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Monday, 29 December 2014

My Way

With Saturday's little trip to Louth over, I experienced the rarity of a quiet couple of days off, if you exclude the ritual of present buying, wrapping and hiding. Besides a couple of bottles of my home brew (“St-out in the Cold”, from the Wilko's velvet stout kit, and a Tom Caxton's Real Ale I played with and bottled as “Bitter This, That & T'other”), I resisted the temptation of nights out with the throngs. It helped that I was on lates during the run up to the Big day.
Pre-Xmas drink selection.
We were only working until 6pm on Christmas Eve though, so we had planned a couple of hours out with friends later in the evening. Unfortunately, illness struck in their camp, so that was that. We had a couple of beers at home, notably the Shepherd Neame brew, “Rudolph's Reward”, the Kent brewery's 3.8% bottled beer, which I found in Lidl for only 99p ! To be honest, it isn't packed with Christmas flavours, in fact I found it very much like any bog standard bottled bitter of the same strength. A slight caramel taste tries to come through the sweet maltiness, and the finish, although quite short, is dry and refreshing, but it is what it is. A cheap bottle of beer. I won't be pouring the rest down the sink as a protest to blandness, I will just enjoy them for what they are.
Christmas morning came, and we loaded the car up for the short journey across town to see the three youngest Grandchildren. It was lovely to see their faces light up as we arrived. After explaining why Santa had left some of their pressies at our house, the cacophony of excited noises continued. We stayed a couple of hours, and then popped home, to get our own dinner on, before popping back out to The Yarborough for a couple of beers. Before my current employment, I was 20 years a Private Hire Driver (taxi) and worked every Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. I could never work out why the Christmas Day in the pub tradition was so strongly adhered to, but having experienced it for the first time last year, with everyone in a festive mood, it certainly leaves one with a warmness, and not just from the alcohol. I started off with Caledonian “Knee Deep”, a beer already reviewed here (http://fozzy21.blogspot.co.uk/2014/12/the-pub-with-no-beeralmost.html) This pint, though, was clearly struggling to reach the heights of the previous tasting. Very much bottom of the barrel, I would say. After that I chose the same as T'other' arf was drinking, Wickwar “Christmas Cracker”. With a plum pudding and nutty taste, which leads you from the sweet malt through to the long hopped finish, this 4.2% Ale certainly lives up to it's name.
We met up with T'other' arf's son, and his girlfriend, enjoyed the afternoon, and then we went back for our Christmas Dinner. Now, I don't like to blow my own trumpet, but my cooking skills were greatly appreciated, and the offerings, eagerly scoffed. Smoked Salmon Pate with Capers, followed by Stuffed Turkey Breast, served with Roasted Veg, Brussels Sprouts with peanut butter, bacon and Chestnuts, Red Cabbage in balsamic vinegar and Buttered Leeks, with one or two little ingredients added. We had no room left for the Home-made Xmas Pudding or the Home-made Christmas cake! Our Grandson also came round a little later, and we had a lovely evening, just relaxing and watching a Norman Wisdom DVD. The simple things in life are sometimes the best. T'other' arf and I were both back at work Boxing Day, so the excesses in the drinks department were curtailed early. We were on opposite shifts too, so as Jane was entering the house, I was just leaving. We are rather like the figures on one of those old weather houses, at the moment, and I don't mean just gathering dust on a mantel-piece.
On Saturday, I was off, so, I met my half-pinter from work, as we had arranged, and had ourselves a bit of an afternoon session. I am not off again until after New Year, so this was to be our little treat, although, with Jane on earlies tomorrow, we would not be making a night of it as well. We started out in the Ice Barque (I know, glutton for punishment), and, after waiting an age, we eventually got served. I fancied a Sixpoint beer, displayed on the pumps, “Xporter”. After several unsuccessful pulls, it was announced that “It's gone” . The only other choice I fancied was Milestone's “Donner & Blitzed” a 5.4% Ale which was reasonable, but lost it's head far too quickly. Quite a heavily malted beer,I thought,with occasional spice and nuts coming through to a quite rounded finish. I would have liked to try this beer a bit fresher, as I think it wasn't done any justice by being served, shall we presume, near the end of the barrel. T'other 'arf tried the “Devil's Backbone”, which she enjoyed. Another beer I had tasted and reviewed before, this American Craft Ale is excellent, for a keg beer. The rain, by the time we left, was slinging it down, making for a miserable outlook, so our next port of call needed to be a short distance away, which we decided would be The Hope and Anchor, just around the corner. This one-roomed pub, with a central bar, used to be a regular haunt of ours. We used to have our quiz nights in here back in the Noughties. The pumps displayed 3 Real Ales, and we decided on Tom Woods “Christmas Cheers”, a 4.5% seasonal offering, which, so I am reliably informed, is “Bomber County” with a splash of Whisky flavour added. The taste was, undeniably, “Bomber County” but the Whisky was very subtle. Very well balanced and not too overpowering in taste or aroma, a pleasurable drink indeed. The pub staff, and clientele, were all very amiable and welcoming at this boozer,which is just away from the main shopping centre, and the beer was served as it should be. We stayed for another before setting sail for The Duke of Wellington, just a stones throw away. “The Duke” is another friendly “locals” pub, but with a bit more grit and character. The “Bombardier” we were served here wasn't the best, but still quite passable. We warmed ourselves by the raging fire, surveyed the many old Hewitt's bits and bobs, before making our way back towards town.
Hewitt's Bottle Labels.
Before leaving, Jane pointed out a couple of acts, appearing in the coming weeks, at this venue. “Someone called “Steve” is here at New Year. Strange time, though, 5pm?” I said nothing. “What do you think “Robbieshop is?” I had to point out that “Stevie S” was appearing at 9 and later that week, a local DJ called “Rob Bishop” was also booked. Should have gone to Specsavers!! It was time for some food, I realised. We wandered back to The Barge, had the best pint and a half of “Bombardier”, I believe, in the area, and Jane ordered a Cajun Chicken Baguette. When it turned up, it was HUGE. Easily enough for us both to share, and very well prepared and tasty. We could have stayed a little longer, but as the shopping centre was still open, we thought we would make our way across, and pass through it, rather than get a soaking walking round to The Yarborough via the main road later. I took advantage of a “bargain” watch, from one of those barrows one glimpses in every shopping centre, whilst walking through. £3-00 it cost, ( I could have had a box with it for an extra 2 quid, I declined!) The young lady even set the correct time on it for me. What service, eh? When we eventually reached The Yarborough, the Christmas Ales were still evident in their numbers. We tried to steer clear of any we had already tasted, but that was getting harder. In the end, after a pint of the Moorhouse's “Ice Witch”, a 4.3% Ale already quaffed and enjoyed on a previous visit, we settled on a pint of J.W.Lee's 4.8% “Plum Pudding”, which was rich, dark and filled with fruit flavours. The finish was quite dry, and very satisfying,along with a half of Cotleigh's “Red Nose Reinbeer”, a regular Christmas offering. This 4.3% seasonal Ale, with it's toffee and nutty undertones in the long hoppy finish, preceded by a rich maltiness, is an excellent session beer for the Winter. I glanced up at the TV news showing on one of the screens, dotted around in here. 17-02 said the little box in the corner, looking down at my new, bargain watch, it was displaying 16-40. “Have you been messing about with the telly?” I exclaimed to T'other'arf.

Time was ticking, or not, as the case may be, so we decided to stroll on home, picking up the Lotto on the way. During our amble, which took us past The Parity, I couldn't resist another glass of Tom Wood's “Christmas Cheers”, also on sale here. Sitting there, I realised that, with 2014 soon coming to an end, I should, maybe, sing us out with a little ditty. I will offer you this. Apologies to Mr Sinatra, but I have always attempted to do it this way

  "My Way"

And now, the ale is clear
I'm served a drink from the final firkin
My friend, I'll have my beer
Half a case of which I'm certain
I've drank many a glass that's full
With T'other'arf on our away days
One more, and a half this, we drank it our way

Bad beer, I've had a few
But then again, too few to mention
We sipped a good ale or two and saw it through less late bar extension
I planned each charted round, each careful brew along the barway
One more, and a half of this, we quaffed them our way

Yes, there were times, I'm sure you knew
Faced with Ale you could almost chew
But through it all, when there was doubt
I'd review, not spit it out
I shared it all and I told it all, and blogged it my way

I've sipped, I've quaffed and cried
I've had my fill, my share of boozing
And now, as beers subside, I find it all so amusing
To think I tasted all that
Gargled all, not in a shy way,
Nitro keg?, oh, no, “Real Ale” for me, I'll drink it my way"

For what is a man, what beer's he got?
If not Cask Ale, then he has naught
To drink the beers, those lovely Ales, Browns, Milds Stouts, and the Pales
The record shows we lapped up the brews and supped them our way!

Cheers, A Very Happy New Year to you all, and, remember, keep it “Real” 

Wednesday, 24 December 2014

It was Only A Winter's Ale.....

