The mission: travel to Hammerpot Brewery in Sussex, drink lots of their beer (as a quality check, naturally) and award them the certificate for Beer of the Festival at last October's Twickenham Beer Festival. Then travel home via sundry pubs, doing more ale quality checks on the way. Yes, it really was that simple, and yes, it was a great day out...
Lee mentioned that he is also doing more specials and seasonals now. I see that the Magpie & Crown has Hammerpot Oyster Pond Stout on this week, which I've never seen before, and in the brewery we spotted pumpclips for Choc Wreck Porter – this has only just gone out in cask, and I have no idea where or when it will be available!
Sadly, the brewery is only licensed to 1pm on Saturdays, so it was back on the bus all too soon and off to the fleshpots of nearby Chichester for an hour and a half of beer hunting. We started on the outskirts with the Four Chesnuts (sic), a lovely little pub which seems to specialise in mild – Ballard's Midhurst Mild on our visit. It's a tasty brew, ruby-red with hints of tart fruit and roast coffee, and some bitter chocolate in the finish.
From here we headed into the city on foot, reaching the Bull Inn by the city market, which is noted for serving O'Hagans sausages. The plan had been to hit a third pub before rejoining the bus, but the fact that there were about a dozen of us, all thirsty and hungry, kind of stymied that as it meant we briefly overwhelmed the kitchen. Never mind, halves of Langham Hip-Hop and Bowman Quiver slipped down very nicely during the wait for some very tasty sossies.
Cricketers at Duncton. This is a gorgeous old country pub with a lovely garden, the house beer is Triple-fff Moondance and the guest was Bowman Wallops Wood – the former very nice, the latter OK but a bit dull.
LocAle - both the beers I had were local and in excellent nick: Arundel Gold and WJ King Horsham Best. I'm reliably informed the food was excellent, too.
All that was left after that was an hour and a half driving back into London on the bus, surrounded by slumbering figures, and wondering whether the battery in my smartphone would last out. (It did but only just!) The only drawback is I've been absolutely knackered today, otherwise I'd do the whole thing again in a jiffy...