Friday, 22 July 2016

Pull out the Stopper, Let's have a Whopper

The Happy Couple
After the last blog post, I, or rather We, (Jane and I) became a little, shall we say, busy. That meant a slight break from posting on the blog. The reason? On the 2nd of June, T'other 'arf and I tied the knot! In a very private ceremony, just the two of us, along with Coral and Sally, who work in the local British Heart Foundation shop in Cleethorpes and agreed to be our witnesses, met up at the Registrars' office in the resort, and, with the 2 officials also in attendance, T'other 'Arf became my Better 'arf. This was, and will always remain, the best day of my life. We had kept this a secret from family and friends for a whole 9 months, although they had been advised for years that if we were ever to get married, this is exactly how we would do it. Some people never listen! We had decided to honeymoon in Malta, so immediately after the ceremony, we were in the car and off to a hotel in Didsbury, via The Dog and Partridge, near Flouch, a Pennines pub situated on the A628 Woodhead Pass, before flying out to this wonderful Mediterranean island the following day.

Catching up.

But, hold on a while, I am getting ahead of myself. In my last post, I signed off with a promise of a review of The Nottingham House, Cleethorpes, Beer Festival, so here we go. Steve, my recently retired friend, and I agreed that, as our womenfolk were on a work's night out, we should plunder the spoils available at The Notts'. On arriving, we were soon perusing the “menu” of beers, a reasonable mixture of local and nationwide ales. When I say “we”, I really meant I, as vain Steve, as usual, hadn't brought his reading glasses. I was now, not only offering my limited advice on said beers, but also reading out the tasting notes, brewers, ABV, and pointing out where the toilets are ( “Big sign over there, and through the door, mate”). We started off in here with two from the Dancing Duck Brewery, “Dark Drake”, a 4.5% smooth drinking stout with a big coffee punch complimented by hints of liquorice and caramel, and the 4.3% Blonde Ale, “DCUK”. This is a beer with a strong citrus backbone, with pine and zest throughout. Both of these beers were well received. Next up I chose a Mild, Nottingham Rock Ale's “Mild”, a 3.8% beer with a lovely balanced mix of coffee, malt and sweet caramel. I thought it an excellent, easy drinking beer of this style. Steve's preference was for the light, citrus Ale, brewed from malt and torrefied wheat,namely, Grafters “Moonlight”, 3.6%. Next up Steve kept to one of the lighter brews, and chose Bridestones “Sandstone”, a Lager styled beer of 3.9%. A very fresh tasting beer, with a nice hopped finish. I opted for another dark beer, the lovely,
fruity, coffee and chocolate tasting “Black Sabbath”. Far from leaving me Paranoid (sorry! Couldn't resist that one) it left a wonderful taste in the mouth which was sweet and rounded. This Brunswick Brewery beer with an ABV of 6% was a real gem, and certainly belied its strength. My fellow taster then went for Thornbridge “Wild Swan”, a 3.5% light Golden Ale which imparted lovely flavours of lemon, slight herb tones and just a hint of spice, whilst Titanic “Chocolate and Vanilla Stout” was next up for myself, which was exactly as it said on the tin, so to speak! A great tasting stout of 4.5%. To finish on at this good festival, we chose the same beer, “Crop Circle” a 4.2% Golden Ale from the Hopback Brewery. This is a light, fruity beer, with hints of citrus, and an excellent bitter dry finish. With its mix of gravity and hand pulled beers, The Notts Beer Festival is always a pleasure to visit. If you are ever in the area, festival or not, get yourself in to this great traditional boozer. The night fast ebbing, we felt the need to head back up to Grimsby, and meet up with our beloved ladies, which is where this chapter ends. Back now to the secrecy, and a couple of days out doing some deceptive wedding shopping. We are sneaky you know!

Hull. Re-visited.