Louth, the Lincolnshire Wolds market town just 16 miles down the A16, was to be our pre- Christmas day out on Saturday. The previous evening, I had spent a couple of hours in town, watching the World go by (which at this time of the year is usually made up by the once-a-year boozers, hell bent on destroying either their reputation, or everybody else's peace and quiet.) with them stopping, frequently, to gorge on the many and varied alcoholic offerings available in every bar, annoyingly upping the volume of inane works chatter, staggering, queue jumping and, basically, just being obnoxious, flirtatious and loud. Works Parties are like chicken at a barbecue. Served up right, enjoyment ensues. Get it wrong and you will end up with your head in a bucket, wishing you hadn't bothered !!
Back to the main subject of this posting. Louth. Quaintly old fashioned, definitely middle classed, and, undeniably, a bloody good place to have a pint or two. We, eventually, jumped on the 09-45 bus, after a determined route march to the Bus Station because of hidden scarves, lost gloves and decisions to be made over dresses before we left our abode (not mine, I hasten to add. I chose trousers on such a cold day!!!). The chatter on the No 51 was of all things festive, and most of it still to be done. One aside was a little conversation concerning the military and the Officer class. T'other 'arf confidently spoke of the training they do “...at Sandringham”, been on the telly, apparently, “Yes, They do so many weeks there.” I resisted for a full 30 seconds before adding “ Must be a Bootifull Acadmee” Quizzically, it was enquired if Sandringham was not the place she was waxing lyrically about. “No, Jane. Sandringham is in North Norfolk, where HRH has a holiday home. Just near Hunstanton, where we caravanned, twice, in the past. I believe you meant Sandhurst !!” I almost never heard the cussing, but I know there must have been some.
We alighted our charabanc, adjacent to the market, perused the stalls, avoiding the 6 quid Xmas sweaters but failing not to buy a couple of bacon butties. I cannot visit Louth without thinking of those TV shows that depict life out in the “sticks” in those bygone ages of the 60's and 70's. Time does seem to have stood still here, and I like that. I like that very much indeed. It gives a warmth to your visit, whatever the weather. Green waterproof country jackets, with check shirts, matching flat-caps and, either, brown brogues, or stout outdoor boots are much in evidence, with tweed also popular. The agricultural roots of Lincolnshire are very conspicuous in this neck of the woods. So, on to the purpose of our trip. After a quick coffee, I turned the beer radar on, and we headed off towards our first port of call. This was to be The Gas Lamp Lounge, near the Riverhead area of Louth, in
The easily missed Gas Lamp Lounge,Louth
Thames Street. As we turned into the street, although I was confident of my bearings, T'other 'arf was a bit more, well, unsure. This bye-way is slightly residential, but also quite industrial, with several little companies dotted about down its path. The pub can be easily overlooked, based in the old offices, adjacent to the home of the recently re-homed Fulstow Brewery, but is a must for any Real Ale fans. The welcome was very convivial, even as the place was initially occupied by a single patron and the Barmaid. This warmth seems to linger all around the bar. The offerings where all very tempting on the pumps and I eventually plumped for the “Marsh Mild” at 3.8% whilst Jane's tipple was the 4.2% “Northway IPA. We were also invited to try the Christmas Ale,a rum and raisin infused beer, pump clip and details not yet available, which we duly did. I thought it was quite smooth, if slightly sweet, but both the rum and raisin were clearly evident, whatever it was called! We took our wares and sat next to the log burner, admiring the assorted local brewing artefacts of Brewers long gone, and the collection of Matchbox and Corgi toy trucks, which tastefully adorned the walls, all bearing breweries or malsters lodged in memories of yesteryear. Why is it called The Gas Lamp Lounge?, you may ask. Simple. Just gaze upwards and you will be able to see the gas piping which feeds the gas lamps. Yes, real gas powered lighting, quite a novelty. Our beers were absolutely perfect. The Mild, dark and caramel tasting, with a wonderful, but not overdone, bitterness in the finish was soon devoured, and the IPA, with its fully hopped punch, which leads to a long dry finish, was also greatly received. I followed this up with another of the Brewery's staple beers, “ Pride of Fulstow” a copper coloured Bitter at 4.5%. This was an excellent malty beer, with a nice, balanced hoppiness leading to a blackcurrant noted finish. Drinks finished, we bade farewell, with a promise of a swift return, and headed back to the Riverhead, and to The Woolpack. This is a busy, bustling pub, one of the many Bateman's pubs in this part of Lincolnshire, and is, clearly, as reliant on it's good food as much as it's excellent beers. Again, we received a honest warmth in our welcome, as we chose our beers. Jane went for the “Yellabelly” a Golden Ale of 3.9%, which was served to perfection, enhancing the dryness and refreshing citrus flavours of this lovely brew, whilst I couldn't resist the old Christmas favourite of “Rosey Nosey” coming in at 4.9%. I love this beer at Christmas, with the big malty punch, which combines so well with the spicy fruitiness. A lot of flavours unfold in your mouth, but, somehow, with a subtlety in the balance. I know it is the Season to be jolly when I am caressing a glass of this classic Ale, with the aroma, gently drifting up to my nasal passages,
A Seasonal Favourite.
making the moment magical, and comforting. I dream of roaring open fires, glittering fairy lights on pine trees, which, to a Scrooge like me, is quite amazing! We were meeting my Aunt in here for a meal, and a good natter, which will be one of the highlights this Christmas, besides seeing Jane's Daughter and Son, and, of course, our 4 Grandchildren. Food ordered, and a repeat round, plus a J2O, the three of us chatted, reminisced, and, generally, just enjoyed each others company. Our food was excellent, and the service attentive. I finished off this session with St Austell's “Proper Job” the cask version of this supermarket bottle beer. I found this 4.5% Ale very refreshing, with a crisp hop bitterness overcoming an initial citrus taste, and finished with a grapefruit dryness. A good beer, which helps cleanse the taste buds after a hearty meal. Even Auntie Pauline weighed in with the great session beer Bateman's “XB”, although, because she was driving, her session was restricted to, sensibly, just a half of the 3.7% Bitter. We exchanged fond festive wishes, promised to “..do this again very soon” and went our separate ways. We, Jane and I, decided to venture back to The Gas Lamp Just as the pub loomed into sight, I realised I had left my hat, bought for £1 last Winter, back at The Woolpack. Pride, or embarrassment, stopped me going back to search for it, after it was only a quid!. On entering the pub, we came upon the local dog walkers' Xmas Party, with Golden retrievers, terriers and the odd Heinz 57, all mingling together, quite agreeably, the same as their Owners. A nice sight to behold, we thought, and a nice touch on by the proprietors for looking after their regulars. We both had our relevant measures of “Northway IPA” before I had my final pint, in this absolute gem of a pub, of “Fulstow Common” a 3.8% Ale which is medium bodied, but strong in it's hopped character. The place was filling quite quickly as we left, with all ages anxious to taste those well brewed beers on offer, but we had a bus to catch, so getting a little closer to the town centre seemed a better idea. Off we set, into the cooling wind, which had plagued us most of the day. It was at this point I noticed my head had started to get a touch colder. I did miss my pound shop hat after all. The original idea was to try either The Boar's Head, which, unfortunately, was closed as we passed, or The Brown Cow, a little stroll further on. A quick glance at our watches deemed a change of plan. We had The Irish Lotto to put on at the bookies, so found ourselves wandering towards the local J.D.Wetherspoons immediately after parting with our cash, in vain. The aforementioned 2 pubs would have to wait for another day. The Joseph Morton, Louth's JDW, is a clean, well kept bar, which carried a good selection of their Xmas Ales, along with a couple of local ones. I opted for one of the locally brewed Black Horse Ales, which I cannot remember the name of,as I had to visit the “smallest room”, leaving the bar duty to T'other'arf. I found it quite fruity and dry, but quiet moreish, the total opposite to the Mulled Cider enjoyed by my beloved. One for the road was decided on as we scurried down to where the Market stalls were being tidied away. Would it be The Queens, The Masons, or Ye Olde Whyte Swan? With it's roaring fire, Olde Worlde charm, and the thoughts of previous visitations, and of characters we had experienced before, Ye Olde Whyte Swan it had to be. The selection of beers was not fantastic, but the pint and a half of Greene King's Morland “Old Golden Hen”, which is a lovely Golden beer at 4.1%, full of Tropical Fruitiness, and a very dry finish, were well worth it. With our faces as sweaty as a busy Blacksmith's, and redder than a Rhesus Monkey's bottom, after a long bicycle ride, due to the kiln like temerature being given out by the coal fire, we left the pub, drew in some oxygen and, luckily, jumped straight onto our bus for the jouney back home to Grimsby.
To finish the day, once back in our own Borough, we alighted from our transport outside The Wheatsheaf, rather than travelling on to the Bus Station. Although less than a week away from the Big Day, The 'Sheaf was very quiet, but I sometimes prefer that. We went for the McEwan's “Signature” a 4.8% chestnut brown Bitter, which was full bodied, quite rich and fruity, but pleasantly balanced. The creamy head lasted all the way down to the bottom of the glass. Another swiftly followed, and then the lights of our own Christmas Tree beckoned. Setting off home, surrounded by all the twinkling lights and festive scenes, I felt quite content with my little lot in life, and this leads me to thank anyone who is still following me, and this meandering blog. Thank you, Happy Yuletide, Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Zarathosht Diso (I hope I have not missed anyone's celebration out ) and may you all enjoy this time of the year as much as is possible.


Cheers and keep it “Real”

Sunday, 14 December 2014

The Pub with No Beer..........almost.

