Promise, Promises !
After declaring, demonstratively, that, I, The Berrmonster, would be saving myself, almost virginal, for the up-coming Wetherspoon World's Biggest Real-Ale Festival, it may appear that I have succumbed to the temptation of an Ale or two during the interceding period. Why ? Well, the Great British weather, true to form, has been typically shocking, with days of wind, hail and snow making appearances most days, with frost biting at one's appendages during the very late and extremely early passages of the day, both periods very familiar to me.This prevented any worthwhile journeys down to our allotment. On top of this, I was on my late shifts for the first 3 days of March's opening week, which, with a lunchtime start and a 10-30 pm finish, doesn't encourage one to rush out to the pub, especially as, on my arrival home, T'other 'arf, my loving Partner, has, usually, slipped a couple of hot water bottles under the duvet, in a bid to expel the cold out of my joints and half-frozen lower limbs. By the time Thursday arrived, and cabin fever set in, we, Jane and I, had finally managed to get a day off together. A foray into the newly re-opened Lidl store, which, incidentally was offering several Shepherd Neame beers, was on the agenda. I procured a trio of these bottles for the coming weekend's F.A. Cup matches. Such stress. I was ready for a pint after that, so, with T'other meeting “The Girls” from work for a pre-arranged Curry Night meal a Wetherspoon, I decided to keep her company until the Tribe arrived. I had an important meeting to attend the following morning, so over indulgence was never on the menu (although several fine curries were!!). Scanning the pumps in The Yarborough Hotel, just a shade after 5pm, we decided on a pint of Burton Bridge's “Golden Delicious”, (GD), a Golden Bitter of 3.8%, and a half of Acorn “Bullseye” The “GD” was a mildly citrus beer, with a slight sweetness at the back, gently pushing it to a lingering dry and bitter finish, whereas the “Bullseye”
at 4.5% was a Best Bitter with a floral and spiced
aroma, which combined with a malty, sweet caramel base, giving way to
a medium hoppy finish. Both very good. As “The Girls” arrived ,
I said a cheery “Hi”, then bade them “Farewell”. Although I
was aware I could have stayed, I left the Coven to Yap, Yap, and Yap,
infinitum, as I popped over
to the Ice Barque. The visit was brief, due to diminished Real-Ale
stocks (again). I struggled through a half of “London Pride”,
before moving on again to The Hope and Anchor to test their wares.
With Tom Woods “Bomber County” on tap, and at only £2-60 a pint,
I decided to indulge in a measure of this rich, dark beer. As usual,
a really good glass of this Tom Woods favourite was dispensed, and
was quickly devoured by my good self. It was now the wrong side of
6-30pm, but the right side of 7pm. I sensibly set off home for a bite
to eat, slipping into the bath a little later, before settling down
to some rubbish TV.
|Bully for you.|
After Friday morning's appointment, I set off for a couple of hours work down the allotment. The rest of the day was spent lazily watching more rubbish on Catch-up TV, whilst my erstwhile beloved one flogged her guts out at work (or so She said !) Mind you, I ensured dinner was served on her arrival home, along with a glass of wine, whilst I chose one of my Shepherd Neame bottled beers to relax (further) with. The bottle of choice? “Up and Under”, A Hoppy Ale of 3.8%. I found this Bitter quite fresh, with the hops strongly prominent in this medium dark coloured beer. The aroma is sweet and a nuttiness seems to appear in the finish. Quite a pleasing beer, from a bottle. I then settled down to watch the “Soaps”, whilst my own were bubbling in the slowly filling bath I was drawing, to help ease away my backache. Work tomorrow at 04-30.
While we endured a freezing cold weekend at work, the only thing to cheer me was the thoughts of the F.A. Cup games, on TV, and trying my remaining 2 bottles of Shepherd Neame beers. The first I tried, as I watched Aston Villa's 2-0 win over local rivals West Brom was the “Double Stout”. This 5.2% beer was a classic Double Stout, with a smoothness throughout, with burnt caramel, toffee, cocoa easing you through to a dry, but bitter finish. A beer to savour as you relax in front of a roaring fire ( or, as I did, with the central heating nipped up a bit) Sunday's offering, for the Liverpool v Blackburn match, an average 0-0 encounter at times, was SN's “India Pale Ale”, a 6.1% version of their 4.5% cask beer. This is a strongly hopped beer, with fruit, citrus and a touch of caramel coming through from, seemingly, all angles. There is also a spiced bitterness that arrives towards the end. I liked it, but others may find it a little too complex, maybe. And that was that. It was all over. There were no-one imitating sick parrots No people were on the pitch but the celebrations of these three ales was no less excitedly accepted than any winning goal.
