Monday, 29 December 2014

My Way

With Saturday's little trip to Louth over, I experienced the rarity of a quiet couple of days off, if you exclude the ritual of present buying, wrapping and hiding. Besides a couple of bottles of my home brew (“St-out in the Cold”, from the Wilko's velvet stout kit, and a Tom Caxton's Real Ale I played with and bottled as “Bitter This, That & T'other”), I resisted the temptation of nights out with the throngs. It helped that I was on lates during the run up to the Big day.
Pre-Xmas drink selection.
We were only working until 6pm on Christmas Eve though, so we had planned a couple of hours out with friends later in the evening. Unfortunately, illness struck in their camp, so that was that. We had a couple of beers at home, notably the Shepherd Neame brew, “Rudolph's Reward”, the Kent brewery's 3.8% bottled beer, which I found in Lidl for only 99p ! To be honest, it isn't packed with Christmas flavours, in fact I found it very much like any bog standard bottled bitter of the same strength. A slight caramel taste tries to come through the sweet maltiness, and the finish, although quite short, is dry and refreshing, but it is what it is. A cheap bottle of beer. I won't be pouring the rest down the sink as a protest to blandness, I will just enjoy them for what they are.
Christmas morning came, and we loaded the car up for the short journey across town to see the three youngest Grandchildren. It was lovely to see their faces light up as we arrived. After explaining why Santa had left some of their pressies at our house, the cacophony of excited noises continued. We stayed a couple of hours, and then popped home, to get our own dinner on, before popping back out to The Yarborough for a couple of beers. Before my current employment, I was 20 years a Private Hire Driver (taxi) and worked every Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. I could never work out why the Christmas Day in the pub tradition was so strongly adhered to, but having experienced it for the first time last year, with everyone in a festive mood, it certainly leaves one with a warmness, and not just from the alcohol. I started off with Caledonian “Knee Deep”, a beer already reviewed here ( This pint, though, was clearly struggling to reach the heights of the previous tasting. Very much bottom of the barrel, I would say. After that I chose the same as T'other' arf was drinking, Wickwar “Christmas Cracker”. With a plum pudding and nutty taste, which leads you from the sweet malt through to the long hopped finish, this 4.2% Ale certainly lives up to it's name.
We met up with T'other' arf's son, and his girlfriend, enjoyed the afternoon, and then we went back for our Christmas Dinner. Now, I don't like to blow my own trumpet, but my cooking skills were greatly appreciated, and the offerings, eagerly scoffed. Smoked Salmon Pate with Capers, followed by Stuffed Turkey Breast, served with Roasted Veg, Brussels Sprouts with peanut butter, bacon and Chestnuts, Red Cabbage in balsamic vinegar and Buttered Leeks, with one or two little ingredients added. We had no room left for the Home-made Xmas Pudding or the Home-made Christmas cake! Our Grandson also came round a little later, and we had a lovely evening, just relaxing and watching a Norman Wisdom DVD. The simple things in life are sometimes the best. T'other' arf and I were both back at work Boxing Day, so the excesses in the drinks department were curtailed early. We were on opposite shifts too, so as Jane was entering the house, I was just leaving. We are rather like the figures on one of those old weather houses, at the moment, and I don't mean just gathering dust on a mantel-piece.
On Saturday, I was off, so, I met my half-pinter from work, as we had arranged, and had ourselves a bit of an afternoon session. I am not off again until after New Year, so this was to be our little treat, although, with Jane on earlies tomorrow, we would not be making a night of it as well. We started out in the Ice Barque (I know, glutton for punishment), and, after waiting an age, we eventually got served. I fancied a Sixpoint beer, displayed on the pumps, “Xporter”. After several unsuccessful pulls, it was announced that “It's gone” . The only other choice I fancied was Milestone's “Donner & Blitzed” a 5.4% Ale which was reasonable, but lost it's head far too quickly. Quite a heavily malted beer,I thought,with occasional spice and nuts coming through to a quite rounded finish. I would have liked to try this beer a bit fresher, as I think it wasn't done any justice by being served, shall we presume, near the end of the barrel. T'other 'arf tried the “Devil's Backbone”, which she enjoyed. Another beer I had tasted and reviewed before, this American Craft Ale is excellent, for a keg beer. The rain, by the time we left, was slinging it down, making for a miserable outlook, so our next port of call needed to be a short distance away, which we decided would be The Hope and Anchor, just around the corner. This one-roomed pub, with a central bar, used to be a regular haunt of ours. We used to have our quiz nights in here back in the Noughties. The pumps displayed 3 Real Ales, and we decided on Tom Woods “Christmas Cheers”, a 4.5% seasonal offering, which, so I am reliably informed, is “Bomber County” with a splash of Whisky flavour added. The taste was, undeniably, “Bomber County” but the Whisky was very subtle. Very well balanced and not too overpowering in taste or aroma, a pleasurable drink indeed. The pub staff, and clientele, were all very amiable and welcoming at this boozer,which is just away from the main shopping centre, and the beer was served as it should be. We stayed for another before setting sail for The Duke of Wellington, just a stones throw away. “The Duke” is another friendly “locals” pub, but with a bit more grit and character. The “Bombardier” we were served here wasn't the best, but still quite passable. We warmed ourselves by the raging fire, surveyed the many old Hewitt's bits and bobs, before making our way back towards town.
Hewitt's Bottle Labels.
Before leaving, Jane pointed out a couple of acts, appearing in the coming weeks, at this venue. “Someone called “Steve” is here at New Year. Strange time, though, 5pm?” I said nothing. “What do you think “Robbieshop is?” I had to point out that “Stevie S” was appearing at 9 and later that week, a local DJ called “Rob Bishop” was also booked. Should have gone to Specsavers!! It was time for some food, I realised. We wandered back to The Barge, had the best pint and a half of “Bombardier”, I believe, in the area, and Jane ordered a Cajun Chicken Baguette. When it turned up, it was HUGE. Easily enough for us both to share, and very well prepared and tasty. We could have stayed a little longer, but as the shopping centre was still open, we thought we would make our way across, and pass through it, rather than get a soaking walking round to The Yarborough via the main road later. I took advantage of a “bargain” watch, from one of those barrows one glimpses in every shopping centre, whilst walking through. £3-00 it cost, ( I could have had a box with it for an extra 2 quid, I declined!) The young lady even set the correct time on it for me. What service, eh? When we eventually reached The Yarborough, the Christmas Ales were still evident in their numbers. We tried to steer clear of any we had already tasted, but that was getting harder. In the end, after a pint of the Moorhouse's “Ice Witch”, a 4.3% Ale already quaffed and enjoyed on a previous visit, we settled on a pint of J.W.Lee's 4.8% “Plum Pudding”, which was rich, dark and filled with fruit flavours. The finish was quite dry, and very satisfying,along with a half of Cotleigh's “Red Nose Reinbeer”, a regular Christmas offering. This 4.3% seasonal Ale, with it's toffee and nutty undertones in the long hoppy finish, preceded by a rich maltiness, is an excellent session beer for the Winter. I glanced up at the TV news showing on one of the screens, dotted around in here. 17-02 said the little box in the corner, looking down at my new, bargain watch, it was displaying 16-40. “Have you been messing about with the telly?” I exclaimed to T'other'arf.

