, pubs are nothing without the breweries that supply them, and between 1784 and 1847 there was a record 90 breweries in Portsmouth alone. Fast forward to 2014 and our city is a slightly different place; the historical breweries are long gone, either despatched by the profitable housing industry or bought out and shut down by some drinks company in Chiswick.
However all is not lost, and thanks in part to the craft beer revolution, the sounds of production have started again. We are already familiar with local stalwarts such as Irving & Co, Oakleaf across the water in Gosport and the new kid on the block Brewhouse. Yet quietly creeping into the fridges of choice pubs are the dinosaur labelled bottles of Staggeringly Good. Conceived as refreshments for stag do’s, born from the loins of the Brewhouse equipment and premiered at last year’s Portsmouth Beer Festival, Staggeringly Good is here to bring you a whole new spin on the classic Indian Pale Ale. From the kaffir lime leaves of the ThaiRannoCitrus, through to the smoked heat of Extinction Black and the deep flavour of it’s newest creation the VelociRapture. Going for a night out? You can find Staggeringly Good in The Leopold, The Belle Isle, The Hole In The Wall and other forward thinking establishments. Going to a party? Cases of 12 bottles are available to buy online from their webshop, with free delivery in the Portsmouth area. I sat down with local IPA connoisseur Gareth Colwell to selflessly deconstruct these beers on your behalf.
StaggerSaurus IPA (4%):
The first and the original, this one is a pretty straight forward affair: the perfect session IPA, it’s gentle bitterness ideal for a summer BBQ or the first drinks of your night out.
Thai themed beers are a bit marmitey; you either go for them or you don’t. In this case SG have shifted the focus on subtle kaffir lime leaves rather than punches of coriander and lemongrass. The notes of peach and lime would be the perfect accompaniment for any coconut based spicy curry dish. Would be great to see these in the Albert Road curry houses.
Extinction Black Chilli IPA (5.7%):
One for the chilli heads, the Extinction Black comes in two forms: the black caps which packs a huge scotch bonnet punch and the red cap which is a milder more smokey version. In fact this one isn’t a million miles away from a decent smoked porter, the fruity chilliness lingers pleasantly at the back of the throat. Good with a hunk of mature cheese I reckon.
VelociRapture American IPA (6.5%):
Repent all sinners! SG’s newest and boldest creation includes strong bursts of grapefruit and citrus. This West Coast influenced homage to Sierra Nevada is, in our opinion, the pick of the crop. It’s clean after-taste definitively makes it a choice beer for end-times.
For further information or updates you can follow Staggeringly Good on their Twitter or give them a like on their FB page.
Plenty of you will have noticed the old Bamboo Bar on Palmerston Road has finally been taken over and being given a complete face lift. We are excited to update you that this will soon become the Meat and Barrel.
Meat and Barrel is brought to you by the team behind Little Johnny Russells, The Belle Isle, Portsmouth Beer Festival and not to forget Victorious Festival. So, expect to be treated to a fantastic looking venue, a great bar with plenty of craft beers, real ales, ciders and wines and a menu to satisfy even the most enthusiastic of carnivores not to mention plenty of tasty options for vegetarian friends too. There will even the British classic roasts available on Sundays.
I can’t wait until it opens in December! If you would like to follow the progress then you can find them on Facebook HERE or on Twitter @meatandbarrel.
Can you believe it, we’re heading into our fifth year of competition. It’s that time of year when you get the Autumn feeling setting in and you know it’s time to dust off the hydrometer and make a trip down to Wilko’s (or browse any other reputable home brew suppliers) to stock up on brewing kit.
Last year saw the greatest turn out by far in the history of the competition and with this being a landmark 5th year, we’re hoping to see even more top brews entered. Last year’s winner, Malaccan Pirate, was a storming success selling well in many Portsmouth pubs and it was also one of the first beers to sell out at the Portsmouth Beer Festival back in May.
My hops are harvested and i’m ready to get cracking. We have yet to confirm a date for the judging evening but we will aim to announce a set date for February 2015 very soon so be sure to keep an eye out.
In the mean time happy brewing!
