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images (1)You may not have been lucky enough to get tickets for the Rugby World Cup, but fear not Peppermint are bringing you two free Fan zones in Brighton and Birmingham throughout September where you can enjoy all the games with a chilled beer in hand.

Birmingham

Located at Eastside Park, the fanzone will be free to enter and will be open from Friday the 18th September to the Sunday 27th. The fanzone will include a big screen showing live matches and other rugby content, as well as a rugby activity zone, fairground rides, covered viewing areas and a range of refreshment stalls- something for everyone.

It will also play host to organised invitational rugby sessions for local schools, rugby clubs, universities and businesses, plus women’s and girls’ groups, all of who will get the chance to be coached by the official England Rugby development coaches.

Brighton

The official Rugby World Cup 2015 Fanzone will be located on Brighton beach, east of the Brighton Pier, during the first weekend of the Tournament when matches are being played in the city. With a capacity of 10,000, the Fanzone offers the chance to enjoy refreshments and soak up the Tournament atmosphere with friends, family and fellow fans. The  Fanzone will feature activities from Rugby World Cup 2015 sponsors and a big screen showing all the matches played during the first weekend of the Tournament. The Fanzone is free to enter and the opening times are:

  • Friday 18th September, 4pm to 11pm
  • Saturday 19th September, 11am to 11pm
  • Sunday 20th September, 11am to 8pm

The Fanzone is also perfectly placed to take in the cultural elements of the Tournament weekend celebrations which will take place on Madeira Drive, including the Costume Games…


Old-Golden-Hen-and-SA-Gold2There’s a huge array of golden ales produced right now but few have the same reputation as Brain’s SA Gold or Old Speckled Hen’s Old Golden Hen. These two have built themselves as dominant brands – and for a reason. They’re both very well made and drink well throughout the year. But which is best?

Colour and smell

While SA Gold pours much like a lager with more of a thickened copp er hue, Old Golden Hen is very much a light gold. Both have a light fizz, SA Gold perhaps a little more so.

Where they differ more starkly is with the aromas. SA Gold is clean, wheaty and fresh – but not zesty – while Old Golden Hen is full of tropical fruit, sweetness and malt.

It’s a tight one to pick the winner at this stage because it’s so susceptible to tastes. My personal preference is towards the SA Gold smell, as I assume it to be associated with refreshment. Others may be enticed by Old Golden Hen’s complexity and fruity appeal.

Taste

Now here they are completely different ales. SA Gold is less fresh and clean and more bitter, full, and complex with hop flavours. There’s citrus that is mildly akin to pale ale, albeit on a lesser scale.

Comparably, Old Golden Hen is much lighter than you’d expect. The fruit is subtle yet refined and there’s pale malts that make the full mouthfeel defined and exciting.

On that basis, I would give the round winner to Old Golden Hen.

Before moving on to the overall winner though, I think it’s worth mentioning how good these ales are with food. SA Gold is an ideal match with fish, pairing those zesty notes with white fish in particular. Old Golden Hen in comparison is an excellent partner for roast chicken.

Overall winner?

Everything but the smell pushes me in favour of the Old Golden Hen. At the end of the day the experience is about drinking quality ale, which these both are, but I have to say the Old Golden Hen edges ever so slightly ahead when crossing the finish line.

 

Written & photographed by Ben Franks, www.benfrankswine.com, @Writer_Franks


Liefmans-Fruit-Beer-and-Pimms-Cider-Cup2When fruit first met alcohol it must have been love at first site because you can’t move in any modern bar without seeing at least one offspring of this great mix. While cider firmly owns the market for bottled fruity alcohol, Liefmans is very much the classic Belgium fruit beer. So how does the new muscle, Pimms Cider Cup, compare against this beer classic?

Colour and Smell

Liefmans suffers a little from looking like a brown and gloopy lager but has strong baked ripe cherry on the nose that’s intoxicatingly sweet. That is all as unattractive as it sounds, which is unfortunate given the beer’s reputation.