Friday 28th November


We, T'other arf and I, started this run up to Christmas with a few goals in mind. Most entailed the idea of cutting back on luxuries and frugality, so we could splash the cash over the holidays (although we will only get Christmas Day off together, as I work at the local airport, and Jane is in Retailing). We were to keep out the Church of Licensed Insobriety, not because I was coming home Apostled, no, it was more an attempt to keep the pennies in the pocket longer so the big season of economic wastage could be entered into in the right frame of mind. I am not a religious man, far from it, but I do believe that, whatever Deity one may wish to follow, religions can give us all the ethical building blocks to be a good, honest and integral person. If you do believe, good for you, but all these celebrations for Christmas baffle me somewhat. Unless I miss the point, Christmas is a Religious Festival, to celebrate the birth of Christ. Right, I'm on the money there, but how do we celebrate this coming of the Son of God ? By buying little Johnny a bike !! Anyway, we were also going to cut back on the day to day luxuries, and only have the central heating on when necessary. So, it came to pass that the following day, in a bid to keep the heating bill down, I nipped into town NOT for a crafty beer, but merely in an attempt to keep my core temperature up, and for research reasons ! Wandering through Town, passing the Christmas decorations, festively bedecked store windows, and the miserable souls who had been searching for that perfect pressie for their beloved, or, in some cases, their begrudged partners, you know the score, my mood was quite upbeat. I scurried past the charity sellers, who were homing in in anyone who made eye contact with them, side stepped a beggar wanting “tea” money and, almost like Indiana Jones, slid through the doors of The Yarborough Hotel and up to the bar. Checking that no large, rolling, boulders were trundling towards me, I carefully inspected the wares on offer and decided on Arundel “Old Scrooge”, a 5% offering, mid brown in colour with a rather thin head. It was slightly malty, a little fruity and a big disappointment. It was more like a weak mild than a big, punchy Xmas Ale. Undeterred, I chose another from the Christmas selection, the popular Thwaites “Yule Love It”.
A Good Winter Warmer.
This cask version of a beer readily available in most supermarkets, was offered with a good head, a slight smoky aroma was detectable and a warming fruity sweetness gave way to an almost grapefruit bitterness in the long finish. A good Winter Warmer of 4.5%. I should have stayed here, amongst good beers, but, as Jane was working, and meeting me for one on the way home, I decided on seeing what was on offer at The Ice Barque. As I entered, on this, a “pay-day” Friday, it seemed quite quiet. Approaching the bar, the most noticeable thing was the lack of variety offered. No noticeable Xmas ales, just
“Doom Bar”, “Ruddles” and “Abbot” and a guest ale on. Greene King are supplying “Abbot Reserve” for JDW's during December and so I assumed that the offering on the bar may be this.. I went for the Greene King “Abbot Ale”, thinking positively, and, as it was being pulled, the guy next to me said “I wouldn't bother, mate. Look” He showed me the pint of mud-like beer he had been drinking. At the same time the bar maid interjected with “ 'It's off” “I know, so's this one” I said pointing to the glass of questionable beer being held by the gentleman next. He put his head down, embarrassed, almost. He was going to wade on regardless, despite his rights, as a consumer, being trampled upon. “Don't want to cause a fuss” he mumbled. After a little while, it was asked of me if I required “..summats else?” I thought of giving the Adnam's “Broadside” a bash, but as it splashed apologetically into the glass, that acetate, vinegar smell, the tell tale sign off bad beer, leapt from the glass. I quickly declined the offering. “What do you want now ?” came the request from the busy bar maid, who, spared me a seconds attention, by serving me, whilst in deep conversation with one of the lads waiting for his shots. “ To Leave.” I said, turning round and waving. Now, I am not one to be scathing for the sake of it, but in the space of a few weeks this pub has gone hurtling down in my estimation. I have entered and, hurriedly, left, a few times this last few weeks. The service has become atrocious, the real ale selection minimal and predictable, beer quality is very questionable. I have now decided not to re-enter this boozer for a few weeks until things, hopefully, improve. I returned to the Yarborough, awaiting the imminent arrival of the Worker, ordering a Caledonian “Knee Deep”, as I settled down for the wait. This seasonal 4.5% brew was dark, sweet and orange tinted with nutmeg on the nose. Rather like a Xmas pudding in taste, with a long dryness in the finish, this was a very good beer, but not a session beer. On arrival, T'other arf fancied a cider, which was easily chosen, a bottle of the excellent Orchard “Pig Truffler”. The promise of “just one” stood on the window ledge, wavering, swaying with trepidation, and finally, went out the window as workmates Dave the Rave and Big Ads (what else to call a 6ft plus Adam? Originality isn't a strong point in some sectors of my life!) entered. Also ensconced further towards the back bar was another of my acquaintances from work, Rachel, who had been enjoying a quiet glass of vino with her friend. The non-session “Knee Deep” became a mini-session beer, and conviviality along with banter and stupid conversation ensued for a while longer than expected. Oh, well, I was not at work until the following afternoon, so my pity would be for anyone who was to start, possibly with a hangover, at, for arguments sake, 7am. Poor T'other 'arf!

Wednesday 3rd December

On Wednesday, the airport paid host to the annual “When You Wish Upon A Star “ flight. A charity that grants wishes to children with life-shortening, or terminal conditions. This yearly jaunt to see Santa in Lapland always fills me with a glimmer of sadness, but also an overwhelming inner warmth. This year we had stars from “Emmerdale”, who always back this charity, along with Denise Welch and Chris Kamara. The terminal had children's entertainers, magicians and also a Scots Piper. A lovely way to spend a rather chilly morning.
Later, once home after a bit of shopping, I again attempted to avert the various hostelries in Top Town (Grimsby's colloquialism for the main shopping area) whilst doing my bit to prove I ain't a Scrooge as some people think (Bah ! Humbug). I do revel in the, almost, pantomime characterisation I take on at this time of the year. I'm sure my loathing is not taken too seriously, but my thoughts on this annoyance of a period are well known to most of my acquaintances. Window shopping complete, I thought I would just window shop The Ice Barque, hoping something miraculous may have occurred since Friday Evening.
My Favourite Sweet.
No sooner had I entered, tut-tutted at the lack of variety, waited far too long for the service of a pint of
“Devil's Backbone” which was not forthcoming, and left, I, again found myself in The Yarborough, this time sampling a half each of Milestone's “Dasher the Flasher”, and “Prancer the Dancer”. Both were quite similar. The Dasher, a 4.5% Ruby Ale, was dark, smooth and malty, with a slight bitter and dry finish, whereas the Prancer at 4.9%, tasted, in my opinion, somewhat “thinner” although the same flavours abounded. Always a prolific brewer, especially the “reindeer” beers at Christmas , Milestone's wares are always welcoming, but some are hard to differentiate in flavours to others of the same range. I did enjoy them though. I finished my liquid lunch with a pint of Moorhouse's “Ice Witch”. At 4.3%, this refreshing Golden Ale has a wonderful mix of fruity aromas and flavours. Tropical fruit, mango, pineapple on the nose and a malty biscuit back taste greets you. The zesty and dry finish seems never-ending, without being too long. A truly great seasonal brew, certainly one to track down. Drinks finished, once more I trudged out into the throng of the hat and scarf wearing populace, all looking for what I already had. An inner warmth, not created by gifts, but from those tiny things which are precious to me. The only thing lacking was the company of my half-pinter. Now, where can I buy those humbugs from?

Tuesday 9th December

After Monday's double shift at work, the overtime is very welcome this at this time of year, and the weather not promising to do much more than “piddle” down for the duration, Tuesday, it was decided, would involve the annual game of crate balancing, as the participant, me, has to juggle with badly packed boxes of Christmas decorations down the rickety loft ladder, whilst avoiding the clutter on the floor from the previous round. After this fun packed interlude, I engaged in a touch of domesticity, as ordered by T'other 'arf's little note (kiss, kiss) Washing up done, laundry in and slow cooker primed with a wonderful spicy, and aromatic sausage cassoulette (posh, eh!) I finally settled down to the Daily Mail cryptic crossword, last Thursday's at that, before the onslaught of telephone calls started. “No, I am not due any PPI”, “Yes, the bolier is fine, and I don't need insuring”, “Actually, I do not want to change service provider...”. This constitutes a day off, apparantly. I glanced at my escape plan, or rather a list of supplies needed from the supermarket. If I nipped out now, I could text T'other 'arf, meet her in town and we could wander to the supermarket together. Only thing is I would have a void of time, about 45 minutes, to fill between arriving in town and Jane's finishing time. Hmmm. The Oldershaw's “Old Boy” went down very well in the Parity, and I also managed to read the local paper in peace, before trudging across town, in good company, to do our bit.
After stocking up with Christmas cheeses, breadsticks, mince pie ingredients, and the like, the return jouney would bring us past The Yarborough, with inevitable consequences. Soon, my glass was full to the brim with the with the dark and malty Adnam's” Yuletide”, 4.5%. A good Winter Warmer, slightly sweet but a deep citrus bitterness in the long and dry finish, I found this a good beer to help lighten my stress loads.Jane opted for, and stayed on, JDW's Mulled Cider. A lovely and warming drink, spiced to perfection, and served hot and steaming. I like a taste of these Mulled offerings, but find them a little too sweet for my taste, and tend to steer clear of a full measure. “Clootie Dumpling” from the Orkney Brewery was my next choice, a 4.3% Seasonal Ale. A cascade of flavours hit me, with spiciness leading to a fruity roundness in the mouth. The finish is very dry and bitter with a good pinch of nutmeg throughout. I found that I had to get past the first gulp before finding the enjoyment of the inner depths of this brew, but once there, it is certainly a nice place! The next tasting was “Rudolph's Ruin”, Rudgate Brewery's 4.6% Christmas Ale. Chestnut in colour, with a full malty flavour which is expertly balanced by seasonal fruitiness and spice, the finish of this ale is long, dry and bitter, with, I thought, a hint of chocolate?. Overall, I would say it was extremely satisfying.
A well balanced Seasonal  Ale
Last on the list, today, was
Burton Bridge “Santi-Freeze”, an Amber coloured Ale, which could be enjoyed anytime of year, is smooth, well balanced and offers the drinker plenty of spicy fruitiness which, thankfully, does not mask the overall malted taste. The aroma of this 4.5% brew hints at Winter fruit. Simply put, a good, well brewed and balanced beer.
Well, besides a taster or two of my Home Brew, work means I shall not be in the boozer until the weekend before Christmas when, hopefully, we will be jumping on the bus and having a few beers in the lovely market town of Louth. I can't wait.
Cheers, and keep it “Real

Friday, 28 November 2014

Rock the Boat, Don't Tip The Boat Over.

