Tag Archives: Grape and Grain

164. Mighty Oak Oscar Wilde

Fine. It’s a famous, famous beer that gets the CAMRA types all excited, and we’re in a great pub that has done wonders for this blog.

Mighty Oak Oscar Wilde

And honestly, all I can say is it smells quite nice—kind of like Parma Violets—it tastes of beer, and it isn’t horrible. It’s all yours CAMRA.

Facts and Figures

Brewery: Mighty Oak Brewery, Maldon, Essex, England
Style: Brown and Mild Ales
Strength: 3.7% ABV
Found at: The Grape & Grain, Anerley Hill, London SE19
Serving: Cask, pint

114. Triple fff Alton’s Pride

You simply have to love The Grape & Grain. I’ve said it before, but the contribution the pub has made to this blog, not to mention the South London beer scene, has been absolutely priceless.

This is no less than the tenth beer that the Grape & Grain have been able to furnish us with. Look, I’ve even given the relevant posts their own super special Grape and Grain tag now.

Shall we swing by once again on the off chance there may be something of interest among their 12 hand pumps? I don’t think there’s any doubt that we shall.

Triple fff Alton's Pride at the  Grape and Grain

I know very little about Triple fff, other than they’re a fairly small brewery tucked away somewhere remote in rural Hampshire. Alton’s Pride is yet another past winner of CAMRA’s coveted Champion Beer of Britain award, along with such beers as Mordue Workie Ticket and the wonderful Kelham Island Pale Rider. Perhaps I should create a tag for past winners too, as there are more to come.

Alton’s Pride is another fairly typical English bitter. I’ve been known to accuse examples of the style of being a bit boring and even crushingly unexciting, but this one is in a different league entirely.

It pours a very appealing deep bronze colour with a big, foamy tan head that fades quite quickly. Unlike some bitters, this one actually tastes of something.

Indeed, it’s big and fruity, with both citrus and dried fruits up front and vying for your attention. There’s a dense underlying Lyle’s Golden Syrup sort of sweetness from the Maris Otter and Cara Gold malts, and an immense, long bitter finish from the First Gold and Northdown hops. And when I say long, I mean I drank this beer several days ago and can still taste it. In a good way.

What a lovely pint. If I was looking to find fault, I might mention that the body is perhaps a little on the thin side, but for a beer weighing in at a modest 3.8% ABV, that isn’t really anything out of the ordinary.

What you get in return is a beer that’s hopelessly easy drinking, and an excellent session bitter that isn’t actually boring at all. Good stuff, and I’ll be keeping an eye open for more beers from this brewery.

Facts and Figures

Brewery: Triple fff Brewing Company, Alton, Hampshire
Style: Bitters
Strength: 3.8% ABV
Found at: The Grape & Grain, Anerley Hill, London SE19
Serving: Cask, pint

108. Hanlons Port Stout

I’ve lost count of how many beers the Grape & Grain have been able to furnish us with so far, but I think it’s approaching double figures. Indeed it’s often worth casting a speculative eye over the pumps if I’m in the area, and today was no exception. Pint of Hanlons Port Stout please, barman.

There’s a minor operational matter to clear up before we dig in, though. This one is listed in The Book as “O’Hanlon’s Original Port Stout”, but is now the more concisely named “Hanlons Port Stout”, since the O’Hanlon’s Brewery changed hands just a few months ago.

It’s the same beer though, though, and is even brewed by many of the same people. It’s time to see what a Stout with port in it tastes like.

Hanlons Port Stout

Hanlons Port Stout looks much as a Stout should, pouring as black as you like, with a light tan head. From the first sip it’s very much an “Ooh, that’s quite nice actually” beer.

It’s smooth and rich, and basically tastes a lot like a decent Stout. I’m not sure I’d be able to identify port specifically, but it does work. There’s a floral and very subtle Turkish Delight sort of sweetness that balances the inherent Stout roastiness, taking any kind of burnt edge away.

In fact there’s no harshness at all, so this one might appeal to drinkers who wouldn’t usually try a Stout. There are plenty of nutty, chocolatey notes too, and a long, pleasing bitter finish to keep things satisfying and moreish.

