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.!!!

Tuesday, 14 October 2014

6.6 The Number of The Beast.....Flipside "From Russia with Love"

Saturday 4th October.

очень хорошо (Very Good)
Ahh, a weekend off. Working a 4 on, 2 off shift system means I get a Saturday and Sunday off once every 6 weeks. I am not one who lives and dies for weekends, I can enjoy a pint whenever my rest days fall, but the rest of civilisation, without who my games of “Likey, Likey”, (where we try to determine who in the pub looks famous, or infamous, with everyone from Kate Bush to Saddam Hussein has been “spotted”) seem not to be able to function without the weekend break and are somewhat lacking in numbers midweek. Still, we were both off on Saturday, and with The Nottingham Hotel in Cleethorpes staging a Beer Festival over the following two weeks, we knew where we were going to be going. The Notts is a regular in the Good Beer Guide and was voted, by the local CAMRA branch, POTY this year. Situated just off the seafront, at the top of Seaview St in the resort, this popular boozer is far enough away from the “Meggies Strip” so as not to attract too many of the Young Guns and Lager Louts usually found there. Snobs? Probably not, but we do prefer a quiet beer in a busy pub to a loud pint in a rowdy atmosphere as the Stags, Hens and Wannabe Gangsters vie with each other to be the most outrageous. Been there, done that! We jumped on the train from Grimsby and were soon there. After a bit of shopping (Irish Lotto from Betfred bought!!) we were at The Notts. This is one of the few pubs to retain 3 separate rooms in the area, most giving way to “open” plan styles, but a plain, but welcoming, public bar, warming snug and back bar all give there own special feel to the place. The selection of beers was quite good, with 7 or 8 pumps serving different ales on the bar, with most of the rest on the list on tap in the cellar. Started out on Black Hole “Cosmic” a 4.2% amber coloured Ale with a warm malty taste that gives way to a nutty lingering finish. A very rounded taste but not too complex. T'other 'arf went for Franklin's' “Citra” which was a much lighter beer and almost punched you with the citrus flavours and long,dry and hoppy finish. Certainly a contrast for our starters. We sidled from the Public Bar to the Snug and spotted almost the full cast of “Are You Being Served?” from our vantage point as we played “Likey Likey”. Mollie Sugden was a definite doppelgänger. Away from our childish chuckles, we chose our second drinks of the day. Mine was a 7.3% Russian Imperial Stout from the Flipside brewers called “Russian Rouble”. Wow. Dark,fruity and a lasting liquorice aroma made this extraordinarily smooth stout very moreish. I have never had a beer so smooth at this ABV. My half pint tester chose Coach House “Blueberry Bitter” at 5%. What can you say to explain the bleedin' obvious. It was a light hoppy bitter that tasted of …. erm... bluberries. Nice though. Next on the agenda were Castle Rock's “Black Gold” a spicy tasting 3.8% ale with a satisfying malty finish and, Titanic's Wheat Beer styled “Iceberg” for the Lady. Dry,zesty but extremely refreshing, this 4.1% ale certainly hit the mark. To finish our little festival appearance, I chose Exmoor “Beast” and T'other 'arf went for Goose Eye “Chinook Blonde”. As fruity and aromatic as a slab of the richest of fruitcakes, my 6.6% brew was certainly an acquired taste, and the flavour lasted well past the empty glass and seemed to include a cup of coffee too. I enjoyed it, but T'other 'arf's comments cannot be repeated after the initial “ Yaargh” She was quite happy to envelop the dry bitterness of her 4.2% Blonde. Time was ticking, and Young Mr Rumbold had given way to “..that bloke in Storage Hunters..??” when we decided to hit the chippy and head back home. On the way back we popped into JDW's The Coliseum Theatre, which was quite busy, for a quick beer. I had a lovely pint of Marston's 5.7% “Old Empire” whilst Jane had her favourite “Abbot Ale”. I can take or leave Abbot Ale, which always seems to lack a certain something, to me, but, after having the Marston's OE in bottles many times it was nice to taste the cask variety again. Almost IPA in style this Strong Ale has a wonderful spicy aroma followed by a lovely malty finish with a refreshing bitterness.
The Number 1, Cleethorpes Station.
Last stop in Cleethorpes was the No 1 ( the old Refreshment Rooms on the station) We haven't been in here for years. It is totally different from the No 2, also on the station. The No 2 is rather small and quite modern in décor, whereas the No 1 is very expansive and, I would say, a bit more “beaten up”. It also offers 2 separate bar areas, one available for private hire,and a pool table. Both offer a friendly welcome and between them a good selection of beers. Now the beer tasted. Bateman's was the prominent brew here with “XB” and “XXXB” on the pumps,opted for the “XXXB”. This malty, well balanced classic of a Best Bitter always goes down well. With a light, but noticeable, hopped aroma to it, the flavours linger in the mouth long after your initial tasting. We did have a “nudge, nudge” moment in here. “Would you dare to wear a onesie to come out drinking in? “ was whispered in my ear, after an elbow to the ribs detracted my attention from my ale. “Huh? What...........Oh!” I replied as I saw the young lady in question, looking like she was ready for an early night. “.........and she's got her slippers on.......oh no, don't look now, her mate's wearing something like a dressing gown!!!! and I am sure that's a teddy!”. As I was not looking now, as instructed, I let T'other 'arf describe the scene, vividly and with greater shock and surprise with every sentence. I finished my beer, smiled then pointed to the notice on the wall, proclaiming the Charity Sleep Walk. Nuff said..

