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Monday, 9 November 2015

Start All Over Again.

 “Pick yourself up, dust yourself down, start all over again.” So goes the words of Jerome Kern and Dorothy Fields' little ditty, performed by Ginger Rodgers and Fred Astaire, in the 1936 movie “Swing Time”. What relevance has this to me, on November 1st 2015 ? Bugger all, really. I did have a skip in my step, a song in my heart, and, after October's sabbatical of sorts, I suppose I was sort of starting over again with the Ale, but I can't remember having to pick myself up, and I was already quite dust-free. It's funny how a song can stick in your head, after inadvertently catching it on the radio (Talksport is my usual preference, but previously,catching the Grimsby v Cheltenham result, which we lost, on the local channel, I forgot to tune back, and ended up the following morning listening to that drivel) So, musically speaking, That was that. Opening my first beer for 31 days whistling a song from yesteryear, I painlessly and easily slipped back into The Beermonster's persona again. My first beer of the day was from the
First drink November 1st
Wychwood “Dunkel Fester” 4.4%. It was somewhere between a Mild and Stout, with slight roast nut, malt and coffee flavours coming through. There was a good bitterness in the long finish. Not a bad beer to reacquaint my palate with. T'other 'Arf, and I had planned to have the afternoon out, so, after a quick bite to eat, and appropriately attired, we shared a bottle of “Das Helle” a brew from Dinkerlacker-Schwaben Brau, and a beer I have reviewed before, back in February 2015, and headed out. First stop was The Curious Cat, which I am fast becoming a fan of. I, and others I have talked to, would like to see a Real Ale added to the bar, though, but the bottled beers are quite good, and the welcome, friendly. I had a bottle of the wonderfully flavoured Meantime Chocolate Porter, whilst Jane went for a bottle of Brooklyn Lager, 5.2%. The lager was more like a Pale Ale, in taste, and quite palatable, with a good malted caramel and hop balance, and not too carbonated. Our destination was to be Cleethorpes, via the train, but having 4o minutes to wait, and the Wetherspoon's Beer Festival holding its final day, we popped in the Yarborough Hotel for a selection of 6 tasters (festival thirds, that is ). We did pop into the Coliseum Picture House, in Cleethorpes later that day, and finished off, back here, in the Yarborough, so I will review the JDW's festival's delights later. After our journey down the line to Cleethorpes, we decided to have a look at the The Pier, the resort's iconic landmark, recently revamped excellently, and sympathetically,by a local businessman's consortium. What a fantastic job they have made. It
The iconic Pier, Cleethorpes
boasts a restaurant, tea room and a wonderful ballroom, with chandelier, as well as a public bar. There is only one Real Ale on, Sharp's “Doom Bar”, which was quite OK, but nothing special, unlike the venue. I did observe the “technique” of the pull of this pint, which made me smile. Not a drop was wasted, each pull was administered only after the previous ones head had subsided. I took a while for a pint and a half to be poured, but there was definitely NO wastage ! It was nice on here, gazing out to the twinkling lights of the river, and the hustle of the Promenade behind, but, with a few more visits to fit in, we were soon on our way again, up to the Nottingham House. It was very busy in here, as usual, but we were soon served, with me choosing a pint of North Star “Trailblazer” and T'other 'Arf a half of “Dave”, a 3.8% Bitter from Great Heck Brewery. My beer, at 4.5%, was a lovely Golden Ale, with a sharp, citrus and zesty orange punch to it, with a subtle berry hint, which seemed to temper it perfectly. “Dave” was a dark, malty session ale, with a rich taste, with berries coming through at the end. It was rather Mild-like, I thought, but what do I know ? On finishing these, looking out onto the, now, rapidly darkening light outside, we popped down the street to Dexter's Alehouse. The beer we had in here was “Poppy”, a 3.6% Bitter, brewed by Charles Wells to commemorate the Remembrance. 10p from each pint sold will go to the Royal British Legion charity funds. We found it a good malty brew, with a very dry finish, and a beer to savour. We left here, wandered past the new beer emporium in the resort, Message In A Bottle, who's wares looked quite extensive, and where a visit is long overdue, and ended up at The Bobbin, a bar opened about a year ago. It doesn't stock Real Ale, unfortunately, but does carry a few bottles of Craft Beer. The ambience was relaxing and warm, and an added bonus was live music courtesy of a local duo performing in the bar. “A What !!??” I stammered to the request of a “Strawberry Bellini”, but The Lady wasn't for turning. So there we sat, a great big glass of fizzy pink stuff, and a US brewed Anchor Porter a bottled beer of 5.6% between us. All I can say of the cocktail is it tasted sweet, but the Porter, I thought, was complex, but well balanced. There was liquorice, coffee and dark fruits in here, along with a touch of vanilla, and toffee, but the finish is bitter-sweet, and fruity, with a nice dryness. As the glass of fruity stuff was only half empty, I chose another craft beer from the bar, namely Einstok “Pale Ale”, 5.6%, from Iceland (NOT the supermarket !). This was another good bottled beer, with a good malt body, which has undertones of toffee, and a nice bitterness in the finish. Not a bad beer at all. After here, we popped into the aforementioned Coliseum Picture House, before travelling back up to The Yarborough, to finish off. After my break from the beer, I certainly enjoyed the afternoon/evening. Now, if I may, I will give you a brief review of the Wetherspoon Real Ale Festival.