The Old House, Hull.
Part of our secret wedding plans necessitated my future wife to purchase certain “accessories” ( shoes and the like), from sources outside of North East Lincolnshire, secrecy and beer hunting to the fore. We started our shopping spree back in November with a visit to Nottingham, where ale was consumed and dresses browsed, (Here), and carried on with trips to Sheffield (Here) (rings purchased at a lovely jewellers called Morris Bywater) and a previous trip to Hull, (Here) . A further trip to Hull was planned, as was an excursion to Doncaster. I could get used to this wedding planning malarkey! So off we popped, across the mighty Humber Bridge on the Humber Flyer bus. An hour later and I was thirstily stood outside The St Stephen's Shopping Centre whilst some browsing and perusing was going on inside. We then decided to follow separate pursuits, with me deciding to have a look around the Holy Trinity Church and Old Town area, whilst some shops were on Jane's agenda! I was quite surprised at the interior of Holy Trinity. I am not a religious person, but do like the architectural look and feel of these ecclesiastical monuments. As you walk in, the high ornate ceilings and fantastic commemorative windows dominate, and light floods in some areas and dapples in others, leaving an ethereal sight to take in. There are wonderful treasures and reminders of the hard life of the area's fishermen, and their losses, all around. An area for The Falkland's War,( Hull sent the North Sea Ferry MV Norland to the conflict), is also respectfully covered. After this interlude it was time (11-55 ) to find a hostelry for refreshment purposes. I wandered back to the Scale Lane area and dropped into a bar we somehow missed on our last visit. Situated at number 5 Scale Lane, the Old House is the city's oldest domestic building. The interior is a little dark, quite small but very homely. The beer selection isn't huge, but it does carry beers from the local Yorkshire Brewing Company. My pint was “Mutiny” a Porter of 3.6%. There was a really good fruity backbone to this beer, which then leads to a coffee edginess with a faint, but certainly noticeable, dark chocolate hint. Although a little thin in the mouth, it does leave a nice taste on the palate. Heading back towards the centre of the city, I walked past, stopped and then walked back to Oscar's Cocktail Bar. I had noted the chalkboard outside proclaiming “Cask Ales”, so I had to investigate. Well done, Sherlock! In side this modern bar, which was showing the Hull City early kick-off game on the screens, were a selection of beers from the Great Newsome Brewery. Of the four cask beers on offer, my tipple was to be “Holderness Dark”, a Mild of 4.3%. This was a lovely creamy mild with a well rounded nuttiness on the palate. One to savour and very enjoyable. T'other 'Arf had joined me by now, and her Great Newsome beer was “Frothingham Best”, also 4.3%. This was a delightful Best Bitter, with a fruity taste at the outset, which is well balanced by medium bitterness in the finish. I liked this bar, and I will certainly pop back in again on our next visit. Do they show Grimsby Town games on those screens??!

Just a 5 minute stroll away, in the wonderfully named Land of Green Ginger, (nobody knows how this area of the Old Town, formerly Beverley Street, got its name, but reading up on it I think the most likely theory has to be it originated from the Dutch immigrants who lived and traded here in the middle 1600's onwards. Whether it is a corruption of one of these emigres, Lindergroen Jonger, who had set up business here, or a play on another possible trader's name, Lindegren, which leads to the street being “Lindergren's Ganger” or walk, are also up for discussion) along here is The George Hotel. A former gatehouse to the long demolished hotel of the same name This friendly boozer has a very striking Edwardian interior, with large mirrors and plenty of panelling on show. 5 cask ales are on display. The welcome is warm and genuine, and we were soon settled down with our drinks. Jane went for a half off “Otter Ale” from the brewery the same name, whilst I indulged in another dark beer, “Queen Rat Stout”. The 4.5% “Otter Ale” was mahogany in colour, and leads with a big malt aroma and opening taste. Fruit and hints of a floral nature then impart themselves on the palate. The finish is medium in bitterness, and very satisfying. Rat Brewery's offering, a Stout of 5% was rich and wholesome in the mouth, with chocolate prominent but not overpowering. There were hints of spiciness, and a good bitterness in the finish. Another very good beer. We decided on a visit to The Hop and Vine for our last drinks of the afternoon. This Hull CAMRA award winner is situated in Albion Street and since opening 9 years ago has dispensed over 1150 different cask ales through the 3 hand-pulls on the bar. It has also been cider Pub of the Year locally, and been in the mix for the National title too. Not bad for Hull's smallest pub. My beer of choice in here was “Triple Chocoholic” a 4.8% stout from Saltaire Brewery, a beer I have had before, and one absolutely rammed with chocolate flavours. A very satisfying brew, if you like chocolate. Jane chose a “Long Day IPA”, also from Saltaire, an ale of 3.8% which was very dry on the palate, but gave a good citrus rush, mainly oranges, but some lemon hints. Quite a refreshing brew. Although tucked away just a little, this is a bar one must eke out. The beers and ciders are very well kept, and for the discerning drinker, that means so much. What a good day we had, again, across the river. Its a shame there are no late buses back to Grimsby, but at least a reasonable afternoon session can be enjoyed. Next up? Doncaster, of course.

