With T'other 'Arf, and I struggling to get weekends off together, and our social circle mostly, seemingly, working Mondays to Fridays, it can be a real bonus when we all “click”. We had been trying for a while to arrange a few drinks out with Dave “Mogsy”, a mate from my taxi driving days, and his lovely, but equally mad and zany wife, Jane but to no avail. Scuppered by our work patterns, Dave's love of Manchester United and prior engagements, we eventually worked out the last weekend in June would be ideal for us all.......almost. I would be at work on Saturday, whilst my “significant other” was at the grindstone on Sunday morning. Nevertheless, we decided on a Sunday afternoon in Cleethorpes would be spot on, fine and dandy. Only after our arrangements did we realise the the local Armed Forces Weekend would be taking place.
I have always been a supporter of our Armed Forces, and their charities, although never serving myself, except for a cameo role in the local Air Training Corps as a spotty teenager (195 Grimsby Sqn ATC, Leading Cadet and Bandsman, if you are that interested!). Work prevented the parades and commemorations being viewed by our good selves on Saturday, along with, what was reported as, a fabulous firework display, but we would, hopefully, catch some of the MAD (Military Air Display) on Sunday. After Jane got home from work, we quickly got ready and nipped to town to catch the next train, only to miss it by 2 minutes. Bugger, I thought , as the realisation of being in Cleethorpes too late for the celebrations dawned.. Keep Calm and Stay Near The Bar ! We popped into The Yarborough Hotel, which was quite busy for a Sunday, and, with 50 minutes to waste, we imbibed. What did you expect us to do ? I chose the Thornbridge “Jaipur”, a 5.9% IPA, which is incredibly easy drinking for a beer of this strength. With a zesty and undeniably citrus punch from first taste, through to a peach and plum roundness, then, a strong, but well balanced, dry finish, with orange and grapefruit tastes very prominent. Make no mistake, this is no Great Pretender, this is an IPA to be reckoned with! T'other 'arf, meanwhile, chose a G & T. Oh well, whatever. With at least another 15 minutes left, and the gin still well above the lime, I quickly opted for a further quick pint. This one was “Dark Knight” , a 4.4% Stout from the ever reliable Milestones brewery. With a good fruitiness, mainly blackcurrant, which slides away to leave a malty chocolate finish, I found this an excellent brew, and one to be sourced again. Alas, it was time to leave, and face the 10 minute journey to the seaside. Entering The Coliseum Picture House on our arrival, we found found our 2 amigos sat in the modern, but somewhat dark, interior of this popular Wetherspoon's pub, and, with a resigned feeling we had missed most of the afternoon's air display,settled in for a couple of beers. I happened upon a beer that was renowned in Grimsby's brewing past. “Hewitt's HBB 1874 Celebration Ale”, an occassional ale now brewed by The Black Horse Brewery in nearby Louth. I have a lot of Family history tied up in Hewitt's Brothers old brewery, so a sentimental pull was inevitable. I am too young to remember the beers from this brewery, it was “absorbed” by Bass Charrington back in the late 60's, with the usual outcome of closure coming soon after, but I have heard, and seen, in the form of many a pub facade, the size and strength of this estate in it's pomp. The beer, itself, was a lovely ale, with the rich maltiness present throughout, and a long bitterness in the finish. I would I have loved to have had the chance to drink a pint of this with my late dad, who worked at the old brewery, in the bottling plant, and bonded stores (when I was younger, much younger!), just to see if it was anything like the old stuff. I will never know. I followed this with Robinson's “Trooper” a 4.7% Premium Bitter, with a smooth, almost caramel malt taste, which gives way to a citrus hint, slightly lemon, in the finish. Not a bad beer. The rest of the two rounds consisted of Tuborg lager, and Greene King's “Abbot Ale”. We departed soon after, but not before “Mogsy” and I had a shot each of the 33% cinnamon flavoured Whiskey liquor, “Fireball” which, I agree, is an acquired taste. I enjoyed it, but Dave ? I'm not sure ! The face showed a different story to the statement of “Ooh, not bad” Next stop was The Nottingham Hotel, which was surrounded by Military hardware, a pleasing sight. We quickly grabbed our beers, mine, an Acorn “Darkness”, which was a fabulous tasting dark ruby coloured Mild of 4.2%. The flavour was distinctly nutty, with caramel and slight fruit. Although served in a plastic glass, H&S !!, this was still a great pint, which I savoured whilst feeling so proud of our aviation heritage, as a Spitfire and Hurricane danced and acrobatically flung themselves around the sky above us. This was followed by the Yak Display Team, and finally 3 Folland Gnat's, from the Heritage Aircraft Trust. Marvellous. We retired to “Willy's Wine Bar”, a bar I have always found a little pretentious, where we, T'other 'Arf and I, had a pint of a Rat Brewery Ale (sorry, name escapes me, but the beer was quite good), and half of the “Portobello Star” from the brewery of the same name. The latter was very biscuity, and