Christchurch: Taproom and funfair visit

Christchurch in Dorset is just down the road. In fairness, at this time of the year you would expect to be on a beach, not visiting a previously unknown beer emporium, at least, not in the daytime.

I had searched for craft ales in my area and found this place that had great reviews and opened at 11am. Time then for a sunbed first thing.

There’s always a funfair at this time of the year too so I thought I could have a walk round there first. However they have moved it uptown, this is where it used to be, near to the town quay.

You’ll have to excuse the flowers; when I saw that arrangement I couldn’t resist!

So here is the fair. Looks about the same number of attractions possibly on a larger area of ground. Too early for anything to be going on but still, probably busy when its open.

That micro coaster is just about my level, tinier even than the old Wild Mouse at Littlehampton.

And so on to the main event. My remit was to find a dozen healthy craft ales from around the world and of differing genres and strengths. I may have succeeded. In the end I spent just over £50 for this little crew.

I will list these individually for the reader so that they can learn about each ale, I will certainly be learning along the way. Will I be drinking them? Gradually. Will I be keeping the bottles? Most certainly!

But first I had to sample one of the draught ales from the menu.

Customers who walk in can choose in measures of thirds, halves and two thirds or a whole. The strongest one there was the Strawberry Stars which you would see very little change from a £10 note.

I asked for a porter and the owner, Ben, recommended a chocolate and hazelnut affair, only 5.2ABV and £5.40 for the full pint. Here I am sampling it.

I’m not sure whether this makes me look menacing, mad or just having had a rough time the night before or maybe it’s just the ageing – one thing’s for certain the legs are still amazing. 😇

Anyway let me introduce you to the family (as The Stranglers once said) with a pic of each ale and some background to it.

Straffe Hendrik

A powerful beer with rich flavours of malt and hop. 

The Straffe Hendrik family consist of a golden tripel, a brown quadrupel and the limited editions of Heritage and Wild. All beers have a high alcohol percentage and are rich in flavours and taste. 

They are strongly hopped and brewed with a subtle mixture of different kinds of malt of the highest quality. The taste of the beers evolves as the years go by. 

Moncada Brewery – Crisitunity

Barrel Aged Blueberry Stout – words from Untappd.

We took some second runnings from an Impy and added blueberries and brett. We then shared the resulting concoction between three different barrels. Each evolved in a singular fashion, extracting flavour and texture from the wood and the remnants of what the barrel stored before.

Vault City – Raspberry White Chocolate Honeycomb Imperial Stout

Rich and decadent Imperial Stout brewed with Raspberry, White Chocolate and Honeycomb.

Vault City say “As it’s our birthday we wanted to release something pretty special, well two things actually – a sour and a stout. We came up with a recipe based on our ideal birthday cake: Raspberries, White Chocolate and Honeycomb. These flavours sounded like the perfect combination for a Sour but equally as fit for an Imperial Stout. This is our birthday cake in a big bold sour!”

This weighs in at an “oooft” 12% ABV and makes me think of Python’s Australian Table Wines sketch. 😂

8 bottles of this, and you’re really finished — at the opening of the Sydney Bridge Club, they were fishing them out of the main sewers every half an hour.

Barefaced Brewing Co – Heartbreak Stout

This is a local brewer, out at Blandford Forum. Described as a ‘breakfast stout’ this is what they have to say:

The beer that started it all off. Taking it’s name & inspiration from events that lead to the founding of Barefaced. We use Bad Hand Coffee roasters espresso, paired with chocolate to make our stout ever so bittersweet.

Orval Trappist Ale

The distinctive fruity and bitter taste of Orval beer means it has become a genuine reference in the exclusive world of authentic Trappist beers.

Orval beer is a high fermentation beer. The ageing process adds a fruity note, which strikes a subtle balance between the beer’s full-bodied yet complex flavour and bitterness.

The beer was first brewed in 1931 and owes its unparalleled taste to the quality of the water, the hops and the yeast used. The brewery has selected very aromatic and unique hop varieties, which hark back to the first brewmaster of Orval, who hailed from Bavaria. The beer’s aromas are very pronounced while maintaining the right level of bitterness thanks to the English method of dry hopping.

The various stages of fermentation – combined fermentation with the original yeast and with wild yeast, followed by fermentation in the bottle – mean the beer must age for some time and requires numerous quality controls. 

La Chouffe

From the Achouffe Brewery nestled in the heart of the Belgian Ardennes. A golden ale, strong, spicy and lightly hoppy, La Chouffe is bottle re-fermented, unfiltered, unpasteurised and without any additives. So what is a Chouffe? A red hatted, long-bearded gnome that’s a part of local folklore.


A golden amber beer that is slightly hazy with a white robust head.


Aromas of sweet malts, orange peel, coriander and spices.


Tasts as it smells, soft caramel and malts with the underlying hint of coriander and mild yeast.

North Brewing Company – Coffee Coconut Porter

A rich, dark porter brewed with speciality malts, toasted coconut, and whole coffee beans from our local roaster, North Star. Balanced sweetness plays against complex coffee flavours in an indulgent, luxurious beer. Available at Morrison’s!

S43 Brewery – Happy Little Accidents

Hops: Idaho 7, Mosaic, Columbus, Amarillo, Centennial
Malt: Maris Otter, Oats, Wheat, Maltodextrin
Yeast: London Ale III
ABV: 6.8%
Style: IPA
Allergens: Gluten (barley & wheat), Oats
Vegan Friendly
Quantity: 440ml

This beer is the product of working with what you’ve got. Sometimes brewing is a complex process of planning and handpicking hops, sometimes it’s a case of just chucking everything in. Guess which one this is?

The result of all that chaos is a thick, juicy IPA. Expect resinous hits of fresh fruit and pine needle. A happy, messy miracle of an accident.

Lost Pier – Fruit Machine IPA

From the makers:

Fruit Machine IPA is our smooth and rounded NEIPA with a low bitterness and creamy sweet mouth-feel from high amounts of flaked oats & carapils in the malt bill. Expect juicy citrus aromas from the Citra dry hops and an exotic fruity palate from Azacca and Sorachi Ace hops. A small hit of apricot puree was added for an extra fruity hit all brought together by a New England yeast which adds aromas of ripe stone fruit.

Solid State – Verdant Brewing Co. – Yakima Chief

A creamy, massively tropical, and punchy collaboration with Yakima Chief Hops! A festival of Cryo and T90 hops whacked into a 6.5% IPA. A first for us, and a really exciting opportunity to team up with one the world’s finest purveyors of all things dank, green & delicious. 

Goodh Brewing Company – Knockout stout

Brewed with Olfactory coffee beans, Knockout is a big hitting oatmeal stout that is both full of body and flavour.

Goodh wanted to brew a bold beer to compliment the signature coffee from their local roasters so they decided to go big and craft a rich, sweet stout with a thick mouthfeel that has an abundance of coffee, chocolate and dark fruit flavours from start to finish.

Delirium – Strong Fruit Beer

Delirium Red is an 8.0% abv dark-red cherry beer made by the heroes that gave the world Delirium Tremens. Based on their blonde ale, it has a light pink, compact head, a soft aroma of almond and sour cherries, and tastes tangy and fruity, with a perfect balance between sweet and sour.

So there they are. Twelve fairly different ales to sample – I’d leave it to the experts to review them. I’m not one of those, just someone who enjoys craft ales. I hope you enjoyed reading about them. 👍

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