Time was ticking, or not, as the case may be, so we decided to stroll on home, picking up the Lotto on the way. During our amble, which took us past The Parity, I couldn't resist another glass of Tom Wood's “Christmas Cheers”, also on sale here. Sitting there, I realised that, with 2014 soon coming to an end, I should, maybe, sing us out with a little ditty. I will offer you this. Apologies to Mr Sinatra, but I have always attempted to do it this way

  "My Way"

And now, the ale is clear
I'm served a drink from the final firkin
My friend, I'll have my beer
Half a case of which I'm certain
I've drank many a glass that's full
With T'other'arf on our away days
One more, and a half this, we drank it our way

Bad beer, I've had a few
But then again, too few to mention
We sipped a good ale or two and saw it through less late bar extension
I planned each charted round, each careful brew along the barway
One more, and a half of this, we quaffed them our way

Yes, there were times, I'm sure you knew
Faced with Ale you could almost chew
But through it all, when there was doubt
I'd review, not spit it out
I shared it all and I told it all, and blogged it my way

I've sipped, I've quaffed and cried
I've had my fill, my share of boozing
And now, as beers subside, I find it all so amusing
To think I tasted all that
Gargled all, not in a shy way,
Nitro keg?, oh, no, “Real Ale” for me, I'll drink it my way"

For what is a man, what beer's he got?
If not Cask Ale, then he has naught
To drink the beers, those lovely Ales, Browns, Milds Stouts, and the Pales
The record shows we lapped up the brews and supped them our way!

