South East England

Buckinghamshire, Hampshire, Kent, Oxfordshire, Surrey, E & W Sussex

Shepherd Neame Generation Ale

Well what a pleasure – to get a chance to review a beer that’s been brewed to celebrate the history of one of the country’s foremost brewery. Generation from Shepherd Neame marks five generations of the family at the helm, with five hops and five malts.

A sizeable 9%, it was left maturing for a year before release, so you are getting alovely spicy, dried fruit character. Vanilla, raisins, sultanas mix with chocolate and orange, which in turn mingle with hints of coconut and sweet spice.

9%, £17.50, Shepherd Neame shop & online shop

Shepherd Neame's Classic Collection

When a brewery is the oldest in the land – and organised enough to keep its records – you can betcha there’s some entertaining stuff in them thar archives.

And so it is with Shepherd Neame’s latest arrivals in its Classic Collection series.

Based on recipes from the 1860s and 1870s, its Double Stout and India Pale Ale offer great taste as well as a nod to history.

Nyetimber Demi-Sec NV

Here's something original on the English sparkling wine front - a demi-sec rather than brut fizz from those Sussex pioneers, Nyetimber.

With aromas of candied fruit and rich honey on the nose, this feels like it could be special. And it is.

12%, £35, Harvey Nichols nationwide, Sparkling English Wines 


Courage Imperial Russian Stout

The alcohol percentage on this one is downright frightening at 10%. But that's how Catherine the Great of Russia liked it, and she got what she liked when she made demands of her courtiers in 1795.

A bit of background here: Russian Imperial Stout is a strong dark stout dating back to the 18th century when it was produced at Thrale’s Brewery in London to export to the court of Catherine II of Russia. The high alcoholic strength was necessary to prevent the beer from freezing in the temperatures of the Baltic Sea on its voyage to Russia and along with a high degree of hop, it has the keeping quality of a fine wine.

10%; limited availability at the moment – it's only just been relaunched in the UK – but you will find at the wonderful Beers of Europe and

Chiltern Brewery Glad Tidings Winter Stout

Brewed with four malts - Maris Otter, Crystal, Chocolate, Roast Barley - and two spices - coriander and nutmeg and a little fruit in the form of some orange peel, this spiced milk-stout-style beer is a truly complex beast.

And at 4.6% it is not too high in alcohol.

£2.75/500ml; 4.6%; Available through the Brewery Shop, online and also local independent Budgens Stores, Wendover and Bedgrove and other selected stockists - 

Shepherd Neame Christmas Ale

A rounded caramelised nose sets the tone for this festive amber ale. Winter fruit overtones upfront include dates and cooked apples, alongside spicy hops. More spice on the palate with vanilla and more of those dried fruits reminding us it’s nearly Christmas time.

7%; RRP: £2, Morrisons, other selected supermarkets & independents, and from the Shepherd Neame online shop

Shepherd Neame Spooks Ale

As the witching hour on All Hallows Eve approaches and the wind whips up a storm outside, what better time to taste test Shepherd Neame's Spooks Ale?

Modestly titled The Official Ghost Brew for All Hallows with the warning Drink if you Dare writ large, this is as enjoyable as it is fun. Made from three different malts, the reddish hued palate is balanced with a light citrus lift.

Available: over 40 Shepherd Neame pubs; 4.7%, 50cl, c. £2, Asda, Morrisons, Shepherd Neame online shop

Kent Green Hop Beer Fortnight

27 September 2013 - 11 October 2013

Anyone who's seen a hop flower will know what a magical bundle of aromas and flavours it encapsulates. A relative of Cannabis, it's essential oils have been enlivening our beers for centuries. But since harvest happens just once a year, 99% of the time the hops are dried before they reach the brewhouse.

Some enterprising brewers have been reviving the art of brewing with fresh hops. and once more, the county of Kent has gone one step further. Over 20 brewers have banded together to bring you the Kent Green Hop Beer Fortnight, with six also hosting Open Days in the middle Sunday.

Faversham Hop Festival

31 August 2013 - 1 September 2013

Not just for lovers of all things hoppy, the Faversham Hop Festival in Kent is one of the original and best attended hop festivals in the country. With its quaint bricked streets, the UK’s oldest brewery, and a hop heritage as long as your arm, expect a weekend of fun, music, steam trains, hop halos, and – of course – good beer.

Suitable for all the family, check out the excellent website for further info.

Kingston Food Festival

28 July 2014 - 3 August 2014

Focusing on local, whether it be food, drink – or personalities – Kingston Food Festival takes over the Royal Borough once more from Monday 28 July until Sunday 3 August.

Kingston Restaurant Week kicks off this year's festivities. With a free Food Trail, the debut of Make Your Case, the entertaining evening where it’s the drinks that bid for your votes, and a return for the popular Children’s Food Festival, there’s plenty to celebrate good local fare.