As has been the case over the last few years both nationally and in Portsmouth itself, the need to support locals and shop in our city’s high streets this festive season is more important than ever. This time of year can also often mean discovering local establishments – from places that you keep on meaning to visit to new ventures just starting up. With Christmas more or less upon us and as we enter the final stretch before the big day itself, I wanted to take a look at some of the local offerings providing Pompey with some of the festive season’s priorities. Namely, various beers to drink as you take in everything the yuletide period throws at you.
My first port of call is of course The Beer Musketeer on Albert Road which has been Southsea’s premier bottle shop for a few years now. Owner Jason Hurril is a fountain of knowledge for customers, offering suggestions and guidance which have helped to shape many a local beer palette. At this time of year he’s also getting asked many a beer-related question from gift buyers looking to get the perfect can or bottle for loved ones. You don’t get this kind of thing from Tesco people! On the shelf during my visit I spy a big collection of Edinburgh based brewery Vault City Brewing’s specialist sours – their take on the classic Christmas Day breakfast tipple, ‘Buck’s Fizz’ looks particularly interesting. Combining white wine grapes with vibrant orange zest and mouth-watering orange juice, this one comes in at 4.8%ABV and would be the perfect tipple to start things off on Christmas morning.
Christmas Day is synonymous for rich food and drink and so big, thick decadent stouts are the order of the day. Up in Milton, Southsea Brewing Company’s ‘Shark Infested Waters’ is available in cans to buy in their pub – The Brewer’s Tap. This is a real sweet treat – a Strawberry Trifle Stout. Perfect to have with dessert after your Christmas Day meal. They have a fair few cans of their own beer – I would recommend their Low Tide session ale if you’re looking for something a little lighter for the big day’s drinking – as well as a selection of guest cans fresh from the fridge to takeaway.
If it’s last-minute presents and stocking fillers you’re after then local breweries and bottle shops can also help you out. Up in the Fratton Centre Getbrewing offer a selection of takeaway craft beer as well as selling a whole host of equipment for the aspiring homebrewer.
Close by of course is Staggeringly Good Brewery where, if you’re finding it hard to decide what to buy then their selection boxes offer good value for money. Their ever-popular ‘Little Arms Big Ambitions’ and ‘Reptile Dysfunction’ IPAs get my vote though for those looking for something a bit different then their recent Wrecker sour edition – Un Bongo – is a sweet and soury treat which will remind you of a certain fruit drink carton brand from the eighties!!
Back in The Beer Musketeer and Jason is showing me some more of those big and boozy stouts. I’m after something to finish Christmas Day off with a bang – or at the very least, a beer I can savour as I eat yet another mince pie and slump in front of the telly. 5 Elementos Brewery from Brazil is a new one to me and their Vanilla Espresso Affogato stout is a rich indulgent treat. Absolutely perfect for this time of year.
However you get to spend it, have a very merry – and hopefully locally sourced – Christmas!