Friday, 13 November 2015

Brighton Bier Weekend

"Hey I've got tickets to see a chick sing in Brighton, want to come?"
"Er, sure, why the hell not?"

This tends to be how my weekends, evenings and well, just about anything I do, seem to come about. Unbeknownst to me, or my chap, the weekend in Brighton would be more unplanned and spontaneous than even we had foreseen. And would also include a metric fuck-tonne of beers.

Sunday - 
After a bit of a 'mare booking the hotel, and then cocking up my train tickets, we grabbed a couple of 'crikey we deserve these' beers for the journey and got onto the Brighton train. I'd never been there before and was excited to say the least. I love the seaside and I love going to new places. Brighton also had a carousel. On the pier. Give me a decent beer and that's heaven right there. Off the train and straight to the pub (it's a good job my chap likes drinking as much as I do, or we'd be short lived). First stop was The White Rabbit, a brilliantly quirky looking pub, fairly standard for Brighton I was pleasantly surprised to see, with outside seating. The ladies loo door had a poster of horror clown on it. After getting fella to open it for me (I really, REALLY hate clowns) I discovered there were similar posters on each cubicle. *gulp*
A pint of 'Free State' by the Brighton Bier brewery helped (see what they did there?). It had a reassuring bitter taste, a beer with a decent colour and some body to it but nothing outlandish. Sat outside with us was a guy playing acoustic guitar and various hippy / student / arty / weirdos filed passed as we drank. I declared my undying love for the town and I was only half a pint in.
Next pub, near our hotel, was a Brew Dog fortuitously. They were having a mash-up event (or something). I was left to choose the beers. A rye IPA for myself from Moor Beer // Brew dog Bristol and a black coffee IPA from Crafty Devil Brewing Co. // Brew dog Cardiff for the chap. It was then I decided rye IPAs were my favourite (it's only taken, what, twenty years of drinking beer to find that out?) and I even liked the black coffee brew. The barman happily chatted to us about the beers, even after I'd told him I wanted a pint not a half, thank you very much, then he told me they were served in two-third pots. Oops. He even gave us a little glass each of 'Wild Gift' as he had over poured. Apparently this beer had 'infections' in it. Charming. Tasted slightly sour but nice if that's possible. Not sure if a pint of it would go down as easily though.

Checked in at the hotel and there was still enough time for a pint before the gig. The Mash Tun looked promising, if the gig posters in the windows were anything to go by. Unfortunately the place smelled of vomit, but fella being the gentlemanly type he is (and having an inferior sense of smell) told me to grab a table outside while he got the beers in.
Two quick, but very enjoyable, pints of DNA by Dog Head Brewery later we were watching Joanna Newsom while sipping mediocre 'large venue' beers. Yawn (the beers not Ms Newsom).
After the show Brewdog was still open so we had one there (probably the same that I had before, but to be completely honest I was a little tiddly by this point and didn't write it down). After a quick stop in a corner shop we were sat on the pebbled beach of Brighton, drinking bottles of Tyskie, while I drunkenly tried to point out constellations in the sky in the hopes of being romantic, but actually just being a plum. In an extra act of plumness I dropped my phone on the beach and had to go back looking for it. I blame the sea air. And the many beers.

Monday - 
OK not technically the weekend but I'm freelance so every day is the weekend to me. First port of call was Irregular Choice. This wasn't a brewery but a shoe shop. I like shoes as much as, if not more than, beer and IC are my favourite shoe designers. Ever. Beers tend to be cheaper but don't seem to last as long, but too much of either make it difficult for me to walk. After trying on about eight different shoes, and running around like a loon with a manic grin on my face we wandered round some other vintage junk and gem shops before, you guessed it, stopping for a beer. Hey, we're on holiday, alright?

The Prince George was having a beer festival. Win. I chose the W.G.V. (I think) by Firebird Brewery, on gravity. I wish I drank dark beers as I would have totally been swayed by the 'Scary Man' beer with a picture of death on it. The description of mine said 'earthy' which I would totally disagree with. It was bright in colour and had an odd zingy taste to it, with a lingering after taste too. After a pint I was undecided whether I liked it or not but we were off anyways.

After a bit more wandering we stopped at the Fiddlers Elbow, an Irish pub that didn't seem to be a pastiche. How refreshing. They had Darkstar on and it was one I'd not seen before. 'Revelation' had an almost religious and very beautiful pump clip, like a stained glass window and was a nice beer but nothing to blow my mind.

After this we went into the Hope & Ruin, a very trendy looking bar in the shabby student / fairy lights and DIY chic style. I had another Brighton Bier I believe and then my favourite Velvet Underground track came on. Was quite literally having the best day. On the way down to Brighton I had googled 'Brighton rock pubs' and found the Caroline of Brunswick. It had a giant three-headed dog hanging over the bat and a dread-locked barmaid. Pints of Hobgoblin (of course) and some very cheesy metal, sat under a Siouxsie album cover and I was over the moon.
It was about then that we decided to stay another night in Brighton. Earlier that day I had been told that my 9am Tuesday meeting had been cancelled, effectively giving me the day off (told you I was freelance). Initially I was livid, having booked a timed train ticket for Monday evening, even though my fella had Tuesday off, cutting our trip short. I looked at him and said 'Shall we stay another night?' and I think I had time to blink before he said 'Yeah why not?'. More googling and one flash of my MasterCard later and we had trendy accommodation booked at The Artists Residence. We went for food in the Hobgoblin (a pub that should have been a rock pub but disappointingly wasn't and I'm fairly sure they served us our beers in plastic glasses). A pint of Gun Brewery Pale Ale and a Hellfire burger later, we checked into the hotel and went to another pub.

