Change jars at the ready, you’re gonna get a penny off your pint!

It was announced in the Budget proposal on March 20, 2013, that the government would be scrapping the beer tax escalator of 2% over inflation ever year. A move welcomed by a loud “Cheers!” by everyone involved in the Real Ale industry.

A measure imposed under labour back in 2008, and signed on until 2015, the tax has seen prices rocketing for everyone from the customer to the landlord, while brewers are stuck trying to compete in corporate market. In total since its introduction, the average price of a pint has risen by a staggering 40%.

Such rises were, frankly, unsustainable from the start. The pub industry was crumbling at a rate of 16 closures per week by the end of 2012. A staggering 5,000 have closed in total.

The move to scrap the added duty will aim to slowly reduce these closures, find even level, and keep it there at the very least. Those pubs already struggling to keep their heads above water will now have the opportunity to get themselves afloat.

Going one step further, the chancellor George Osborne added: “But I’m going to go one step further, and I am going to cut beer duty by 1p.

“I expect it to be passed on in full to customers.”

Better get the penny jars at the ready.

CAMRA, naturally, greeted the news ecstatically. Chief Executive Mike Benner, said: “This is a momentous day for Britain’s beer drinkers, who will be raising a glass to the chancellor for axing this damaging tax escalator and helping keep pub-going affordable for hard-pressed consumers.

“Since the duty escalator was introduced in 2008, 5,800 pubs have been forced to call last orders for good. What could have been the final nail in the coffin for our pubs has been decisively avoided by the chancellor in a move that will spark celebration in pubs across the UK.”

“Scrapping the beer duty escalator, combined with a 1p cut, is a massive vote of confidence in British pubs and will lead to an increase in pub going and more money in the Chancellor’s coffers.”

The CAMRA E-Petition gathered approximately 109,000 signatures, which prompted the Chancellor to drastically re-think his stance from last year: that the escalator would be kept firmly in place. Over 8,000 also wrote to their local MP’s to lobby them to make a stand against the escalator.

If that doesn’t show the community spirit that we all know and associate with Real Ale, then I don’t know what does.


Down With the Corporations! And That Sort of Thing.

JD Wetherspoon is the biggest bar corporation in the country. And as we all know, corporations are the enemy of the little man. Undercutting smaller businesses at every opportunity, promotions that will make even the most ardent anti-big business person look twice.

With ever rising taxes, breweries struggling to establish themselves, struggling to make profits, and the good old local pubs closing down at an alarming rate, the ale industry has every right to harbour some bad feelings towards ‘Spoons.

Another Wetherspoon Real Ale festival starts on April 3, with pints for as little as £1.99, lining their pockets while the landlord at your local stood with custom even lower than usual.

But rather than a call to arms, we at AleMighty suggest taking a step back and thinking about the flip side of the coin.

Hundreds, possibly thousands of people will be sampling their first pint of Real Ale. This gives the potential for hundreds, possibly thousands of new fans.

After they leave ‘Spoons and go their separate ways and wander past their local they may even be tempted by a local brew and stop in. That landlord who was watching his crowd dwindle could be welcoming in new faces. The brewery in the next town might have to sell them a couple of extra barrels.

That trickle-down effect could turn into stream. That stream into a river. While there is no sure fire way to judge the effects, good or bad, Wetherspoon did seem to have the same idea when we spoke to them.

Caroline Barley, PR representative for JD Wetherspoon said: “As a company we like to support local breweries. We supporting CAMRA and are glad our customers are able to enjoy participating in our Beer Festivals.

“We always have a good selection of Real Ales from around the world for our customers to try.”

The breweries involved with Wetherspoon must also see the potential in the deal as well. Otherwise, well, why would they be there?

Spring time. A fresh Start.

So it’s spring time. A time of new starts and freshness. And here at Ale Mighty we have begun to notice, edging in from the hidden corners of dark pubs, a younger generation is starting to enjoy Real Ale.

Go in most brewery pubs these days and you will find a group of 18-25’s perched around, sipping, swapping, discovering new flavours. Fair enough, some of them give the impression of Bambi finding his feet for the first time, but each step is one in the right direction.

