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 ( 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.

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