Pimms Cider Cup on the other hand is as bright and light as you may expect from a fruity cider, but it’s a slightly off-berry colour with pink-orange hues. Actively fizzy it suggests lighter body too, which is just how cider should be – fit for the summer. Smells like a perfectly mixed Pimms no.1 cup cocktail.

The winner for this round has got to be Pimms.

Taste

On the palette Liefmans is so rich. It’s like the drink version of cherry flan. Juicy, tart and very, very full. There’s literally no fizz so it’s all or nothing with every mouthful, which can sometimes be a little too much.

Nonetheless, Liefmans is something different and very approachable – like a cross between your favourite juice drink and a stout, but in a nice way. It’s probably also the first time I’ll say a small bottle is a good sized bottle.

In a larger bottle is the Pimms Cider Cup. While there is some cider-like note to it, the potent cucumber and summer fruits bring that classic Pimms no. 1 character. To be honest, while that’s very delicious and everything, it scores no points for originality. There’s not really anything to make it stand out, it’s simply ready-mixed bottled Pimms. But that is lovely.

For a pure matter of originality, Liefmans wins this one.

Overall Winner?

Despite the originality issue, Pimms have done a pretty great job to bag all the flavour of their most popular liqueur in one cider blend. That is impressive. And when it comes down to overall winner, with fruity bottles of alcohol the last thing most of us want is a gloopy drink. Fruit brings sun and relaxation, which calls for a chilled bottle of cider. So that means the new boy wins.

Pimms Cider Cup.

 

Written & photographed by Ben Franks, www.benfrankswine.com, @Writer_Franks


XfqEYJFcPharrell Williams, One Direction, Florence & The Machine and Disclosure will be among the ten headliners of the first ever Apple Music Festival in September 2015. Well, sort of the first. Apple’s nine-year-old London festival has been rebranded this year to tie in with the launch of its new app.
Free gigs by the calibre of acts we have come to expect from the annual iTunes festival at the gorgeous Roundhouse in Camden will again also be broadcast worldwide, live and on-demand, this year via Apple Music, iTunes or in HD on Apple TV.
Pharrell Williams, who’s worked with recent chart-toppers from Robin Thicke to Daft Punk and will play on 26 September, said “The Roundhouse is such a historic venue … there’s always a special energy in the crowd.”
Disclosure, who called it “one of our favourite venues in London” added of their gig on 25 September, “It’s also the day our album’s released so that makes it extra special!” The local dance act’s follow up to debut Settle is expected to mark a move away from club tracks to what they’re now best known for – dance-inflected pop songs, including a few more featuring vocalist Sam Smith.
One Direction will be supported by Little Mix on 22 September, and the climactic gig from Florence and The Machine, who released new album How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful in May and dazzled the pyramid stage audience at Glastonbury in June, will feature support from James Bay.
The new Apple Music is conceived as a single, intuitive app combining Beats 1, Apple’s new live music radio station and Connect, which allows artists to share lyrics, backstage photos, videos and audio direct to fans. Launched at the Institute of Contemporary Arts in 2007, the festival moved to Camden’s Koko before finding its current home in the beautifully restored Camden venue. In that time we’ve come to expect a thoughtfully curated combination of crowd pleasers and cutting edge new artists almost guaranteed to include at least one act you’re desperate to see.
As usual at this stage, there are still many headliners and support acts to be announced, but past performers have included Adele, Beck, Coldplay, Elton John, Foo Fighters, Justin Timberlake, Kings of Leon, Lady Gaga, Katy Perry, Maroon 5, Muse and Sir Paul McCartney.
The festival consists of ten separate gigs from September 19 to September 28. UK residents can watch the announcements and apply to win tickets via Apple Music or from the London Evening Standard’s website.


Mad Goose and Salmon 1There’s plenty of stuff on the web about food and wine matching. But what about us beer lovers?

Famously, beer is curry’s best friend. Malty lagers just seem to match with spicy character in a way wines and many other drinks don’t. And yet that’s all we seem to give beer credit for when it comes to food, so I thought I’d take a look at some of the best beer and grub matches outside of curry that you can try at home.

