Monday, 13 April 2015

Winds of Change.

 A few weeks ago, T'other 'arf and I had an afternoon back in Cleethorpes, part of Lincolnshire's holiday Riviera. Taking advantage of the awaiting train from Grimsby to the East Coast resort, a mere 8 minutes later, we alighted at our destination. As is typical, it was peeing it down, which, along with the strong North-Easterly wind (we call these winds “lazy winds. They'd sooner blow through you than go round you), did not suggest anything like a warm welcome. Talking of the weather, I once had a long conversation with an old boy, ex-trawlerman he was, with a face as red and craggy as a mountainside sunset, and a wealth of tales and superstitions from a life at sea. “You know what's the best thing for forecasting the weather, you kid ?” he said, with hardly a mere flicker detectable in those dark, thought filled eyes. “ Pine cone ? “ I chipped in, “....or the clouds, you know cirrus and all them ?” I offered as an aside. “Nah !Bloody pine cones, hah” came his stinging rebuke, “ I'll tell you what. A piece of rope “ I was now to enter in to a nautical secret, I thought, one probably passed down over the years from Man to boy. “You nail it to the fence at the bottom of the garden” was this Sage's priceless information. “Oh, How's that work then ? Is it the strands ? Do they react differently in different weathers?” Here, the vital part of my meteorological education was due to arrive. “No ! You nail it there, then you look out on it every morning. If it's wet, it's raining, if it's dry, it's not, if it's swinging it's windy, and if you can't see it, it's foggy !” Sometimes my tolerance of our previous generation does wear rather thin. Anyway, where was I ? Oh yes, cold and wet, on Cleethorpes seafront. We buttoned up our coats, tightened the scarves and headed on to The Nottingham House. The Notts, as I have reviewed before, is a cracking, traditional old boozer, which is always quite busy. Today was no exception. With a pretty full bar, rugby was on, and the lounge also nearing it's seating capacity, we opted for the snug, at the back, with it's log burner, helping us forget the bracing climate outside. I quickly ordered Marston's “Help For Heroes “ a 4.2% Blonde Ale. This light coloured beer has a slight biscuit taste, which gives to a creamy, but quite tangy, fruitiness. The finish is a little zesty with a slight floral hint. I found that a faint sulphur aroma persisted throughout, which was, rather, off-putting. It was an OK beer, but not great. Next up, we tried York Brewery's “Centurion's Ghost” , a 5.4% Mild. With big hits of caramel, chocolate and fruit, which last all the way to the long and slight bitter finish, this is an excellent beer. The taste is full, but not overpowering. A very well balanced, and easy drinking Ale. The upcoming Beer Festival was well advertised, and noted, which I promised to visit the following week, but that is another story! We had another of the same in here before heading down the road, a full 50 yards, or so, to the former Fisherman's Arms, now, apparently, re-named as Dexter's Ale House.
A Coalition that works !
The choice of beers in here was, again, quite good, and we opted for a pint, and a half of “DNA New World IPA” from Charles Wells, which is brewed by using a reduction of Dogfish Head's “60 Minute IPA”. How that works, I am not sure, but the resulting 5.4 % Ale is worth the effort. A rich biscuit taste gives to a bitter citrus kick, which makes for a very refreshing Ale to savour. A lovely peach taste is also evident. Next, we had a pint of the 3.7% “First Dawn”, a Ruby coloured ale from Caledonian, which was zesty, citrus and fresh tasting, with a good grapefruit taste dancing on the palate, and a half of Bateman's “Spring Goddess”. This Blonde Ale of 4.2% was crisp, dry and very floral. It was extremely refreshing, and a good thirst quencher.
We left here to wander down to the local Wetherspoon, chasing a Festival beer, or two, of which I have already posted about, and then back to Grimsby, and home.

I did manage an early evening at The Notts Beer Festival the following week, which boasted a good selection of beers both on the pump and gravity drawn, although I had tasted quite a few of them before.(I always strive to experience a new beer when possible) Jane was down South, in Kent, visiting her father and I had just finished my early shifts, which prevented me having the time off to drive down there myself. My first beer was from Totally Brewed, a 4% Blond Ale called “Slap in the Face”. This extremely fruity brew, with orange and grapefruit prominent was an excellent starter, and the flavours lasted through to the long finish, leaving one's palate feeling quite refreshed. I followed this with a half each of the dark 4.5% “Sherwood Reserve” from Castle Rock, and Dark Star “American Pale Ale”. The first one was quite malty and heavy tasting, with a strong bitterness to the rich taste. It was not unpleasant, but it did take a couple of good mouthfuls to get used to it, whereas the APA, with it's fruity sweetness, driven by an almost apricot jam-like taste, was very easy to drink, even though it was the stronger of the two beers, weighing in at 4.7% . I was intrigued, and invited to try, the Big Puncher of this festival, namely Burton Bridge Brewery's “Thomas Sykes”. The cake like aroma, followed by a cascade of fruit and caramel tastes, is very evident, with a big fruit packed and syrupy finish. The most noticeable thing about this brew was how easy drinking it was, even at 10 % ABV ! What a good beer this was. I finished on “Cherry Porter”, a 5.5% beer from Firebrand. Another good beer to try, with liquorice and chocolate eventually pushing this ale to the long and bitter-sweet finish. My only complaint of this beer was it seemed a little thin, and this seemed to hold back the flavours at the start, but still a good beer. At this point I dropped my pen on the floor, bent to pick it up, knocking over my bar stool in the process. I picked up the stool, in turn, unable to halt my mobile phone slipping out of my top pocket. I stooped back down, to pick up the phone, again, almost spilling the bar stool. Amidst raised eyebrows and chuckles from around the bar, Mr Bean decided that it was probably time to catch the bus home. Although it was uttered “Good beer, that 10% stuff” and “You don't want many o' them”, I firmly believe the beer wasn't to blame, I think I am just clumsy. Any other comments on a postcard, please! Unfortunately, this was my only visit to this Festival. Maybe next time I will experience a couple or more sessions to this event.

The events of the next few weeks at home were to take us both by surprise, with very different emotions being experienced. Firstly, I applied for, and was accepted in, a new job, which I start very soon. Not long after this, just before Easter, Jane's dad, in Kent, fell ill, and, unfortunately, passed away. With other, more important, matters coming to the fore, you will understand that, over the next few weeks, I may be posting and blogging a little less. We will raise a glass to Tony after the funeral, and celebrate his life.

Cheers and keep it “Real”

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