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Thursday, 6 November 2014

Part 3 Finishing Off

Sunday 26th October

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

Thursday 30th October

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

Sunday 2nd November

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



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