Wednesday, 25 November 2009

Harvest Pale

Until I moved to Norwich I'd never shopped in Morrison's. I'm a Tesco fan through and through, but Morrison's is our local supermarket and I've grown to love it. I particularly like their beer selection. I like it because apart from the usual suspects it offers different beers to those that I've been used to; beers that are usually of a midland or northern persuasion. I was overjoyed to discover that they were stocking the bottled version of Castle Rock Harvest Pale whose cask sibling is one of the best non-west country golden ales that money can buy. The bottled version is stronger and with some pronounced bitterness, but it was good to see it all the same as Castle Rock beer doesn't normally find its way this far east, or so I thought.

Imagine my excitement when, the other night, I walked into what will probably be my local of choice, once we moved, and I discovered that they had it on cask as a guest. Seems the regulars had twigged how good it was as well as it seemed that every other pint ordered was a Harvest Pale. It was on top form, slightly sweet, slightly hoppy, slightly malty, with a slight hint of hamster bedding, and all round splendiferousness. I asked the barman if it was a beer that they often got hold of. Not that often he said, but when they do have it they usually sell it all in a session as it tends to be so popular with the locals. If it's a beer you've never tried then you need to at the first opportunity. It is a beer I fell in love with the very first sip of my very first pint.

Wednesday, 4 November 2009

A fuck-awful name for a beer!

I love Batemans ales, but there is no way I was going to drink the one on offer in The Glasshouse tonight. 'Iron lady' was the fuck-awful name of the brew; dedicated to the evil cow that we once had the misfortune to be oppressed  governed by. There was no way I was going to risk choking on that! What a waste of hops and barley! Shame on you Batemans. Shame on you JDW. Anyway I ignored the contemptible beer and went for Galbraith's Mr G's Luncheon Ale. A wise decision I thought. This great quaffing ale was blessed with a great hop background flavour and little bitterness. The only time I shall drink to Thatcher is the day she snuffs it.
Mr G's downed I was pleased to see Charles Wells Banana Bread Beer was also on. In its bottled form it is one of my favourites, and an absolutely brilliant accompaniment to Chinese food. Sadly I'd already eaten, ironically beef in oyster sauce with egg fried rice. Bugger, poor planning that. Next time you are having that Chinese or Thai meal grab a bottle or two. Much better than some crappy ersatz-eastern lager. The BBB cask counterpart is an even more satisfying sup that its sterile stable mate as you might well imagine. Delicious!

So far I've been well impressed with the quality of ale that I've had in the JDW beer festival. QC does seem to have improved in their Norwich pubs over the last few months.

Wednesday, 18 March 2009

You win some you lose some

Tonight I'm in Nottingham, away on business, and not for the first time. Normally I don't get much further than The Trip but tonight I was determined to try at least one other pub. As I was dining with six other work colleagues, whose tastes were unknown, I took out a little insurance policy by slipping out before we met up for the evening. I was keen to try the Salutation Inn which I knew to be close to our hotel. I wasn't disappointed. My first impression on entering this fine establishment was that it was what, in my youth, would have been referred to as a greebo hole. A lair for bikers, Goths and assorted creatures of the night, juxtaposed with a few office types on their way home. A seemingly incongruous mix but it seemed to gel. Great choice of ale with about a half dozen hand pumps along with five casks of stout and porter on a stillage that looked to be the remnants of some pseudo shenanigans from the previous evening. It was a good choice of ale but there was only one choice for me; Brewdog 77. This was the first time that I had ever come across cask Brewdog and I wasn't going to pass up that opportunity. It was bloody gorgeous. A golden coloured ale with lashings of flavour including a pronounced citrus finish. The ghost of lemon meringue pie in a glass, it could be suggested. Sadly I only had time for the one pint.

I hate buffet restaurants with a passion. Particularly those that offer ‘all you can eat for £X.XX’. They tend to be full of loud, common people, with fewer manners than pigs with snouts in troughs. Hygiene is also a worry. Unfortunately most of my work colleagues appear to be somewhat bereft on the discerning front. Even more unfortunately was that the will of the majority prevailed. I hope I don't have the shits tomorrow that all I can say!

Post meal our party was keen for further liquid refreshment. I only blogged a post or two ago about 'spit and sawdust'. One of our party offered to guide us to one such place frozen in time. Sadly the time was early 1970s. I looked up and down the bar and announced that they didn't have any beer, much to the bemusement of the staff who tried to point to the array of gas taps offering their mediocre fare. We walked back out again. I would suggest that that was at least fourteen drinks that they lost selling to us, all because they had no real ale. No idea what the pub was called but they deserve to go out of business soon.

We finished up at The Castle, where I was very pleased to see Castle Rock Harvest Pale. This beer is one I have known and loved for quite a while. A great example of a perfect golden ale. It also went some way to anaesthetise the pain of the dire self-service dining experience.

Friday, 2 January 2009

New Year's Day

Yesterday saw us take what is now for us a short drive to the coast. A little place by the name of Horsey as it happens. Primarily our mission was to gawp at, and go gooey eyed over, the baby seals, but it's never good to do that sort of thing on an empty stomach, so sustenance was sort.

Sustenance came in the shape of a nice little pub by the name of the Nelson's Head. The place was heaving, with a constant flow of bodies in and out. We bought drinks and waited to get a table. We didn't have to wait long before our opportunity came. This pub is clearly used to and geared up to cope with waves of customers. All the staff were friendly, and appeared un-phased by the amount of custom they were dealing with. We ordered cod and chips, which we didn't have to wait too long for, and despite probably being out of a packet, was well cooked and tasty. Liquid refreshment came in the form of Woodforde's, one pint of Wherry and one of Nelson's Revenge. The Nelson's Head is in the Good Beer Guide, and quite rightly so.

It's a cosy pub where a lot is packed into a small space, and all without added claustrophobia. The walls are festooned with old guns of all shapes and sizes, gin traps and portraits of the man himself, Horatio Lord. Every so often someone would pop out from behind the bar and put another couple of logs on the fire. Any pub that has a roaring fire on a cold winter's day, along with a punt gun over the mantelpiece, is alright in my book.

What a great way to spend a winter's lunchtime.