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Beer questions for the Brits!

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menschmaschine

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SWMBO and I are going back to England the first week of March to visit family, etc. It's been about 3-1/2 years since I was there last and when I was there, I wasn't a homebrewer. I was appreciative of good beer, but not a beer geek like now. So, this time, while SWMBO thinks I'm going to visit family, etc., in reality I'm on a quest for real ale! I'll be visiting the following areas and wondered if any of the Brits out there know of good pubs serving real ale (with good food, of course!) or any other beer-related destinations in these areas: Shropshire (Shrewsbury/Church Stretton), Chester, Liverpool, and London. We'll be renting a car, so going off the beaten path won't be a problem.

Also, what's the hops situation there for homebrewers? I'm a big fan of EKG and Fuggles. They're not easy to find here right now in the States. Any good home brew stores worth visiting? I wonder if I'd have trouble getting bags of hops through customs:cross:
 

Danek

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menschmaschine said:
I'll be visiting the following areas and wondered if any of the Brits out there know of good pubs serving real ale (with good food, of course!) or any other beer-related destinations in these areas: Shropshire (Shrewsbury/Church Stretton), Chester, Liverpool, and London. We'll be renting a car, so going off the beaten path won't be a problem.
As a starting point for pubs, it might be worth checking out http://www.beerintheevening.com/ - I think it started off as a London-only guide but has broadened out a lot. I'm afraid I don't know Chester or Liverpool at all, but I bet you'll find some great country pubs in Shropshire. (I've just noticed Church Stretton has its own website - http://www.churchstretton.co.uk/ ). And it's not that far from Ludlow, which is gorgeous and when I was there a couple of years ago had some great pubs - sorry I can't remember any names :(

menschmaschine said:
Also, what's the hops situation there for homebrewers? I'm a big fan of EKG and Fuggles. They're not easy to find here right now in the States. Any good home brew stores worth visiting? I wonder if I'd have trouble getting bags of hops through customs:cross:
It should be a piece of cake to find EKG and Fuggles. Something to bear in mind though is that the home brew scene here is far less active than in the US. Home brewing in the UK got kind of a bad name in the 1970s and 1980s when it was almost exclusively a way of making cheap (and nasty) booze. Until I went to the States and actually tried homebrew, I too had thought that it was only made by fat guys with beards who were too cheap to pay for proper beer in the pub. Obviously that's nonsense, but the view persists, and an unfortunate consequence is that there are some HBS that cater almost entirely for that market. I've been to a couple of stores that only sell crusty brown hops and LME from the last century, and where I was told not to waste my money buying DME as table sugar would do just as well and was much cheaper. That said, there are some great shops (my favourite is www.hopandgrape.co.uk - they're miles north of anywhere you're going though they do mail order; I think the shop Orfy uses might be reachable from Chester or Liverpool).
 
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menschmaschine

menschmaschine

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sause said:
I'm sorry but place in the UK has good food. :D
That's an old wives tale! I know Britain doesn't have a reputation for good food, but I'll take British pub food over Applebees, TGIFridays, Bob Evans, and any other standard American fare any day. The best steak I've ever had was in a country pub/restaurant in Shropshire. There's been concerted effort at pubs across Britain over the last X number of years to make pub food better. It's not just jacket potatoes anymore (although, those are good too).
 

Rick_R

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it was only made by fat guys with beards who were too cheap to pay for proper beer in the pub
As a fat guy who hasn't shaved this week, I'll point out that fat guys with beards who aren't too cheap to pay for proper beer in pubs do, also, brew decent stuff. :)

Rick
 

uglygoat

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menschmaschine said:
That's an old wives tale! I know Britain doesn't have a reputation for good food, but I'll take British pub food over Applebees, TGIFridays, Bob Evans, and any other standard American fare any day.
that's kinda unfair assessment. there's arse loads of good ma pa type places in the states. you have to look past the glitter.
 
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menschmaschine

menschmaschine

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uglygoat said:
there's arse loads of good ma pa type places in the states. you have to look past the glitter.
Very true! But that's why I said "standard". As far as going out to eat, pub food was the standard... at least where I lived in England (which wasn't in a major city).
 

brett

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I've visited the UK, and I thought the pub food there was pretty good. But then again I was accepting it for what is was: pub food.

Honestly, I was a lot more interested in the beer than the food. Couldn't get enough of the stuff... it's what turned me onto craft beer in the US.

God damn, I LOVE English beer!
 

Laughing_Gnome_Invisible

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Way too late for this, sorry for bumping a dead thread. :(

I just noticed on the CAMRA website that you can get their "good beer guide" listed pubs for the TomTom nav system for 5 pounds. I would LOVE to try that! :D That should take pub crawling into the 21st century!

Well, I was impressed anyway. ;)
 
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menschmaschine

menschmaschine

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Sorry I missed this.

You'd of been welcome. I live close to Liverpool and Chester.
Next time, Orfy... my wife's family lives there and I'll be back!

EDIT: Oh, and I was very impressed at the price of Lyle's Golden Syrup, which I like to use in my Bitters... 59p. It's like $6 here in the states!
 
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