Monday's weather was atrocious, which swayed me to meet T'other 'arf, after we had both finished our toils, for a spot of lunch, and to wind down after those thankless early starts. We walked up to The Parity where we ordered our food, Chicken Melts, and washed it down with Tom Woods' “Old Codger”. The 4% ruby coloured Bitter was well balanced, with the bitter-sweet taste balanced with a nutty, maybe even biscuit, aftertaste. Both the food and Ale were well received. Predictably, we then wandered to The Yarborough, where we relaxed, gazing out on to the wet streets, and sodden pedestrians, squelching past Lowry-esque, to and from imaginary Satanic mills (more likely the local offices and shops.), as we enjoyed a Bath Ales “Cobblestones” and a half of Milestone's “Magna Carta”. The “Cobblestones”, a 3.8% Golden Ale, was light and very fruity, with peach and, possibly, summer berries leading towards a gentle dry bitter finish. This was one of the Festival Ales. The “Magna Carta”, a Bitter of 5%, on the other hand was also quite golden, but with a more sweet taste, with a burnt toffee flavour cutting through. We finished in here with another from the upcoming Festival, an Ale from New Zealand's Townshend's Brewery, “JCIPA”. At 5.5%, this beer had a full malty aroma, with citrus and spiciness leading the drinker to a sweet, spicy and medium bitter, dry finish.
With Jane having a bit of shopping to do, and my thirst not yet fully quenched (my last early shift has that effect), we went our seperate ways, for an hour or so. I ventured, I don't know why, to the Ice Barque. Encouraged by the sight of one of the Festival brews, namely “Dungarven's Irish Stout”, on the bar, and thought drifting towards the Cheltenham Festival, Ireland's horse racing Enclave during March, I felt a sort of “coming together” was in hand. No such luck. “Available Soon” was the nearest I got. With very little else, I opted for the “Ruddle's”, which , well, was just “Ruddle's” Very average all the way round. Bitter-sweet, with no suprises expected, or received. Quite predictable and almost boring, but not as bad as some of these bog standard brews. A beer to drink, not savour, I find, but not in huge amounts. I voted on the selrections with my feet, and left, to end my early evening in The Hope and Anchor, with a pint of Bateman's “Black and White” before me. This Mild, of 3.4%, is rich, creamy and contains a wonderful mix of nutty, fruity and slight cocoa flavours. This is a good beer, in my opinion, and a beer to really relax with. Being content and half asleep, I was away, to catch the last Quarter-Final of The Cup at home....which....yawn.....I didn't quite.....zzzz zzzzz. What was the score?
We managed another 2 or 3 hours digging on the plot on Wednesday, before a spot of shopping, and, as T'other 'arf was visiting a friend later that day, I shot home, put our groceries away, and nipped into Town, grabbing 4 beers I had not sampled previously. I tried a brace of halves from the Festival brews, still not started though, and another 2 halves besides.The first was the non-Festival Hanlon's 4.8% “Port Stout”. This was dark and smooth with the taste more coffee than chocolate. The finish was long and rounded, but the Port flavour was not that obvious to me. Next up was Nils Oscar, a Norwegian India Ale, from a brewer, the identity of which was sadly a blur, due to small print and the wrong spectacles. Doh ! That was a shame. The beer, on the other hands was a very well rounded ale with sweetness to start but leading quickly to a lovely bitter taste. It had slightl blackcurrant hints and a long, bitter-sweet finish. Hmm nice.The 2 Festival halves were “Spider Bite” from the Devil's Backbone Brewery, and Lighthouse “Shipwreck IPA” The first offering, a 4% Ale, was sweet caramel and quite malty at the onset, with a “bubblegum” taste peeping through, but not enough to imbalance the bitter finish, which was not too long, but very satisfying. The Lighthouse IPA, weighing in at 6.5% I found quite sweet, fruity with pleasant bitter undertones. A little too sweet for me, and I found the finish long and dry. Not a bad beer, but I maybe expected more.
Well, I shall try to ease a Festival third (or 3!) down my neck over the next couple of weeks, but work may prevent my attempts to get the full house at the JDW's bash. We will see. Until the next time. Cheers and keep it “Real”