This time it’s matching the zesty and smooth Mad Goose, from Purity Brewing – a young brewery in the Warwickshire countryside. Mad Goose is light, bright and copper in colour with a fair alcohol content of 4.2%; it’s easy drinking on its own, but it’s even better with salmon.

Salmon with a crispy skin and cooked in a plentiful butter sauce is crying out for the citrus force of Mad Goose pale ale.

But we can go one step further. Instead of just chilling down the Mad Goose pale ale, try freezing the ale. Then leave the ale to rest until it’s like slush puppy in texture. What you get is icy, full flavoured and peaty-like zest that feels like it should be part of the salmon dish itself.

So whether your salmon looks as good as the Michelin-star dish in the photo I was lucky enough to try at the Bath Priory Hotel or not, I guarantee once you try this match you’ll realise why beer has the character to match some of the world’s finest wines.

 

Written & photographed by Ben Franks, www.benfrankswine.com, @Writer_Franks


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This Saturday 15th August 2015, Shakedown Festival returns to Brighton with a killer line-up and four huge international brands hosting stages: Hospitality, Defected, Cirque Du Soul and Supercharged.

 

UK-independent Hospitality have spent 18 years establishing themselves as one of the
country’s top names in electronic music, and they’re bringing Drum & Bass’ biggest
heavyweights to the South Coast for Shakedown. Camo & Krooked have quickly become
one of the hottest production outfits in Europe since they formed in 2007, creating iconic
D&B tracks that have become a staple in the genre. Joining them on the bill as a very
special guest DJ is Sub Focus feat ID. With genre-defining productions including Tidal
Wave, Turn Back Time and Rock It, Nick Douwma has catapulted himself to the very
forefront of electronic music. Elsewhere on the Hospitality stage are Fred V & Grafix,
Etherwood, S.P.Y, Nu:Tone b2b Logistics, Metrik, Lynx, Krakota, Reso and Hugh
Hardie.
Headlining the Defected Stage is house music legend and man of the moment, MK. From
his breakthrough remixes of the classic ‘Push the Feeling On’, to his recent productions on
‘Look Right Through’, ‘Always’ and ‘My Head is Jungle’, Marc Kinchen is renowned for
turning pop songs into dance classics. Next up is Berlin-born Oliver Dollar, who over the
past few years has become a recognisable staple in house music – a status that was
affirmed with what became the most Shazamed track of Ibiza 2014, ‘Pushing On’. Joining
him on the Defected line-up are Cristoph, Sam Divine, Simon Dunmore and Sonny
Fodera, as well as Brighton’s own Enzo Siffredi and Little By Little.

 

And of course, what Shakedown would be complete without the one and
only Supercharged Arena. Since the very first festival in 2011, Supercharged’s line-up
has read like a who’s who of all things bass, and this year is no different. At the top of the
bill are crossover drum & bass superstars Sigma who have already scored two number
one singles (‘Changing’, ‘Nobody to Love’) and a string of cult hits like ‘Rudeboy’.
Returning to Shakedown after his debut in its inaugural year is Example + DJ wire, whose
countless festival anthems have gained him worldwide notoriety. Elsewhere on the stage,
mash-up master ninja Jaguar Skills returns, as well as UK garage icon DJ EZ, Meridian
Dan, Mike Skinner (DJ set), Preditah, Oxide & Neutrino and Isaiah Dreads.
Completing Shakedown’s massive 2015 line-up is a brand new stage and host for 2015 -
Cirque Du Soul – bringing their signature cocktail of burlesque, bass and uninhibited
bohemia. Headlining the big top will be a genre-bending DJ set by the legendary
2manydjs. No strangers to Shakedown, the Dewaele brothers played at our debut festival,
closing the Supercharged stage with an unforgettable set. In 2015 they’re back, mashing
up everything from politically incorrect prog-rock to banging German techno in what is sure
to be one of the festival highlights of the summer in the Cirque tent. Next up, one of
electronic music’s fastest-rising talents and tastemakers – Monki. At just 21 she’s already
smashed festivals around the world with her box-fresh bass music inspired sets.
Elsewhere, Cirque Du Soul’s infamous resident DJs provide the soundtrack to what is sure
to be a visual spectacle.

