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Tuesday, 16 September 2014

Take Me Home Country Roads

Friday 5/9/14


On our arrival back in NE Lincs from them there Southern climes, we felt that, after a short period of re-acclimatisation, Northern beers needed taking back on board. With this in mind, on Friday Evening, T'other 'arf and I found ourselves on the Waterfront in Grimsby, staring, nay, salivating at The Ice Barque. This enigmatic watering hole never fails to amaze me. Either the “clientèle” is loud, offensive and colourful, or the atmosphere is as relaxed as a Horlicks addicts' pyjama party. This evening, the latter applied. The only beer to really grab our eyes was “Kalamazoo Amber Ale” from the Bell's Brewers Inc. in the US.
This 5.8% brew was produced in conjunction with Wadworth's in Devizes and Bell's John Mallett, and came across as sweet and biscuity, with very little hopiness. Not an unpleasant beer, despite a strong, almost fruity taste, but a style that needs some getting used to. Before the snoring started, we left and headed to The Friary in Victoria Street. The beer here can be “hit and miss”, but the welcome is generally warm and friendly. The choices are also somewhat limited. Greene King IPA or Well's “Bombardier” the usual offerings. This visit we had just one, the “Bombardier”, to pick from. I am quite indifferent about this beer. It is malty, with an underlying caramel taste and, although not a favourite, I have had a few nights in the past solely on this brew. This pint was as average as most pints of this are. Our drinks finished, we headed out the back door,across the road to The Yarborough Hotel. Aha, this is where everyone is hiding on this fine evening. A good range of beers was on display at both bars, and we plumped for a pint of Summerskill's “Ninja Beer” a light coloured 5% Premium Bitter, and a half of Wharfe Bank's “Rye Stone Cowboy” an Amber Ale of the same strength. Mine was clean tasting with a pronounced fruity bitterness in the finish, whilst the half was similar but with a spiciness to the taste. We then had “Celt Native Storm” from Wales' Celtic Experience Brewery, a dry tasting ESB with a 4.4% ABV and a spicy/biscuity finish, while T'other 'arf went for Otter Brewery's Otter Ale a fruity and malty 4.5% Premium Ale. We finished off in JDW's with a pint of Backyard's “Hellbound”( an Old Ale of 5.4% which reminded me off a thick slice of fruit cake, in a glass. Not very aromatic but a big gob-full of flavours) and a half each of Cameron's “Strong Arm”, an old favourite which,sadly, died in the glass, and Burton Bridge “Battle Brew”. The latter is a bitter tasting Pale Ale, packed with hops, and ,at 5%, certainly not a session beer. Time was, unfortunately, ticking and we left to hunt down a bag of chips for our return home. A typical beery night out in Grimsby complete. Enjoyable? Well, to be honest, just comfortable, and probably predictable.

Saturday 6/9/14


Today, we had our Grandson for a few hours. As usual, swimming was on the agenda. I decided to go down my allotment whilst T'other 'arf did the dutiful stuff ,the first time I have visited the plot for 8 days. Shame on me!! I have a few fruit trees on the plot. Although quite new, only 3 years in the ground, my pear tree has produced very well this season. When we left, there was a good 20 almost ripe pears dangling from the laden branches. My growing season has been somewhat poor this year, due to flooding and unpredictability of the weather, so we were looking forward to our pear harvest, those sweet, juicy fruits. Arriving at the plot, I hastened to the top, near the shed, to check on the progress...............only to find ALL apart from one were were missing from the branches. Oh dear. They must have dropped off whilst we were away. As I approached the tree, I was expecting to gather a few bruised fruits at the bottom, on the ground. Not one in sight. We had been robbed. Yes. Fruit rustlers. How pee-ed off was I ? With plenty of fruit trees full, and within arms length, down on our allotment site, to single out ours was, I believe, particularly despicable. Oh well, I hope our little pear tree produces fruit as plentiful next year, and I hope this years fruit was full of bugs and insects.
Feeling fed up, after swimming and dropping off of our charge, we found ourselves in The Parity.
Anonimity assured !
On offer were a couple of Brains' beers, the ever popular “Rev James” and the Dylan Thomas inspired “Organ Morgan”. A thirst quencher of a Golden Ale, at 4%, this subtly citrus beer has a good aroma and clean taste. We stayed with this brew for the duration. On remarking about the beer's name and its origin, I was surprised to find that the young lady who served me had not even heard of Mr Thomas!! “He was one of our (British) most famous writers and poets” I offered. “Nah, never heard of him” Again I offered some clarity “ Have you heard of “Under Milk Wood” or “And Death Shall Have No Dominion” ?” “Nope” “You can Google his name if you want” I conceeded. “Did he play rugby or something?” I left with my glass to the brim with goodness, and sat, cogitating on the fact that the literature taught in modern English probably ain't wot it oughta be, innit! I wonder when the X-Factor inspired beers will appear.

Saturday 13/9/14



Work on Monday. Just over two weeks of annual leave were coming to an end.The last 3 days, I had been reduced to my knees, grazed and bloodied, with hands in a similar state, laying a patio at home. This had also allowed my troublesome achiles to flare up yet again. Now, it was time to ease my aches and pains with the last ales of my holiday. T'other 'arf and I started out at The Parity, and were not surprised that Dylan Thomas was still quite anonymous, and his “Organ Morgan” may gone, but it had been replaced by the equally light and refreshing “Heavenly Blonde”. A zesty fruitiness complements the dry, crisp finish of this 3.8% Golden Ale from Oldershaw's. There were a few in here catching the football on Sky but the atmosphere was very low key. After a couple of these refreshing ales on board, we bade farewell and left the dejected Liverpool fans to water down their beer with tears (Villa were 1-0 up). The other day, I had noticed The Ice Barque had a beer “available soon” that I was anxious to taste. As we entered, its pump clip seemed to shine out, like a beacon, drawing us ever closer to its expectant pleasures. Another American craft beer, brewed exclusively for Wetherspoon's at the Caledonian Brewery, Barley Brown's “Black I.P.A.” at 5.2% poured
A lovely dark brew
from the USA.
beautifully in the glass. The taste was, at first, quite ordinary, but then, the complexity of its flavours and depth of the aroma hits home. Smoothness gives way to a wonderful hoppy bitterness in the finish. A beer well worth waiting for. I forced another down, gratefully, and we wandered the little way up to JDW's other pub, The Yarborough. In here, I opted for Naylor's “Old Ale”. A strong , 6.2% full bodied ale, with a long fruity finish. Nice, but not special. The half was Goff's “Jouster” A much lighter, tawny coloured ale with a well balanced maltiness and bitterness. The hops gave it a fresh after-taste. 4% ABV. To finish, I went for Hawkshead “Red Ale” , a 4.6% Premium ale. I found the flavour good, but also a little sweet and overpowering. The round was completed by “Terrapin Red”, a slightly stronger ale at 5.3%. This has a rather biscuity aroma and a citrus flavour which leads to a satisfying spiced rye finish.The balance seemed spot on, and it was pleasing to finish on an ale like this.
Where and when next, I cannot say. With Summer now at an end and the darker nights now enveloping us, gradually, the draw of the closed curtains, and the warmth within, may be stronger than the gravitational pull felt by the local hostelries. There will be breaks in it, that I am sure, but maybe not so frequent. Until the next time, Cheers and keep it “Real”