Beer Festival Joy (The Fox, Hanwell)

Published on 18 April 2003 in , , , , ,

So it’s Good Friday, and the weather is lovely. What do you do? Well it’s obvious init? You go for a walk down the canal, and just happen to walk past a pub that’s got a beer festival on, and pop in for a few pints!

Well it sounds logical to me!

And so we found ourselves at the Fox in Hanwell after a relaxing walk. The Fox is a nice little pub, not very near where we live, so we needed an excuse to just be "passing by". That excuse was a walk from Osterly to Hanwell, handily passing by the pub.

But enough about canals and scenary, and onto the beer! There were 12 barrells at one side of the pub, 2 ciders and four more beers on the normal handpulls.

With the Handpulls holding London Price, Caledonian Deuchers IPA, Timothy Taylor Landlord and Timoty Taylor Ram Tam, we decided not to bother (well we’ve had them before) and opted for the barrells.

Amongst the joys to drink, J.W. Lees (also known as John Willies to its fans) GB Mild, Titanic Triple Screw, Archers Golden Bitter and York Centurion’s Ghost Ale.

As a real ale drinker, I thrive on situations like this! I just love studying the leaflet that tells you what is available, deciding what to drink next – that’s one reason why I love the Porterhouse in Covent Garden, or Belgo Bierdrome. Both have huge beer menus and the choice is marvelous.

Sadly, the amount of booze I can drink without getting very tipsey, isn’t very much, so halves it was, to ensure a good range of beer sampled.

And the best beers were?

It was a hard task to pick the best beer. Despite myself and Catherine being big fans of Mild (sadly a tipple rarely seen in London), neither of the two milds hit the best beer slot.

For Catherine, that joy was taken by the quite delightfil Squire’s Gold Spring Ale from Coach House. A rather wonderful ale with a nice intense flavour – lots of hoppy and malty flavours hitting the tongue. Quite delightful.

For myself it was a close run thing. In a very close second place was a last minute replacement. Batemans Dark Mild was a fantastically flavoursome yet very easy drinking dark mild – and when I say easy drinking I mean it! I devoured a pint in no time at all! Definatly one of the best milds I’ve ever drunk.

But the top prize went to a surprising candidate. RCH East Street Cream. The description in the festival leaflet did this no justice at all, saying:

"A chestnut coloured, surprisingly smooth, creamy premium bitter."

And that was it! Personally I’d add that it was a taste explosion with some wonderful flavours hitting the tongue. Creamy it was yes, but it had some lovely intense flavours bombarding your taste buds with everything they had. But I have to say, that whilst writing this, I realised how difficult it is to sum up that beer. If you’re an ale fan, track it down and try it for yourself and see how hard it is to describe it!


For me the big surprise was the interest in the two milds. For a type of beer rarely seen even in it’s homelands of the North of England, the two milds on sale (Batemans Dark and the light GB Mild) were doing a roaring trade. A definate indicator that real ale drinkers everywhere appreciate it’s easy drinking nature, which doesn’t compramise on taste.

The task really is to persuade the pubs and breweries of this fact. There are very few pubs in London where Mild is always available. I know of only one – the Wenlock Arms near Angel (they have about 10 handpulls and it’s a tiny pub), but I believe there are a few more. So come on pubs! Get some mild in! I’ll drink it, and if the experience of the Fox holds true, so will many others.