The Victory Inn had a gorgeous front with those deep green gloss tiles and a traditional sign. Inside it was wood and brass and we got chatting to the chaps sat next to us at the bar who, despite initial reservations turned out not to be drunken lecherous idiots. I genuinely have no idea what I drank, I may have stopped caring by this point.

Tuesday -
I didn't drink today. I know, unbelievable right? I did, however, go into an awesome bottle shop and buy my flatmate a present for feeding my cats - a bottle of Zodiak with a black label and luminous green alien logos. He assured me that when he drank it later that it was awesome. Instead of pubbing we went on the pier and had an awesome breakfast outside a cafe. My journey home was a bit of a 'mare (I traveled for about 8 hours that day) but it was totally worth it. We're going back again very soon.

Friday, 30 October 2015

Pint-Sized Blonde for Outline Magazine

This month I visited the Belle Vue pub. We did the pub quiz. We won the pub quiz. We won the bonus cash as well. No one in the pub liked us very much, but we really didn't care. We were a bit pissed and £10 richer. You can read the piece online here or pick up a copy of Novembers Outline Magazine if you are fortunate enough to live in the Fine City of Norwich

Friday, 16 October 2015

Golden Camels, King Parrots & Jesus - London Beer blog

Scooter Bar, Waterloo
Negra Modello

I had been promised trendy London beers and an awesome Thai dinner this evening so expectations were high. After catching the tube to Waterloo (I think - I don’t pay much attention when someone else is leading) and walking passed a gold camel on a rooftop (awesome) we reached the Scooter Bar. I’ve been brought up to consider scooters as little more than a glorified bicycle with no gears but despite my reservations, and the abundance of scooter-related paraphernalia, it was a decent, quirky little bar. Kind of boho theatrical with mismatching furniture and a non-plussed cat (my favourite kind). As the place was so small it had nothing on tap so my fella ordered us bottles of Negra Modelo and we sat under a picture of Jesus and his sacred heart, lit by fairy lights. The beer was sweeter than I would usually choose, it had an almost almond aftertaste I seem to remember, but it ended up being a long night so my memory could be wrong...

After that we walked round the corner to the misleadingly titled ‘Marie’s Café’, for Thai food. Inside it was low key and honest, just the kind of place I love to eat in. It was BYOB so we’d planned ahead and stopped at M&S on the way. I’d picked up an Adnams Southwold Winter IPA (exclusive to Marks don’t you know) to go with my chicken in oyster sauce served on a plastic plate. Awesome.
After food (and a dash to the cash machine cos the café didn’t take card) it was mentioned that my fella’s profession granted him access to a private club, but as yet he hadn’t managed to go. Did I fancy taking a look? This sounded like a perfectly random thing to do and therefore right up my street, yes please.

Union Jack Club, Waterloo
Union Jack Ale

Being called the Union Jack Club, you can imagine what it looked like inside. Kind of like a clean Wetherspoons but with pictures of ships and notable military figures on the wall. Lots of pine furniture and a carpet that made my head hurt. We headed through to the bar and I got a pint of Union Jack ale. Winner. It was nothing to write home about, just a bog standard beer but cheap as chips. Despite sticking out like sore thumbs, no one gave us a second glance, which was nice. Even so this wasn’t really our kind of place so we had just the one and moved on.

The Kings Arms, Roupell St

King of Hearts, Wild Card Brewery

The Kings Arms was a real ale pub, that looked like a real ale pub. Y’know, traditional with the half
frosted windows and old style circular bar. I had a pint of King of Hearts, mainly because I liked the pump clip (a parrot wearing a crown) and it was a blonde beer. By that point that's all I could determine, but it was a lovely dry hopped pint. As you can see by the fuzzy picture my brain had decided I’d had a few too. Also a chap was sitting at the bar directly in front of the pump, so it was a super quick stealth photo, as I always feel like a plum taking photos of pump clips if anyone sees me. Actually I feel like a plum doing it if no one can see me.

As the pub closed and we were turfed out, the decision was made to keep going and there was only one place to go.

Cro Bar, Soho

The Cro Bar is another bar too small for a cellar, so only sells bottles and shorts. I would normally get a real ale, a Hobgoblin or even a Trooper, but for some reason every time I step into the Cro, the words ‘bottle of Budvar’ escape my mouth. I do like Budvar though. Surprisingly we got a seat, especially as it had gone midnight and the bar is always packed, tucked into the corner where I could happily people watch. I have no idea when we got home but I do know the cab ride was £40.

14.10.15 - Borough Market, Utobeer!
OK, not technically a pub (or even remotely close to being a pub) but it had LOADS of beers, which is not surprising in the least as it is a specialist bottled beer shop. The problem was that the only bottles I liked the look of were ones I would never actually drink (like stouts or porters) and nothing else had a bat on its label so I couldn’t persuade myself to part with any money that day. I have a feeling I’ll be back though….
After the market we went to the Crime Museum. No beers but worth mentioning that it was brilliant and I had a grin on my face the whole way round, which other visitors probably thought was weird seeing as it was all about murders and stuff.

Princess Louise,
Organic Lager, Samuel Smiths

After the cinema (I think we had about three dates in one day?) there was time for a quick beer in the Princess Louise, a fabulous old boozer, the kind Americans would like to recreate and fail dismally. It was a Samuel Smith's pub (something I don't remember coming across before) but apparently that meant it would be cheap. Gob smackingly cheap. I didn't recognise any of the beers on offer so plumped for an organic lager, which was just what I fancied at the time. There was a very drunk girl in the corner who kept shouting incomprehensible things but she seemed happy enough, and the staff all looked alternative. Wish I could have stayed in there a little longer and got one of the booths.