Thursday 9th October
Just finished my Earlies so I decided to call in at Morrison's for some refreshment for this evening. After carefully scanning the shelves, I chose these little beauties
6 brown bottles sitting on the wall( ok, not the wall) But which one will fall 1st?
.My tasting notes are as follows:-
1 Wold Top "Headland Red". 4.3 % A rich and malty brew which leaves you with a warm glow. (Shared this one with T'other 'arf, or rather the other way round!)
2 Guinness "West Indies Porter" 6% This bottle, at only £1-50 a chuck, is a most excellent brew. A ressurection beer from The Emerald Isle, the flavour is mellow, with rich chocolate and toffee or maybe a carameled taste dancing in your mouth.What a belter.
3 Guinness "Dublin Porter" 3.8%. A lower ABV than the other beers today, but still undeniably smooth and rich. The caramel taste compliments the smooth malty finish. A good session beer.
4 Marston's "Stout" 4.5% Brewed for Morrison's, this is a lovely, velvety stout goes down very easily. The taste is not so intense as the WI Porter, but is quite similar. It does lack a little in the finish, which seems very short lived.
5 Acorn "Old Moor Stout" 4.4% The label stated the liquorice and chocolate flavours of this brew. I think I got the diet version! Rich, malty and full of the liquorice flavouring as promised, but try as I might, even sharing a few mouthfulls with T'other 'arf, the chocolate hint was just not evident to me (us). Not a bad drink though, far from it, and what it lacked from the label was made up for in that rich liquorice aroma and finish.
6 Greene King "Yardbird" 4% Ah, the last one, another to share, this was supposed to be an American Styled IPA. Heavy on the hops and full of flavour? No. This was a rather thin interpretation of what I have tasted, albeit on cask, and was lacking all round in taste and aroma to those robust US craft ales.

Overall not a bad line up, and I loved the West Indies Porter. Me and T'other 'arf gonna chill now with some Bob Marley on in the background and dream of drinking that porter in the sun, on a far away beach..If the lazy sod will hurry up and  get my LP's down from the loft of course.
Cheers and keep it "Real"

Friday, 10 October 2014

Food Glorious Food.