This perhaps isn’t the deepest, most complex Stout I’ve ever tasted, but it’s one of the most drinkable, and is certainly worth a try if you come across it.

Facts and Figures

Brewery: Hanlons Brewery, Half Moon Village, Devon
Style: Porters and Stouts
Strength: 4.8% ABV
Found at: The Grape & Grain, Anerley Hill, London SE19
Serving: Cask, pint

102. Mordue Workie Ticket

The contribution that The Grape & Grain up in Crystal Palace has made to this ridiculous project so far has been nothing short of heroic, and continues with this oddly-named Best Bitter from the North East of England.

I’d been wondering how to find this one, so the moment “the Grape” announced that it was on the bar via their Perfectpint page, plans were hastily changed and Threehundredbeers was on its way up the hill.

Let’s order a pint from the friendly young staff and take it outside into the spacious beer garden. In fact, in over a hundred beers covered, I think this is the first outdoor beer we’ve had. It must be summer.

Mordue Workie Ticket

The name “Workie Ticket” apparently derives from a distinctly North Eastern term, the meaning of which is somewhat ill-defined. I’ve seen various explanations involving being a jobsworth, or trying to get expelled from the army, but I won’t bore you with them, because no one really seems sure, and I imagine you know how to use a search engine at least as well as me.

The name of the Mordue Brewery itself dates back to the 19th century, but its present incarnation actually began life in 1995, shortly after which they were awarded Champion Beer of Britain for this particular brew. It’s a famous beer then, though you rarely see it down here in London.

Mordue Workie Ticket is a handsome enough beer, pouring a deep rubyish bronze colour with a small tan head. Right from the first taste, it’s full of flavour. It’s a Best alright, but there’s a big malty sweetness that’s strongly reminiscent of a Mild.

The sweetness is backed up by a huge mouthful of spicy English hops, though, and there are dates, currants and other assorted dried fruits, but also some chocolatey and roasty notes that wouldn’t seem out of place in a Porter. It all combines to make for a huge beer that’s chewy, mouthwatering and very moreish.

I stuck at one pint though, because I suspect all that flavour could potentially get a bit overwhelming. Still, this was a very fine, restorative pint. I liked it a lot, and it’s one that I’d happily drink again.

Facts and Figures

Brewery: Mordue Brewery, North Shields, Tyne & Wear
Style: Best Bitters
Strength: 4.5% ABV
Found at: The Grape & Grain, Anerley Hill, London SE19
Serving: Cask, pint

81. Adnams Broadside

Whilst I’m not sure that I’ve lived down opting for that somewhat overcomplicated bottle of Affligem Blond just yet, it’s time for 300 Beers to show its face once again in the rather wonderful Grape & Grain, up the hill in Crystal Palace.

Let’s puff out our chest, involuntarily adopt a Cockney accent, and order something a bit more manly this time: a pint of cask Adnams Broadside.


Among their 12 handpumps, “the Grape” often have something on from Adnams, one of the most highly-regarded of the old-school English breweries. Like all the other cask ales in this pub, it’s always going to be in great nick too.

And so it is today. Broadside pours a lovely deep ruby or chestnut colour with a smallish off-white head. The aroma is all fruitcake and christmas, while the mouthfeel is thick, rich and just a little sticky.

The flavour is yet more nutty dried fruit and cake, with a dense underlying sweetness. Hops are subdued, making Broadside somewhat reminiscent of a Mild or a Brown Ale, styles of beer which continually prove that low on hops needn’t equate to low on flavour.

And Broadside is full of flavour. It tastes stronger than the nominal 4.7% ABV it claims to be, but goes down as smoothly as can be. Still I’m not sure I could drink more than a couple, as this really is quite a heavy, rich beer. It’s good though.

Broadside is also available in a 6.3% ABV bottled version, named “Strong Original”, acknowledging the fact that Broadside was once a much stronger beer. It’s a testament to Adnams’ considerable brewing skills that they’ve managed to tame the cask version down to the lower ABV without neutering the flavour one bit.