Cheers, A Very Happy New Year to you all, and, remember, keep it “Real” 

Wednesday, 24 December 2014

It was Only A Winter's Ale.....

Louth, the Lincolnshire Wolds market town just 16 miles down the A16, was to be our pre- Christmas day out on Saturday. The previous evening, I had spent a couple of hours in town, watching the World go by (which at this time of the year is usually made up by the once-a-year boozers, hell bent on destroying either their reputation, or everybody else's peace and quiet.) with them stopping, frequently, to gorge on the many and varied alcoholic offerings available in every bar, annoyingly upping the volume of inane works chatter, staggering, queue jumping and, basically, just being obnoxious, flirtatious and loud. Works Parties are like chicken at a barbecue. Served up right, enjoyment ensues. Get it wrong and you will end up with your head in a bucket, wishing you hadn't bothered !!
Back to the main subject of this posting. Louth. Quaintly old fashioned, definitely middle classed, and, undeniably, a bloody good place to have a pint or two. We, eventually, jumped on the 09-45 bus, after a determined route march to the Bus Station because of hidden scarves, lost gloves and decisions to be made over dresses before we left our abode (not mine, I hasten to add. I chose trousers on such a cold day!!!). The chatter on the No 51 was of all things festive, and most of it still to be done. One aside was a little conversation concerning the military and the Officer class. T'other 'arf confidently spoke of the training they do “ Sandringham”, been on the telly, apparently, “Yes, They do so many weeks there.” I resisted for a full 30 seconds before adding “ Must be a Bootifull Acadmee” Quizzically, it was enquired if Sandringham was not the place she was waxing lyrically about. “No, Jane. Sandringham is in North Norfolk, where HRH has a holiday home. Just near Hunstanton, where we caravanned, twice, in the past. I believe you meant Sandhurst !!” I almost never heard the cussing, but I know there must have been some.
We alighted our charabanc, adjacent to the market, perused the stalls, avoiding the 6 quid Xmas sweaters but failing not to buy a couple of bacon butties. I cannot visit Louth without thinking of those TV shows that depict life out in the “sticks” in those bygone ages of the 60's and 70's. Time does seem to have stood still here, and I like that. I like that very much indeed. It gives a warmth to your visit, whatever the weather. Green waterproof country jackets, with check shirts, matching flat-caps and, either, brown brogues, or stout outdoor boots are much in evidence, with tweed also popular. The agricultural roots of Lincolnshire are very conspicuous in this neck of the woods. So, on to the purpose of our trip. After a quick coffee, I turned the beer radar on, and we headed off towards our first port of call. This was to be The Gas Lamp Lounge, near the Riverhead area of Louth, in
The easily missed Gas Lamp Lounge,Louth
Thames Street. As we turned into the street, although I was confident of my bearings, T'other 'arf was a bit more, well, unsure. This bye-way is slightly residential, but also quite industrial, with several little companies dotted about down its path. The pub can be easily overlooked, based in the old offices, adjacent to the home of the recently re-homed Fulstow Brewery, but is a must for any Real Ale fans. The welcome was very convivial, even as the place was initially occupied by a single patron and the Barmaid. This warmth seems to linger all around the bar. The offerings where all very tempting on the pumps and I eventually plumped for the “Marsh Mild” at 3.8% whilst Jane's tipple was the 4.2% “Northway IPA. We were also invited to try the Christmas Ale,a rum and raisin infused beer, pump clip and details not yet available, which we duly did. I thought it was quite smooth, if slightly sweet, but both the rum and raisin were clearly evident, whatever it was called! We took our wares and sat next to the log burner, admiring the assorted local brewing artefacts of Brewers long gone, and the collection of Matchbox and Corgi toy trucks, which tastefully adorned the walls, all bearing breweries or malsters lodged in memories of yesteryear. Why is it called The Gas Lamp Lounge?, you may ask. Simple. Just gaze upwards and you will be able to see the gas piping which feeds the gas lamps. Yes, real gas powered lighting, quite a novelty. Our beers were absolutely perfect. The Mild, dark and caramel tasting, with a wonderful, but not overdone, bitterness in the finish was soon devoured, and the IPA, with its fully hopped punch, which leads to a long dry finish, was also greatly received. I followed this up with another of the Brewery's staple beers, “ Pride of Fulstow” a copper coloured Bitter at 4.5%. This was an excellent malty beer, with a nice, balanced hoppiness leading to a blackcurrant noted finish. Drinks finished, we bade farewell, with a promise of a swift return, and headed back to the Riverhead, and to The Woolpack. This is a busy, bustling pub, one of the many Bateman's pubs in this part of Lincolnshire, and is, clearly, as reliant on it's good food as much as it's excellent beers. Again, we received a honest warmth in our welcome, as we chose our beers. Jane went for the “Yellabelly” a Golden Ale of 3.9%, which was served to perfection, enhancing the dryness and refreshing citrus flavours of this lovely brew, whilst I couldn't resist the old Christmas favourite of “Rosey Nosey” coming in at 4.9%. I love this beer at Christmas, with the big malty punch, which combines so well with the spicy fruitiness. A lot of flavours unfold in your mouth, but, somehow, with a subtlety in the balance. I know it is the Season to be jolly when I am caressing a glass of this classic Ale, with the aroma, gently drifting up to my nasal passages,