Heads up all to beer drinkers! This weekend sees the start of the annual Portsea Island Beer Festival at the Groundlings Theatre: the fourth beer festival organised by Portsmouth’s very own Irving and Co Brewers Ltd. Fifty cask ales will be showcased from all round the UK, including locally produced ciders and perries. Alongside this a wide selection of exciting new British beers will be available on the night, including many local favourites. A great time has been had over the last three years so come along and enjoy live music, good food and a fantastic atmosphere. Times and dates are as follows, with tickets available from The Leopold Tavern and The Hole In The Wall:
Friday 10th October 12 til 4pm
Friday 10th October 6 til 11pm
Saturday 11th October 12 til 4pm
Saturday 11th October 6 til 11pm
Fri 12 til 4pm (preview session) £4
Fri 6 til 11pm £8
Sat 12 til 4pm £5
Sat 6 til 11pm £8
What better way to get stuck into the Christmas merriment than at Portsmouth Beer Festival’s all new “Christmas Sessions” at Portsmouth Guildhall on Saturday 20th & Sunday 21st December 2014.
Festival Organiser Ben Miles says, “We’re proud that The Portsmouth Beer Festival is back after the sell-out weekend back in May and we are looking forward to presenting our “Christmas Sessions”. A celebration of craft beers and cask ales, alongside a selection of ciders, mulled wine, mulled cider and festive street food all set to the backdrop of more fantastic live entertainment – line-up to be released soon, so watch this space!”
Beers will be featured from local breweries as well as from around the UK. A large variety of darker beers will feature to suit the season, but fear not there will still be a fine selection of pale ales and hoppy craft beers on offer. Expect to see beers from the likes of Ilkley, Dark Star and Tiny Rebel as well as local brewers The Brewhouse, Havant and Irving & Co amongst many, many more.
Again the event will be raising money for two fantastic charities in the extremely popular Pub Games Room for the Tom Prince Cancer Trust and the RNLI.
Ben adds “We’re looking forward to getting many people’s Christmas festivities off to an enjoyable start at these “Christmas Sessions”. A lot of people won’t have to go to work on the Monday and it will be a great for social gatherings, work parties and generally catching up over an interesting Christmasy pint!”
Al Burrito have been doing a fine job in bringing a little bit of Mexico to Albert Road over the last six months. I’ve been loving their pulled pork burrito’s but you can’t go wrong with the signature Al’s Burrito which includes pork, chicken and beef! It’s great to see that they’ve rapidly grown to become one of Southsea’s most loved food establishments. They have even gone from the one single moped for deliveries to now possessing a fleet.
Next week the Wedgewood Rooms will play host to Al Burrito’s very first Mexican Wrestling Event. Yes, proper Mexican Wrestling! As well as the lucha libre’s there will be music courtesy of Heir of the Dog, Blackfoot Circle and Remedy Sounds.
Tickets are available for £5 on the door or half price if you are dressed as a Mexican. You can get your hands on some tickets on the Wedgewood Rooms website HERE.
Stay up to date on all things Al’s on Facebook and Twitter @Al_Burrito.
The annual Thai Food & Craft Festival is without doubt my favourite date in the culinary calendar. Unfortunately on the 10th of August hurricane ex-Bertha had other plans and the festival was postponed. However, it is with no little personal joy that I can announce it’s rescheduled outing this Sunday the 14th. Castle Field will be hosting seven hour’s worth of Thai street food, Thai dance, Thai boxing, live music, a ladyboys show and much more. Each year the festival goes from strength to strength and this weekend will be no exception. I’ll be the one with a beer in my hand and curry on my face.
With Summer nearly over it is almost time to say goodbye to the Champagne Bar for the year. We have been told that you can expect great decor, lights, live music, guest DJs and of course a VERY well stocked bar!
Sadly this will be the last ever Champagne Bar at Southsea Castle. So all the more reason to get down there for the final grand send off and help celebrate the good times and very fond memories of the past 3 years.
Tickets will be £10 and are available online however I am advised there are not very many left so get in there ASAP to avoid disappointment. For more information check out the Facebook Event Page HERE.
The King Street Tavern & Wish Street Productions invite you to join them on Monday 8th September for a night of live music, burlesque, beverages and grub. The event was inspired by one of their customers who is doing her best to fundraise for the charity @uxilia. The charity focused on the protection of the vulnerable abroad.
