Thursday, 27 May 2010


As a Suffolk lad Southwold is a place I’ve been going to long before it became the darling of the colour supplements. We had a need to visit there last Thursday for a little project we are undertaking so we decided to build in lunch and a couple of pints. We thought we’d try our luck at the Harbour Inn, which is surprise surprise an Adnams pub. The Harbour Inn which as you might have suspected is located at one end of Southwold's shabby chic harbour is an unpretentious split level pub. If you’ve never ordered a round by talking to the bar person’s knees then try the front bar. Having been there before we headed towards the back of the pub. Lunch was fish and chips in Adnams beer batter washed down with a couple of pints of Explorer, the golden ale I sang the praises of recently. Beer and food were both first class.

Lunch over we went off to work on our project but before we left for home we made sure that we called into the Adnams shop. Imagine my excitement when in amongst all the goodies I noticed 5 litre casks of Explorer. I couldn’t not buy one. So over last weekend I worked my way through 5 litres of this golden nectar. I was impressed. It tasted just perfect from this little tin can; pub ale in the comfort of your own home. What’s not to like?

My love affair with Adnams Explorer continues.

Feed me. Feed me now.

Whilst, as stated on Tandleman’s blog recently “My blogging is purely selfish as I do it for me. It’s nice if others come along for a gawp and it’s even nicer if they leave comments.” It occurs to me that since I’ve moved the location and the software for this blog, links and feeds to this blog from others now no longer work. If you are one of those kind bloggers that has linked to my blog I would really appreciate it if you could update those links and feeds. Many thanks.

Tuesday, 25 May 2010

Token gesture

I like Friday evenings. They signal the end of the working week for me and usher in expectations of what the French call ‘le weekend’ (or is it 'la'?). As I alight from my train and leave Norwich station there is a spring in my step. The sun is shining and I feel a pint beckoning. The only pub between me and home is a Spoon’s. But no worries, it serves a purpose and ensures that I don’t dally for longer than the one pint. As I walk towards Riverside my usual ‘beggar’* is sitting on the ground under the covered walkway. He’s an old black* guy who wears a buff, going grey, duffle coat and cowers under a filthy blanket. I give him a quid, as I always do, he blesses my heart. My heart needs blessing. It harbours anger, anger at the extremes of wealth in this country, extremes that anyone with but a modicum of compassion could not fail to question. I’ve tried engaging him in conversation on previous occasions but my lack of communicative skills along with his reticence has meant we haven’t got very far.

I enter The Queen of Iceni and order a pint of Nethergate Lemon Head; a golden ale with a hint of lemon and ginger. I hand the bar man some cash and a Camra 50p off token. He asks to see my Camra membership card. This is a first. I ask if people have been abusing the scheme. Apparently they have. The previous weekend a football fan had allegedly tried to buy a round of drinks with a whole wad of tokens. Subtle or what? The bar man then went on to tell me that the tokens were readily available on the internet, “on sites like eBay”. Whilst not surprised, I felt sad. Regardless of whom the perpetrators are it impacts badly on Camra. You can also apparently purchase pre stamped loyalty cards that entitle you to a free cup of coffee. As I sit enjoying my pint I ponder on life, the universe and tokens. It’s a rum old dog eat dog world out there. Thank goodness for beer!
This is how it was the Friday before last.

*Not sure if all my language is totally pc!?

Wednesday, 19 May 2010

Pontificating, and genital warts

I love the way you can sit in a pub enjoying a jolly good pint of ale and get some jolly good entertainment for free. Tonight as I supped on Cathedral Ales St Hugh’s quality brown beer I listened to a beer tasting group of half dozen all talking utter bollocks. Their conversation covered history, cooking and a great deal of nonsense about the beers that they were tasting. I’ve no problem with people waxing lyrical about beer, but when they start talking authoritatively about the ales that they are drinking ‘blind’ you just know these people need to get a life. I was fully expecting at any moment for one of them to claim that a particular beer was brewed by a hermaphrodite in a kilt with one brown and one black shoelace. It was that nauseating.

Almost as if I’d reached for the TV remote I managed to turn off the earnest beer tasters and switch to a couple discussing genital warts. Apparently they resemble cauliflowers. I suggest you squirrel that piece of useful info away in case it appears in a pub quiz near you. Or you have a need to break the ice at a party.