A Seasonal Favourite.
making the moment magical, and comforting. I dream of roaring open fires, glittering fairy lights on pine trees, which, to a Scrooge like me, is quite amazing! We were meeting my Aunt in here for a meal, and a good natter, which will be one of the highlights this Christmas, besides seeing Jane's Daughter and Son, and, of course, our 4 Grandchildren. Food ordered, and a repeat round, plus a J2O, the three of us chatted, reminisced, and, generally, just enjoyed each others company. Our food was excellent, and the service attentive. I finished off this session with St Austell's “Proper Job” the cask version of this supermarket bottle beer. I found this 4.5% Ale very refreshing, with a crisp hop bitterness overcoming an initial citrus taste, and finished with a grapefruit dryness. A good beer, which helps cleanse the taste buds after a hearty meal. Even Auntie Pauline weighed in with the great session beer Bateman's “XB”, although, because she was driving, her session was restricted to, sensibly, just a half of the 3.7% Bitter. We exchanged fond festive wishes, promised to “ this again very soon” and went our separate ways. We, Jane and I, decided to venture back to The Gas Lamp Just as the pub loomed into sight, I realised I had left my hat, bought for £1 last Winter, back at The Woolpack. Pride, or embarrassment, stopped me going back to search for it, after it was only a quid!. On entering the pub, we came upon the local dog walkers' Xmas Party, with Golden retrievers, terriers and the odd Heinz 57, all mingling together, quite agreeably, the same as their Owners. A nice sight to behold, we thought, and a nice touch on by the proprietors for looking after their regulars. We both had our relevant measures of “Northway IPA” before I had my final pint, in this absolute gem of a pub, of “Fulstow Common” a 3.8% Ale which is medium bodied, but strong in it's hopped character. The place was filling quite quickly as we left, with all ages anxious to taste those well brewed beers on offer, but we had a bus to catch, so getting a little closer to the town centre seemed a better idea. Off we set, into the cooling wind, which had plagued us most of the day. It was at this point I noticed my head had started to get a touch colder. I did miss my pound shop hat after all. The original idea was to try either The Boar's Head, which, unfortunately, was closed as we passed, or The Brown Cow, a little stroll further on. A quick glance at our watches deemed a change of plan. We had The Irish Lotto to put on at the bookies, so found ourselves wandering towards the local J.D.Wetherspoons immediately after parting with our cash, in vain. The aforementioned 2 pubs would have to wait for another day. The Joseph Morton, Louth's JDW, is a clean, well kept bar, which carried a good selection of their Xmas Ales, along with a couple of local ones. I opted for one of the locally brewed Black Horse Ales, which I cannot remember the name of,as I had to visit the “smallest room”, leaving the bar duty to T'other'arf. I found it quite fruity and dry, but quiet moreish, the total opposite to the Mulled Cider enjoyed by my beloved. One for the road was decided on as we scurried down to where the Market stalls were being tidied away. Would it be The Queens, The Masons, or Ye Olde Whyte Swan? With it's roaring fire, Olde Worlde charm, and the thoughts of previous visitations, and of characters we had experienced before, Ye Olde Whyte Swan it had to be. The selection of beers was not fantastic, but the pint and a half of Greene King's Morland “Old Golden Hen”, which is a lovely Golden beer at 4.1%, full of Tropical Fruitiness, and a very dry finish, were well worth it. With our faces as sweaty as a busy Blacksmith's, and redder than a Rhesus Monkey's bottom, after a long bicycle ride, due to the kiln like temerature being given out by the coal fire, we left the pub, drew in some oxygen and, luckily, jumped straight onto our bus for the jouney back home to Grimsby.
To finish the day, once back in our own Borough, we alighted from our transport outside The Wheatsheaf, rather than travelling on to the Bus Station. Although less than a week away from the Big Day, The 'Sheaf was very quiet, but I sometimes prefer that. We went for the McEwan's “Signature” a 4.8% chestnut brown Bitter, which was full bodied, quite rich and fruity, but pleasantly balanced. The creamy head lasted all the way down to the bottom of the glass. Another swiftly followed, and then the lights of our own Christmas Tree beckoned. Setting off home, surrounded by all the twinkling lights and festive scenes, I felt quite content with my little lot in life, and this leads me to thank anyone who is still following me, and this meandering blog. Thank you, Happy Yuletide, Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Zarathosht Diso (I hope I have not missed anyone's celebration out ) and may you all enjoy this time of the year as much as is possible.