Facts and Figures

Brewery: Adnams Sole Bay Brewery, Southwold, Suffolk, England
Style: Best Bitters
Strength: 4.7% ABV
Found at: The Grape & Grain, Anerley Hill, London SE19
Serving: Cask, pint

72. Brains SA

At the very real risk of becoming predictable, it’s back to the Grape & Grain we go for another pint of CAMRA-approved “real ale”. This turns out to be the first Welsh beer to be covered in these pages, which is terribly exciting.


And I use the word “exciting” quite wrongly.

Brains SA is a fairly standard Best Bitter, and as such pours a typically warm, dark chestnut colour, but with the tiniest of frothy heads.

It has a sharp, harshly bitter flavour, which only temporarily masks the fact that it has absolutely nothing else going for it. It’s dry, but in this case that’s really more of an unpleasant aftertaste than a finish. The body is watery and lifeless, and it’s next to impossible to find anything more to say about this beer.

The Welsh and the old guard CAMRA types apparently wet themselves over it, but this is a crushingly unexciting beer. The term “real ale” seems more dated and less relevant than ever.

Facts and Figures

Brewery: S.A. Brain and Co., Cardiff, Wales
Style: Best Bitters
Strength: 4.2% ABV
Found at: The Grape & Grain, Anerley Hill, London SE19
Serving: Cask, pint

71. Affligem Blond

OK, I’m a little out of my depth here guys. I ordered what I though was a fairly standard bottle of Belgian golden ale, and I seem to have been served some sort of science lab.


It turns out that there’s a great big wanky ritual to drinking Affligem Blond.

This is a bottle-conditioned beer with a hefty dose of yeasty sediment at the bottom. Fine so far, but apparently about 90% of the beer should go into the larger glass, while the yeast is deposited into the little thimble-like thing. You then have the choice of tasting the yeast separately, dumping it into your beer, or disregarding it entirely.

Having poured the beer itself, the barman poured a dose of yeasty solution into the smaller glass but left the thickest dregs of the sediment in the bottle. I wasn’t about to argue, since quite frankly I already felt like a bit of a numpty by this point.

Bear in mind I’m in a well-respected real ale pub here, and quite the locals’ place it is too. The burly gent at the next table reading The Sun over his second pint of lager is already eyeing me suspiciously. So let’s get this one done.

After all that, this tastes like a pretty run-of-the-mill Belgian golden ale or Abbey Beer. My usual point of reference for this sort of thing is Leffe Blonde, and Affligem is not a million miles away. It’s much lighter in flavour, though, and vaguely reminiscent of a saison. Still it packs a respectable 6.8% ABV wallop, and so provides a pleasant warming glow for a lunchtime. There’s a dense, sweet finish, which isn’t entirely unpalatable.

I elected to sample the yeast solution separately at first. It tasted slightly bitter and, perhaps not surprisingly, quite yeasty, but it didn’t have much going for it otherwise. So I dumped it into the rest of the beer and pressed on. It did add a little depth and body, I think, but on balance, I would still rather have had another pint of Mild instead.

I’m not sure I can show my face in the Grape & Grain again in a hurry, but in fairness that’s five beers in a row that they’ve provided for this blog, so I’m sure this won’t be the last we’ll be hearing of that particular boozer.

Facts and Figures

Brewery: Affligem Brouwerij, Opwijk, Belgium
Style: Abbey Beers
Strength: 6.8% ABV
Found at: The Grape & Grain, Anerley Hill, London SE19
Serving: 330ml Bottle

70. Banks’s Mild

Following a recent pub conversation with a colleague who was lamenting how difficult it has become to find a pint of Mild these days, I realised two things: firstly, he was right, and secondly, he was so right that I’m not sure that I even know what a Mild is.

So I was particularly grateful to spot this one at, you guessed it, The Grape & Grain. Time for your correspondent to learn a little bit more about good old-fashioned beer.

While modern Milds are typically quite low in alcohol—this one tips the scales at a sober 3.5% ABV—the term “mild” does not imply weak in that sense. Rather it means a beer lower in hop bitterness and sweeter than, say, a bitter. That’s why it’s no contradiction whatsoever for a brewery such as Partizan to create a rather tasty Mild weighing in at 6.4%.


The Banks’s Mild pours a lovely deep chestnut colour, with a thin off-white head. Despite the low ABV, it certainly isn’t mild in taste: it’s a hugely full-flavoured, full-bodied ale, not unlike a Best Bitter.