With the Friday and Saturday off, the promise of more damp weather preventing my progress at my allotment plot ( leeks still in situ in the ground, as are the parsnips, whilst the overwintering onions await in the shed) , and the ingredients to be sourced and purchased for my Christmas cake and puddings , not to mention the preparation (yes. I know they seem late, but there are some really good “late” recipes to be found on this new fangled t'interweb thingy), it should come as no surprise that The Pub could command a visit.........or two. We took a wander into town, pockets filled with “recyclable” carrier bags, old ones, in other words, and bought a few of the bits needed for my festive wares. Not all ingredients were obtained, not all carriers were used, so we decided to treat our unused bags, and those containing my base building blocks of culinary celebrations, to an afternoon out in the pub.Whilst Jane went about a bit more Christmas shopping, I wasn't allowed to look, I bypassed the pan pipe playing CD salespeople, and headed for The Barge, at the Riverhead, Grimsby.
The boat that Rocks!
This old grain barge, a great place to visit, has a permanent list to one side, and takes a few seconds getting used to. During the day, foodies and shoppers frequent this historical vessel, but at night, VERY HEAVY rock (yes I know that is highlighted in capitals) is king, and students, goths and ageing denim clad air guitarists effortlessly mingle.The beer range isn't extensive, “Bombardier” and “Hobgoblin” only, usually, but I can say, without a shadow of a doubt, the “Bombardier” in here is the best I have ever tasted. The covered top deck here gives a good view of the shopping centre, Freshney Place, and also gave me the opportunity to play an impromptu game of “Treasure Hunt” by mobile phone, to my own Aneka Rice, the long suffering T'other Arf.That killed 15 minutes, and Jane took it in good faith, I think! Eventually found, and drink supplied I was then whisked around the Farmer's Market until thoroughly miserable. Another break from the tedium of shopping was needed.We retired to the solace of The Yarborough, which, over this weekend at least, had a selection of beers from the Black Horse Brewery, a small brewer from Grainthorpe , Lincolnshire. Not far off Louth, this former pub brewery has now relocated to the market town and, presumedly, increased their output. We decided to try Black Horse “Where's My Fiorucci?” a 3.8% Ruby Ale. Personally, I found this ale disappointing. Initial malt, and a very faint hoppiness just seems to dissipate. Whereas the finish was short and bland. Never mind, maybe the next choice will tick a few boxes. We, my bags, dried fruit and I,Jane had decided to do a bit more shopping and then wend her way home, went for another of the Black Horse brews, “Saturday's Blonde” a 4% Bitter made with pale malts. Bright and light in the mouth, a bit fruity in taste, with a long and bitter finish, this was a much better beer. After this, the next pump offered the curious Brains' “The Rev's Golden Cracker” from JDW's Christmas range of beers. I know, a bit early for that kind of talk, but they still have to be tasted! With a good pine and fruit aroma, malty taste and a crisp citrus finish, this is a lovely beer to sample, and at 4% , a good festive session Golden Ale. I finished off in here with two halves, one of JW Lees “Plum Pudding” (rather apt, considering my shopping bag contents,), and the other, Salopian “Holly Bush” .The Lees, I found, was undeniably fruity and rich, but not too overpowering. Well balanced, this subtle 4.8% Winter Ale went down well. The Salopian offering, at 5.5%, was packed with different aromas and flavours. Grapefruit, toffee, biscuit, pine and a myriad of others, all rush at you. I found it very complex, maybe confusing, and, although a really good beer, just too hectic. To put a Christmassy slant on it, it is more like a busy gift shopping expedition at the height of the pre-festive season, than Boxing Day by the fire, slippers on and in a relaxed state. Just one more, I thought, before the walk home. I decided to pop to The Parity. In here I was greeted by Oldershaw's “Old Boy”, a favourite of mine. No review is necessary,as I have already given my opinions before, but suffice to say, it was dark, rich and chestnut, and, as I gazed out onto the Town's Christmas Tree, kindly donated by the good people of Norway every year, with the lights twinkling, like a faraway universe brought down to Earth and delicately unfolded, the adornments (crackers,reindeer,Angels, giant baubles et al), gently swaying in the breeze, and the last of today's shoppers, weighed down by heaven's knows what,splashing through the remaining puddles, I realised, although content now, soon I,too, would soon have to face the crowds and do a bit of gift shopping. Bah! Humbug!

On Saturday, we had a list of little jobs to do, and, eventually, we found ourselves looking at fishing tackle for our Grandson's upcoming Birthday, whilst trying to remember what ingredients were still required for my cake and pudding project. After a couple of hours, we were home again. At this point I became aware of a slight shortness of crown caps for my ready-to-be-bottled home brewed stout. As a trade off from an earlier promise, all jobs done or no pub, I would put the blind up in the bathroom ( Venetian blind, not offer the bathroom as an abode to those with impaired sight ), after which, we would go back out to top up my supplies of brew paraphernalia, and, of course, the inevitable pub trip.Jobs done, the Yarborough had loomed into view and on entering, we were not too surprised at the busy scene which greeted us. The Christmas beers were, again, quite prominent, although the actual day was still another 33 days away, and I chose a pint of “Head Master's Christmas Sermon”, a 5.2 brew from Mordue's, whilst Jane opted for Hardy & Hanson's 4.2% “Captain Christmas” My dark and rich brew was packed with the complimentary flavours of fruit, chocolate and spice. With a blackcurrant aroma, and a finish that was reminiscent of Christmas cake, this is an excellent beer. T'other arf's” half went down well, but was a little too full bodied for her liking. My follow up pint was from the Lancaster Brewery's Tales from the Brewhouse range of season ales, “Rum & Raisin”, a 4.7% Ruby Ale, which tasted of rich fruit with an underlying rum taste. The finish was long and satisfying. A very moreish ale, which was evident by the fact that they ran out of it 20 minutes later! My erstwhile companion's chosen tipple was Titanic “Festive 35”, a 5% golden coloured beer, made with pale malts, which tasted quite light for a Winter ale. Quite sweet, with a big hoppy hit, it tasted really refreshing. It was so good, we finished off this session with another each.
Just an after thought. Beer, for me, is to be experienced. New styles, old styles, seasonals or specials, if I haven't sampled one, I do try to give it a whirl. I am not a Roger Protz, far from it, but I know what I like. The thing is, are pubs (or for that matter Breweries) pushing these Christmas beers a tad too early? I know it is almost the 1st of December, but some of these beers have been “on” for a couple of weeks now. I am aware most are just a twist on Winter Ales, and could have just been re-branded (remember Bateman's “England Expects” and “We've Blown It” back in my June blog offering “England Fail, Barton by Rail”), but, as a bit of an Ebeneezer, but not a full Cromwellian (open for debate on that one!), I sometimes despair at being force fed Christmas, foie gras style, when my appetite for it does not build, or peak, too early. Do I hear ghostly chains and “Whoo hooo's” of Jacob Marley in the background ?

On Wednesday, my last early shift, I had a plan. Home, bath and out to meet T'other arf from work. Now, I was told that my “Half Pinter” finished at 3-30, or something like that.I always try to be attentive. So, on arriving home, at a shade after 1 o'clock, I had plenty of time on my hands. Enough time, in fact, to see “Come Dine With Me”.......and another one. Where do they get those people from? I keep threatening to enter, but, although adept at the food stuff, the social interaction bit would probably leave me facing a court case for mis-use of a spatula! Still only 2pm, I put the laptop on, just for 10 minutes, and at 2-50pm got into the bath. I still had 40 odd minutes to play with, so relax. At 3-15, with me wearing nothing more than a grin, the front door opened, and in waltzed Jane. “What you doing in? I exclaimed “Oh, thanks for the welcome! I told you I finished at 3-00” Quizzically, I enquired “When? When did you tell me that? You said ….....That's tomorrow isn't it?” At this point, a raised eyebrow can speak volumes. This was an Encylopaedic raised brow of many leather bound volumes. Oops.As it was dreary and drizzly, my Beloved, quite sensibly, didn't fancy going back out again, which is why I found myself in The Ice Barque, as damp as a line full of winter washing, by myself, all alone, a forlorn and forgotten figure (has anyone said “Aaah” yet?) Well, beer time now, you heartless lot. On gazing at the pumps, I didn't catch sight of anything new, so, as a promise made to myself earlier this year, I decided to try the bottled Craft Beers which are well advertised in every establishment run by JDW's. I decided on Lagunitus “IPA” a beer well reviewed on the web. The bottle I had was 335 ml at £2-49, so not cheap, but at 6.2% certainly not a lightweight.I found it had a strong citrus taste, with a quite floral aroma, which leads to a big hop kick.The finish is long and bitter. A beer to savour, not to guzzle. As with most bottled beers, I found it a touch gassy, but the highest compliment I could pay to this brew is it was definitely worth it. An excellent bottled beer. After this little treat I decided to take a look at a pub I havn't been in for over a year. Tucked away from the Town Centre, in Pasture street is The Duke of Wellington. This pub(formerly known as Hewitt's Tavern) is packed with old pictures from the days of Hewitt's Brothers Brewery, which stood next door. Bought out by Bass Charrington's in the 60's, and closed a decade later, this brewery holds quite a bit of family history for me. My Grandfather started work here as a drayman's assistant, from school,
A sadly missed sight. I wish I
had experienced these Ales.
I believe, working on horse and carts, and retired as a lorry driver many years later. It was also the place both my parents worked at before they met and married. Beer is in the blood, you see, and it saddens me I never got to taste any Hewitt's Ales..Now let me get one thing straight. This boozer is not a Wine Bar or Bistro. No, this is a back street drinkers pub.The “C” word and the “F” word are used in the normal formation of sentences here. It is not for shrinking violets, but the wealth of characters is amazing. The welcome is incredibly warm and friendly and that, somehow equals things out. The only cask ale on was “Bombardier” I have to admit it wasn't a brilliant pint, but it wasn't bad enough to return. I perused the old photographs on the wall, warmed by the roaring fire, and listened to the language of the Old Fish Docks, in some quarters, sadly missed.
Another Yarborough visit awaited,(am I getting predictable?) and I was soon weighing up my options at the front bar. The “Black Diamond” Ruby Ale (?) caught my eye, and I soon had a pint of this, almost, black, stout looking beer in hand. I found this 4% brew from Banks' ok, with an initial caramel taste, but in all honesty, it didn't offer much after that. The finish was short and uninspiring, and, overall I found it bland. Next up was a Marston's brew, “Cinders Doppleganger” a 4% Amber Ale, which, although more flavoursome than the Banks' offering, with smooth malt and subtle biscuit tastes and fruity aroma, I could not determine any overriding festive flavours, and it just seemed to fade away in the mouth, and memory.