Cheers and keep it “Real”

Sunday, 14 December 2014

The Pub with No Beer..........almost.

Friday 28th November

We, T'other arf and I, started this run up to Christmas with a few goals in mind. Most entailed the idea of cutting back on luxuries and frugality, so we could splash the cash over the holidays (although we will only get Christmas Day off together, as I work at the local airport, and Jane is in Retailing). We were to keep out the Church of Licensed Insobriety, not because I was coming home Apostled, no, it was more an attempt to keep the pennies in the pocket longer so the big season of economic wastage could be entered into in the right frame of mind. I am not a religious man, far from it, but I do believe that, whatever Deity one may wish to follow, religions can give us all the ethical building blocks to be a good, honest and integral person. If you do believe, good for you, but all these celebrations for Christmas baffle me somewhat. Unless I miss the point, Christmas is a Religious Festival, to celebrate the birth of Christ. Right, I'm on the money there, but how do we celebrate this coming of the Son of God ? By buying little Johnny a bike !! Anyway, we were also going to cut back on the day to day luxuries, and only have the central heating on when necessary. So, it came to pass that the following day, in a bid to keep the heating bill down, I nipped into town NOT for a crafty beer, but merely in an attempt to keep my core temperature up, and for research reasons ! Wandering through Town, passing the Christmas decorations, festively bedecked store windows, and the miserable souls who had been searching for that perfect pressie for their beloved, or, in some cases, their begrudged partners, you know the score, my mood was quite upbeat. I scurried past the charity sellers, who were homing in in anyone who made eye contact with them, side stepped a beggar wanting “tea” money and, almost like Indiana Jones, slid through the doors of The Yarborough Hotel and up to the bar. Checking that no large, rolling, boulders were trundling towards me, I carefully inspected the wares on offer and decided on Arundel “Old Scrooge”, a 5% offering, mid brown in colour with a rather thin head. It was slightly malty, a little fruity and a big disappointment. It was more like a weak mild than a big, punchy Xmas Ale. Undeterred, I chose another from the Christmas selection, the popular Thwaites “Yule Love It”.
A Good Winter Warmer.
This cask version of a beer readily available in most supermarkets, was offered with a good head, a slight smoky aroma was detectable and a warming fruity sweetness gave way to an almost grapefruit bitterness in the long finish. A good Winter Warmer of 4.5%. I should have stayed here, amongst good beers, but, as Jane was working, and meeting me for one on the way home, I decided on seeing what was on offer at The Ice Barque. As I entered, on this, a “pay-day” Friday, it seemed quite quiet. Approaching the bar, the most noticeable thing was the lack of variety offered. No noticeable Xmas ales, just
“Doom Bar”, “Ruddles” and “Abbot” and a guest ale on. Greene King are supplying “Abbot Reserve” for JDW's during December and so I assumed that the offering on the bar may be this.. I went for the Greene King “Abbot Ale”, thinking positively, and, as it was being pulled, the guy next to me said “I wouldn't bother, mate. Look” He showed me the pint of mud-like beer he had been drinking. At the same time the bar maid interjected with “ 'It's off” “I know, so's this one” I said pointing to the glass of questionable beer being held by the gentleman next. He put his head down, embarrassed, almost. He was going to wade on regardless, despite his rights, as a consumer, being trampled upon. “Don't want to cause a fuss” he mumbled. After a little while, it was asked of me if I required “..summats else?” I thought of giving the Adnam's “Broadside” a bash, but as it splashed apologetically into the glass, that acetate, vinegar smell, the tell tale sign off bad beer, leapt from the glass. I quickly declined the offering. “What do you want now ?” came the request from the busy bar maid, who, spared me a seconds attention, by serving me, whilst in deep conversation with one of the lads waiting for his shots. “ To Leave.” I