Happily we arrived at Liverpool Street station in plenty of time for my train home and squeezed in another beer in The Merchants of Bishopsgate (or TOMB as I like to think of it) and I'm not sure what I had to drink but I know there was a very, very rude man at the bar making the barmaid feel like crap. There is no excuse for this kind of behaviour and I sincerely wished she had thrown him out. It's the kind of stuff a decent bar shouldn't let happen to their staff (I've walked out of jobs for being told to 'take whatever the customer gives you and smile'.) Despite this, and the fact my train was eventually delayed and I had to change at Colchester, my couple of days in London were pretty awesome. I use the word 'awesome' a lot. Must mean things are going ok.....

Outline Magazine - The Plasterers Arms Column

This month I have my own section on the Outline Magazine website so you can read my column online! This month's is about The Plasterers Arms and how booze helps me through football, but not through a pub quiz, and why you should never put coconut on a pizza.

Pint-Size in Print at The Playhouse!

I'm in print again for Outline Magazine. This time I went to the Playhouse and drank a very oddly interesting beer and had deep and meaningful, yet incredibly random, conversations with a very old friend I meet regularly.

You can read it online if you've missed your copy or do not have the good fortune to live in Norwich. I have a regular column now!

Sunday, 5 July 2015


I'm in print again in Outline Magazine. They liked last month and this month was actually better written, so I hope I'll be in print in August too.

I went to The Cottage in my hometown of Norwich. Owned by the same guys that own The Plough (another awesome pub in Norwich) I enjoyed a lovely pint in the sunshine, and an almost lovelier deli platter of salami, cheese, pickles, bread and fruit. They also have a lovely ginger kitten called #Beercat who is the friendliest wee thing. Give this pub a look and it will become one of your favourites, I guarantee.

Tuesday, 23 June 2015

Having It Random In Manchester

I have friends all over the place, partly because I can't seem to settle anywhere for very long (even though I hate moving) but mainly because I'm an impulsive little thing who ends up doing random stuff and going randomer places. This weekend I was visiting a friend I'd made while working in Manchester in a shoe shop for six months before leaving for Australia. I'd met up with said guy in China as well while he was teaching English. Random.

Friday - After a four and a half hour train journey I arrived at my friends house to be greeted by a huge dog (who I would later find out was a minor local celeb) and a very excitable teeny tiny dog called Paris. We got Tibetan takeaway (I now know I don't like tofu) and headed out into the local area of Chorlton with the dogs in tow.

Where: Nip & Tipple, Chorlton, Manchester
What: For my shame, I can't bloody remember

Ok, this was my first beer, I swear, and I can see the pump clip in my head but I cannot remember the name or the brewery. It was blonde and had a plain picture, like a blonde square. I got three pints for less than a tenner (no, not all for me) and I was really thirsty so the information slipped my mind. The Nip & Tipple (what a name!) had a decked outside area where the dogs could have some space and we could smoke and drink and talk about anything we liked which ended up being what crazy people will do to 'keep their man' (even when he's a bit of a loser) and the nightmare of having to listen to people you know have sex in the next room. Among other things.

Where: Pi, Chorlton (just assume Manchester from here on in)
What: IPA, Se7en Brothers Brewery

I remembered to take a photo of the pump clip in this bar. The bar was also called Pi and it did indeed serves pies. Pieminister pies at that. In fact, so cool was this little place that I remarked (probably more times than my native Mancunians would have cared for) that it could have been in Norwich. Small and kooky trendy looking, with random music-themed pictures on the wall and a stripped back bar (from memory) it was a an awesome place to sit and people watch. I was yet to witness the fame of my giant canine companion, but that was to come.

Where: Oddest, Chorlton
What: Not sure, my friend got the beers in

I know, I know, I'm a rubbish beer blogger, but my mate was taking the piss about the fact that I wrote a beer blog for no reason and I was also overwhelmed by the numbers of people coming to talk to the dog. The staff at Oddest knew him and brought out sausages. Groups of pissed students stopped to stroke him and have their pictures taken. One woman sat down on our table and talked for about twenty minutes about her dogs. Having giant breed dogs from a young age means I am never that in awe when I see one, but clearly my friends Husky Malamute cross was genuinely something of a local icon. It wouldn't have been a problem if people kept it brief, desperate was I for a catch-up with my friends, but it didn't stop. It got to the point where one guy said 'Can I come and sit with the cool people?' and then asked 'Can I just say one thing before you tell me to sod off?'. I didn't really hear him so just told him to sod off. He didn't. Then he asked if he could take my picture. I declined.

My favourite thing about Oddest, apart from the fact it served decent beers, stayed open late and was within walking distance of my temporary home, was the reclaimed doors inside.
I'm slowly turning into my dad.

Saturday - Slept like the dead (especially after some takeout beers and talking crap in the garden to finish the evening off last night) I was presented with tea and, after my protests last time that breakfast at the weekend should always include bacon, a plate of scrambled eggs and bacon. Win.

Where: Mono Bar, Chorlton
What: Rose Wheat Beer, Ticketybrew

It started to rain (welcome to Manchester!) so we dashed into a pub. To make up for being a crap beer blogger the night before, I chose a pint while my friends stuck to caffeine. I love everything about Tickety Brew. From the satisfying sounding name to the pump clips and finally the beer itself. I'm not normally a fan of wheat beers, and chose this one by accident, but it was unusual but not in a try-hard way, with a slight kick in the aftertaste. Friendly bar staff, a (I want to say) Primal Scream themed mural and cheesy cassette tapes on display in the loos, Mono bar was another awesome spot for a beverage. Had the rain carried on and my friends not been so hungry, I probably would have stayed all afternoon.

After a quick pit-stop at Barbakan Deli for Polish sausage and potatoes we wandered around the shops, then stopped from another pint. Or two.

Where: Horse & Jockey, Chorlton
What: Two Hoots, Joseph Holt

I prefer independent pubs and generally try to stay away from big chains but the Horse and Jockey had dry seats outside and a beautiful view of the green. It also had Two Hoots on tap, which I didn't know was a Joseph Holt beer, but I knew I liked it. There was a steady stream of children running around, which never bodes well for me, and then my friends started to try to set me up with one of their friends. Time to head home for food and prepare for the evening.

