Jeff Stein

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Jeff Stein last won the day on March 17

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About Jeff Stein

  1. Not sure Skolars have recovered from the seven beltings in the 8s they took after achieving eighth position last year. Looking forward to the South Wales game tomorrow. Matches against them have been pretty competitive in recent seasons.
  2. Managed to attend a couple of beer festivals over the weekend. One was a rather more pleasant experience than the other. On the good side was the festival at the Museum of East Anglian Life in Stowmarket. It is a lovely setting with the bars set up in a medieval barn and there being the chance to imbibe on the green between the museum buildings. Somewhat less appetising was the Chelmsford Summer Festival held in one of the city's parks. It is a pretty impressive operation with the bars inside huge marquees and I have always enjoyed it when I have visited before. However, that has generally been on the more sedate earlier days. This time it was a Saturday and after a long sunny day there were quite a lot of groups of lads wandering around some of whom were real pests. Twice I had guys try to pull my Toulouse Olympique cap off my head and run away. When you are just trying to enjoy a pint and a chat, that is beyond tedious and put a bit of a downer on an evening. Beer wise the East Anglian festival mainly featured local beers whereas Chelmsford was more nationally inclined. It did have an international bar as well, but I didn't partake. At the East Anglian I was glad to get a couple of beers from possibly my favourite brewery at the moment: Shortts Farm. I would think it is nigh on impossible to get away from Suffolk, but I like the way they have kept simple and concentrated on a small number of excellent beers (all named with musical connotations) which are really drinkable. Didn't have Strummer this time, but instead Two Tone, a stout, and Rockabilly, an amber ale. The only out of the area beer I tried was Great Newsome Holderness Dark, which, despite travelling all the way from the Humber to the almost as substantial Gipping, was very nice. Also tried Lacons Falcon, a resurrected beer from the resurrected Great Yarmouth brewery, Boudicca Spiral Stout, which apparently is brewed to be vegan friendly, and Fat Cat Verve, an IPA from a Norwich brewpub. I ended with another favourite beer, Colchester Brazilian, a very tasty vanilla coffee stout. At Chelmsford I enjoyed Nene Valley Egyptian Cream, another flavoured stout, but my favourites were Green Jack Trawlerboys from Lowestoft and Iceberg from the always excellent Titanic brewery. Both were very refreshing on a hot day. Mentions in dispatches for Billericay Blonde from an excellent enterprising microbrewery in that, York Guzzler and Moody Goose Cynature from a brewpub in Braintree. Only bad pint was Portobello Market Porter. I had tied this before at an eye watering price in Central London and thought it pretty good. I think we got it on the turn at the festival, however, but fortunately for a rather cheaper price.
  3. A Rising Man by Abir Mukherjee. Some detective series can be a bit wobbly in the early books, but this was a really strong start, particularly from a debut author (he got his publishing deal through winning a Daily Telegraph competition). The story is set in Calcutta just after the Great War and follows a Metropolitan Police detective damaged by the War and the loss of his wife to the flu who tries to escape his demons in India and occasionally in opium. The crime he investigates is the murder of a high ranking British civil servant in the "native" part of town. It had me guessing to the end and there were plenty of interesting insights into the Raj, not a topic I had particularly read about before.
  4. Skolars Supporters Group meeting last night at the Bree Louise in Euston. Unfortunately it has been confirmed that it is shutting in November prior to demolition to make way for HS2. The march of progress. The group will have to look for somewhere else to meet. Beer wise I thought that pick of the night was Stod Fold Blonde. It had a very fancy circular pump clip made from wood, which also told me the brewery is in Halifax. Also had a reminder of our sojourn in Enfield in the shape of Redemption Hotspur, which was always on in the football club's bar.
  5. According to the Pocket Guide to Beer, there are now over 550 breweries in France. There is one indigenous style in Biere de Garde, the best known make being Jenlain. I always used to like that, but it is some years since I last drank it. A colleague went to Brittany earlier this year and said Lancelot was particularly good of the micros set up there.
  6. Wasn't that the one in Weymouth Mews? If so, I used to drink in it on occasion 15-20 years ago when I worked in Wimpole Street
  7. I don't think they sell any beer or soft drink in their tied estate that they haven't produced. Not sure about spirits. Perhaps rather surprisingly they have an estate of about 18 pubs in Central London. The Chandos at the bottom of St Martin's Lane is probably best known, but they also did have part of the Cheshire Cheese on Fleet Street. Bit of an odd back story there and not sure if the issues over that pub have been sorted or not. Some of the London pubs are pretty spectacular with unique features and interiors recorded in the CAMRA national inventory. I understand this isn't really down to a spirit of conservation, but rather a wish not to go to the expense of refurbishment.
  8. That's only 15 minutes from my office so I will have to pay it a visit one day
  9. Spent the weekend in Toulouse. Partly for rugby, but partly for beer as well. Plenty of industrial lager available if that's your thing. If there is an alternative, it seems Affligem is popular, which is an abbey beer similar to Leffe. Not really to my taste personally. On this front we liked Bar Crystal on Place Jeanne D'Arc. Nice spot to sit drinking on the pavement and close to the bus station from which the number 70 goes to Blagnac and the ground. Also during the day an amusingly eccentric barman. At the ground it appeared to be Stella or, erm, Stella. Need to buy tokens in the ground to exchange for the beer. Our better drinking experiences, however, were as follows: Frog and Rosbif - 14 Rue de L'Industrie - about 10 minutes walk from Place Jeanne D'Arc through quite a funky neighbourhood. This is one of a chain of brewpubs, about which I had heard rather sneering comments previously. Possibly the tediously jokey name reminds people of the old not necessarily lamented Firkin pubs. We liked the bar. A nice comfortable place to while away some