said, turning round and waving. Now, I am not one to be scathing for the sake of it, but in the space of a few weeks this pub has gone hurtling down in my estimation. I have entered and, hurriedly, left, a few times this last few weeks. The service has become atrocious, the real ale selection minimal and predictable, beer quality is very questionable. I have now decided not to re-enter this boozer for a few weeks until things, hopefully, improve. I returned to the Yarborough, awaiting the imminent arrival of the Worker, ordering a Caledonian “Knee Deep”, as I settled down for the wait. This seasonal 4.5% brew was dark, sweet and orange tinted with nutmeg on the nose. Rather like a Xmas pudding in taste, with a long dryness in the finish, this was a very good beer, but not a session beer. On arrival, T'other arf fancied a cider, which was easily chosen, a bottle of the excellent Orchard “Pig Truffler”. The promise of “just one” stood on the window ledge, wavering, swaying with trepidation, and finally, went out the window as workmates Dave the Rave and Big Ads (what else to call a 6ft plus Adam? Originality isn't a strong point in some sectors of my life!) entered. Also ensconced further towards the back bar was another of my acquaintances from work, Rachel, who had been enjoying a quiet glass of vino with her friend. The non-session “Knee Deep” became a mini-session beer, and conviviality along with banter and stupid conversation ensued for a while longer than expected. Oh, well, I was not at work until the following afternoon, so my pity would be for anyone who was to start, possibly with a hangover, at, for arguments sake, 7am. Poor T'other 'arf!

Wednesday 3rd December

On Wednesday, the airport paid host to the annual “When You Wish Upon A Star “ flight. A charity that grants wishes to children with life-shortening, or terminal conditions. This yearly jaunt to see Santa in Lapland always fills me with a glimmer of sadness, but also an overwhelming inner warmth. This year we had stars from “Emmerdale”, who always back this charity, along with Denise Welch and Chris Kamara. The terminal had children's entertainers, magicians and also a Scots Piper. A lovely way to spend a rather chilly morning.
Later, once home after a bit of shopping, I again attempted to avert the various hostelries in Top Town (Grimsby's colloquialism for the main shopping area) whilst doing my bit to prove I ain't a Scrooge as some people think (Bah ! Humbug). I do revel in the, almost, pantomime characterisation I take on at this time of the year. I'm sure my loathing is not taken too seriously, but my thoughts on this annoyance of a period are well known to most of my acquaintances. Window shopping complete, I thought I would just window shop The Ice Barque, hoping something miraculous may have occurred since Friday Evening.
My Favourite Sweet.
No sooner had I entered, tut-tutted at the lack of variety, waited far too long for the service of a pint of
“Devil's Backbone” which was not forthcoming, and left, I, again found myself in The Yarborough, this time sampling a half each of Milestone's “Dasher the Flasher”, and “Prancer the Dancer”. Both were quite similar. The Dasher, a 4.5% Ruby Ale, was dark, smooth and malty, with a slight bitter and dry finish, whereas the Prancer at 4.9%, tasted, in my opinion, somewhat “thinner” although the same flavours abounded. Always a prolific brewer, especially the “reindeer” beers at Christmas , Milestone's wares are always welcoming, but some are hard to differentiate in flavours to others of the same range. I did enjoy them though. I finished my liquid lunch with a pint of Moorhouse's “Ice Witch”. At 4.3%, this refreshing Golden Ale has a wonderful mix of fruity aromas and flavours. Tropical fruit, mango, pineapple on the nose and a malty biscuit back taste greets you. The zesty and dry finish seems never-ending, without being too long. A truly great seasonal brew, certainly one to track down. Drinks finished, once more I trudged out into the throng of the hat and scarf wearing populace, all looking for what I already had. An inner warmth, not created by gifts, but from those tiny things which are precious to me. The only thing lacking was the company of my half-pinter. Now, where can I buy those humbugs from?