Where: Fringe, Central Manchester
What: Platinum Blonde, Maypole Brewery

I like Fringe, I'd spent an afternoon in there before and had an actual grownup discussion with the barman about sparklers. As we walked through the bar to grab a seat outside, a pump clip caught my eye. It was called Platinum Blonde and had the cheesiest pump clip, like an Eighties music video, I knew I had to have a pint. It wasn't the best to be honest, not a bad beer just lacking flavour, a bit watery.

We changed tack for our second pint, something slightly darker, and as my friend put them down on the table I asked what he had chosen this time. "No idea, but it already tastes better than the last." It did, but that doesn't help my blog because I still don't know what it was. Off for our final bar stop.

Where: Band On The Wall, just over the road
What: Wainwright, Thwaites

Just as we left the bar, it started to rain. So we queued in the rain, tried to roll soggy cigarettes and hide under one tiny umbrella. As we walked into Band on the Wall venue, tickets in hand, a security guard grabbed my wrist and began to slowly turn my arm around. I looked at him with mild shock and he said 'just admiring'. Ah, I'd almost forgotten how people think it's ok to grab people half their size and look at their tattoos.

After locating the second bar, with half the queue, I ordered two vodkas&, and a pint of Wainwright's. The beer was ok, nothing super special but totally drinkable - to be honest I was just glad to have an ale option. Some music venues, despite the large numbers of ale drinkers who like live music, still only offer StellaBecksCarling headache inducing lager. We watched Mr Scruff who was slightly disappointing. All he seemed to play was the same style of tracks or, as my friend perfectly summed-up, 'Seventies porno music'. We stood in the corner of the smoking area and talked crap. I was reminded the following day that I said I had no desire to see my friend naked. I don't think he was offering, seeing as he's very happy with his girlfriend and she was with us at the time, but it just gives you an idea of how random our conversations were.

On the way home, having not really danced at all and feeling very let down by that fact, we grabbed a cab. As we started to chat about the evening, the cab driver cranked up the radio. So loud in fact that there was no possibility of conversation. I'm fairly sure we weren't still talking about nakedness but whatever we were talking about, the cabbie decided we weren't going to talk about it anymore. The doors were shaking it was so loud.

Home. Happy dogs. Cup of tea. Sleep for hours.

Sunday - I went home Sunday, after breakfast at Oddest Bar, but as I didn't drink a drop on Sunday, this is where my Manchester beer blog ends. I am only a dinky thing and, while I can keep up (or outdrink) the best of them, occasionally I need a break. Green tea and an evening of sofa slouching awaited me, as well as my own happy cats.

Thursday, 11 June 2015

PSB in Print!

The lovely folks at Outline Magazine have put me in print! I'm in June's issue of the free Norwich listings magazine, with a blog on the Black Sheep Brewery takeover of the Fat Cat Tap

You can pick up a copy in all good places in Norwich or read online at their website for free.
If all goes to plan I should be in there next month as well! Woohoo!

Thursday, 14 May 2015

Mine's A Pint Of Unicorn Tears

I was invited on my first ever brewery tour recently. I know, it's shocking that someone who likes beer so much has never been on a brewery tour. I think I would have booked myself on one much sooner had I known how much free beer was involved. Yay!

The Redwell Brewery is local to me, being a Norwich lass n'all, but even so I got a lift down there (save my strength for the beer tasting). I almost didn't find it as the brewery is located directly under the railway bridge, under an archway with a small sign saying 'Beer Shop Tours'. After stepping through a small door, I was in a large open plan room with barrels and fairy lights on one side, shiny brewing equipment on the far side and a small makeshift bar next to the door. It reminded me of a pop-up bar I went to in Hackney, except that this one had real pumps instead of bottles in ice buckets. It also had the Norwich game playing, something the temporary Hackney pop-up had neglected to include.

On the bar were some awesome beer mats that I did consider stealing (they had unicorns using their tears to make beer on them!!) but thought better of it as I was handed a beer. While we waited for a few stragglers to arrive (who actually did get lost) I studied the beer mat to see exactly how unicorn tears made Redwell, and felt slightly awkward having turned up on my tod. That didn't last long though as beer makes fast friends of strangers. Especially when all those strangers really like beer.

We followed Nate, our Redwell tour guide and all-round beer aficionado, as he went through the brewing process. The parts I found most interesting were more to do with the history of brewing, like
where the term 'lager' comes from, and what beer might have been like when was first created with the ingredients and knowledge available at the time. It was also interesting (and this is going to sound weird) to learn about wild yeast and how dangerous it can be to commercial brewing and modern flavours. I knew something of the basic process (my parents had a Guinness cartoon showing the 'adding of the yeast'. I did say my knowledge was basic) but I had no idea it was filtered quite so much. Or the different kinds of hops and when they're added to the process to change the flavour. Ok, so I liked the majority of the facts too, as well as the beer samples. I was already a fan of the Redwell lagers but it was really good to see behind the scenes. They really do brew in small batches. And they really do love their beer.

I got to keep my pint glass as a souvenir and I could hear it clinking in my bag as I wobbled home for a nap.

I'd still prefer it if their beer was made by actual unicorns though.

Tuesday, 28 April 2015

Yorkshire Brews

I spent a long weekend in gorgeous North Yorkshire and, unsurprisingly, sampled a lot of fine beers.
We stayed in Masham, home of both the Black Sheep and Theakston's breweries. The relatively small town had a few pubs to choose from. We patronised every one of them over the course of the weekend except the Bay Horse which was a Greene King pub. Coming from East Anglia we drink Greene King's brews on a regular basis so stuck to the local brews.

