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Previous Pint Pleasures - June 30th, 2001

guinness eileen

The Red Lion Beer Festival, Snargate, Kent, June 21-24, 2001

This past weekend I made my first pilgrimage to a famous (Romney) Martian tradition: the beer festival at the Red Lion in Snargate. When I was here before the festival fell on an inconvenient weekend; this year the Saturday afternoon was free, the car had petrol, and Doris Jemison's unique untouched pub beckoned irresistibly. (See my previous >review.) So off we went.

It was a warm, extremely sunny day, the atmosphere growing hotter and balmier as we wormed our way across the marsh to the remote pub. In the car park was an old steam friction engine demonstrating its working parts while in the adjacent field two rather bored-looking horses stood watching. Inside the pub 12 different real ales were being served and the pub's three small rooms were packed. After ordering our pints we joined a group of friends outside in the pub's ample garden which was positively glowing with its lush green hedges and June flowers. As three beefy chickens strutted their stuff between the tables we sipped our quickly-warming pints under an impressively blazing sun.

The first pint we tasted was Brooker's Bitter & Twisted ( 3.8% ABV, Harviestoun Brewery, Dollar, Clackmannanshire). This lovely golden ale, voted Champion Beer of Scotland in 2000, has a nice hoppy bitter and is a perfect beer with which to start a tasting session. It's a surprisingly English ale from a Scottish brewery.

Next we shared two excellent pints. The first was Sheeps Eye (4.1% ABV, Nethergate Brewery Co. Ltd., Clare, Suffolk). This is a lovely brew, with a rich charcoal-gray bitterness lying at the bottom of a crisp summery ale. The taste is like sunshine with mystery -- yes, a bit of mystery was needed to help temper that ruthless sunshine. I was so happy I'd remembered my sunblock or I might have ended up as crisp as the Sheeps Eye.

The other pint was Ginger Tom (3.9% ABV, Barnsley Brewing Company Ltd, Barnsley, South Yorkshire). This is an absolutely amazing beer with great character, another pure gem from the oh-so-wonderful Barnsley Brewery. Ginger Cat is a dark but wonderfully bitter ale with a heavy hint of fresh ginger. Mmmmmm, YUMMMMMMMM!!!! It's oh so drinkable...aaah, a truly lovely pint! It brings to mind the ginger toms in my life: Timothys II, III, and IV, all wonderful cats. (In case you're wondering about Timothy I, he belonged to friends so I didn't live with him. But he was a charming gentleman as well.)

At that point I heard a strange screaming from the field just beyond, a rather raucous screech. Was my Ginger Tom scaring the local wildlife? When I went to investigate I spotted a wild turkey perched on a fence demanding his land rights. Do chickens and turkeys fight? Do wild fowl and domestic fowl fight? Unlike Clint Eastwood and his pigeons in In The Line of Fire, I know so little about chickens and turkeys...