Tuesday 9th December

After Monday's double shift at work, the overtime is very welcome this at this time of year, and the weather not promising to do much more than “piddle” down for the duration, Tuesday, it was decided, would involve the annual game of crate balancing, as the participant, me, has to juggle with badly packed boxes of Christmas decorations down the rickety loft ladder, whilst avoiding the clutter on the floor from the previous round. After this fun packed interlude, I engaged in a touch of domesticity, as ordered by T'other 'arf's little note (kiss, kiss) Washing up done, laundry in and slow cooker primed with a wonderful spicy, and aromatic sausage cassoulette (posh, eh!) I finally settled down to the Daily Mail cryptic crossword, last Thursday's at that, before the onslaught of telephone calls started. “No, I am not due any PPI”, “Yes, the bolier is fine, and I don't need insuring”, “Actually, I do not want to change service provider...”. This constitutes a day off, apparantly. I glanced at my escape plan, or rather a list of supplies needed from the supermarket. If I nipped out now, I could text T'other 'arf, meet her in town and we could wander to the supermarket together. Only thing is I would have a void of time, about 45 minutes, to fill between arriving in town and Jane's finishing time. Hmmm. The Oldershaw's “Old Boy” went down very well in the Parity, and I also managed to read the local paper in peace, before trudging across town, in good company, to do our bit.
After stocking up with Christmas cheeses, breadsticks, mince pie ingredients, and the like, the return jouney would bring us past The Yarborough, with inevitable consequences. Soon, my glass was full to the brim with the with the dark and malty Adnam's” Yuletide”, 4.5%. A good Winter Warmer, slightly sweet but a deep citrus bitterness in the long and dry finish, I found this a good beer to help lighten my stress loads.Jane opted for, and stayed on, JDW's Mulled Cider. A lovely and warming drink, spiced to perfection, and served hot and steaming. I like a taste of these Mulled offerings, but find them a little too sweet for my taste, and tend to steer clear of a full measure. “Clootie Dumpling” from the Orkney Brewery was my next choice, a 4.3% Seasonal Ale. A cascade of flavours hit me, with spiciness leading to a fruity roundness in the mouth. The finish is very dry and bitter with a good pinch of nutmeg throughout. I found that I had to get past the first gulp before finding the enjoyment of the inner depths of this brew, but once there, it is certainly a nice place! The next tasting was “Rudolph's Ruin”, Rudgate Brewery's 4.6% Christmas Ale. Chestnut in colour, with a full malty flavour which is expertly balanced by seasonal fruitiness and spice, the finish of this ale is long, dry and bitter, with, I thought, a hint of chocolate?. Overall, I would say it was extremely satisfying.
A well balanced Seasonal  Ale
Last on the list, today, was
Burton Bridge “Santi-Freeze”, an Amber coloured Ale, which could be enjoyed anytime of year, is smooth, well balanced and offers the drinker plenty of spicy fruitiness which, thankfully, does not mask the overall malted taste. The aroma of this 4.5% brew hints at Winter fruit. Simply put, a good, well brewed and balanced beer.
Well, besides a taster or two of my Home Brew, work means I shall not be in the boozer until the weekend before Christmas when, hopefully, we will be jumping on the bus and having a few beers in the lovely market town of Louth. I can't wait.
Cheers, and keep it “Real