Monday, December 20, 2010

Projects/Malt Shovel Tavern

Small Beer has been a little busy with five new projects:

1. <-- our Vancouver Island Beer Blog has finally been designed, launched, and stuffed with meagre content. BeerOnTheRock will be a news resource for the Vancouver Island beer scene. It will be written and maintained by myself, the beer-genius Dave from, and the sultry Ian of Bookmark it!

2. Monday Magazine beer column <-- I have been writing a beer column for local newspaper, the Monday Magazine. Here is the latest article.

3. Epic England Trip <-- I returned to the land of my conception and corruption for a two week stay. A brutal amount of cask ale was consumed, to make up for my churlish adherence to Guinness all the time I actually lived there (GRR!). See below.

4. Being Sick <-- so sick was I, that even with a free ticket to the Spinnakers Firkin Festival, and a potentially unlimited supply of 4oz taster tokens, I managed five before driving home to scoff manflu pills.

5. Impregnation <-- smallbeer #3
None of these are adequate excuses for a lapse in writing, but there you have it.

I wish to mark my return by paying brief homage to my favourite Northamptonshire pub, behold the Malt Shovel Tavern:
Mock-Tudor stylings aside, it looks pretty grim with its shopping trolley, battered warehouse annex, and vaguely wee-wee-smelling side alleyway. Also, directly across the road from this pub is the behemoth Northampton Carlsberg Brewery, which emits unsavory smells at various times of the day, like a flatulent aunt. But it's what's on the inside that counts.

The Malt Shovel is a cozy pub dedicated to cask ales and a great selection of continental bottles (all of which are served in the correct glassware), as well as several lambics on tap. I took my brother Ben here on the second night of my visit. Ben — once a Carling devotee who scaled down his drinking a few years back — was a reluctant convert, but by the end of the night the two of us had supped our way through fifteen local beers and a handful of Belgians, and, well, the three sequential pictures below tell you almost all you need to know about Ben's emotions...

Carling: 'Nuff Said

Chimay: Tastes a bit weird. Not bad tho'


All of the beers were incredible. The Bacchus Kriek on tap was an unexpected treat, the Hoggley's Solstice Stout was also beautiful. But easily the standout was Oakham's Citra — a melon fresh hoppy golden ale, syrupy out of the cask, peppery and smooth and oh so right. It weighs in at something like 3.8% and you could drink it all day and sing soliloquies to its beauty all night. If you get the chance, drink a flagon of Citra at the nearest opportunity.

Unfortunately, by the time Ben's girlfriend picked us up from the pub in order to meet me for the first time, and then take us to meet my parents for a pleasant, family curry together — Ben was dangerously drunk. He lost his lunch, passed out, and curry was served in his absence. Me and his missus got on like a house on fire, however.

Smallbeer is back and regular service will resume over the Christmas holiday. England threw up one or two more beer-related surprises that I need to tell you about. Soon. 

Happy Holidays.


  1. Ahhhhh there you are. I was beginning to worry about you friend. Looks like you been busy. The wife's a sport eh? Wink wink nudge nudge know what I mean, know what I mean? Say no more.

    Good to have you back!

  2. I am sad that the irc channel is invite only. Was I really that awful of a guest?

  3. Hahahaha. The IRC channel is back to normal. You have my 3-year-old to blame. She likes to click things. It took me a while to work out what she'd done!

    Hey Bray. Yeah, it has been amazingly busy over the last month or too. My parents have health problems which is mainly the reason I had to go to England. Plus this PhD has been getting demanding too. But I'm back writing.

  4. Sultry? Ummm.. I like you too Dan, but perhaps you should purchase a thesaurus.