Friday 24th April

Where: World's End, Bond End, Knaresborough.

What: Blonde, Daleside Brewery.

Our first pint oop north. After a four hour drive it was most welcome, as was the lovely view of the river from the beer garden. The beer was poured through a sparkler, something I don't understand the point of, being a Southerner and preferring my bevvie without added froth. The World's End was clearly a family orientated one and only had two ales on tap, the rest was lager and cider etc. While the Daleside Blonde was nothing to write home about, an average mid-ale, it can't have been that bad as by the time I remembered to take a picture, our beers had been drained!
We wandered up to the castle, round some shops and headed off to our B&B.

Where: The Bruce Arms, Masham.

What: Best Bitter, Black Sheep and Theakston's

After checking into our frankly gorgeous B&B we went straight to the pub. The Bruce Arms had a huge beer garden, especially compared to the size of the traditional bar. This seemed to be the pub favoured by the locals as far as I could tell and we enjoyed a pint of bitter from each of the town's breweries. I'm fairly sure they didn't come through a sparkler either.

Where: Black Sheep Brewery,

What: Golden Sheep, Holy Grail, Riggwelter, all Black Sheep Brewery

We couldn't wait any longer and headed to the Black Sheep brewery, yay! The bar (sorry, B....aaar) and bistro were housed in a lovely high ceiling brick building, with sheep everywhere. Most of the space was taken with the restaurant, it would have been nice to have a more pub-style area, especially seeing as they were open late. The Golden Sheep was a lovely golden ale, the Holy Grail had a lovely depth of flavour. The Riggwelter is too dark a beer for me, but I did have the Riggy Burger made with the beer. It was lovely and the size of the portion was very generous. The fella sat on a giant wooden black sheep. Couldn't ask for more. Or could we?

On the way home we stopped for another at the Bruce Arms, then back to our plush bed.

Saturday 25th April

After a hearty, full Yorkshire breakfast we popped into the Theakston's Brewery to have a look around. If the bar in the brewery had been open later than 4.30pm we would have had a drink there after our tourist treks, but as it was we never managed to have a pint at the brewery. The smell around the place was of pure old pub aroma. On the bright sunny day it made me very happy.

Where: The Fountain, Hawes

What: Butter Tubs, Yorkshire Dales Brewery, Propa' Pale Ale, Wensleydale Brewery.

We drove out to Hawes and as we parked it started to rain. My shoes had holes in and my coat was definitely not waterproof. We went round the Wensleydale Creamery, ate our body weight in cheese and then bought wedges for everyone we knew. Then we had a pint in The Fountain, a pub that reminded me of the place I used to work in when I lived in Manchester. A proper pub with staff who are friendly because that's the way they are, not because they've been trained to be that way. The Butter Tubs beer was lush, traditional, the pump clip designs were eye-catching and modern. It immediately became my favourite. My fella had a pint of Wensleydale Pale Ale which was also easy drinking and at £3.10 a pint, a bargain (I know, I live too close to London so am pleased when a pint comes in at under four quid). Two old guys at the bar were talking about lambing and the bar lady was complaining that her pump was blowing when it should be sucking. I could have stayed there all day.

Where: Tan Hill Inn, Swaledale.

What: My Generation, My Generation Beer Co.

After that we decided to head up to the Tan Hill Inn, the highest pub in the Britain (as in the most meters above sea level). As we drove up the winding roads, with not a house in sight, the rain got worse. Then it turned to snow. Snow! The pub was an odd one, having a unique reason to be visited but no one local to provide the kind of atmosphere only regulars can. The bar man was grumpy, then I saw him dry a coffee cup on his jeans before serving coffee in it to a customer. The beer was good however, and I enjoyed a pint of My Generation (a new craft beer brewed by Black Sheep but on behalf of someone else). I wish I'd got a snap of the pump clip as the logo is awesome.

There were cyclists filling the bar. They had actually cycled, in the snow, to the top of this mount. Nutters.

Where: George & Dragon, Leyburn.

What: Leyburn Shawl, George & Dragon, both Yorkshire Dales Brewery.

On the way back to Masham we stopped at the George & Dragon. The bar was tiny, with a log fire and sketches of old chaps on the wall. I assumed they were regulars. The restaurant took most of the space and would have been like dining in an antiques shop. There were collections of miniature liqueurs, vintage furs and pairs of Victorian shoes. It looked well thought out rather than cluttered or gimmicky though. There wasn't much room so we stood at the bar and enjoyed our drinks.

I got to try a different Yorkshire Dales brew, slightly darker with a fuller flavour than the Butter Tubs, and the chap had a half of a bitter named after the pub, with the same cartoon on the clip as on the sign outside. I'm not a fan of the cartoon pub sign, especially when the pub itself is so traditional and has clearly been standing for a number of years, but I couldn't fault the pub itself. Nice beers and full of character, just the way I like it.

Where: King's Head Hotel, Masham.

What: Golden Sheep, Black Sheep Brewery.

Back in Masham, we discovered a bottle of Black Sheep and a birthday card outside our door for the chap from the B&B owners. Told you it was a nice place. We headed out for a pint and to look around for somewhere to eat and stopped for one in the King's Head Hotel. It was a trendy kind of place, as you might expect, and I'm not sure if the barman was having a bad day or not but our pints of Golden Sheep were just pushed towards us. The place looked nice enough and we would have probably eaten there if we had fancied somewhere 'nice' to eat. If you know what I mean. We're a bit low key so we ticked it off our list and headed elsewhere.

