Although Maz had not initially intended attending the Bells Piece Spring Open Day she ultimately agreed to help out with the refreshment stand. This freed up PV for a ‘boys day out’ and he dutifully searched his beer related resources for something suitable for Mengo to enjoy. Unfortunately the only offering seemed to be a Surrey/Hants Borders CAMRA brewery visit to Triple fff. As none of the other likely Mengo attendees are members of CAMRA it left PV with no mates.
Duly arriving in Alton the onward travel choice to Four Marks was between a steam hauled train on the preserved Watercress Line or a Stagecoach bus. Although the bus would no doubt be cheaper than the £7.00 cost of the train, as he would be provided with food and all the beer he could drink for £5.00 at the brewery, it seemed churlish not to support the preservation society.
Shortly after boarding the guard announced the buffet car was located near the centre of the train and the Real Ale Bar at the rear. Now that seemed a bonus not to be missed and PV hurried backwards for a swift half before arrival at Four Marks.
Since his last visit to Triple fff, Graham (Trott, the owner) had expanded operations. The new Brewhouse was now complete with additional coppers and fermenting vessels and a new gristmill added to the original equipment. The effect of winning Champion Beer of Britain at last years GBBF was evident by the large number of hired Ecasks needed to supplement there own barrel stock.
The old Brewhouse had been transformed into a new shop, selling a range of imported beers and local foodstuffs, and a taproom. It was to the taproom PV first headed. All the basic range of Triple fff beers were available along with the welcome return of Apache Rose Peacock.
Once settled with a mild, PV was able to take in his surroundings. The car park in front of the old Brewhouse was now the outdoor hospitality area, on one side of which a fire pit with metal cage had been built. Soon this was blazing away and Graham started to prepare a vegetarian curry and rice in a 6 ft. diameter pan supported on the cage. The resultant curry was thoroughly enjoyed by the fifty or so CAMRA members from SHB and South Devon (it was a joint social arranged by ex-chairman Bob), although Graham believed he might have overdone the spicing with 600 chillies. Maz was more concerned with the garlic content as PV apparently oozed the stuff well into Sunday.
|fff||Pressed Rat and Warthog||3.8|
|fff||Apache Rose Peacock||4.2|
Knowing ROC would be dismayed at missing out on the Apache, PV had a word with Peter, the organiser of the Alton Beer Festival, who confirmed he had ordered two firkins of the stuff for the upcoming summer event. Safe in this knowledge PV got ROC a bottle of Gulpener Koronwolf in appeasement.
Having tried all the beers including quite a few samples of the Apache PV was the first to leave and make his way back to the station.
It was no coincidence that the train back to Alton carried the Real Ale Bar. On the outward journey only three of the intended six beers had been available. Harvey’s had, as arranged, delivered their three different beers the day before but Hidden had not and as their website was down and they were not answering the phone or fax the RAT organisers construed the worse and put in an emergency order from Bowman. In some ways it is a shame that the delivery driver from Hidden had to be turned away when he had eventually turned up but then again, which of the two breweries beers would you prefer.
It is only a short journey from Four Marks to Alton but PV managed to sample a couple. And as the train was late arriving and he missed his connection with South West trains he was able to try another before the train departed for Arlesford.
|Harveys||Knots of May||3.0|
Not a bad afternoons entertainment but perhaps PV need not have bothered trying the latest Greene King seasonal ale, Morris Mayhem at the Garden Gate on his way home!
PV all on his lonesome