European Escapades

Good Beer Alert !!! Branthills




Branthills Barley Farm and Real Ale Shop
Branthills Barley Farm and Real Ale Shop

Whilst deciding to leave Chatteris for another jaunt, this time to costal Norfolk for a few days, to allow for the eventual delivery of our ACSI European Camping Card. (I could have walked to the Netherlands and picked up myself in the time ACSI has taken to deliver it.) We also had to wait our Euro Visa Debit cards from it seems our only UK based International bank.

 Whilst heading to our first destination “Wells-next-the -Sea” we chanced upon a Beer Shop in the middle of nowhere.  It’s down a farm track off the B1105 around 2 miles out of Wells-next-the-Sea. The shop is in the grounds of Teddy Maufe’s Branthill Farm, which supplies Maris Otter barley to a number of the local craft brewers in the area such as Iceni and the Fox in Norfolk. It has a range of around 50 Real Ales from over 15 local Norfolk brewers from you to choose from.

Not a shop I would recommend to your bank manager. Fortunately due to restricted storage space within the Motor home I only ended up £25 the poorer and unfortunately only nine bottles richer. Further info can be obtained on this little gem at

A few beers of note initially were

 “Men of Norfolk” (ABV 6.2%) from the Iceni Brewery, Norwich. 

It comes in a large 750ml cork capped brown bottle and contains a rich, dark, velvety ale with liquorice finish just the way I like them. Iceni wanted to recreate the kind of tipples popular in Norfolk in the 1960’s and in my mind if this is the style of beer drunk at this time before the Lager Mutilators got their grip on the UK market,  then it was a time I would have enjoyed drinking in a UK pub.

“Samphire Stout” (ABV 4.5%) from the Fox Brewery, Heacham.

Unfortunately there were only a few bottles of this left in the shop and managing to bag one of the last was good fortune for me indeed. If we were to try this one in the Cambridge Brewers Circle, we would need to adjust any mineral additions from Grahame Wheelers Water Treatment Calculator to compensate for the saltiness of the Samphire. South Park and “Chocolate Salty Balls” came to mind when I first tried this brew. But once on the pallet it hits with a tangy sourness and has the mouth feel and smoothness of a good mild. It reminded me when I first tasted of Froach, interesting but would I purchase again? Probably not, not all experiments work but if we didn’t experiment then we wouldn’t progress or improve our beer making.  So good show to Fox, keep up the interesting brews.

A Selection of Beer Purchased From The Real Ale Shop
A Selection of Beer Purchased From The Real Ale Shop

The most amusing item that came with the box of beers and the receipt was a small slip of paper advising the innocent purchaser that these were “Real Ales” and should like any decent beer, be kept away from heat or direct sunlight. “Unless you are one of the beer companies that have been able to somehow solve the light strike issue and can now put your dead beers in clear glass bottles.”

If it was not for these little buggers, we wouldn't have beer
If it was not for these little buggers, we wouldn’t have beer

It also notes that as these ales are bottled conditioned they are live products unlike 90% of ordinary bottled beers and will have a small amount of yeast in the bottle and hence careful pouring will reward you with a clear superior drink. Are we still that far removed from our beautiful beer heritage that the majority of people mistake the slight cloudy swirl of yeast in a beer as an issue?

Embrace your yeast it’s your friend and say NO to the inferior, serialised, forced carbonated, crystal clear, flavourless products that only the marketing guys want you to drink.

And beware of Light Strike, it may get you.

This entry was posted on Thursday, February 18th, 2010 at 3:35 pm and is filed under Beer Reviews. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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