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.