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Secret Drinker takes a break from Kent's pubs and reviews his man shed

These are challenging times we’re living through, so we must pull together to remain as hale, hearty and downright chipper as possible.

And, with the situation changing by the day, if not the hour, we must all make sacrifices and adapt as best we can.

Fully equipped for beer tasting and just the right distance from the house, in the absence of a good pub a man shed could be your next best option
Fully equipped for beer tasting and just the right distance from the house, in the absence of a good pub a man shed could be your next best option

I won’t play down the seriousness of the situation, but I didn’t think I’d see the day when things got so bad we couldn’t even pop to the pub for an hour or two to escape everything the world throws at us.

But, even I, an intrepid undercover pub spy with considerable cunning, have been told the boozer is off limits.

So, although the Secret Drinker house is relatively healthy, the decent thing to do is to self-isolate and take to the man shed. Like so many, I am now working from home.

I do, of course need something to review, so I braved the madness surrounding the supermarket shelves and secured what I could from dwindling stocks.

My stoic resolve to bring you a beer-related review saw me pick up four bottles of ale for the bargain price of six quid.

There is a well-stocked beer fridge and I even keep the odd bottle of wine and a few flavoured ciders in case members of the fairer sex decide to visit
There is a well-stocked beer fridge and I even keep the odd bottle of wine and a few flavoured ciders in case members of the fairer sex decide to visit

However, with my retreat being used much earlier in the years than would be usual, a blow heater was sourced and run off the same four-gang as the beer fridge, light for the dartboard and the ‘almost antique’ music machine.

Don’t be fooled into thinking this is luxury living or a soft option of any sort, but I’ve gone the extra mile and overcome the hardships to report from home. That said there are old carpet tiles on the floor (from a previous work life) and insulation, of sorts, in several places.

The man shed’s positioning within the SD estate means there are advantages and disadvantages – depending on your point of view.

The dartboard is set at exactly the right height but take care the extendable lopping saw doesn’t fall down on you
The dartboard is set at exactly the right height but take care the extendable lopping saw doesn’t fall down on you

Firstly it means Mrs SD does not tend to visit, secondly the resident hound often does, and thirdly, as a man of a certain age I enjoy being surrounded by power tools.

Although the other half doesn’t visit I’m delighted to report I was joined for this important taste test by a chip off the old block who is keen to prove himself as an apprentice reviewer and follow in my footsteps – he’s also a dab hand with the arrows.

Of course, this wouldn’t be a complete review without mention (and pictures) of the facilities, so although the apprentice and I are usually happy to turn left out of the door and simply walk behind the nearest tree, I thought I should include the bathroom. You won’t find many roll-top baths in pub toilets, but to be fair we only use it for hosing mud off the hound. I’m pleased to report the facilities were fresh and sweet smelling.

On the day I was in I’m pleased to be able to report the facilities were clean and well kept
On the day I was in I’m pleased to be able to report the facilities were clean and well kept

So, what about the bottled beers - this is what we discovered:

Hobgoblin IPA from Wychwood Brewery 5.3%

Clear amber colour, a typical IPA with slight tropical, citrus taste but doesn’t have sufficient fizz for me. Hoppy enough with a pleasant aftertaste and certainly easy-drinking.

Preparing for a full on tasting session – these were the four ales we decided to sample
Preparing for a full on tasting session – these were the four ales we decided to sample

Proper Job IPA from St Austell Brewery 5.5%

Clear pale yellow colour, not a very apt name as it isn’t proper, there isn’t a great deal of taste and it’s gone in a split second. It doesn’t taste as strong as the ABV suggests.

Old Peculier from Theakston 5.6%

Dark and malty, it’s almost the colour of cola. It has a smooth taste, which leans more towards sweetness than bitterness. There is a powerful aftertaste and it’s rich and creamy.

Broadside from Adnams6.3%

Deep, deep ruby red in colour, this is a rich, malty and extremely fruity English ale, although it tastes more like a strong Belgian beer. A powerful, almost smoky, flavour that lingers – well worth trying.

Simple and rusting, the wall-mounted bottle opener might be basic but it functions well and the tin pot I’ve added catches most caps
Simple and rusting, the wall-mounted bottle opener might be basic but it functions well and the tin pot I’ve added catches most caps

Having finished all the beers I suggest to my apprentice we dig out my old disco lights and set the place up for a proper party.

He, not so politely, declines and departs the man shed to leave me to clear up – this is another downside of drinking at home.

I might enjoy a few beers at the homestead for a while, but it certainly isn’t going to be long before I’m yearning to get back to the pub.

The Secret Drinker column goes live on KentOnline every Friday at 11.30am
The Secret Drinker column goes live on KentOnline every Friday at 11.30am

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It couldn’t be considered as a decent substitute for the local pub if there wasn’t at least one humorous sign – for the record, I’ve now sold the boat
It couldn’t be considered as a decent substitute for the local pub if there wasn’t at least one humorous sign – for the record, I’ve now sold the boat
Hopefully just enough toilet rolls to last – providing no-one nicks them
Hopefully just enough toilet rolls to last – providing no-one nicks them
Clearly Mrs SD has had a major influence in the decoration as demonstrated by various knick- knacks and objet d'art
Clearly Mrs SD has had a major influence in the decoration as demonstrated by various knick- knacks and objet d'art
Made by her own fair hand, she’s particularly proud of the mirror, though quite why women have to add unnecessary touches is totally beyond me
Made by her own fair hand, she’s particularly proud of the mirror, though quite why women have to add unnecessary touches is totally beyond me

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