The Friday Pint 2 #32 – Bank Holiday Festival Bonanza!

This weekend, in Sunny Britain, it’s August Bank Holiday Weekend. Traditionally this brings either large amounts of dark clouds and rain, or a bit of sun and a mass exodus to Britain’s seasides. It also brings large numbers of beer festivals, with pubs and clubs making the most of the long weekend, and the fact that British people generally like a drink when they don’t have to go into work the next day.

Southampton has at least two festivals going on this weekend, at The Platform Tavern, and at The Rockstone and Shooting Star.

The Platform Tavern’s Blues and Booze Festival, has 10 casks on stillage, supporting the four available on handpull. Dancing Man Brewery’s 200th, a smoked barley wine called Smokin’ Banjo is also available to buy in bottles. The highlight of the beer selection at The Platform this weekend is undoubtedly the Fullers Vintage Ale, which for me is the best it’s been new since the 2010 incarnation. I was also very impressed by the Loddon Checkmate when I was there on Thursday. I’ve had a number of cask pilsners in the last couple of years and have always been left feeling that it wasn’t possible to do a pilsner justice in cask. I was rather pleasantly surprised when Checkmate proved my ideas to be wrong.

Of course, if you end up in The Platform this weekend you should take the chance to try all of the Dancing Man Beers on offer. Organ Grinder and Nicromancer are available as part of the festival offering, along with the aforementioned Smokin’ Banjo in bottle.

The RockStar Beer Festival sees The Rockstone and The Shooting Star join forces yet again to bring a selection of great beer, music and food to Bevois Valley.

Whilst I’m currently unaware of the beer selection for this weekend, I can tell you that Sunny Republic are launching their Shark Head lager on keg at The Rockstone this weekend. I enjoyed this when I tried it at the brewery last week, and recommend it if you come across it on keg.

I’ll be at The Rockstone on Monday. Come down and join me, it’ll be fun.


The Friday Pint 2 #31 – Better Late Than Never

So, here it is, last Friday’s Friday Pint Post, on the following Wednesday. I’m not really doing myself any favours if I want to get myself a job which requires writing to a deadline am I. Though, I suspect that if I was getting paid to do this, or doing it for someone else, I’d be a lot less relaxed about getting these posts in on time, or indeed at all.

Last week was, as many of you reading will be aware, the week of the Great British Beer Festival. I had booked the week off work, I was going to buy a season ticket and go every day, concentrating on drinking less each day, but being more focused about it. That was the plan at least, until I ended up having to move back to Southampton.

As a result, last week was mostly spent either at home, or at The Rockstone, where I am now just 27 whiskeys away from having my name on all four boards. Will I manage it? Keep reading to find out.

As my week off was supposed to be for drinking beer, I decided that on the Friday, I would make the journey to the Sunny Republic brewery in Dorset. I first encountered one of their beers, an American brown ale, in The Rockstone, and was pleasantly surprised to find something that tasted that nice coming from somewhere local.

In between then and last Friday, I have tried a few more in the Sunny Republic range, including Hop Dog at the Maltings Festival back in April, which firmly placed Sunny Republic in my mind as one to keep an eye on. Another beer of note, is their Pilsner, Shark Head. Prior to Friday, I had tried it on cask twice, both times I was disappointed.

On Friday, I had the chance to try both of these beers again, with the latter being available on keg. Compared to the cask version, it seemed like a completely different beer, one that could easily become my go to drink when it’s on in The Rockstone from this weekend. It could potentially be used as evidence for the argument that neither keg or cask are ultimately better, but that each style is better suited to different dispense methods, and I would also add bottle and can to that.


The brewery itself is in a nice location, though for a non-driver, it was an effort to get to. The nearest train station to Winterbourne Kingston, where Sunny Republic are based, is Wareham, which is on the Waterloo to Weymouth main line. From here, a taxi will cost you around £25 each way.

A pint will cost you between £3.10 and £3.30, depending on strength, and four pint flaggons are available to take away for around £10-11. Fresh scotch eggs (they were still warm, from what people were saying) are served on the bar, and there is also a selection of soft drinks, and wine.