Wednesday, 12 May 2010

May is golden ale month

Last night when it was all kicking off I was in the pub, dumb, fat, happy and unaware of the change in the political situation. Early evening saw me at the doctor’s surgery for a routine blood pressure check. With my blood pressure fine and the doctor telling me to just keep taking the tablets I celebrate with a burger and chips plus two pints of ale. I apply a modicum of salt to the chips in a reckless attempt to live dangerously.

I know some real ale aficionados shun modern bars or pubs that are given bar-style makeovers but I don’t mind some of them. Nº 12, near Castle Mall (that’s mall that rhymes with pal, and not pronounced maul), Norwich appears to be an ex-pub that has been turned into a bar and restaurant. An ex-pub with a café feel; comfortable, clean but certainly not sterile. The food on offer was not your usual conveyor belt fare but popular ‘home-cooked’ alternatives. And very delicious ‘home-cooked’ food it is too. Real ale is also on offer. Two in fact. I chose not to bother with the Youngs.

Whilst a large proportion of the population were watching one of the losers in the election become first lord of the treasury I was enjoying two of the most wonderful pints of beer I’d had since oh… …um… …the last time I had a wonderful pint of beer.

Adnams Explorer is an ale I have had on numerous past occasions and always enjoyed. It must be almost a year though since I last had any. I don’t remember it being this marvellous. Perhaps my memory is going? Last night this was the most luscious golden ale in all of Christendom. This is the sort of beer that makes you want to strip stark-bollock naked and run through the streets shouting its praises. If it wasn’t unseasonably cold I word have bared all in the name of this fabulous ale. As I put the glass to my nose I breathe in a flowery light hoppy aroma. If Cumulonimbus was Humulus Lupulus clouds would smell like this. This is not a particularly bitter beer. It radiates light malt and hops, hops, hops. I imagine that it must have been brewed using golden barley malted on the heaving breast of a Lynda Bellingham look-a-like, with the purest dew collected from lemon balm leaves by angels, and steeped with a hessian and gossamer hop pillow. An email from Fergus, head brewer at Adnams, tells it how it really is:

"We made some changes to Explorer about 18 months ago to try and develop the aroma a bit more and in the last 6 months we have made a few more tweaks, partly due to moving to the new seasons Columbus hops, which I felt were a bit different so we adjusted the hop grist to use more Chinook and to use the Columbus even later in the boil. I think this has improved it a bit more. We dry hop Explorer, which means that it benefits from a little age but also means that the younger fresher version doesn't have the same pithy hop flavour which it develops with a few weeks in cask and as with any cask beer, how long it's been on will also change how it tastes.
Obviously I think it tastes great at any time of year but the sunshine always brings a new found appreciation of pint of golden beer."

Thanks Fergus. Adnams Explorer is my new favourite beer.

Monday, 3 May 2010

Sing little birdie

I live but a stone’s throw from Norwich City FC ground. From our flat you can see the crowd and most definitely hear the roar, when there is something to roar about. This season they have had plenty to roar about. I'm no football fan, in fact I view most sport with the contempt it deserves; it is art for Neanderthals. Having said that, living here, you can't help being aware that Norwich came top of Division 3 (it’s my age) this season. I've no doubt many people are cashing in on this mini triumph and a local brewer is amongst them. Woodfordes has produced a beer called City at 4.1%. So despite my indifference to the beautiful game I had to try this ale. A beer in honour of the Canaries could not be anything other than a golden ale. And this golden ale is quite light in colour. Think Mongolian donkey wee.

Thankfully it didn't taste of donkey wee. Far from it. This is a first class golden ale. Woodfordes brew bloody good beer at the best of times and this is of that calibre. A flowery scented ale with citrus notes I’m sure you know the sort of thing. Not particularly bitter, in fact a hint of sweetness, this makes for a brilliant quaffing ale; a perfect example of the genre. This enjoyable brew reminded me of something else. It took me a while to think of what it was. St Austell Tribute I finally concluded. With warmer weather here it is most certainly golden ale time. I think I might have to pop back for some more of this nectar in the next day or so. Get it if you can.