 

Now in its fifth year, Shakedown promises to be the definitive electronic music festival on
the South Coast, and is strictly an 18+ event.
Advance online tickets are available till tonight (Friday) at 10pm – priced at £45 + bf
for standard and £75 + bf for VIP. The Raver Saver group deal is also back – buy 4 tickets
and the 5th is free! After that, tickets are available from the box office on the day by
the Shakedown entrance


downloadOver in the United States, bitter-style cocktails have gained popularity at a staggering rate. It’s a simple recipe cocktail that combines bitters, gin and vermouth, generally served with citrus peel. When it comes to a cocktail that’s so simple any mistakes are far more obvious. So how do you make the perfect Negroni?

The answer is very simple. The quality of Negroni depends almost entirely on the quality of ingredients you choose. Two out of three are simple: the bitters must be Campari for the simple fact that it has a reputation for a reason – and that’s because it’s impeccably made; and the vermouth should be Noilly Prat Ambré, which is a play on the stylish dry French vermouth. Trading clear and dry for a tawny like sweetness and orange colour make it ideal for the Negroni. Martini Rosso is an okay alternative if you can’t source Noilly Prat’s rare Ambré.

The difficulty comes with the gin. Having only the first two ingredients will give you an Americano when mixed with soda water, but we want that dangerously alcoholic but appetite building and intensely aromatic Negroni. That means quality gin.

Now I did a long bit of searching for the best gins, trying Martin Miller’s incredibly crisp gin to the entry level London Drys like Gordon’s. Tanquery’s No. Ten was exceptional but you want something that has both the strength to match Campari and the clean, light citrus-focused botanicals that are perfect with Negroni.

So that meant trying independent gin maker 6 o’clock Gin from Bramley and Gage. Smooth and combining delicious elderflower notes with orange peel, plus even more aromatic floral character, means this is the ideal gin choice for Negroni. Crystal clear and made with precision, it’s also the top gin choice for drinking alone as a premium aperitif, too.

Here’s the recipe:

Fill a Tumbler with rock ice. Add one shot of 6 o’clock Gin to the glass, then give a quick stir so it settles with the ice. While continuing to mix, pour in one shot of Campari and one shot of Noilly Prat Ambré. Garnish with two strings of orange zest and slice an orange for the side of the glass.

For more servings, keep the ratio and up the shot count. Simple and very, very good.

 

Written & photographed by Ben Franks, www.benfrankswine.com, @Writer_Franks


11800216_10153489071605135_2834033782901049649_nBestival’s Summer of Love is fast approaching! Taking place on the sunny (fingers crossed) Isle Of White’s Robin Hill from 10 – 13 September – end the festival season with a bang!

Read more…


10455328193_dbec8ce8e1_zYou may associate the Edinburgh Fringe with cutting edge comedy and exciting new theatre but did you know it has a substantial children’s programme that runs throughout August, including plenty of kids-only activities? We’ve picked out a just a few of the world-class shows you might like to see together.

Funz and Gamez Tooz, Bosco, Assembly George Square

Phil Ellis is back with a new, much better girlfriend, plus all the gang: Bonzo the Dog, Jim the Elf, but not Uncle Mick because he’s dead. Winner of the Foster’s Edinburgh Comedy Panel Prize, 2014, this buzzy, anarchic show appeals to kids (5+) and adults alike. The Independent called it “Completely bonkers… comedy gold”.

to 31 August. Tickets £9

Comedy Club 4 Kids, Assembly Roxy

An opportunity for children to experience the atmosphere of a comedy club as the international circuit’s best acts perform their usual sets, in the afternoon and without the swearing or rude bits. The comedians are hand-picked from this year’s bill, so you know if you go along you’re not going to regret it!

to 30 August. Tickets £8-10

Timmy Failure: Mistakes Were Made, Box, Assembly George Square

Timmy and his polar bear can solve mysteries, so bring yours along, hear all about his brilliant detective talents and witness his amazing professionalism in his home-made presentation…. If your kids are 6 or over, you’ll both want to see this hilariously optimistic, hit one-man show based on the book by Stephan Pastis.

to 31 August. Tickets £10

Alfie White: Space Explorer, Pleasance Courtyard

It’s 1967. Alfie White is crazy about space, but his dad has disappeared – as if swallowed up by a black hole… With his best friend Meg, Alfie sets out on a daring mission to find his dad. But where on earth – or in space – is he? A cosmic tale of adventure, science and jazz for ages five and up from Edinburgh and West End favourites, Tall Stories.

to 30 August. Tickets £6–£10.