not bad, bearing in mind the previous half dispensed in my absence ( call of nature ) was sidelined to another table after I pointed out that it was not supposed to look like something drawn from a ditch ! My preoccupation with “other” matters and had prevented me mentioning something sooner ! We' d had a good afternoon, with Dave & Jane on good form, as usual, one to be repeated soon I hope. We set off back to catch our train, but not before finding the Number 2 pub had a few beers left from the weekend's beer festival, and 1/3 pint tasters were available. It would have been anti-social not to pop in, don't you think ? The selection, as ever, festival or not, was excellent, and eventually I chose a third each of Cottage Brewery's “Thunderbolt”, “Fireball”, and Pheasantry Brewery “Dragonfly” along with a half of “Pale Ale” from the latter brewers. At 4%, and with a fresh and hoppy surge, with a rather citrus finish, “Thunderbolt” certainly hit the mark. The second offering from Cottage, a 5% IPA, was heavily driven by the grapefruit taste, with a slight peppery spiciness in the finish, I liked it, but T'other 'Arf thought it too bitter. The Pheasantry offerings were both enjoyable too, with the 5% Blonde “Dragonfly” having an exotic fruitiness in the background, along with a rounded malt taste which leads to a dry, crisp finish.The “Pale Ale” coming in at 4%, was very floral, almost perfumed, with an equally dry finish to it's stablemate . Our train was now ready, so we contentedly ambled down the platform, boarded and in a few minutes were alighting back in Grimsby. Being of the persuasive type, and Jane didn't take too much prompting, we managed one more back where we started. This last pint and accompanying half was “Green Bullet” from Loddon Brewery. This is a Golden Ale, weighing in at 4.6%. There was quite a lot going on here, with fruit, gooseberries, the tasting notes advised, and a distinctly lemon and lime trait in every mouthful, along with a rather aromatic spiciness overlaying with biscuit, and slight malt, it was hard to concentrate on any particular part of this complex Ale. We thought it was an OK beer, but nothing extra special, there again, it certainly wasn't bland, just elaborate, busy and a little confused in taste, there again, we had had a full day on the pop, so our palates could equally have been in the same mixed up state.
Good news. Next year's National Armed Forces Weekend has been awarded to North East Lincs (Grimsby and Cleethorpes). This will mean a posse of Leading politicians, high ranking Forces personnel and, hopefully, a member of the Royal Family, will be here to receive the salutes. It will also mean a few more displays, land, sea and air, for all to enjoy. If you have a spare weekend next June, I'm sure you will be made very welcome.
Although not getting out quite as often, I have had one or two little sessions in The Yarborough of late, and, thankfully, managed a few decent brews. Sadler's “Hop Bomb”, sampled on a warm and sultry early evening, was one to enthuse about. A 5% IPA, this beer has the aroma of a fruit basket, a lovely bittersweet maltiness, and a rush of florality. The finish is heavy on the hops, and very dry. An excellent and refreshing drink. Milestones Brewery, from the Newark area, seems to be an ever present at our JDW just lately, and I must confess, they do some bloody good beers. They rarely disappoint. “New World Bitter” was recently on tap. A rich, malty brew, with slight fruit and burnt caramel tones coming through to a quite long, but subtly dry finish, this 4.8% beer was well received, as was the “American Pale Ale”. With a mix of fruits in the initial taste, and a strong but not overpowering hit of bitterness from the hops, I thought this beer of 4.6% was well balanced, although I would say it was not truly like an American Pale Ale at all! Wild Weather “Howlin' Gale” a Co-Ale-ition Ale (with the Monster Raving Loony Party, apparently) was another I stumbled across, 3.9% and labled a dark Old Ale, this beer had a slight choco-coffee taste, along with a hint of dark fruits, and, although initially quite interesting, just like the election, soon forgotten ! I was most surprised at Coach House Brewing Co “Posthorn”, a 5% Premium Ale. I thought it big and malty at first, but after the outset, it did not seem to go anywhere. A touch bland for my liking. Elgood's offering of the newly brewed “Cambridge IPA” was another ale I crossed of my imaginary list (or rather added to my memo notes on my phone, must read them all sometime!). Grapefruit mingles with a wonderfully maltiness, which,in turn, meanders through to a long, tangy and bitter finish. One of the better IPA's being offered at the moment, and at 4.7%, close to a session beer.
Well, that's it for now. I have been tasting a few bottles of late,and with notes made, of which I will try to spew a line or two of next time I post. At the moment, T'other 'Arf, I and our friends, Dee and Steve, are just getting ready for a BIG weekend in Leeds, a place I have not really explored before. I have a list of 20 pubs I would like us to visit over two days. How many we will manage is another thing, but be sure, I will have a report on those (un)lucky enough to have had a visit from The Beermonster !!
Cheers and keep it “Real”