I left soon after chatting to an acquaintance from the old “Swigs” bar in Town, now an eatery. We discussed many things sport related, including, unfortunately, the terrible incident in Australian cricket, which had left Phillip Hughes in hospital with a head injury he, tragically, would later die from, (my thoughts immediately go out to his family and friends).The word tragic is used far too often in sport. Is it a tragedy your team fails to score against lower opposition, or your 'keeper is out for 6 weeks? No. Let us get things in to perspective. A tragedy is what happened to this young, talented sportsman in Sydney.

I finished off the evening with another good pint of Oldershaw's beer in The Parity. This was the previously enjoyed “Heavenly Blonde”. This 3.8% pale coloured Ale is, simply heavenly, with a floral and citrus aroma, followed by a sharp, hoppy bitterness which leads to a crisp, zesty and satisfying finish. Lovely.
Cheers and keep it “Real”

Saturday, 22 November 2014

November Rain.


After quite a busy Grimbarian Oktoberfest,( that's Grimsby,North East Lincs, not the fictitious Germanic State of Grimbaria, somewhere near Bavaria, my imagination perceives......hold on. Copyright that name. I may include it in my next novel.OK my first novel......if I ever do write one!! Time to stop daydreaming and concentrate on the blog.)it was decided that I slow down a bit on the Ale intake this coming month, and, for £10 to charity, (Prostate Cancer UK), shave off the “goatee” and grow a moustache only for “Movember”. I don't mind looking a prat for a month, and if anyone else wishes to point and laugh at my attempt, please follow it up with a donation too. The tenth month had seen a few days on the elixir, notably ticking off the JDW's Festival beers. All things beery were not to be off the menu this coming month, &, on Monday I started off my Christmas beer, namely 40 pints of “Wilko's” Velvet Stout home-brew, followed later that day by my first trip out this month, at the outset, just to the local B&M store, primarily for something they didn't have, but on searching through the myriad of shelves and their many and varied wares, it came to pass that I became stood in front of the drinks selection. Not a massive selection, I might add, but certainly sizeable, and sensibly priced. As I was cooking that evening, a spicy little take on a lasagne, but with a ginger and chilli kick, I do like to faff about, I pondered that a splash of cooling beer may compliment it perfectly. I found four different beers, each 330ml bottles, and each on offer at only 89p, purchased said articles, and started to walk back home. On passing The Ice Barque, curiosity wasn't in the throes of murdering felines, but urged me to take a peep inside. Not one to be persuaded against entering a Real Ale establishment, I was soon at the bar and ogling at one of my “missing” Festival Ales. I was obviously steered into here by forces unknown, or maybe my beer radar was tuned in, as usual, but I was pleased that my Ale of choice was the Festival brew, Brew Moon “Antipodean Ale” a 4% Pale Ale, which poured well, with a creamy head, and was quite fruity in body, with a long, long citrus, bitter finish. This, being my 47  th festival ale tried, was quite a pleasing beer, not a “X-Factor” of beer, but certainly one I would have had again, if time and tide would wait a while. Again I started off home, this time achieving my aim of arriving and laid out my wares for inspection. My selection consisted of 3 beers from The Box Steam Brewery, from Holt in the Midlands, were part of their Criminales range. These were “Robber” a 4.9% Pale Ale, “Gangster” Mighty IPA at 5.4% and “Fraudster” Golden Ale of 4.4% ABV. Although good representatives of their styles, they all, whilst refreshing one's palate, had that fizzy, bottled taste to them. Good to savour with a meal, but they lacked the depth of a cask ale. The concept of flashy labels and sharp names is obviously an attempt to persuade younger drinkers to try “ales” , and that is a plus, but most of these gimmicky brews in a bottle fall well short of those beer styles they try, valiantly, to represent. They are beers to enjoy in mixed company (Ale drinkers and Lager swillers alike) at a barbecue, or impromptu gathering. They are not a serious statement of our fine brewing art,. Only my opinion. The 4th bottle was a Greene King Lager by the name of “Noble” which was dry, slightly biscuity and had a slightly tart bitterness. This 5% brew was, again, OK, but certainly lacked a certain “Ding Dong” , as Leslie Phillips would say (No Ding Dong ? No Bell ?? OK, OK, Please yourselves !!!) And so meal over and tasting finished, I volunteered to wash-up, which back fired on me, as T'other 'arf merely responded with “OK, Get on with it”, instead of “Oh No, You've slaved over a hot stove ALL day, after hunter gathering stuff. You put your feet up and relax”. When will I ever learn!

No 47 out of 50.


On Thursday, I decided on knocking up a curry for Dinner. Ingredients sourced, one must have more than a raita to cool and cleanse one's palate. To this end, I had ventured to Morrison's on my way home from work. It made sense, having just one stone and two birds to fell. As always, a good selection was on offer, and I opted for McMullen “Hertford Castle” a 5% late hopped Pale Ale, which was devoured as I prepared our meal. This came across as quite creamy, moderately bitter, with a medium back taste of sweet caramel. I certainly enjoyed this bottle, much better than those “Criminales” of earlier.I also chose “Cascade Pale Ale” a 4.9% brew from Saltaire Brewery. I have had this on cask and bottled before, and it is certainly a mouthfull of flavour either way. Dry, biscuity, citrus and long in the finish, an excellent accompaniment to any “Ruby Murray”. My intrepid co-diner and long suffering Partner, Jane, fresh from her toils, sampled the 3rd bottle in our range, Ilkley's “Ilkley Pale” a 4.2% glass of hoppy refreshment. Floral and quite dry, but extremly refreshing on the palate, again, a really good beer with our meal of choice. Full up and satisfied, we left the table. This time I didn't mention the washing up. Result.

With Grimsby drawing 1-1 away to the mighty Altrincham, (OK, so by the radio commentry, we threw a poor game away) , the uncertain prospects of Eng-er-land in the Euro Qualifiers, following on from my last 2 of my set of 4 early shifts which entailed getting soaked through to the skin on a cold, wet and windy airport apron, I was ready for a “proper” pint. So, after arriving home early afternoon, the bath was filled, salts added and body immersed. Oooh, sooo good. With the radio giving regular disappointments out, in the background, zzzzz zzzz I was soon aware that the room was darker, water colder and time slightly further on than I had imagined. “Oh, bugger” Never mind. I dragged myself out of my watery cocoon, dried, dressed and smiling and groveling, bade T'other arf a cheerfull, “Cheerio” for a couple of hours. My intention was to grab the 2nd half of the game in The Parity, a couple in The Yarborough and then home. I just made it tho The Parity as the whistle sounded for the gladitortorial restart of the second 45 minutes, ordered my Tom Woods “Bomber County”, which I felt was not the best pint of this beer I had ever tasted, but still drinkable, settled down and enjoyed our glorious 3-1 victory against Slovenia, the team ranked 36 in the world.Verdict ? Job done, I suppose.Triumphantly, I skipped out of the pub an ever onwards. In The Yarborough, which was quite busy at both bars, I chose the “American IPA” offered by New Zealand's Fork and Brewer. This 4.2% brew was strong in citrus flavours, grapefruit was very evident, with a long dry finish. I found it OK but, for me, a little too dry and bitter.I would suggest just a little too much going which seemed to detract from the subtleties.Next beer to be sampled was Celtic “Native Storm”. I last tasted this Ale on our return from a recent trip to Kent ( http://fozzy21.blogspot.co.uk/2014/09/take-me-home-country-roads.html) and, on this tasting alone , I found it somewhere between curious and unpleasant, with the spicy/biscuity lingering finish a little too much. Maybe a “Marmite” Ale. You either love it or hate it. Another I quaffed on this trip, I had also tasted on my visit back in September, namely Summerskills “Ninja”. I don't know whether it was me, after a tiring and unpleasant weather affected week, but I felt quite unsatisfied with this 5% Premium Bitter. The finish was quite short lived, and the fruitiness almost sickly. Another job done,and now ready for home, I scanned the pub looking for Likey, Likeys, my childish game of spotting people who look like someone “famous”. Now, I want it to be understood that I have NEVER seen TOWIE or Geordie Shores or the virtual cornucopia of similar reality shows on offer,other than those awful plugs they insist on showing whilst one enjoys one of those thought provoking documentries on The Rise and Fall of the Guatamalan Gumba Bean, or The Shame of the Nun Ticklers Club,on TV but I think I could have spotted dopplegangers for the entire series' casts in here this evening. Anyone with a little money to invest need look no further than the fake tan and bling markets to make a good return in this area of Lincolnshire.I was soon home, helping our Grandson become an Adventure Capitalist (VERY addictive game, try it),and, eventually, trying to catch up on some TV, in between snoring and doing that daft thing were your head falls off your supporting hand and, against all odds and the laws of gravity and the science of anatomy, hits your shoulder, swings pendulum like round across your chest, only to come to a perfect stop, eyes open, staring back at the TV. Goodnight zzzzzzzzzzzz


