It was a moment of lockdown madness. Following a long, hot, and increasingly thirsty stagger across sun drenched fields I was passing my local - the splendid Carden Arms in the bucolic Cheshire village of Tilston.
In normal times, I am very lucky to have this ale haven on my doorstep. When I visit with our cask enthusiast guests from abroad they think they have died and gone to heaven.
Anyway, my goodness, did I fancy calling for a nice fresh pint or two of cask to finish that sojourn in a fitting manner. That was not to be of course. Nevertheless, I did pause to sit in solitary on the west facing terrace, catching the last glorious rays of the day along with a few beery imaginings. I couldn’t help myself.
Closing my eyes briefly against the fierce brightness, I drifted – and could almost taste the cool trickle of a smooth, fruity pint of Big Hand Super Tidy pale ale lightly, and very tantalizing, soothing my much cask deprived taste buds. Alas, sheer fantasy. And it looks like it will remain so for some time as we continue the good fight against the terrible scourge of COVID-19.
Pubs are unlikley to reopen for some time yet and meanwhile beer sales have fallen off a cliff. Nevertheless, there is some uplift for those of us who long for a decent pint of draught ale. Many independent brewers, bottle shops and some pubs are fiercely fighting back with home deliveries - both locally and nationally - along with click & collect services. And the really great news is that lots of them are now including lovely mini-casks of fresh beer in their offer.
Several of the brewers we know well are
are doing this including: Salopian (www.salopianbrewery.co.uk), Thornbridge (www.thornbridgebrewery.co.uk), Weetwood (www.weetwoodales.co.uk), and Big Hand (www.bighandbrewering.co.uk) Over at the Rat Brewery (part of the Ossett group - www.ossettbrewery.co.uk ) in Huddersfield they have even put their almost cult like White Rat into mini kegs (5L) for the first time - an absolute blessing for the dedicated, not to say quietly obsessed, followers.
There are many, many more throughout the country. And now, making it much easier for you to gather in local beers, the Campaign for Real Ale (Camra) has launched the new app Brew2You app.for beer seekers. More than 300 pubs and breweries are listed via the platform, launched as part of CAMRA’s Pulling Together campaign to support the industry through this difficult time. I
Nik Antona, CAMRA’s National Chairman said: “With the nation’s pubs closed for the foreseeable future, it is imperative that we do whatever we can to support these local businesses. The Brew2You app is a really easy way to get that beer out to customers. ... and this helps customers find locally produced, quality brews with just a click of a button.
“The longer the lockdown lasts the harder hit our pubs and breweries will be and the more we risk many closing their doors for good. We urge beer and cider lovers to shop local and support the great beer and pubs trade using Brew2You so that we still have pubs and breweries at the other end of the crisis.”
Brew2You is available to download on Apple and Android* and has been set up by Camra so that suppliers receive the full price charged for their products. A small fee for use is charged to cover the Stripe payment service.To find out more, visit https://brew2you.co.uk/ To become a partner and list your beer and cider visit https://brew2you.co.uk/become-a-partner
Let's all drink as much independent beer as we can, sensibly of course, to combat this coronavirus blight and help keep brewers afloat. When the pubs return we will badly need these brewers for our celebrations - not least at the Carden Arms.
*The Android app is currently under review due to Google’s adjusted work schedules at this time. If you would like to know when the app comes out on Android, please add your email to the form on the webpage brew2you.co.uk and we will alert you when it becomes available. Alternatively you can download the app outside of the Google Play store here.
Please note Big Hand Brewery is not yet on the new app, so contact the brewery direct.