It is hard to tell what bought about this vogue. Has the industry changed to accommodate youth, or has the influx of youth brought about changes to the industry? One thing we’re sure about – Nobody seems to be complaining.

Over the next few weeks I will talk to breweries and bars, CAMRA and national companies doing their part. In keeping with the season we will be looking to the future. All may not be as rosy as it seems for the newcomers, with rising prices and watering holes harder to come by.

But hey, we are all a community here, so let us raise our glasses and carry on. Here’s to you, my friends!

An Ale Mighty celebration of ol’ St. Nick.

That’s right, today we have three of Wetherspoons festive ales, all with Santa in the name:
Nethergate Red Santa, 4.2% ABV; Caledonian Santa’s Little Helper, 4.6% ABv; Wood’s Santa’s Tale, 4% ABV

I hope this gets you into the spirit of the season. Needless to say I entered into this endeavour feeling rather festive, and left even more so.

First up, the Red Santa.
It’s a bitter. A rather uninspiring one at that. It looks like a deep, rich brew that will go down smooth and have some real substance to it. However, it turns out to be rather flat, bland and dull. There is something in there, a light hop, a touch of maltiness, an edge of sweet caramel, but no main character. There is nothing noticably horrible about it. It’s kind of like having some okay tasting Brussel sprouts, roast potatoes, carrots and parsnips, but no turkey (or pigs in blankets). Just not right.

Mighty Rating: ★ ★

Next we have the Santa’s Little Helper.
Another impressive looking ale. Quite a thin but fluffy head to it, and a slightly lighter reddish colour. This one delivers just a bit more, I must say. It has the hops to give a real ale type of flavour. Then wintery berries give a sharpness, a bit of tang that is actually quite refreshing. It is still rather thin and weak on the flavour front though, leads to a unsatisfactory end. To carry on the previous analogy, I guess you could say the pigs in blankets have been added, but still no main component.

Mighty Rating ★ ★ ★

Finally, Santa’s Tale.
Are you sitting comfortably? Then I’ll begin. This ale is lighter, almost the colour of an amber ale. It feels a bit fizzier too, making the lack of heavy tastes more forgivable. It has a refreshing bitter hop taste, kind of an over-toasted malt after taste which is not as bad as it sounds. Like these festive ales all seem to have, there is a warming caramel hint to it. Again, though, I was left struggling to find the big taste, the thing that you really want from a pint. Looks like I’ll have to go without my metaphorical turkey for now.

Mighty Rating ★ ★ ★

So, Santa’s Tale was the best part of a disappointing tribute to St. Nick. It really is a shame, none of them really impressed. What was impressive, however, was JD Wetherspoons impressive ale selection. Get yourselves down there if you fancy a few different tastes of Christmas.

Merry Christmas from Ale Mighty!

Ale in a blaze of: Golden Glory, 4.5% ABV

First off, Forgive the title of this one, bit of a mind blank.
Hey, If you have any better suggestions leave them in a comment. Ill see which seems most popular.

Moving on… Brewed by Dorset based Hall & Woodhouse’s Badger Brewery, Golden Glory is a very light amber ale which leaves your tongue tingling.

Crisp and fizzy, it is a refreshment much more suited to summer than these cold winter months. Not a hearty, warming ale. It is, however, delicious. A sweet, tangy peach is the overbearing smell as soon as the lid is off. In your mouth it is a burst of fruity flavour, with just a touch of maltiness and hops giving it the smoothness needed to really call it an ale. I think there is a bit of citrussy fruit in there giving it some balance. After the flavour dissipates a bit though, there is a strange dryness left behind.

I really wish I had this with a barbecue in the sun. I suppose I don’t see ale as a summery sort of drink, which I suppose is what Badger are trying to achieve here. That is going to be a hard task.

Might Rating ★ ★ ★ ★

For a look at their brewery, bars and brews, visit here.

This is not the greatest ale in the world, this is just a: Tribute, 4.2% ABV

Brewed by St Austell brewery in Cornwall, this Ale is a CAMRA award winner.

It is a very light coloured ale, poured with a short frothy head and plenty of fizz throughout. Leave it for a couple of minutes and you might be forgiven for thinking it’s, dare I say, a lager.

