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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