Monday, 7 January 2019


There was an article in the Winter edition of CAMRA Angle called Desert Island Breweries, where 8 breweries were picked as favourites. So I thought, why not take my favourite beers with me to a desert island.

Now setting  aside the fact that I will need a fully functioning bar to make all this happen, here we go.

            1. Theakstons Old Peculier.

In the summer of 1974 three of my friends and I were walking the southern half of the Pennine Way and had arrived at a youth hostel in Hawes in Wensleydale. We headed down into the village and were soon in the Crown Inn in the Market Place for scampi and chips in a basket and a few beers. I don’t know who spotted the Old Peculier first, but they are forever in my debt.  Having been on a diet of keg S&N , Bass Charrington  and Cameron’s over the years, this 5.7% drink was an absolute revelation. Thick, black and chewy with a hint of liquorice , we all agreed this was amazing. I think this was my first real ale. Needless to say, I do not recall the walk back to the hostel.

2. Marstons Owd Rodger

I first started drinking this on handpull in The Cooperage in Newcastle. I used to work shifts so would sometimes meet up with a mate and have a few before going to work  (Its 7.4%). Rarely seen on handpull it is usually a topic of conversation with guys I meet for the first time :- 

Me - " Have you ever had Owd Rodger in cask form?" 
"Oh yes, I used to drink it in the Cooperage" " 
Did you really, so did I !"

Nice a dark, chewy, fruity and warming 

3. Brains Dark 

Great British Beer Festival August 4th 2011. As usual there were hundreds of ales from all over the UK and the world to choose from, but for starters I made a beeline for the Wales bar and Brains Dark. I had never had this 3.8% mild before and was easily the best beer I had that day. Soon the friends I was with were dashing off to try some.One of the rare times I have had a repeat beer at the same festival.

4. Robinsons Old Tom.

Again, another GBBF favourite. This 8.5% old ale is dangerously drinkable. I remember an early GBBF when 3 of us tried some; we weren't very coherent after that ! The Station House in Durham have it on every Xmas and, guess what I had some !  Available in small bottles so I have the occasional treat.

5. Broughton Old Jock.

I first spotted this one in a CAMRA book, 300 Beers to Try Before You Die. I then spotted it in bottled form in an Asda in Glasgow. My daughter lives there so guess what, its always on my Fathers Day/ Birthday/Christmas list. I must still  have 6 bottles stashed away after the Xmas  festivities ! Last seen on handpull at our Sunderland Beer Festival. Saving some for Burns Night.

Like Owd Rodger , dark and fruity. Oh and another strong one at 6.7%

6. Maxim Maximus

Closer to home this one and at 6%,. another dangerously drinkable beer. I remember nearly 10 years ago after it was first brewed, my mates and I had a pub crawl in Chester Le Street and we ended up in the Cricket Club. One of the guys is not a heavy drinker and Ive never seen him have anything over 5% ( Abbott) . He ordered the Maximus without reading the label properly.  I forget what I had but I said :-

" Er are you sure you want that, its 6%"
" Oh shit better not, can we swap?"

I was delighted.

Last had this one in The Library pub in Durham between Xmas and New Year. Still as good as ever. 

7. Brass Castle Bad Kitty

Appears on an occasional basis in the Station House Durham and when I first tried it last year I was blown away by the complexities of the coffee/chocolate aroma and flavour. I usually can't smell beer but this one hits the spot. "Only" 5.5% but a splendid warming porter.

8. Fullers Vintage Ale.

Another strong one (8.5%) for which I make no apologies. Appears around Xmas every year only in bottle form as a limited edition. Each special box that it comes in is given a unique number. This is bottled conditioned so if I do manage to get a fridge on this desert island there will need to be room to store this upright.  

PS. By a coincidence, I picked up a copy of a CAMRA Magazine, Swale Ale, before Xmas. Based in Kent, their Branch Chairman wrote an article called, you guessed it "Desert Island Beers".  Old Peculier made his list.

This is catching !


  1. Excellent choice of ales. Could easily be mine! Would have to try and find a place for Box Social Campfire Porter though...

  2. Well I like a nice old cornelius