And so, another day dawns, T'other 'arf was away to work, whilst our Grandson's entertainment was to be provided by me, with the help of Norman Wisdom's “A Stitch in Time” DVD. What a classic. In this high speed, electronicly controlled life that we have virtually created, fixated by texts and demands to buy the latest shoot 'em up, the simplistic writing of these 1960's comedy films is quite humbling. Thanks Norm, and you Mr Grimsdale! I prepared a lovely, warming and spiced, beef stew for dinner and nipped out into town, primarily to do a bit of shopping, but with other intentions at the back of my mind! Meeting up with The Worker, we browsed, bought little and went to The Ice Barque, but you already guessed that.In here, I fancied the Milestone's 3.8% “Lion's Pride”, and was most disappointed at finding our offering was off, but only after settling down away from the bar to enjoy it. Yak. To be fair, it was changed without too much hassle, although after agreeing that the barrel had “gone”, the clip remained on view to the unaware. We had the “Meremaid Red” from Coronado Brewery, another beer previously experienced on this blog.It was a good, well rounded beer, packed with flavour and a lovely long finish to savour. We decided to nip in The Yarborough on the way home before , hopefully, digging in to a hearty plate full of stew. In here, we opted for a pint of Cotleigh's “Commando Hoofing”, a 4% Pale beer and a half of the Golden bitter from RCH,
A Rebelious beer from Weston
Super Mare.
“Pitchfork”. I thought my beer was full and malty in taste,which leads to a fruit finish. Well hopped and well balanced, a refreshing brew.The Pitchfork, named after the Pitchfork Rebellion of 1665, I believe, was, somewhat, smokey in taste, with a long and increasingly dry,finish. Nice. I decided to finish on a pint of the Pitchfork, whilst T'other 'arf went for a soft drink. We had appreciated these little treats on a Sunday afternoon, and as we left, just before 3pm, it had the feel of one of those afternoons BEFORE the licence changes came in. In some ways, I miss that feel.Sunday Drinking between 12 and 3pm and 7-10-30pm only. You knew who was out, and where, at any particular time in the “old” days. Nostalgia ain't what it used to be! Should we go back to this very structured way of drinking? Personally I think not, but at least it gave us a disciplined way of embibing.Anyway that's it for now so.......
Cheers and keep it "Real"

Thursday, 6 November 2014

Part 3 Finishing Off

Sunday 26th October

Apparently, the dark shadows of Autumn have arrived. Next stop, those icy fingers of Winter, prodding and jabbing at your unprotected pieces of anatomy. The Daily Express has been issuing warnings about the ferocity of this awful winter to come for weeks. We mused these thoughts as we worked away on our allotment, in shirt sleeves, desperately wanting an ice-cream. We have had a terrible year down on our plot. With flooding in spring, leeching the goodness out of the soil,cold snaps early in June, a rather wet August, my crops have really struggled. On top of that, the pear burglar was never apprehended, I wonder if he was called Perry......We worked off the excesses of yesterday with ease, and, whilst T'other 'arf pondered her return to work and started to look forward to that load of old tosh Downton Abbey, I speculated as to which brews would be available for The Beermonster to enthuse over. And so it came to pass that, just after 6-00 that evening, yours truly was entering The Ice Barque. “Yes, yes, yes, YES” my inner thoughts muttered, as I approached the bar. At last, “Freak of Nature” the Wicked Weed 7.5% Strong Ale was no longer “Available Soon”, it was most definitely “ON” and to prove it, I duly ordered and received a pint of said beverage. The taste? Surprisingly smooth with a powerful tropical fruit aroma leading to a heavy hopped dry and bitter finish. This US ale is strangely moreish for one so strong, almost like a session beer, but don't try to have too many, or else you might regret it, if you can remember what it was. Also ready for tasting was Elysian Brewery (Washington State) “Night Owl Pumpkin Ale” a 6.5% Speciality Ale. The Big Guns from over the Pond were definitely out tonight. With a pint in hand, I sat and geared myself up for another pleasing explosion of flavours on the palate. How to describe this is somewhat difficult.
NOT "Available Soon"
It's Available Now !!!
Do I eat it or drink it? The flavour is very strongly spiced, with
"Boom, Boom" One of the
Two Big Guns
cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg joining cloves and allspice in a complex mix with the pumpkin. It is long in the finish, with a vein of bitterness running through it. To put it in context, I love Christmas cake, absolutely adore it. I look forward to a big slab of it, but, I would not eat a full cake in one go, and that is how this brew strikes me. A lovely flavoured ale with a big taste, but a pint was too much really and became a distraction. I would have enjoyed it more in a smaller serving. I sat, peering out into the night,that cloak of darkness which had now enveloped me, dusk was only a brief visitor today, and with the lights of the town twinkling like the stars of a distant universe, I realised I was getting half cut and poetic, so left to recover my senses at the Yarborough. Here I tried Coach House “Toffee Bitter” which, surprise, surprise, tasted of toffee! A Pale beer with a nice bitterness and pleasing toffee aroma which transcends into the body, this 5% speciality ale, with a long, dry finish, has been quite popular in The Yarborough. I followed this with the Australian Two Birds Brewery's “Golden Ale”. At 4.4%, this brew was quite floral in taste, with peach and apricot notes in the flavour. The finish, I found, was very long and dry and hinted of a summer ale. To finish on, I opted for the Belgian offering from Abbaye Du Val-Dieu Brewery, “Abbaye Blonde”. With very little head, by design, and a big hop flavour to compliment the slightly perfumed aroma, this 6% Strong Bitter is very much like a lager in taste, with a sweetness at first giving way to a bitterness that is quite refreshing. An excellent beer, brewed in conjunction with Shepherd Neame, I liked it so much I sneaked another down before heading home to the shenanigans of another Abbey! .

Thursday 30th October

I was back at work today, early shift, first day back for 8 days. Suitably impressed to be back, and T'other 'arf out with her work mates for a meal, I decided to catch up on what was on tap at the Festival. This being a Thursday meant it was Curry Night. It is always busy on Curry Night in the Yarborough, and tonight was no exception. I like a Ruby, bit of a dab hand knocking one up too, and you cannot beat a “proper” Indian meal, whether you sit in or take away, but I must admit a JDW curry, despite being a “ding” meal (microwaved) is surprisingly good. I have enjoyed a few in here over the years, they are a bargain at just over a fiver, including a drink, but as it was only 5 o'clock and I was only to be out for an hour, my Madras would have to go on the back boiler for another time. Now, the beer. I espied among the pumps in the front bar one from the festival I had not yet ticked, so a pint of Moreland's “Old Hoppy Hen” was soon being pulled. This 4.2% Golden Ale was not too dissimilar to “Old Golden Hen”, but with a slightly more citrus finish to it. It was certainly refreshing, with grapefruit notes shining through to the end. Next, after working my way to the back bar, I chose the Festival thirds of “Fiery Cauldron” from Strathaven Brewery, along with Adnam's “1659 Smoked Ruby Beer” and Everards “Tiger Triple Gold”. Firstly, the 4.4% amber coloured Best Bitter from Strathaven. The notes suggested spicy gingerness in the aroma, with a rich roasted character all the way to the finish, and, although I detected the spicy aroma, it was far more subtle than I thought it would be, as was the rich roasted character. It was, though, undeniably well balanced and a very palatable brew. Adnams' offering,though, was rather lost on me. Light brown in colour, with a hint of raisins, dates and coffee, it boasted, I couldn't taste any of that, nor did I discover the smoky aroma. I found it slightly sweet in the initial taste,with an unobtrusive bitter finish, and, in fact, I found it hard to classify this 4.7% ale in any of the beer styles. I looked at my watch and it was showing 17-37, even the 1659 was wrong then!!!
Gold, Always believe in
your Soul
The Everards' Strong Ale, at 5%, was, on the other hand, a delight to experience. Smooth, rich and rounded, with a noted spicy aroma, this beer was
refreshing and long in the finish. With my thirds emptied, and the beautiful aromatic traces of curry wafting gently in the pub air, I departed, initially to The Ice Barque, but after seeing no new beers in here, it was back towards whence I had came, to the Parity. My visits to the Ice Barque are as fleeting as a cuckoo at midnight to its clock abode sometimes. The Parity was not empty, but even after I arrived, a representation at a 5-a-side tournament would still have been a struggle. I decided to have one for the road (is that possible in a pedestrianised area?) and,next to the “Hobgoblin, it was, after all, the run up to Halloween, was a beer from the Lytham Brewery,” Lytham Gold” .This is a new brewer to me, so, just to be polite, one had to have a pint. This was a 4.2% Golden Ale and, with a fruity, almost pumpkin like, taste with a delightful bitter finish, that hinted of ginger, this was a good beer to finish on, especially as the pub has just started to trial pork scratchings! It is a joy to see different breweries represented in the area, and these brewers from the North West certainly know beer. I hope this is not their last foray into NE Lincs. As I was feeling quite satisfied with my finds this evening, and with a packet of “Mr Porky's” in my pocket, I strolled home to an empty house, in the dark, all alone. A night of telly I want to watch,no soap operas, followed by a hot bath and an early night, before a rude awakening by a half cut beloved was the penance which now faced me. Sometimes it don't get much better than that.

Sunday 2nd November

Last chance tonight for the JDW Festival. Yesterday, we had got stuck in at the allotment, after I had got home from work, digging over ready for next year. We fancied a drink last night, but, with me having to be at work the next morning, and us both feeling like we had spent an afternoon being kicked by angry elephants, wearing hob nailed boots, we watched “Ashes to Ashes” on DVD instead. (Sod X-Factor, and those Strictly Dancing on the Beeb, even if Grimsby is well represented by the Clifton Family and Kevin's girlfriend) and sloped off to bed before 10pm. Come the Sabbath, I finished work, drove home, via Morrison's, prepared dinner, and awaited T'other 'arf , with a bottle of Pinot Grigio in hand, accompanied by a Black Wych, a Hobgoblin Gold and Camfell Flame. By the time of the Good Lady's appearance, I was left with only the wine, half a glass of Gold, and the Wharfebank “Camfell Flame” .The Wychwood “Black Wych”, 5%, had slid down quicker than Lizzie Yarnold on a frosty winter's day, with the lovely chocolate and malty taste, a rather herb like aroma and long lingering finish, this is not a heavy porter, and falls almost into a session beer. The “Gold” was zesty, hoppy and refreshing, with a slight fruitiness on the palate, at 4.5% this is a good stablemate to all those Hobgoblin Classics. As dinner was served,(cook, now waiter only the washer upper to add to my CV!) so the Wharfebank Brewery's “Camfell Flame”, a 4.4% Chestnut Bitter was charged into my dimple glass. A wonderfully full flavoured bitter, with a roasted malty taste coming through from start to finish, this makes a great partner to Sunday Lunch.We popped out into town a shade before 5pm, and were quite disappointed, again, at the lack of festival beers in the Ice Barque. Even one of the ones previously tried that was supposed to be on, was off, if you know what I mean, so I opted for Dark Star Brewery's “Hophead” a 3.8% very light coloured Golden Ale. Clean tasting, with a strong citrus taste and floral, elderflower aroma , this is an excellent beer to freshen one's palate.Jane went for The Dutch One. I think this beer has been on at one or other, in some cases both , outlets all festival. At least you can describe it as a consistant brew.We supped up and shot down to The Yarborough. The beer selection in here was better, but I had tasted them all on previous visits,
OG The Only tick I Got
apart from one. 10 Barrel Brewing Co's “O.G. IPA” a 5% Golden Speciality Ale. A huge mouth full of citrus flavours and a slight tartness going on. Very enjoyable. Apparently brewed with 50% wheat malt, so not your typical IPA. T'other' arf decided to have a cider, and was soon enjoying an “Orchard Pig Truffler” a 6% bottled craft cider from Somerset. Thirst quenching and a longer finish than most bottled ciders I have tasted, this drink is pleasantly bitter sweat and dry throughout. I further reaqquinted myself with a couple of brews, namely the “Colonel's Whiskers” and “Camarillo” before heading home. My final ticks for the festival had amounted to 44 out of 50. Not bad, I thought.Not Bad.