Monday 29th September

An afternoon of gentle allotmenteering had been the order of the day. T'other 'arf had thrown herself into clearing away the spent Dwarf French Beans and intertwined weeds whilst the Alpha male, me, chopped and hacked at the raspberry canes, brambles, gooseberry bushes and anything else that would leave me looking like I had a pet tiger with a grudge! What a late summer's day we were experiencing. Temperatures in the high teens and mossies certainly enjoying the warmth and, unfortunately my uncovered legs and arms. Bloodied, bitten and bruised (not to mention the aches and pains in my back and joints) I called a halt to all this enjoyment. Now to manipulate one's hard working, but unscathed and wound-less partner into a trip to the pub. “Oh, Jane, my petal” “What?” “Have you thought about what we are having for Dinner tonight?” “No, not really. What are you thinking of cooking me?” Well.........Do you fancy going to...” “Oh God. I thought you would never ask!!” Sometimes I need not bother with the soft soap approach and just put my foot down with a firm hand (or just do as I'm told if all else fails)
I was on a training course at work the following day, the preparation of winter procedures are clearly on the horizon, so we agreed that we would  only be out for a couple of hours. We decided on having a look at Millfields Hotel in Bargate. We had visited here before a good while ago and, since then, the place had been spruced up and the bar re-branded as Bar 53. On entering, the beer selection was either “Black Sheep Bitter” or Timothy Taylor's “Landlord”, we chose the latter. The barman poured our drinks, and just like Mr Ben's shop-owning friend (the children's TV cartoon character who lives at 57 Festive Road, not the former Labour MP and renouncer of his peerage), disappeared, as if by magic. We decided to sit outside and watch the world scurry by, on their way home from the day's toils. Unfortunately our beer was not at its best, I would suggest it had not settled yet or was the bottom of the barrel and lacked clarity and the crispness associated with this prize winning brew. With disappearing staff, barely drinkable beer and an appetite cheaper than the menu here, we left. Another visit is on the cards to evaluate if we just came on an off day. The Wheatsheaf was next for a swift drink. Just down the road, we were soon at the bar and we were drawn to Adnams' 4.5% Blonde Ale, “Ghost Ship”. We have had this before in its own back yard, Southwold, and I can confirm that it certainly does travel well. The maltiness gives way to an almost pithy citrus finish and I love the fruity aroma that lingers to the end. Next stop was to be to Grimsby's oldest pub, The White Hart. Situated opposite Grimsby Minster (Yes, Minster) the building dates back to the 1750's, which is almost stone-age to this area of historical cleansing, and is now more noted for its first class meals than the bar. It was an O'Neill's pub a few years ago, but is now in private ownership and a Freehouse. They do always carry at least 2 real ales though, Black Sheep and a guest. We chose the guest, Sharp's “Doom Bar”.
The White Hart in Bethlehem St.
No introduction needed here. This beer seems to be everywhere at the moment. I did find the almost caramel taste quite short lived as was the light hopped finish,but, as we were having a meal with it (or it with food!) it made a good accompaniment. The food? Well, as I normally do, I chose the Grimsby Haddock, chips and peas (mushy, of course) whilst T'other 'arf chose the Goulash, with Bread Dumplings from the specials board. Both meals were fabulously tasty, fresh and served by extremely friendly staff. For good food and drink, this is a must visit. Our meals, and two drinks each for less than £25. Bargain. The warmth of summer had now turned to the damp of Autumn, so, we started our squelch home, looking forward to our next little session.
Cheers and keep it “Real”

Sunday, 5 October 2014

Summer days drifting away To, uh oh, those summer nights

As we slide into the dark, damp and soulless abyss of Autumn's leafless trees, and the certainty that, however warm the days are, the evenings will persuade you to the contrary, I have found it necessary to wear short sleeves over denim jeans as a matter of course. My arms my not tan in the "Indian Summer" sunshine , but one's knees won't knock in the cooling temperatures of dusk either. With this gradual weather change, our outings have become, well somewhat, sparse.My first week back at work were enjoyed by easing into a bottle or two of my remaining homebrew, topped with the odd glass of Lidl's vino. Catch-up TV was caught up with and, to be honest, I did have quite a boring and sanity filled week. We did venture out after an early afternoon swimming, or rather resembling dumplings in a very thin stew, at Scartho Baths. All that exercise meant a replenishment of strength juice of sorts somewhere along the line!! We decided to pop to The Yarborough for a quick tea-time tipple, before settling down at home for the usual pee-poor Late Summer/Early Autumn televisual offerings and repeats.
We started this mini session with a pint of Rooster's "Yankee", a Pale Ale of 4.3% and a worthy starter. Dry, crisp and a bitter aftertaste defy you not to like this beer, and We certainly enjoyed it.
This was swiftly followed by the curiously strong "Mermaid Red Ale" from the US Coronado
brewery, in conjunction with Wadworth's. A 5.7% Amber Ale, this beer displayed a very malty taste which was complimented by a fruitiness with a caramel kick, finishing with a hint of hops. I would have liked another to help decide if I liked it or was just intrigued by it's complexity but, as work beckoned the following day for both of us, a re-test would have to wait. T'other 'arf's opinion? "S'alright". Thank you to the Beertasters' female equivalent of Simon Cowell's judgemental utterances. With the wonderful early evening sun giving way, well, yielding easily, to the dampening spectre of Autumnal drizzle, we vacated our cosiness and made our way to The Parity. This being a Wednesday, it was very quite in here, in fact dead. I do feel for these pubs who try to offer what the public wants (food, football, music and real ale along with friendly bar staff in a trouble free environment covers most of what people I know crave for in a pub) only to be found empty at certain times. The pressures of Government taxing and beer levies certainly doesn't help OUR Locals either, and I sense more and more pubs, clubs and drinking establishments falling by the wayside unless changes are made, demanded by us, Joe Public. Rant over.We just had one each in
here, the fantastically tasty Oldershaw's "Old Boy" and a half of Tom Woods' "Harvest Bitter"  My beer was a 4.8% Premium Ale, with a lovely maltiness and a quite nutty aroma. The "Harvest Bitter" was smooth and flavoursome, with a piquant of florality to this 4.3% staple of TW's seasonal brewing programme.Drinks finished, and drizzle descending, we made our soggy way home. " Is this drizzle or Indian Showers?" I offered on the walk home. "What's Indian Showers?" came the reply. " Apache (A-patchy??!!) Rain" was the response. Tee Hee.