With only one day to enjoy the delights of this latest JDW offering, I am afraid this is a rather short summary of the beers on offer here. Luckily, in the past, I had sampled a few before, but the others I got to sample, in third of a pint taster glasses, are as follows.

Ishii Brewing/Wadworth Brewery “Minagof Smoked Porter” 5.5%. Where do I start with this one ? Well, the over bearing taste of this beer was coal tar. For me, it did nothing at all. I tried to finish it, but could not get past the, positively, medicinal taste of this awful beer. I, The Beermonster, could not finish 1/3 of a pint of “Minagof”! Enough said ?

Nogne O/Wychwood “Nordic Noir” 4.5% This was better. An oatmeal stout, with a smooth malty taste, with coffee and oaty caramel coming through. It wasn't a classic, by any means, but, all the same, a reasonable brew.

Coach House Brewing “Ale of Arrows” 4%. A best Bitter that was rather mellow. A nice, if subtle bitterness is the mainstay of this beer, with a crisp zestiness in the finish.0

Shepherd Neame “Red Sails Cherry Porter”. 4%. Tasted recently on our Leeds trip, this is a lovely fruity Porter which never really fails to excite the tastebuds. And, yes, you can taste the cherries.

Wood's “Ebony” This Stout, of 4.5% had a nice chocolate lacing to it. The initial sweetness soon combines with the dry-bitterness, to satisfy the thirst. There is dry biscuit flavours in the finish. Very nice indeed.

Brewster's “Et Citra, Et Citra.” 4% This Golden Ale is full on with malt at the start, but soon gives way to fruit and zesty citrus flavours. One to freshen the palate with.

Bateman's “QED” Another 4% offering, this beer was sweet, slightly spiced and had a good quantity of fruit in the taste. A good beer, but not quite the classic it proclaimed in the notes.

Butcombe “Chinook APA” 4.2% Big on hopped flavours, this Golden Ale was clean tasting, dry and citrus, with a refreshing finish. A good beer.

Strathaven “Festival Ale” 4.5% A Best Bitter with a complex flavour, but not too distracting from the main malt body. I could detect spice, slight tropical fruitiness, orange zest and a slight nuttiness in this beer, but none dominate, and all compliment each other.

Tring “Maloko” 4.5%. A good chocolate and slight nutty Milk Stout, which slides down well, and leaves a good long,smooth finish in the mouth.

Sixpoint Brewing/Adnams “Bengali” A big tasting 6.4% beer, with a character like an American IPA. The taste is predominently citrus, with pine also evident. There is a good bitterness in the finish. I liked the “full on” flavours of this, and it certainly get your brain working again at the end of a session !

Other beers on the list, which I had sampled at previous festivals, or in other pubs were Young Henry's/Bateman's Real Ale 4%, Theakston's Infallible 4.2%, Zululand/Marston's “Zulu Blonde” 4.5%, Green Jack “Rising Sun” 4.8%, Fat Head's/Hook Norton “Yakima Sun” 5%, Moorhouse's “Pendle Witches Brew” 5.1% , Kelham Island “Wild Rider IPA” 5.5% and Wychwood “King Goblin” 6%, so, by default, I am claiming a total of 19 out of 50 for this one !

We have a few bits and bobs lined up over the next few weeks, including 3 days in the City of Nottingham, sampling the fine brews of that locality, and those lovely boozers I last visited a few years back, and we will be visiting the 2nd Annual Great Grimsby Beer Festival (held at the Matrix bar, November 12th to 14th), on our return, so, plenty to pop into my little notebook, but until then, Cheers, and keep it “Real.”