Doncaster mini trip.

The Doncaster Brewery and Tap.
I needed to get suitably attired, apparently jeans or shorts and t-shirts don't go well at a wedding, especially as the groom! Off we went again, this time on the train to Doncaster. After a few shop visits, a wander round The Frenchgate, and before Lakeside, we ended up in The Plough, in West Laith Gate. The welcome is friendly, the pub cosy but, unfortunately, our pint and a half of “Barnsley Bitter”, from Acorn Brewery, lacked its expected sparkle and was a less than average pint. It wasn't off, it just wasn't quite “on”. I have been told this is quite unusual for this establishment, so I will give it the benefit of the doubt and re-visit in the future. Later, our next pub visit was to St Sepulchre Gate, and The Corner Pin, a good locals local, but very accepting of passing strangers. Our beer in here was Leeds “Pale Ale”, at 3.8%, a good “session ale, and it was served up to perfection with a fresh taste, slight citrus hints and a nice bitter-sweetness in the finish. As time was ticking, and we had a train to catch, we left here and popped into the nearby Leopard, also in St Sepulchre Gate. This is another very friendly hostelry, and has an excellent range of Real Ales. The ales are from local Yorkshire breweries and we chose two from the York Brewery. Jane chose the “Yorkshire Terrier”, the 4.8% Premium Golden Ale, a favourite of ours, whilst I went for a Fruit Beer from the York stable, 4.7% “Off the Wall Black and Weiss”. The taste of this beer is distinctly blackberries, which is evident all the way to finish, and the tart bitterness is well balanced though, within the sweetness of the ale. A very unusual, but satisfying pint. We could have stayed here a while longer until our train was due, but I had been advised of another “must visit” alehouse, just five minutes away, so off we went to find The Doncaster Brewery and Tap, in Young Street. Doncaster Brewery ales in here.The pub is quite airy and modern and seems to be a good place to drop anchor and have a natter. The beers are brewed on site at the brewery in the back of the premises, and the selection offers most people with an option. Between us, we sampled three excellent First up was “Peppercorn Dunkel”, a 6.3% dark ale which leads with dark fruits and hints of liquorice and has a nice dry finish with just a touch of balancing heat from the peppercorns. I really enjoyed this one. “Three Legs Bitter” was next, which was a typical malty Yorkshire Bitter of 5%, with a creamy smooth mouthfeel, and a well balanced bitter-sweetness. A beer that is very moreish. Last up was the truly gorgeous tasting “Stirling Single Coffee Stout” It certainly hides little away by its title. Coffee it says, and, by crikey, coffee is what you get in this 4.5% ale.. With only 20 minutes left, we regretfully headed back towards the station, and onward to Grimsby. We had a good day in “Donny” and enjoyed the pubs we visited. Who knows? I may go shopping again!!

After our ceremony, which, unbiasedly, we thought was lovely, and after a few snaps, we drove away from North East Lincolnshire, en route to Manchester and romance in the sun. A beer or two were  partaken of, and soon I will posting about these and I will also be reviewing some of the beers of Malta and Gozo. Until then:-

Cheers and keep it “Real”