Heading for Southampton

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A wide choice of beers, wines and spirits await you at the bars and drinks stands at the Southampton Boat Show.

For many, a quiet little (responsible) drink on board is an integral part of the pleasure of sailing. The Southampton Boat Show has a bigger than usual selection of drinks you can enjoy whilst there or look out for in the shops later. Here are a few of them.

BERMUDA RUM

Gosling’s Black Seal rum from Bermuda is at the show again along with Gosling’s own brand Stormy ginger beer for making its trademarked Dark & Stormy cocktail. “If it is not Gosling’s rum it is not a Dark & Stormy,” they proclaim at their colourful pop-up stand near the Princess footbridge from the Holiday Inn area to Mayflower Park.

Gosling’s is Bermuda’s oldest commercial company, founded in 1806 by Englishman James Gosling and still in family ownership. Not surprisingly, Gosling’s has been appointed official partner of the 35th America’s Cup in Bermuda in 2017 and for the whole of the preliminary Louis Vuitton World Series, which began with July’s event at Portsmouth.

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Black Seal is a traditional dark rum with intricate hints of butterscotch, vanilla and caramel. The Beverage Tasting Institute recently awarded it their highest level Platinum Medal. It is growing in popularity over here and now listed by Waitrose at £24 per 70cl bottle at 40 per cent. Certainly worth trying.

SPOILT FOR CHOICE

For top quality wines, head for the Shawbury Vintners stand. They offer a personal service of advice and supply of a full range of wines, mostly in the £15 to £20 a bottle bracket. Take your time to taste and discuss what is best for you.

Fancy a real ale? The Upham Brewery from nearby Bishop’s Waltham has a bar at one end of the food tent. ‘Punter’ brewed with only English hops is my choice, 4 per cent and distinctly hoppy and refreshing. Upham’s other brews are ‘Tipster’, a golden summer ale at 3.6 per cent and ‘Stakes’, a premium 4.8 per cent ale. They are well distributed in Hampshire and Berkshire and also own 11 quality pubs of their own.

The Guinness Marina Bar in Solent Park is always a favourite meeting point, featuring Draught Guinness stout, of course, but also offering other beers and ciders.

This always innovative brewer has let a team of brewers loose to find and create new recipes. Guinness Golden Ale is one result now available in UK supermarkets. At 4.5 per cent, it is brewed with Irish barley, amber malt and selected hops – on the dark side of golden hue, crisp and pleasant bitterness from the hops and a nice hoppy aroma.

I found it at my local Tesco on a special deal: 4 x 500ml bottles for £6. “It is quite popular,” the store’s beers section merchandiser who happened to be restocking the shelves told me. “Especially at this price!”

PLATFORM TAVERN

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Outside the show, if you are going along Town Quay, do not forget the Platform Tavern and its in-house Dancing Man Brewery that brews interesting ‘craft’ ales. Currently featuring Congo Driftwood Pale Ale, 4.2 per cent, and Organ Grinder IPA, 6 per cent, and “not for wimps”, they say. Platform Tavern serves above average pub grub and tables can be reserved in the restaurant area (tel: 02380 337232).

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