It’s dark, fruity and rich, and there’s a delicious underlying caramel sweetness followed by a satisfyingly long bitter finish.

Whatever the current score in the keg/cask debate, this is a beer that absolutely must be cask conditioned, and by someone who knows what they’re doing. I certainly cannot fault “the Grape” on that front.

This is a relentlessly sessionable beer, and at just £3.20 a pint (less for CAMRA members) I would happily have had another. Trouble is, I think I just spotted beer number 71 in the fridge…

Facts and Figures

Brewery: Banks’s Park Brewery (Marston’s), Wolverhampton, England
Style: Brown and Mild Ales
Strength: 3.5% ABV
Found at: The Grape & Grain, Anerley Hill, London SE19
Serving: Cask, pint

69. RCH Old Slug Porter

In retrospect, when I blogged about Pendle Witches Brew, I may have been a little harsh on The Grape & Grain, one of Crystal Palace’s very best pubs.

I criticised their slightly conservative selection of ales, but in fairness, recent weeks have seen guest visits from ales from some of London’s new wave of craft breweries: London Fields, By the Horns and The CronX have all been represented. To top that, the G&G have now provided three beers in a row for my humble blog, so I really should learn what side my bread’s buttered on.

The very day after I sampled the cask “Witches” and a lovely bottle of Worthington’s White Shield, this one came on tap: a curiously-named porter from a Somerset brewery I’d previously heard absolutely nothing about.

Any excuse to pay another visit to what is, truth be told, a great, authentic beer lovers’ pub where all walks of life rub shoulders.


Despite the name, RCH Old Slug Porter certainly is a fine looking pint. At first glance it’s as black as night, but closer inspection reveals a beautiful deep ruby red colour with a tan head.

It tastes just like a top-notch porter should. It’s dark and rich but medium-bodied, which is ideal for a porter. There isn’t too much of the tar, soot and smokiness that are more typical of a stout, and instead the “Slug” is full of dried fruits and christmas cake.

There’s a hugely satisfying dry, bitter yet wine-like finish, but the whole thing remains relentlessly quaffable and refreshing. Many people don’t expect that sort of drinkability from a dark beer, but my pint lasted no more than 10 minutes, and I’d gladly have had another.

It may be named after the least glamorous of creatures, but this is a first class porter, served here in prime condition.

Facts and Figures

Brewery: RCH Brewery, Weston Super Mare, Somerset, England
Style: Porters and Stouts
Strength: 4.5% ABV
Found at: The Grape & Grain, Anerley Hill, London SE19
Serving: Cask, pint

68. Worthington’s White Shield

Worthington’s White Shield is a near-legendary India Pale Ale from one of Britain’s most venerable brewing names. White Shield is the world’s oldest surviving IPA, and the one considered by connoisseurs to be as close as you can get these days to the original IPAs brewed in Burton-on-Trent in the eighteenth century to be exported to India.

The Worthington’s brand and White Shield in particular have had something of a chequered recent past, having been shunted around various regional breweries, and almost disappearing from existence at one point, having been deemed surplus to requirements by previous owners.

However, in a perhaps surprising turn of events under the stewardship of international brewing giant Molson Coors, in 2000, production of White Shield returned to Burton-on-Trent where it is brewed to this day almost entirely unchanged from its original 1829 recipe.


Worthington’s White Shield is typically found in bottle-conditioned form. It pours a not-especially-pale chestnut colour with a tight tan head.

There’s a massive, almost paintstripping, hop bitterness front and centre, but it’s perfectly well offset by the fat malt backbone so typical of the older, English style of IPA. There are toffee and caramel notes, dried fruits, and even a hint of esters that are reminiscent of a Belgian Dubbel.

It’s a remarkably complex beer, but all the flavours are in perfect balance, making for a particularly satisfying end product. This truly is a classic beer, and it’s great to see it being brewed to its full potential once again.

Facts and Figures

Brewery: Worthington’s (Molson Coors), Burton-upon-Trent, Staffordshire, England
Style: India Pale Ales
Strength: 5.6% ABV
Found at: The Grape & Grain, Anerley Hill, London SE19
Serving: 500ml bottle