The word ‘liberation’ has a special resonance in Jersey, a small scenic island situated in the English Channel alongside its sister Channel Islands of Guernsey, Alderney and Sark just off the north coast of France. For a small island, Jersey has had its fair share of battles, invasions and occupations, from Napoleon to the Nazis. Nowadays, thankfully, the island faces invaders armed with nothing more dangerous than a selfie-stick and of course beer-enthusiasts such as yours truly.
I’ve lived on the European continent for many years and in the UK for coming up to two and a half. Until last week however, I had never set foot on the Channel Islands. Travelling with my fiancée and her parents, we spent four days in Jersey, based in the main town, St. Helier. Quite unlike its better known namesake in the USA, Jersey is an eclectic mix of English and Norman French history and culture. While on the one hand, you’ll find an abundance of quintessentially British features such as red pillar post boxes, cask ales, curry houses and fish & chips, street and place names have however, an unmistakably French ring with Avenue des this or Place du that every which way you turn.
Being a beer lover, with a particular zeal for less well-known ales, I was delighted to discover that, despite its small size, Jersey can boast not one, but two delicious beers. I mentioned already the significance of the word ‘liberation’ in Jersey. Chilling in the hotel bar with my fiancée on our first evening listening to an excellent local jazz band, I discovered the very tasty Liberation Ale. Light and zesty, with a distinct citrus aftertaste, Liberation is a must-try for beer-enthusiasts visiting the island.
Beer taps and bullet holes
Jersey is dotted with an abundance of charming old-world pubs, each with its own unique character and story to tell. While some pubs may pride themselves on having a live-in cat, or a table where a famous person once sat and plotted a revolution or penned a famous song, there are few pubs which can boast 18th century musket shot holes in its walls. But the Peirson, situated in Royal Square, still bears its battle scars from a centuries past battle between British and Napoleonic French forces back in the turbulent year of 1781.
If admiring musket holes isn’t your thing, the Peirson is also a great spot to park yourself for a quick pint of the local ale and watch the world pass by…….
St. Helier and the towns nearby boast some other charming pubs such as the Cock & Bottle and The Old Court House, with the latter famous for being – you’ve guessed it – an old court house. It’s also known for its staring role in the 1980’s TV detective series Bergerac.
Outside of St. Helier, we discovered a couple of other gems of pubs. Driving around the island, we made a pit-stop at the charming Le Moulin de Lecq situated in St. Ouen. It was here that I tasted another of Jersey’s tasty home grown brews, called Breda Royal Lager. Le Moulin de Lecq is teeming with old word pub charm, with an array of excellent beers, warm decor, proper pub grub and friendly enthusiastic staff. The building itself is also quite unique, being a former fuller’s mill, with the largest water wheel found on the island of Jersey.
The pub appears also to be particularly popular with the local seagulls who obviously appreciate the beer as much as I did……
The Jersey Cow
Have you heard of the Jersey Cow? She is, reputedly, the most attractive of all cows. Before leaving the island, we sought out to discover a specimen of this bovine beauty to see for ourselves. Would she really outshine a Holstein Friesian and take the crown in a cattle version of Miss Universe? I’ll let you decide……
Jersey is a very short (45 minute) flight from London and an ideal spot for a short break for both beer-connoisseurs and non-connoisseurs alike. Well worth a visit!
And so ends my first blog post; the first of many I hope! Thanks for reading, and please do leave your thoughts!