BONUS BALL
I was off on Monday and had to nip into town for a couple of bits. Temptation, and curiosity had got the better of me, so, beer radar on, I nipped into The Yarborough, only to use the toilet, honest!! Wandering past the front bar, I noticed Woodforde's “Phoenix IPA” a 5.5% brew which was strongly hopped, but pleasingly rounded in taste, with malts and the citrus zest combining well. I then wandered to the back bar and peering back at me was “Great Gustav” a 4.8% Premium Bitter from Oakham.The taste of this beer was similar to the Phoenix, but with a more zesty finish to it, and it was a lot drier on the palate. Both were very refreshing though, and as I wandered home, I began to think which beers had been THE beers this time around. In all honesty, I could not make my mind up, but one thing is for sure, out of the 46 I managed to taste, there were not many I would say no to in the future.
Cheers and keep it “Real”
Just a quick plug for The 1st Grimsby CAMRA Beer Festival. The Matrix Bar, (next to JDW's at Gy adj to Stn) Fri  7th/Sat 8th November 2014. Can't make it myself (work)  but , please support it if you can

Monday, 27 October 2014

Part 2


Topping up!

Thursday 23rd October


After much debating, a little smiling, and ,amazingly, very little coercion, I was persuaded to go out today. We had projects to finish. One of our bedrooms was nearing completion from the biannual slopping of paint, and the NEW bathroom blind needed putting up (the blind being new, not the bathroom, of course. The paint slopping and slapping had already taken place in the “littlest room”.) I set out on my usual game of search for a suitable tool, a game played every time I look for the unbent, unknarled and correct fitting implements needed to finish off. Every nook and cranny searched, I made do with something close, but not quite right for the job, put up the new brackets, measuring to ensure both straightness and precision spacing for the said blind, only to find that the blind was crucially just out of true with my professional workings. In other words, it don't fit. Bent where it should meet the bracket. Boy, did we laugh!!!! I left my workstation, entered the bedroom only to realise that the 3 packs of picture hanging brackets , yes I buy things in triplicate hoping I have a 3/1 chance of finding them, were erm... absent. Boy, did we laugh!!!! So tidying up, I was casually asked if I would join a hunting party, to search Wilko's for more picture hanging paraphernalia, and, possibly a couple of beers from the festival collection at JDW's. Humbly, I agreed. How could I not. That's how we ended up in The Ice Barque at 3pm on a Thursday afternoon. As only “The Dutch One”, from the festival was on, although “Freak of Nature was STILL “Available Soon”, I decided to try Devil's Backbone Brewing Company's “American IPA” at 5.2% and a Keg beer. Yes a Keg! Now brewed at Bank's of Wolverhampton from an original recipe from the US DB Brewery, I was very, very surprised by this craft beer. Absolutely packed with punchy flavours, with lime and orange zest coming through, resulting in a dryness in the finish. Only problem I had with it was it was served VERY cold. Would I have another? Well, all things considered, although it is kegged, a touch too fizzy and oh so cold, the flavour is quite intriguing, so, Yes, I could see myself sipping another. T'other 'arf had, and enjoyed, The Brouwerij't Ij ISA, which seems to be quite a staple at both JDW's during the festival. Drinks finished, we popped across to The Yarborough to see their offerings. I chose a pint of Harviestoun's Porter, the 4.5% “Old Engine Oil”, a rich, dark and sweet beer which goes down very smoothly. My half-pint taster went for Brewster's “Brewer's Dozen” . The taste of this Strong Ale is quite malty, with a sharp citrus kick. I liked the overall taste of this one, but Jane thought the finish was a little too sharp and bitter. We then chose 3 tasters of Rooster's “Union Gap” a 4.2% Golden Ale with the mix of its American hops offering a heavy citrus flavour throughout, the equal strength “Uncle Sam Hop Burst” , another zesty Golden Ale with a long dry finish which includes hints of grapefruit, from Cotleigh along with Theakston's “Four and Twenty” a full bodied and extremely malty tasting Best Bitter also 4.2%. We also sampled the wonderful “Whitstable Bay Pale Ale” 3.9% of Shepherd Neame's finest
. We have had this many times before, on the brewery's doorstep and it certainly tasted as refreshing and hoppy as it always has. With a subtle pine aroma and a slight sweetness in the palette, a true classic. I finished on the malty, rich flavoured Porter “Hitchen Old Dark” from Banks' & Taylor. A 4.8% brew, there are subtle notes of chocolate within, along with a smooth, long, nutty finish. To choose just one stout or porter to champion this festival is impossible. Every one I have tasted has been of the best quality.

Friday 24th October


We had our 6 year old Granddaughter staying on Friday evening, Girlies night, I was told, pub again, I believe, and so it came to pass. I nipped out for some solace from the nattering, whilst a lasagne was roasted to a crisp in the oven and sticky cakes were baked. First, a flying visit to The Ice Barque, where The Freak was still “Available Soon”, I chose to forego anything else and left, whence, I strolled back to The Yarborough for my first drink! A good festival line up greeted me, so more ticks will be added to my list. My first grouping consisted of Evans Evans “Artisan Cluster Nut” a fruity, slightly spiced seasonally brewed ale. At 4.4% a good session beer, but one could get bored of the slightly plain overall taste, Arundel “Autumn Breeze” a 4.6% Premium Ale which offered a chocolate and berry flavour along with a roast malt aroma,and
“Camarillo from the White Horse stable (!!). The final offering was a Golden Ale of 4.5% which had a slightly peachy taste to it, along with a dry citrus finish. A very pleasant beer worth sampling. I finished on a beer often seen in bottles, Marston's “Oyster Stout”. At 4.1%, this beer seemed to be lacking in body, and was more Mild than Stout. A disappointment to the bottled version. Never mind. I gazed out of the window, half expecting to see a smoke signal from home, billowing in the early evening sky. “Bring Garlic Bread, Now” I imagined, texted T'other 'arf to see if my imagination was correct,(it was!) and decided to wend my way back to the cacophony that usually greets me when on Grand-parenting duties. Love it!

Saturday 25th October.

We had organised to drop the wee one off at dancing on Saturday afternoon, get the Irish lotto, and the UK lotto, jump on a train and have an afternoon in “Meggies” ( Cleethorpes to the non colloquial speaking outsiders).The plan, for once, worked impeccably. We were soon on the 14-40ish choo choo to the seaside. With a festival to check out AND a couple of other inns to visit, we agreed to walk down to The Notts, and start our little expedition there. Entering, we saw a reasonable array of Ales on tap, but decided that Robinson's “Hartley's Cumbria Way” Golden Ale would be our starter.4.1 %, this beer had by a nice, spicy malt body followed by fruity, citrus notes, in the long and dry finish.A well balanced beer from Robinson's. Whilst T'other 'arf stayed with the Golden Ale, I chose to try Thwaite's 4.3% “Handsome Devil”, a Premium Ale with a reddish hue, that starts off with a gush of maltiness and leads to a late hop finish. Another good beer served to perfection in this local POTY. Although enjoying the ambience, we thought we would look in on the neighbouring Willy's Pub, home of Willy's micro-brewery. I have never been head over heals with this establishment, I find it can be a bit pretentious at times, but, after not visiting it for a couple of years, we gave it a go.First impressions were the lack of ales. Only 2 available, and only one from the on-site brewery.. Through the lack, we chose to try “Willy's Original” a 3.8% bitter. It was as it usually is, rather thin and insipid in taste. Bland, in fact, and served oh so cold. Not the best experience, but maybe past visits have clouded my, sorry, our judgement. I will review again, hopefully with more choices to behold. With a festival to catch, and a train too, we wandered down to The Coliseum Picture House, JDW's Cleethorpes establishment.Busy as usual, we were eventually served, and chose a pint of the quite herbal tasting, dark,sweet and fuity “Trojan Horse” a 5.5% Strong Ale from the Caledonian Brewery, whilst a half of Titanic's “Hop Abroad” was also sampled. This 5% Ale proclaimed, in the festival notes, to be built to travel the world. With an abundance of hops from all over globe in the glass. Well, the taste we had from this beer would best be described as post iceberg! It sank, as far as we were concerned. Too heavy in hops and too complex to determine what flavour was coming through.
Our final drinks were half a Bath Ales “Prophecy”, a light, zesty bitter at 3.9%, with a long dry finish, for the Lady and a pint of Liberation “American Brown Ale” which I have tasted and reviewed before.As the Night Trolls arrived in trhe resort, we left to catch the train back to Grimsby. There was one waiting, result. As we walked down the platform I enquired of the train guard awaiting outside his charge “ Are we really catching a train with only 20 seconds to spare?” “No, Sir,” came the reply, “This train leaves in 4 seconds!”..and it did.Nice one.

