Branscombe’s Masons Arms Beer Fest

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They seem to be a partnership made in heaven – good weather, beer festival! This past weekend (July 19th – 21st) was the Masons Arms (Branscombe) Beer Festival with 21 ales on tap as well as 6 ciders. Even without the attraction of a beer fest the Masons Arms is one of our favourite Devon pubs as they have not mucked it about much & tried to turn it into a modern UK pub-kit gastro atrocity. It has loads of good, old fashioned character with all the mod cons (nice loos) and the food is damn good & we’d easily say a good couple of notches above the bog standard. And they love hounds – yes!

MABeer Fest Collage Some of our most favoured ales & ciders on the day included Liberation Liberation Ale, Adnams Fat Sprat, St. Austell Gold Rush and the Orchard Pig Navelgazer Cider. As well as the cornucopia of drinks on hand there was plenty to chow down on including a full pig roast – praise the lard.

There was also a cavalcade of live music on hand that seemed to cover all the audience pleasing spectrums. Lets hope the summer continues…and the beer fests!

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Beer Fest Folks enjoying the fine weather and tasty drinks & food…Including Hound #1…sort of…

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Fuel for the Fire – Local British Charcoal

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Homegrown BBQ Fuel

With an English Summer looking like it might actually happen, the opportunity for a serious number of outdoor BBQs could be a reality and not a myth. If you are, like us, of the real fire persuasion (not gas – that’s just cooking outdoors with your indoor cooker) then you must track down and try home-made British charcoal.

Charcoal has been made in the UK since at least the Bronze Age, almost 3,000 years ago, and closely mirrors the coppice method of forestry management. Coppicing means that the trees and shrubs are cut down and then permitted to grow back.

Brits burn over 60,000 tonnes of charcoal annually with the majority of that (98%) being imported & coming from tropical & mangrove forests where there are no provisions (like coppicing) for regeneration. So why buy British charcoal? Answers are on the bag:

  • High Quality
  • Needs no firelighters
  • Heats quickly
  • Contains no additives
  • Comes from a truly sustainable source
  • Promotes the positive management of British broadleaf woodlands

We tried to track down some information on this specific bag but apparently the Coppice Association (which is listed on the bag) no longer exists and attempts to find any web source for the Greenloft Project seen in the photo below came to a dead end. We have regularly purchased our charcoal from the River Cottage Canteen in Axminster and at Miller’s Farm Shop in Kilmington.

And besides the charcoal featured and pictured in the blog post, there are numerous folks & places across the UK producing & selling British made charcoal. So give it a try – you will not be disappointed (but the lighting instructions on this bag are rubbish so do it your way).

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On our drive back from a hike & camp in the Dartmoor National Park we stopped in at the Greendale Farm Shop for some supplies and came across this additional source of British BBQ Charcoal. We fired up our grill with our charcoal & cooked some delicious rib eye steaks & asparagus & spring onions – they are hot coals!

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More BBQ Fuel