As part if this fantastic event there will be a Sri Lanka themed menu, live music from Nathalie Gunn & Marley Blandford & Burlesque from the incredible Isabelle L’Amour, Madaleine Soleil & Scarlett Séductrice. An evening not to be missed.
Tickets are on sale from The King Street Tavern for £15.00 each. There will also be a raffle with prizes from All About Tea, ABarBistro, Kitsch N D’or, King Street Tavern and Two Tickets for ‘Rock With The Foxes’ Halloween Show at The RMA Tavern.
Find out more on the Facebook Event Page HERE.
Like many, I loved the Dockyards as a venue and was excited to see how Victorious would look in it’s new home on Southsea Seafront. Victorious Festival 2014 surpassed all my expectations, it has evolved into a far superior event that will rival all others in the South of England.
The site looked impressive with two large stages situated on Castle Field and the Southsea Bandstand. Just north situated around Southsea Skate Park were the Silent Disco, Beer Festival and it was great to see so many market stalls selling a whole variety of different crafts, fashion and gifts from local artists and vendors.
My one regret of the weekend is the amount of things I missed, this wasn’t for the want of trying, there was simply so much great stuff going on.
On Saturday afternoon friends and I camped out at the Castle Stage underneath the most photographed sight of the past five days, the Victorious sign at the top of the hill. While enjoying a few ciders I was treated to a bit of a throw back to my college days with Sophie Ellis Bextor and Razorlight. The highlight of the day was unquestionably Dizzie Rascal. He had the whole crowd bouncing and it was a great way to end day one. If only it did end there for me though!
On Sunday morning I woke up with after very little sleep and with a slightly sore head. Never the less I was determined to get back down the seafront to catch some of the amazing music on offer.
Early in the afternoon The Day of the Rabblement amassed a bit of a crowd at the Pie & Vinyl Tent which was situated amongst the market stalls. After some food and a bimble round the arts area, some of my favourite local bands then took over the Seaside Stage. Blackfoot Circle, Burning Beaches and Kassassin Street all entertained large crowds, and by the way they were dancing around; the crowd were enjoying what they were hearing.
Next on stage were Dan Le Sac vs Scroobius Pip. They must have had the largest crowd of the day so far, and the Essex pair had most of them jumping up and down to their unique blend of Hip Hop and Electro beats.
The band I was most looking forward to was easily British Sea Power, and they didn’t disappoint! As dusk was settling in, the band treated us to hits including ‘Carrion’, ‘Machineries of Joy’ and ‘Remember Me’. You could see some of the more die hard British Sea Power fans had even brought their own tree branches to wave in the air.
As a flood of people passed me coming into the Seaside Stage for Ocean Colour Scene, I made my way over to the Castle Stage to check out another of my musical heroes, Seasick Steve. With a host of home made instruments in tow, he put on a typically great show and got a great reception from the crowd. To say I was jealous of my Strong Island colleagues watching in back stage would be an understatement. I know how hard they were worked on our stall over the weekend so I can’t begrudge them that treat! Obviously it would be criminal not to compliment the closing DJ set of the festival by 2manyDJs, a large crowd were not put off by the incoming rain and they were witness to another top performance by the Belgian duo.
I don’t think I was alone in using Monday as a day of recovery, however I still couldn’t quite shift that feeling that I wanted to do it all over again. Although perhaps not in that rain! Special mention has to go to the group of friends who made it such a fun weekend. it was the perfect way to make me forget about my imminent birthday and turning yet another year older.
It’s great to hear that the overwhelming majority shared my positive views and experiences. Everyone I encountered was in high spirits and was having a great time. I’m proud of everyone I know who were involved, the boys and girls done good, very good! I hope the staff involved had a chance to enjoy it as much as we all did. They have thrown an event which all of Portsmouth can be proud of!
Be sure to keep and eye out on our Strong Island and Victorious Festival‘s Facebook pages to see some of the amazing photo’s. I’ve had a sneak peak of what the photography team have produced and it looks great!
Photos below are by Matt Ankers, Tom Langford and Todd Lawton