I enjoyed my time at the Sunny Republic bar, and if I can find a way to go again, I will be. I do after all have two flaggons to return. The bar is open on Fridays from 5pm. For more details visit the Sunny Republic website, or follow Brent on Twitter.



The Friday Pint 2 #30 – Rum!

So, after a week off involving the Birmingham Beer Bash, I returned this week to “The Year WIthout Buying Beer”, and actually did quite well. This may have something to do with having to work for most of it, but ignoring that, lets call it a success.

Monday of this week was my big drinking day, in that I took myself to The Rockstone in Southampton to drink rum whilst doing various things on my netbook (mostly consisting of playing Civilisation 3 and Doom 2).

I spent a good few hours there, sat at the bar, ordering rum after rum, and watching as people passed through. Considering it was a Monday lunchtime, the amount of customers was very healthy, and credit should be due to Aimee for dealing with them all admirably.

Despite a mention in my Golden Pints nominations at the end of last year (I nominated it for best pub, and deservedly so). I don’t think I’ve ever given it the focus it deserves. As such, here is why you should visit The Rockstone…

The Rockstone is situated north of the city centre, on the corner of Bevois Valley Road and Rockstone Lane. It’s a bit of a walk from the station, but it’s worth it, and seeing as you’re there, you might as well walk the extra bit and visit Bitter Virtue as well.

The Rockstone was formally known as the Bevois Castle, which was bought by current owners Max and Aimee Greenwood in November 2010. A year later after refurbishment, a name change, and licencing issues, The Rockstone opened. In less than two years since, The Rockstone has become reknowned for it’s food, obtaining highly positive reviews on many respected websites, and in several national newspapers.

Whilst I generally go for steaks, I can’t help but feel envious of those ordering the burgers. I reguarly go to The Rockstone with a friend, and we have commented many times that we’re sure the burgers are getting bigger. As well as being reasonably sized, they are also reasonably priced, at £12.95 for most burgers on the menu.

Whilst I can’t speak for The Rockstone’s vegetarian offerings, I can say that, rather than being an afterthought, the team have put some real effort into them, and there’s a whole page of the menu that I’ve never read dedicated to vegetarian options.

For those wanting liquid refreshment, The Rockstone has 8 ale taps, a set of keg taps containing more standard lagers, and the best selection of spirits you’re going to find anywhere in Southampton, and probably Hampshire for that matter. The whisky, rum, gin and bourbon selections all have challenge cards, which you can complete to obtain a place on the board, and a t-shirt. (The challenges are being reset at the end of September though, so it may be worth waiting if you want to start).

The Rockstone has a beer festival coming up over the August bank holiday weekend. Coincidentally, this is also the weekend that The Platform Tavern are having their beer festival. (Also, it’s the weekend I’m working, but fortunately, I can visit The Platform’s on the Thursday, and The Rockstone’s on the Monday). On the basis of the last festival’s list, which included beers from Tiny Rebel, Sadler’s and Vibrant Forest, it should be worth a trip down.


The Friday Pint 2 #29 – Back to the old rules

When I was first developing the concept for this year’s Friday Pint in the latter part of last year, one of the ideas that was muted was the concept of only drinking beer made within a certain radius. It would seem that this concept has been adopted into “The Year Without Buying Beer”, as I’ve drunk many Dancing Man and Vibrant Forest beers since moving back to Southampton.

When I started “The Year Without Buying Beer” I was living in London. The previous year I could have easily gone to bars like Brewdog or Craft Beer Co and spend a good amount on relatively little beer. Part of the intention of this year was to reduce the amount I spend, and I believe it has worked.

I certainly believe that the way I buy beer has changed. Rather than going and buying as much as I can, I now seem to buy with purpose or focus, and many times with a list. Whilst the rules of “The Year Without Buying Beer” have already been broken many times, I’m still going to be following them as much as I can. As a process of the rules, I’ve already drunk many ciders, rums, gins, bourbons and whiskys that I otherwise probably wouldn’t have. I’ve also been able to afford to go to many Doctor Who events in this 50th anniversary year, and also buy other things.

So, this point marks an addition to the original rules of The Friday Pint 2. I’m going to allow myself to drink beer, but only the most local beer I can. Supporting local economy is good. Drinking beer is good. Surely, everything involving the two is good.