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
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.