At first taste there doesn’t seem to be much to it. I think my thoughts at the time were something along the lines of “This has about as much body as a supermodel.” But then the flavours emerge, and grow. Slowly mind, they don’t exactly explode. Lightly fruity on the tip of your tongue, which is why it takes a while to notice, and bitter going down. Definitely something citrussy going on there. Even the malt and the hops are subtle, neither overpowering the other.

I guess St Austell were going for a very balanced amber ale here. And they certainly achieved that aim. Beautiful in its delicacy. Though would I call it a champion? Maybe not, needs a bit more “oomph” for me.

Mighty Rating ★ ★ ★ ★

Look for yourself and experience a taste of Cornwall.

Howay! Newcastle Brown Ale. 4.7% ABV

I couldn’t do an ale blog without including a good old bottle of Dog now could I.

This drink has spent much more time in my mouth than I care to mention, and it will certainly be spending even more.

The first thing that hits you about a bottle o’ broon is the sweetness. It’s surprising, and to be honest quite overbearing. Almost as if someone has mixed a load of caramel into the drink. Luckily for me I have a rather sweet tooth, but let’s try to be objective.

It’s a light drink, a bit of fizz to it which stops it weighing down your stomach the way a lot of ales can. It’s quite warming and malty as it goes down. It can be quite hard to determine the hops after the sweetness, but they are lingering around there somewhere, and once you find them you will always be able to taste them. All in all a good time Ale, can’t have a bad time on the Newcy Brown.

And for Staffordshire people, it was created by a man who was born in Burton on Trent, and moved to Newcastle later on in life. Nice little tidbit that.

Mighty Rating ★ ★ ★ ★

More brews and information can be found on their rather swanky website.

Bomber’s Away: Thwaites Lancaster Bomber. 4.4 % ABV

Bomber's Away!

I’ve been looking forward to this. A beer from a brewery a short walk from my home in Blackburn. (Or, as as we may say in my dulcet tones “Ey’ up cockers, let’s try this one ‘eh? A good ol’ bomber!”)
Thwaites will always hold a certain place in my ale loving heart. But for now, I shall try to be unbiased. I Promise.

It is a very balanced ale. Nothing too overwhelming. Although it is not without character. Smooth and creamy as it goes down, with a rich toffeeness to it. It’s the kind of drink you want as a night cap. Malty and easy to drink, not boozy enough to blow you away. It’ll keep you feeling warm with a fruity kind of taste on the tongue.

A proud taste of home for me, a decent enough brew for most

Mighty Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★

And if you want to have a look at the beer from where I’m from, feel free to check out Thwaites here.

Ringwood Old Thumper. 5.6%ABV

Old Thumper, brewed by Ringwood Brewery, in the heart of the New Forest.

Everything about this ale screams out that it is a beast. Strong, dark, uncompromising, with a rather intimidating design on the bottle to boot.

But lets get down to the nitty gritty. Its fizzy and frothy, and the flavour seems to burst on your tongue with every bubble. Full of dark hoppiness, it certainly makes for a satisfying, yet refreshing drink. There is a spiciness which compliments the initial richness, and that is all followed by a content warmth as it settles. All in all, A big beer at first, but once you get over that it is certainly contenting.

I would compare it to a huge scary looking dog, This ale ends up being man’s best friend.

Mighty Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

For more of Ringwood’s beastly creations, visit their website.

An Alemighty salute to Remembrance: York Brewery Englands Pride. 4% ABV

I have not seen this beer very often. Then, on Remembrance Sunday of all days I see Englands Pride, it seemed almost fated. So I drank it in a quiet gesture in tribute to the mighty that have fallen.

Now I would love to go on to say how amazing it is, how it sums up all that is good about Britain and it’s ale. I really would love to, but I can’t.

It is… okay. There’s no undue bitterness to it, or over complicated sweetness. In fact, I think that is what the problem is. There’s nothing much to this ale at all. It’s rather bland. If you really search there’s some fruitiness in there, and mild hops giving it a bit of body. It goes down smoothly enough (partly because you hardly notice it in your mouth) but then just sits in your stomach quite heavily.

A crying shame for the promise of the moment when I bought the pint.

Mighty Rating: ★ ★

You know the drill, go see what else York Brewery have to offer.