Back in The Yarborough, a place between Cleethorpes and a healthy kebab, I finished the evening with Oakleaf Brewers “Blake's Gosport Bitter” a deep, dark beer with liqourice and treacle undertones going on, and packing a punch at 5.2%, whilst the half was the muddy looking, but quite brilliant tasting “Hazy Hoedown”.We enjoyed our drinks, chatted to one of my work collegues, out with her T'other 'arf , (Hi Rach, told you I'd give you a mention...question is can you remember!!), and prepared ourselves for our long awaited grub. As the International Dateline, those Greenwich elfs or whoever, had given us an extra hour, we were in no hurry, but time and tide along with fast food, wait for no man,so we were soon in one of those wonderful palaces of future indigestion. The end to another perfect day!!
Cheers and keep it "Real"

Saturday, 25 October 2014

Reasons to be cheerful-Parts 1-2 & 3


Part 1

Friday 17th October 2014


It's back. It's here with all the whistles and bells, the balloons adorning hidden corners otherwise left in their own mysterious shadows , and the programmes, of course, the lovely programmes, those publications, lightweight tomes, if you like, excitedly proclaiming the beauty of the wares being brought together for the next 17 days, from all over the world. T-shirted staff beavering away, supplying the expectant public, or those educated in the noble art of the hop and malt mix, with their chosen elixir, the liquor of their dreams. That curiously intriguing collection of art on the pumps, almost seducing and acting so, so innocently. They know what they are doing. “Aaarghh” I scream as I awake from my nightmare. Yes, it is October 17th and the Wetherspoon's Autumn Beer Festival starts today.........& I am at work tomorrow. 04-30 start. Bugger. Well seeing as JDW's will be doing the usual festival thirds, a couple of pints mid afternoon, no more, could see me sampling 6 different ales. “Whooo hoo” This season's offerings, 50 in all, includes beers from Australia, New Zealand, USA, The Netherlands, Belgium and Italy. 10 International brews alongside the Home Nations' carefully nurtured cask gems, the stuff of dreams. The only problem I find with the festivals at Wetherspoon's is that with them being spread over such a length of time, unless you pop in every day, you always seem to miss “The One” you most wanted to try. Although this option is beyond me, I do have a few days off so I can try to get a full house this time. We'll see!.I started out at The Ice Barque for my first tasting, and I was a little disappointed that only 2 of the festival ales were on. The pumps were displaying another 3 or 4 of the chosen ales, but, unfortunately,they were “Available Soon” Oh well I will struggle on. I sampled a half of the Italian brew “Ligera” from Birrifico Lambrate first. A 4.8% Bitter, which was, in my opinion, quite biscuity in taste, but not unpleasant. Slight citrus tones lead to a dry malt finish. This was followed by a half of Sixpoint's “Bklyn Bitter”. A regular supplier to Wetherspoon, in the form of its imported cans, this 5.5% brew was very floral in taste, citrus in aroma and malty in the finish. Complex, but very satisfying. Time was ticking so I decided to pop across to “The Yarborough” to see their selection. A bigger array was displayed here so I opted to use the sampling glasses. A wise choice.My threesome consisted of Banks's “Botanical Beer” a 4.2% mock medieval brew, which I found quite bland and tasteless ( although, if tasted by the Baldrick, and complimenting a plain turnip salad and thin gruel dressing,in the comfort of an insalubrious none up, one down hovel, his opinion may differ- am I losing the plot??), Innis and Gunn's “Edinburgh Pale Ale” a wonderfully flavoursome beer with a good floral aroma and a richness to the malt flavour followed by a sharp kick of bitterness in the finish, and, my favourite of the trio,
Give your taste buds a tickle.
“The Colonel's Whiskers”, Bateman's 4.3% Mild.This tastes more velvety and creamy than most milds, and the tasting notes suggest it is somewhere between a mild and a stout. I would suggest the latter, but I am not an expert, just entranced by the rounded flavour of this beer.
A stroll to the back bar revealed another selection of wares, so, checking my trusty timepiece, only 17-30 'o clock (yeah, not a Rolex) and awaiting T'other' arf's appearance after work, I decided on another trio, and a half for those who had been toiling.My choices? Moorhouse's “Black Cat Reserve” 4.6%, Butcombe “Crimson King” 4.3% and Wadworth's “Heather and Honey” at 5%. The half pint was “Chinook Gold” a 4.7% Golden Ale from the Hook Norton Brewery. A more traditional mild, the “Black Cat” was a complex mix of choco-coffee flavours with a fruitiness to the finish, whilst the “Crimson King” was dry, slightly spiced and very hoppy in the finish, but my favourite of those three was the “Heather and Honey”.A lovely golden colour meets the eye, and the aroma and flavour is strongly floral but tempered by the honeyed sweetness. It reminded me, in some ways, to those Retsina wines tasted in the Med on our jollies, but more a subtle hit than the pine taste the wine punches you with. Curious and very refreshing, I found. T'other 'arf enjoyed the “Chinook Gold” with the citrus notes of this brew carrying through from start to finish. I would imagine this beer would well suit the beer garden, sunshine and sandals. As it was, when we left, it was cold, breezy, damp, dank and darkening. Never mind.


Tuesday 21st October



I'd just completed my last early shift at work, throwing in a couple of extra shifts in the mix too, so a couple of pints was the order of the day. I would have 8 days off now, which meant I could try to get a few more ticks in the book of plenty (JDW's festival news and tasting notes) I started off at The Ice Barque, and I noticed “Freak of Nature” a 7.5% Strong Ale from USA was “Available Soon” .Shame, I am looking forward to this one, but it never seems to be “on”, just available soon. In its absence, I chose a pint of (Are you ready ? Sure? Here we go!!) Brouwerij't IJ 's “India Session Ale”. The Dutch one (my convenient name for it!) . This Premium Bitter is smooth, slightly fruity, with a floral aroma leading to a dry and malty finish. Very nice too. After savouring this lovely beer, and no more “new” ales to tick off the list, it was time to head to the Yarborough Hotel. Oh, sweet joy. A bigger selection was on in here, I might need a new ticking tool (biro, to the general public). As three is the magic number, I hit the festival thirds and chose “Village Elder” a New Zealand brew from Ian Ramsay. At 3.8% this bitter tasted smooth and balanced, with a pronounced caramel taste in the finish. I also tried the very refreshing Vale Brewery “Metamorphosis” at 4.5%, with its blend of new world hops giving it a zesty taste. To offset this, I also went for the “American Brown Ale” offered up by Liberation Brewery on the Channel Islands. A sweet, almost nutty, taste greets you on tasting this well balanced 4.2% brew. Quite a traditional taste, just like the Brown Ales my Dad used to bring home when I was a kid. My second selection of 3 included Thwaite's “Hobnobber” a 4.7% Premium Bitter, O'Kell's IPA ,4.5%, and Black Sheep's 4.1% “Reaper” a best bitter. The first “Hobnobber”, was dark, malty and quite biscuity in taste, with a nutty finish, whilst the O'Kell's offering was light in colour and quite rounded with lemony or grapefruit finish. The Reaper was rather red in colour, with the smoothness of the malt giving way to the citrus and sharp aftertaste. A pleasant drink, but not that outstanding, I thought. To finish, I had a pint of Long Man “Golden Tipple” a nice, refreshingly citrus Golden Ale. The finish was full of flavour and not too dry. This 5% ale promised a lot and delivered it in each mouthful.

Wednesday 22nd October.

T'other 'arf was borrowing the car today, (Lord preserve us!!) to do a spot of visiting. This, my first of eight days off, was to leave me stranded, lonely and somewhat at a loose end. There was a bit of decorating to finish, which could wait, and a threatening cloud had warned me off going to the allotment today. Hmm, what to do. I had prepared dinner, lamb in a spicy marinade. Following the recipe, and implementing a few culinary changes myself, I realised that the dish lacked the (optional) addition of the juice of half an orange, and the spring onions to garnish. My experiences in the past in domesticity had lead me to believe that these ingredients could be either a) omitted altogether or b) substituted. I decided that neither option was viable in this instance, so off to town I walked, doggedly in search of my missing non-essentials. The Great Adventurer tracked down, secured and put in to captivity said prey, in M&S, and found himself wandering back to the Ice Barque. Anyone out there not thinking this tale was to offer a beery encounter really have let yourselves down! Entering, I headed straight to the bar, and, again, noticed “Freak of Nature” was “Available Soon”. Having already tasted the rest of their festival ales, I opted for a pint of Milestone's “Black Pearl”. 4.5% , a stout that is so flavoursome it has to rate as one of my favourite stouts ever tasted. But not a festival brew.Disappointed, but also strangely fulfilled, I dragged my quarry to The Yarborough. Here I hunted down two beers not ticked on The List. The opener was “Antler” a 4% btter from Exmoor Ales. This malty brew boasted popcorn, toffee and nuts in the mix. I didn't get those at all. Caramel, yes, but all that other stuff, the dreams of fairground adventures, to me, were absent. Maybe it was the start of my “Man Flu” which I am bravely bearing with such strength of will, or the beer was not quite ready, I would not like to say. It wasn't a bad brew, it just lacked what it said on the pump clip.
As clear as mud,
as nice as it gets!
To finish this mini session I had the very unusual “Hazy Hoedown” Brewed by a JDW's duty manager (a fully qualified Brewster) in collaboration with Tring Brewery, this 4.4% US styled wheat beer is full on in flavours. Dry, citrus and complex throughout, the sight of this brew, sat in the glass almost like ditch water, certainly befuddles the mind. First appearances count? Not in this instance. This has to be one of THE beers of the Festival for me. Drinks done, I wended my way home, bearing gifts, and completed my dish. If only my trials and tribulations of hunting, gathering and cooking were more appreciated.!!!