Where: White Bear, Masham

What: Lightfoot and Four & Twenty, both Theakston's Brewery

What looked to be a promising pub from the outside (lovely Yorkshire stone, traditional looking signs) turned out to be a bit uncomfortable inside. This, I must stress, was due to the other patrons not the staff or the White Bear itself. In the 'lounge bar' there was a decent looking gastro pub restaurant (too posh for what we wanted though), but in the 'public bar' there were a couple of loud, obnoxious blokes, one of whom smacked the barmaids bum. I had a customer do this to me once, in my first bar job. I told him quietly, but in no uncertain terms, that kind of thing did not happen in that pub, or to me if he wanted to keep drinking. He didn't come back in for a month. We opted to stand in the lounge bar. The beer barrel light fittings were interesting, but the stained glass behind the bar depicting a brewery scene left a little to be desired. Some bits looked as though they'd been drawn on with marker pen. There was also a stuffed head of a Polar Bear roaring in a glass case. I drank a pint of Lightfoot, which was nice but Black Sheep is more my thing I decided. After finishing our drinks stood uncomfortably at the restaurant bar, we went back to the Black Sheep brewery.

Where: Black Sheep Brewery, Masham.

What: Holy Grail and Old Ale, both Black Sheep.

The bar man remembered us and we ate there again. Fella had beer battered fish and chips, I had ribs with an ale infused sticky sauce. The beer was awesome and we were so full by the end of the evening we practically rolled home to sleep the sleep of people filled with ale.


Friday, 10 April 2015

Bank Holiday Beer Blog

Double bank holiday, yay! But I work for myself so don't get paid on bank holidays, boo! Still lots of time sample some lovely bevvies. Here's a quick (ish) round up.
Thursday - 
Where: The Leopard
Bull Close Road, Norwich
What: Grand Slam, Greene King
 After finishing work, and the weather having been lovely all day while I was stuck inside, we had a quick change of clothes and dashed over the road (almost literally) to The Leopard. As always we received a friendly welcome and, most importantly, CAMRA member discount! Two beers caught our eye and the first, Grand Slam, was lovely. The second, Bitter Lemon, was a bit too....lemony. After dashing home for our grocery delivery, we popped back to The Leopard for seconds and thirds. And a pork pie. I'm so pleased the Leopard seems to be in good hands, it's nice to have a decent pub just a stones throw away from me again!

Friday - 
Where: The Woolpack Yard
What: Nothing. Yardbird was off again and we didn't fancy a pint of Nobel first thing in the evening.
Where: The Golden Star
Colegate, Norwich
What: YPA, Roosters
Went to The Golden Star to meet my brother and friends. It's a lovely pub that we don't really use enough. It's like a country pub just outside the city centre that does decent Sunday lunches. They've also started doing breakfasts but I haven't managed to have one yet, being the lazy sod I am. Always got a range of different real ales on, pub quiz and music nights etc
I had a pint of YPA (Yorkshire Pale Ale) and it was lush. A pale ale with a bit of something about it rather than washy nothing-ness. Chris had a pint of Tawny, Cotleigh Brewery, which he described as tasting like a corked bottle of red, so he had YPA after that. On the otherhand my brother quite liked it. We talked about terrible jobs and nightmare bosses. Someone said that their boss emails them telling them to bring them a cup of tea. And gets their name wrong in the process. Went home feeling slightly more grateful that I work for myself. Sort of.
Saturday - 
Where: Friends House Party
What: Dark Pale Ale, Innes & Gunn
Ok, I am kind of cheating a bit here. I had one bottle of Innes & Gunn and then the rest of the night was spent drinking overly strong cocktails and my friends' Budweiser. I like Innes & Gunn but as I'm not a huge fan of rum (and their beers are brewed with a rum finish) I generally only have one. At someone elses house. When that's all they've got.
We listened to a lot of Britney Spears and played Cards Against Humanity. I got home at 4am. Christ on a bike.

Sunday - 
Day off! Went to my mums for lunch and drank nothing but tea. Considered the pub but then couldn't be bothered to move. Resigned myself to 'be sensible' and go tomorrow instead to take full advantage of the bank holiday Monday.
Monday - 
Where: The Playhouse!
St George's Street, Norwich
What: Lady Evelyn, Tipples Brewery
The Playhouse is my go-to pub. I should get Frequent Drinker Miles or something. Today a particularly catchy pump clip caught my eye. Lady Evelyn must have been one freaky lady, as the pump clip depicted death driving a flaming carriage over a bridge. I was sold. It tasted good too. Chris had a Spelt Blonde, St Peter's Brewery, and to me it tasted almost of toffee. I hate toffee. After three or four pints I tried to remember what I'd done this weekend and attempted to write it down. I will get better at it. Probably.

Wednesday, 25 March 2015

Beer (mis)Adventures

20.3.15 Sometimes a few beers and a positive outlook make for questionable decisions...

Where: The Playhouse
St George's Street, Norwich

What: IPA, Hand Drawn Monkey

After working hard all week, I managed to finish early on Friday (yay!) so went to the pub, of course. This afternoon the pub in question was the fabulous Playhouse Bar. The Playhouse is a bar that is likely to appear often in my blogs, as it is an awesome place and near to where I live. The only thing that occasionally puts me off is they sometimes have a run of weeks where there are no ales on that I like, and I resort to Redwell (nice, but expensive). Today was not one of those days, as Hand Drawn Monkey was on. A full-tasting Pale Ale with a quirky pump clip that, the barmaid informed me, was supposed to be slightly cloudy. She spoke with the tone of someone used to telling people 'there's nothing wrong with the beer, it's supposed to be like that' and I smiled a knowing smile back at her. The sun shone, the beer was great, all was right with the world. Then my friends had to leave and I was left with the 'shall I go home or shall I have another beer?' quandary.