Saturday 28th September

A long planned, altered, re-planned and finally executed afternoon out with Dave from work was to occur today. We had both been on the early shift and arranged to meet in The Parity at 2pm. After arriving home to T'other 'arf and our Granddaughter, Grace, I reclined in my hot relaxing bath, feeling almost cocooned in its soothing salts and bubbles, in the certain knowledge that Dave would be lugging buckets of water up and down stairs as his boiler was on the blink. Almost a Hamlet moment.Suitably attired and clod, I was away to town, and before long, nestled outside in the warm, but noticeably weaker sun.I had chosen "The Rev James" one of Brains' brews, which I have reviewed before and a fizzy apple juice called Strongbow for the immanent arrival of Dave. My beer was as it should be, dark, smooth and full of flavour. As it was the Merseyside Derby, and with N.E.Lincs filled with so many Premier supporters (and it is a shame I am not talking about the "other" Premier.....yes, the Vanarama Conference Premier) the pub was quite full, so an outside perch was most welcome. On Dave's arrival, we supped up and decided to move on to The Yarborough. It was
fairly busy with shoppers in here, but far from full as we sidled up to the bar. Dave's eyes lit up with the 7.4% "Old Rosie" cider, whilst I gladly accepted a pint of Jenning's "Blazing Saddles", a 4% Golden Ale from this popular Cumbrian brewery. A lovely citrus taste accompanies the bitterness of this brew with a slight sweetness to help balance it.Dave stayed with his cider, whilst I let my hair down to Wychwood's Status Quo backed "Piledriver".4.3% and a very malty tasting Amber Ale. Not a head banging brew, but nonetheless, quite satisfying. After this I chose, and stayed on Springhead's "Roaring Meg" This beer has a honey sweetness to it, accompanying a bitter, citrus taste that makes it so refreshing. 5.5% and one of the best Golden Ales around. As the afternoon turned to early evening, we were joined by T'other 'arf and after Dave's unique brand of humour had now started to surface, insult and immediately found the nearest gutter, we decided that food was to be sought and homes headed for.
(Now, I have heard this saying many times. " soon as the air hit me.." I can assure you all that the air does hit you most of the time. It is what air does. It moves whether it is on the gossamer breath of the lightest summer breeze or in the cold icy blasts of a winter storm.When the air hits you, it doesn't make you leglessly drunk. YOU did that bit.) After several 7.4% ciders, on leaving the sanctuary of the "airless" hostelry of choice, it was alledged that some stray bit of air chased relentlessly after Dave, cornering him near the taxi rank, and unceremoniously assaulting the poor man.He did not stand a chance. Even the kebabs we purchased failed to protect him from the criminality of the air.Alledgedly. We walked and lurched our way to the subway, thinking this would be were our ways parted and, with Dave leading the way T'other 'arf mentioned we may have to see him home. "Nah, he's alright" said I. We then watched as Dave negotiated the gradual slope like Bambi on ice mixed with a touch of a penguin in a head wind. "Yeah, we better see he gets home ok" I declared.We were soon in view of Dave's abode and we were duly invited in very insistantly for a drink.We agreed and were soon served with a glass of wine. An apology to Jackie, Dave's wife. Sorry we spoiled the X factor and the peace.We drank up, realised our host was almost asleep and bade farewell. Those early starts do get you in the end.
Cheers and keep it "Real"