The weekend found me visiting the English suburbs of my early childhood for my Grandad's ninetieth birthday. We had a get together involving four generations of my father's side of the family, something that really drives home just how old my grandfather is. He was born in 1919 and spent all his life in the historical town of Egham, except for a stint in the army which found him carrying a Bren gun around the deserts of Africa. That's him on the right in the 1940's, in uniform enjoying a pint of something dark, more than likely Guinness.
Egham is only around 20 miles form London and the most direct route to London from Egham takes you straight past Chiswick on the M4. I discovered this while being ferried to the RealAle.com bricks and mortar shop near Twickenham. Chiswick is of course home to Fuller, Smith & Turner, the producers of any number of great beers, and usually there is some Fuller's to be had in the pub that housed our family get together. I was surprised to find that the biggest seller the pub stocks at the moment is Doom Bar from Sharp's brewery of the Southwest. My uncle had travelled from down that way and was disgusted that a beer from his region was on offer near London. His other options were Courage Best Bitter, which was thin and bland, and Bomardier which surprised me with a distinct and very pleasant English hop flavour I can't say I really noted before. Apparently Doom Bar is the most popular beer the pub has ever stocked, but I can't say I rated it all.
Having checked out their website, my trip to the RealAle.com shop was much anticipated. As it turned out, the website does not do justice to the selection on offer. BrewDog are well represented and I took advantage of this by grabbing some Atlantic IPA, How to Disappear Completely and Storm. American beer was present in force, though a little pricey so I restricted myself to Dogfish Head's Palo Santo Marron and Victory's Storm King Imperial Stout. Out of curiosity I bagged some Thornbridge Brewery Jaipur IPA to see what all the fuss is about and in keeping with the Corninsh beer theme, some St Austell Brewery Proper Job, which I am sure I have tried before, but more about that in a later post.