(The picture above was taken at The Playhouse but is actually a photo of Panther's Ruby ale. Do not sue me etc)

Where: Fat Cat
West End Street, Norwich

What: Hell Cat, Fat Cat

Luckily for me I had other friends finishing early too, so after numerous text messages and a leisurely stroll across Norwich, I found myself at the bar of the Fat Cat. There are three 'Fat Cats' in Norwich and as their Brewery Tap is only five minutes from my house I usually favour that one, but was persuaded to make the trip to their pub on West End Street (it wasn't a difficult argument to be fair). I asked for a pint of Hell Cat (one of their own brews and my usual). It's a beer I find easy to drink any time and be it two pints or ten, I never tire of it. I will always browse their board, in an effort to 'try something new' and never do. Also the Fat Cat pub is where I began drinking my ales in a dimple glass/handle mug/jug. It was also here that an unknown woman told me it was 'unbecoming' for a lady to drink from one. These kinds of people also think ladies should only drink halves. I think we can all guess my opinion on that.

After a few pints and some highly questionable conversation involving carrots (probably best not to ask), I decided it would be a good idea to try The Perseverance just down the road. It had been taken over relatively recently by the same landlady who had managed the Bridge House when it was a rock pub and I was hoping for a similar theme in this little local. I couldn't have been more wrong.

Where: The Perseverance
Adelaide Street, Norwich

What: Bitter, Youngs

After purchasing our beverages we sat somewhat awkwardly at a table against the wall. For a Friday night the place had very few people in. The walls were Artexed to within an inch of their life and the layout, carpet and decor felt like an old ladies sitting room that desperately needed an update. I'm not sure if this was the fault of a juke box or not, but the music was euro-dance and that combined with the regulars made the atmosphere slightly uncomfortable. There may have been children present, which wouldn't have helped my opinion of the place either. Youngs bitter was the only option other than lager and was not my taste at all. Generic, bog-standard, slightly chemically and with more bitterness than is strictly necessary, our drinks were finished promptly and we headed off towards the second of my random decisions for the evening. Sometimes I'm grateful I tried new places, even if it's just to do something different. Sometimes I should just stick to what I like.

Where: West End Retreat
Browne St, Norwich

What: Fizzy lager :(

The West End Retreat is one of those pubs that splits people. I personally love it's unintentional weirdness, which other bars try to cultivate in an effort to be interesting but fail dismally. Other people (including my drinking companion at the time) sit the other side of the fence, looking over at the weirdness and thinking 'why did we leave the Fat Cat?'.  This quirky little pub is made up of three rooms (from memory) one is the main bar, one has a pool table and then there's the back bar which leads to the garden. The main bar has a parrot in it. The pool room seems to be a sort of youth club with young 'uns piled in armchairs and vinyl LPs nailed to the wall. The back bar always has karaoke going on (or at least it seems to) with a green laser light show for extra randomness. The people in there are always on one (in a good way) and the place seems to be in perpetual darkness. But saying that I wouldn't want to see it in the day time, it might spoil the ambiance.

We walked in and I looked for ale, couldn't see any and just plumped for a euro lager. This doesn't mean they didn't have any but I can't remember ever drinking anything else in there. That and I always end up in the West End after a good few beers elsewhere. Yes, usually doing karaoke. An Irish fella at the bar asked if I could understand his accent better than his local friend and I said yes. This seemed to be immensely hilarious to everyone involved and spark off some debate from the Norfolk chap. When I told him I had lived in Suffolk/Norfolk since I was 3, it didn't make him any happier. I think he was hoping I was a tourist who had wandered in, unable to find space in the Cat up the road.

We left them to their debate and went into the pool room where we immediately felt about twenty years older than everyone else. Unable to convince my companion to sing a duet with me, we finished our drinks out front. I promised never to make him stray from the Cat again without enough cash in my pocket to buy him a drink (the West end doesn't take cards) and we headed home.

I love Norwich pubs. Especially the random ones.

Saturday, 21 March 2015

Know Your Beers!

19.3.15 Just a quick one today, as there's not much that needs saying

Where: The Eagle
Newmarket Road, Norwich

What: Ubu, Purity Brewery

It was my first time in The Eagle pub. I asked the barmaid for a pint of Ubu. She looked at me like I'd just spoken Greek and said "a pint of what?!". I repeated myself and she continued to look blank. I pointed at the pump clip and said "Ubu, by Purity?". "Oh, everyone just asks for Purity, I didn't know that's what it was called!"

I don't expect every bar staff member to be a beer aficionado, or even like beer, but knowing what a beer is called is a must. I know I know, I'm a beer geek.

With an ample car park and huge beer garden The Eagle could be awesome, but inside is generic and bland with naff paintings on the walls and fake flowers. Despite it not meeting my taste in decor, the pub was still full on a Wednesday night, so if it ain't broke don't fix it!

P-SB says: PUB! Not to my taste but hey, not everything can be. Won't be going again but for no other reason than lack of character.
BEER! Drink it again? Of course, but not in The Eagle. I like Purity ales a lot, but this is not a real ale pub, more lager and wine. But again they seem to be doing a roaring trade in what they do, so carry on!

Impromptu Pub Crawl - A Blog is Born

14.3.15 After doing some shopping (and convincing myself that I could pull off a questionable denim waistcoat) we went to the pub. Chirs suggested it, which is unusual as it's normally me who hankers for a beer first. As happens most weekends we tried to think of somewhere we wanted to go that we hadn't been to in a while. Living in Norwich we are spoiled for fab pubs, but end up going to the same places we love over and over. Sometimes we are reminded of a great pub we should visit more often, sometimes we wish we'd just gone to our favourite and stopped being pubventurous.

