Category Archives: Site News

Update 2022

If you’re reading this, it means the site has successfully been migrated away from Tumblr to my own server. Tumblr did the job, but it has its limitations, and this move just means I have complete control over how things work and look.

Yes, it has been quiet here since that Perła Chmielowa post from way back. In 2018 I moved from London to Colchester (of which more later) to do some studying, specifically a bit of research. Which—long story short—means I’m now a published actual scientist. I’m as surprised as you are.

All of that kind of killed my momentum here, so that’s my excuse for neglecting the project. But stay tuned because there are some very nice beers coming your way—or at least, my way—soon.


Some Thoughts on Discontinued Beers

One of the challenges I’m going to have to tackle at some point is the fact that, in the years since The Book was originally written, a handful of the beers on the list have been discontinued and simply do not exist any more.

I haven’t rigorously researched every beer, but it does seem only to be a few. So far I’ve identified the following beers as discontinued, and have where possible confirmed with the relevant breweries that there are no plans to revive them:

  • Black Sheep Emmerdale Ale
  • Castle Rock Nottingham Gold
  • Castlemaine Carbine Stout
  • Gale’s Prize Old Ale
  • Hogs Back BSA
  • Ridley’s Witchfinder Porter

There may be others, and I’ll add them to the list if that proves to be the case.

So what to do about it. Well, I don’t want to rename the blog “Two Hundred and Ninety-four Beers”. Not just because it’s a bit of a mouthful either.

Instead, what I propose to do is swap in substitute beers of my own choosing. I’ll try to make them interesting, and broadly in the same style as the beers they replace. It’ll be a nice excuse to talk about beers that excite me, and perhaps cover some of the fantastic developments that have happened in the beer world since the book was written.

I’ll only do that where there’s clearly no hope. For example, I remain fairly confident that people out there will have bottles of Gale’s Prize Old Ale cellared away. If you do, and you want me to say nice things about you on the internet, do get in touch.

I also won’t substitute a beer just because it seems “a bit hard to find”. That defeats the object entirely.

So hopefully that seems like a reasonable approach. Comments on the matter are of course most welcome.

0. Moor Beer Old Freddy Walker

Here we are then, the first beer on our arduous journey, and I’ve purposefully started with an absolute stonker.

To my surprise, I’ve also started with one that isn’t even in the book! We’ll deal with that minor technicality in due course.

I first came across Old Freddy Walker quite recently at the magnificent Westow House in Crystal Palace, London. They regularly stock offerings from Somerset’s Moor Beer, and they’re always top-notch. The sublimely decadent and sadly – but necessarily – very rare Sloe Walker is a particularly memorable example.

On learning the price, my jaw hit the floor quicker than Luis Suarez after a gentle brush with a defender, but the beer was poured, and I was thirsty from the climb up the hill to SE19.

One sip was all that was needed to realise that, unlike the Uruguayan thesp, this was worth every penny, and that I would be back for more as soon as 300 Beers was underway.

Moor Beer Old Freddy Walker

The beer has a smallish coffee head that dissipates quickly. There’s surprisingly little on the nose, though I did detect an exotic whiff of Shaoxing rice wine. The mouthfeel is thick, silky and unctuous and there’s no doubt that we’re dealing with something a bit special.

The hefty alcohol content, whilst thankfully not hidden behind excessive sweetness, isn’t intrusive, but there’s just enough booziness there to remind you that this is a pint to be savoured slowly. Overall this is deep, rich and complex, both malty and hoppy in spades, and one for real beer lovers.

Apart from the price, the other big surprise was how much I found myself enjoying a keg beer. The cask versus keg debate has been done to death, but as I’m kind of old fashioned I’d always associated cask with genuinely good beer, and keg with bland, mass-produced lager.

A blog post from Pete Brown had recently got me questioning that assumption. Pete suggests that “the best method of dispense becomes a function of recipe and ABV”, with cask being more suitable for weaker, more subtly-flavoured English-style beers such as an Ordinary or a Best bitter, while keg is more suited to stronger, heavier, darker brews.

Weighing in at 7.3% ABV and blacker than the All Blacks’ favourite liquorice during a power cut, Old Freddy Walker certainly falls into the latter camp, and on this evidence I think Pete may just be on to something.

This is a five-stars-out-of-five beer, and the next 300 will have their work cut out following Old Freddy.

Which is why I’ve started here. Well, also because I took Moor Beer at their word and wrote this post before actually reading the book. It isn’t in there, but I can only assume it was in an earlier edition.

Either way, I think this is a suitable benchmark against which subsequent beers can be compared. If I find even one beer that matches Old Freddy on this journey, it’ll be worthwhile.

Facts and Figures

Brewery: Moor Beer, Somerset, England
Style: Old Ales, Barley Wines and Vintage Ales
ABV: 7.3%
Found at: Westow House, London SE19
Dispense: Keg, pint