The Last of the Dragons, Pleasance Beneath

A princess, a handsome prince and a dragon, but not as we know them. In E Nesbit’s amusing, entertaining story the prince is afraid to fight, and the princess loves his brain not his muscle. Laugh along with your children of 3 or over as they break out of their traditional roles in their quest for the last dragon on earth.

to 31 August. Tickets £6–£10.

The Marvellous Imaginary Menagerie, Pleasance Beyond

Dr Longitude and his team of “experts” are back to guide you through a puppet-packed, Vaudeville-tinged tour of the Imaginary Menagerie’s finest and weirdest exhibits. This is the most family-friendly, silly show in the repertoire of Les Enfants Terribles, acclaimed creators of mind-boggling immersive theatre, and perfect for anyone aged 4 or more.

to 31 August. Tickets £9.50 – £13.

See www.edfringe.com for details, tickets, and loads more opportunities for Fringe family fun.


7802186834_71c870ac7c_bNot all festivals are the same. Over just one weekend this August we’ve found three great little events, each with its own unique flavour. If you fancy sampling festival life on the edge, why not explore one? All take place over the weekend of August 8-9 2015.

Wilderness, Cornbury Park, Oxfordshire 
This five-year old treat (Best New Festival 2011) has had time to establish itself as reliable destination for those who expect excellent music but also want to exercise their bodies and minds. When you’re not watching Björk, Ben Howard, George Clinton, Roisin Murphy, Nick Mulvey, Nils Frahm or Ibibio Sound Machine, stroll around the beautiful site to find world-class outdoor theatre, talks and debates, challenging practical activities like yurt-building and chances to make the most of the wonderful countryside with horse riding, boating and foraging. There’s a lakeside spa to unwind in afterwards, and they also like to raise the bar for festival food, with long-table banquets from leading chefs including Raymond Blanc. It’s the thinking family’s weekend break.
Thursday-Sunday. Weekend adult camping tickets start at £188

Forgotten Fields, Eridge Park, nr Tunbridge Wells
The Kendal Calling magic moves south to an idyllic Sussex deer park which also happens to be handy for both London and Brighton. This new festival has a capacity of just 4,000, so consider it the northern festival phenomenon’s more intimate alternative. There will be five stages of music, carefully curated to keep the connoisseurs happy while ensuring maximum fun, include Kendall regular Tim Burgess’s Tim Peaks musical diner. Artist for 2015 include Basement Jaxx, Super Furry Animals, The Levellers, De La Soul, Public Service Broadcasting, The Horrors, Augustines and British Sea Power. Also on offer are a Gypsy Disco, cinema, real ale and quirky site art. Laid back hipsters of the South East unite!
Friday – Sunday. Weekend adult camping tickets cost £99, with subsidised transport available

Supernormal, Braziers Park School of Integrative Social Research, Ipsden 
Still not far enough out there? How about a tiny experimental DIY Arts and Music festival from Braziers International Artists Workshops, which aims to provide “a critique of entertainment, spectacle and intrigue”? Attractions for the 1,000 ticket holders will include a maze and zine workshops. The music is so cutting edge, they’re still programming it, but expect experimental sounds including doom metal, improvised rock, ambient dubstep, disturbing psychedelia and all points between, plus a musical Church of Chaos and artworks and impromptu al-fresco performances throughout the stunning 17th-century Oxfordshire estate. Among musicians already confirmed are Trembling Bells and AR Kane, and Charles Hayward will present his ‘begin anywhere’ piano sequence. This one will blow your mind.
Friday – Sunday. Weekend adult camping tickets cost £80

Let us know which one you choose, and share your experiences.