Where: Ten Bells (or X Bells if that's your bag)
St Benedicts Street, Norwich

What: Rok IPA, Black Wolf Brewery

The Ten Bells is somewhere we don't usually go to, as their extensive cocktail menu means getting stuck behind someone who wants three complicated flashy drinks that take twenty minutes to make, while all I want is a pint. Frustrating. This, however, is rarely the case during the day so we were served super fast. Despite their propensity to cocktails and rare gins and whiskeys the Ten Bells is still capable of feeling like a pub. Albeit with trendy grey walls and up-lighters under their bottles. The other thing that bodes well for beer lovers is the staff always seem to know what they're talking about, even when it comes to the real ale. The selection of ales is always good too and often includes local stuff as well as brewers like Hog Back. While I love Adnams, not everyone in Norfolk has to serve it. You heard it here first.

I had seen the pump clip for the Black Wolf Brewey's new 'Rok' IPA somewhere before and wanted to try it. I am a sucker for a good pump clip, and this one was metallic blue with a wolf holding a guitar in one hand while throwing heavy metal horns with the other. Sold. I love a good IPA, but some suffer from tasting too watery, too middle-of-the-road-ey. This one was awesome. As I remarked to Chris, 'this beer has a proper beer flavour'. I did say I wasn't a food critic. Nice colour, citrus aftertaste (grapefruit says Chris). At 4% it would make a good session ale. It was over this beer that I decided to write a beer blog. If I hadn't decided to write this blog, I probably would have drunk that beer all day.

P-SB says: PUB! Good bar for daytime drinking. Knowledgeable staff. Well-kept beers and a good variety. City beer garden too.
BEER! Drink it again? Hell yes. Buy branded merchandise? Most likely.

Off to the next pub....

Where: White Lion
Duke Street, Norwich

What: Medusa and Sparta, Milton Brewery

The White Lion is a fabulous pub. Award winning in fact. They specialise in cider but as cider makes me very drunk very quickly (and not in a good way) I stick to their real ales, which are also awesome. While their cider selection changes, the White Lion seems to stick with beers from the Milton Brewery only, which is no bad thing. While occasionally the front bar can feel a bit 'local' (as in people sometimes stare at you when you first walk in, and the bar stools are always taken by the same faces) it has a friendly atmosphere and decent food. It also has an open policy on geeks and mild-mannered weirdos, as people can often be seen in the back bar playing Magic The Gathering and such like. We often go there for Sunday lunch (which is always brilliant and good value for money) and before nights out and they never bat an eyelid at my crazy outfits. I love the fact that they have a sign above the door reminding people that the pub is primarily a place for grown-ups, children should be well behaved or go home. I concur.

I had a pint of Sparta, pale ale, easy drinking but can suffer from lack of depth, which just comes down to what you like really. Chris had a Medusa, as he prefers something a little darker. both beers are of similar strength (4.3% and 4.6%) but the Medusa is too heavy for my palette. I could drink one pint of it with a little effort but more than that would be too much. Chris loves his coffee strong and the same goes for his bevvies so he enjoys the burnt fruit taste.

P-SB says: PUB! This pub is good day or night, and it looks like a proper pub too. Staff are happy to advise on beer and give tasters, food is fab and there is a covered garden, bar billiards and a dart board.

BEER! Drink it again? I would probably try something else, as I've still not found the Milton beer that does it for me, but the pub is so nice by the time I leave I've forgotten what I've tried as I'm a bit fuzzy-headed.

Off to the next pub....

Where: The Woolpack Yard
Muspole Street, Norwich

What: Noble, Greene King brewery

Occasionally I like a nice craft lager (don't hate me), especially at the end of the night or on a hot day. The Woolpack Yard usually has Yardbird on tap which is one such lager, but they had sold out that evening. Unfortunately Yardbird is the main reason we visit the Woolpack. The barmaid suggested a pint of Noble instead and gave us tasters and it was pretty similar. The only thing I didn't like was the glass it came in. I'm a little old school and I like my pints in a pint glass, not an oversized wine glass. The pub is not normally the style I like - beige walls with high stools and leather sofas - but the beer garden/courtyard is a lush place to sit. I think the pub suffers from being almost hidden away in the city centre, but this is what makes the courtyard so nice, as it feels like you're in a secluded bit of the city and there's a lot of sky to be enjoyed.

Noble tasted similar to Erdinger, but less wheaty. I think we only had one, as it was gassy (as lagers tend to be) and we were already quite full. Also even though it was a Saturday night the pub was fairly quiet, and I like a bit of atmosphere alongside my beverage. After finishing our beers, we headed home for a takeaway.

P-SB says: PUB! Slightly more trendy than I usually like, but the staff are friendly and the beer garden is big.
BEER! Drink it again? Maybe, if there was no decent real ale available, but it reminded me why I don't drink lagers much. Gassy!

Pint-Sized Blonde

As I was sat in the pub one Saturday afternoon (as I am most Saturday afternoons), it dawned on me that the one thing I am really in to, is beer. It was probably completely obvious to everyone else but I had been wondering what my 'thing' could be for years and here it was, right in front of me, in a lovely dimpled glass. Some people spend their weekends tinkering in the garage, or growing vegetables, spending time with their kids or animals, or blogging about make-up and fashion. All of these things make me yawn. I would rather be in the pub. In fact I would rather be in the pub than doing most other things. It is the place I meet my friends, the place I have random conversations with even randomer people, the place where I get inspiration and freedom to think. It is also one of the only places I feel ok to be alone. Also, I love beer.

With all that in mind it was decided that I should write a beer blog, for no other reason than it would give me a subject to write about outside of my writing job. The blog would essentially entail me writing about the pubs I visit and the beers I consume while there. I am not a food critic, nor a brewer, I am just a woman who likes a decent pint, and I like to talk about it. Sometimes my blogs may be only a few lines (especially if the beer was pants) sometimes I may waffle. This is also the place where I don't have to worry about how it reads or the quality of my words, I spend my working day doing that already. I will just write as it comes and say what I think. If you like it, if it makes you want to visit the pub, then awesome. If you don't like it, then turn the computer off and go to the pub.

Either way, go to the pub. And for goodness sake, don't order a Fosters.