time. The staff were very friendly and all gave us tips about which beer they liked best. The brew kit was slightly oddly positioned at either end of the room, but as far as we were aware what we drank was produced on the premises. Our favourites were the Pearl Pale Ale and Wham American Pale Ale. Most interesting was Ginger Twist, an amber ale with, yes, a pronounced taste of ginger. I thought it was rather good, but would not want more than one. Not so great was a tasteless Oat Stout and a bland Maison Blanche wit bier. For those of you who enjoy indigenous British cuisine, there was also not one, not two, but three curry houses also on Rue de L'Industrie. (We had an Indian beer called Taj Mahal in one with our curry. Filth. Avoid). Le Bar de la Lune - 22 Rue Palaprat - a block north of the Frog and Rosbif. A small eccentric narrow bar. Having previously lived in Germany and The Netherlands, I have frequented bars like this before: visions of being trendy and alternative but a bit run down. My drinking companion kept muttering about having never been anywhere like it before and that it wasn't really Spoons (His comments on the toilet don't bear repeating). It wasn't the easiest place either to work out what you wanted to drink. There was a very substantial list of mainly Belgian beers on a blackboard, but the chalk had severely faded in places making it difficult to read. No indication either who supplied the four taps. One just had to go with a type and hope it was on, but it definitely wasn't industrial lager. We started with a bottle each of the excellent Bruin from Achel, the most recent trappist monastery to begin brewing. The beer is as good as any of the trappists presently being produced and is much smoother than its strength of 8% would indicate. I have bought it by mail order before and it is definitely worth seeking out. I then had a blonde off tap which was very good, but as noted I haven't a clue who brewed it. The barman was very friendly and probably would have helped if I could be bothered. Barallel - 9 Rue Cujas - In the traditional centre of the city near Notre Dame. A cross between a bottle shop and a brewpub. Bottles were on shelves on the wall opposite the bar. Selection seemed to be from very obscure French and Italian micros. Only variety I recognised was from the Wild Beer Company of Shepton Mallet. There were four taps of their own beer. We tried the blonde and IPA, both of which were very drinkable. Of the other two, one was in the style of a Belgian sour. I would have liked more but we decided to leave when Dave Doubledecks started spinning the platters. Fortunately for fans of l'escargot vindaloo, there were a couple of curry houses in staggering distance. It is certainly not a great beer city, but Toulouse does seem to have enough for a discerning punter on a weekend break.
  10. Stopped tonight on the way home at the Rampant Horse in Needham Market. It is a sixteenth century coaching inn, which has been refurbished in recent years. It is a little ikea-ish inside for my liking, but the courtyard is amiable and there is an old school smartly dressed barman, who sees his job as a profession, something which is rarely seen nowadays. The pub is also the only one owned by the rather excellent Calvors Brewery of Coddenham. Calvors is a little unusual in that it has traditionally concentrated on craft lagers rather than real ales. It does produce a couple of the latter now, which are fine, but I do think its lagers are excellent. Tonight I had the Dark. Since I lived in Germany, I have been a fan of Dunkels and Calvors Dark doesn't disappoint: very malty, but still refreshing. Unfortunately I don't think their beers are that easy to find outside Suffolk.
  11. On the way home after the Broncos game yesterday, popped into Hamilton Halls at Liverpool Street. I was pleased to see a beer by the Hanlons Brewery on. It was perhaps the first of the railway arch breweries in London, which are now rather commonplace. I remember having some very pleasant evenings in the excellent pub they had in Clerkenwell and I was a particular fan of their Port Stout. Some years ago, however, the brewery moved to Devon and the pub was sold off. I thought the Firefly Bitter, which I had, was very enjoyable and refreshing. (As an aside on a recent trip to The Philippines I went firefly spotting on a river on Palawan, which was a rather magical experience)
  12. Had an advert pop up on social media this morning for the bitter for people who don't like bitter, Doom Bar. Apparently it is the official beer of the British Lions Union Tour. That probably says something.
  13. The Skolars Supporters Group met at the Bree Louise on Wednesday. For any one coming to London via Euston station, it is worth a gander, albeit it should be said opinions vary on it. It was an early exponent of the present beer revival in London, but has possibly not moved with the times. Criticism tends to centre on the varying beer quality and the staff. It is a bit spit and sawdust too. On the plus sides it is handily placed and 50p per pint discounts are available to worthy people in society, including Camra members. There are eight pumps and additionally about ten barrels in racks behind the bar. For those barrels, this was not one of the Bree's better nights. A number weren't on, two were also on pump (why would you have it from the barrel rather than from a pump?) and most bizarrely one was a Winter Warmer, something I haven't seen in June before. The beers off pump, however, were good. In particular I enjoyed Salvation, a golden ale from Charnwood, a brewery I had not heard of previously and who had a number of beers on, and Titanic Plum Porter, which is always reliable.
  14. Had a good experience in the York Spoons on Sunday, but much much less so in the Stowmarket Spoons tonight on my way home from work. I do find they really vary with the range and quality of their beers now. Five pumps out of action and only Ruddles "Best", Abbot and Marstons Imperial IPA on. I had the latter as the only beer on pump not produced by Greed Thing, but it was pretty rank. Wandered up to the other pub in the High Street, The Oak, which I had never visited before. Interesting experience. Very spit and sawdust and the clientele seemed to have just popped in from filming the sequel to Straw Dogs yet they had African music playing on the Jukebox throughout the time I was there. The quality ambience was, however, ruined by a rugby union documentary being shown on the TVs in the pub (apparently the All Blacks are the greatest sporting team of all time ever or someat).
  15. Looks good, but suspect it may be a few decades before Skolars are in the same league as one of the Hull teams!