Linked In Lincoln

I effectively had three chances to drink in Lincoln – with the back up of a bottle of Stokey Brown from Pressure Drop. I’d come to the impression that Cathedral Heights had gone out of business and I can’t seem to locate anyone selling Poacher’s, but there were claims of a off license on the high street that was purely Poacher’s. This is a fair trudge from the hotel, and was a wasted journey. The surviving off licence on the High Street had a reasonably interesting selection of bottles – once more I mourn my dislike of Sheps – and I picked up some Bateman‘s, just in case. I went down to the Green Dragon, which has eleven handpumps but recent reviews suggested that enthusiasm be curbed. A chalk board outside promised delights, but the board inside apologised for the lack of draught ales, but real ales were available. Well, ish. A Wychwood Dirty Tackle was okay. A CAMRA magazine for Lincolnshire pointed me to a couple of possibilities, but I checked the Witch and Wardrobe first – who knew Mansfield was still brewed, albeit by Marston’s? – and then moved off to the The Jolly Brewer on Broadgate. Half a dozen pumps, and regretting that pint in the Green Dragon when a half would have done. I tried the Oldenshaw Mowbray Mash, which got me into the county. Clearly a pub to come back to, although its publicity spiel claims it’s “reputed music venue”. Is it a music venue or not? Then it was time to go to the restaurant for a meal, during which I stuck to tea, and then a bottle of Tom Wood’s Lincoln Gold, which would have been nicer warmer I suspect.

After the conference and conference meal, I led the way to the Tap and Spile on Hungate, with four or five handpumps, and a traditional boozer. Nothing local, alas, but there was Great Newsome Frothingham Best, from Hull, and an old time’s sake Theakston XB.

Saturday had more time for a wander – a lunch time drop in the Strait and Narrow, for a pleasant Grafter’s Lovely Jubblies and an interesting stouty Springhead Drop o’ the Black Stuff. Several hours later I returned to The Jolly Brewer, and investigated their third pints to tick a few boxes: Dark Horse and Ernest George from Welbeck Abbey (a collaboration between the abbey estate and Kelham Island?) and Idle Dark Black Abbot. A puzzled local asked me if these were all the same – the beers were all dark – and scanned my beer notebook. All very confusing. I wandered from here up the hill to the Stugglers Arms, behind the castle, which had an attractive range of beers: Kelham Island Pale Rider – deliccious as always – Derby Mischief – and then tactical mistakes: Salamander Best Intentions, rather dull, and Holden‘s Black Country Special, very nice indeed. It was rather confusing to be asked as I wandered back to the b&b if there was a Wetherspoons around, when there were several decent boozers. I told him he needed to go down the hill, but he still looked confused.

So, a few Lincolnshire ticks, and a few more from the East Midlands and Yorkshire. A boozy weekend, topped off by failing to have time to buy a bottle at St Pancras. This was probably just as well.





Kentish Updates/Updates of Kent

Abigale seems to have ceased production.

New boys:

I thought there was one more – in Medway – but it’s resisting my googlefu (unless it’s Brupart, Cuxton, Rochester). I’ve read about so many in the county recently I’m forgetting what’s current and what’s gone. There’s Pig and Porter, but that’s Sussex, still to be listed.

Ah, I was right: Kettledrum, Rochester, with no web presence I can yet spot. There is talk of the Phoenix, Canterbury, setting up brewing.

Unnecessary Defensiveness

I was stood in Tenterden, Kent, in search of decent local beer. More precisely, I was in search of Abigale, and had jumped on a bus to Ashford on a well-timed whim, electing to stay on the bus to Tenterden. Of the four or so pubs I found in Tenterden, all but one were Shepherd Neame – which I dislike – and one was serving some nice beers, but none of them from anywhere closer than the New Forest. It seemed to be odd to be more or less surrounded by hop fields and to not be able to drink anything from Kent. Aside from the Sheps. A supermarket was selling Rother Valley Blues, but that’s not the same as a draught beer.

I had counted something in the region of twenty breweries in the Kent area, a third or so of them relatively new, and it occurred to me that there was something interesting in local produce and small enterprises. There’s something to be researched. I am surrounded by hops, a key ingredient of beer, and I am a few miles from Wye, a centre of hop research.

I’d recently had a bit of a health scare, and was on a diet, and had to cut down drinking so … it made sense to try and make each pint count. It occurred to me I knew little about beer – it had yeast and hops and malt and water and came in pints, and some I liked and some I didn’t, and there were once six big companies which had been broken by the revision of the laws about tying pubs to breweries and … that was about I. I liked Theakstons and Youngers and Timothy Taylor, and would regard myself as a Northern drinker, stranded in Enemy Territory.

Growing up I would have shandies with Watney’s Red Barrel or Watney’s Pale Ale, and occasionally sampled and disliked Home Ales and Shipstones, the two Nottingham breweries; I later tried and didn’t like Mansfield Bitter. My underage drinking was lager, which I found hard to drink because it was gassy. Then, at a theatre club, I was bought a pint of Theakston’s XB. By a cop. I was seventeen. It would have been rude to refuse. It was awkward to point out he’d broken the law. I stayed with beer.

But I never really thought about what I was drinking.

This is a place to think about it. Because, after all, I think about films and books and photographs and art and god forbid I live an unconsidered life.

This is my space to find out about beer – and teach myself, and no doubt state the bleeding obvious. And to find out how to write about beer. And work out precisely what I want to research about beer. I note that I am supervising a PhD student, who is researching binge drinking, so the sociology of drink may come to the fore at some point.

I don’t know where it is going.

I’ve had two bottles today – an Old Dairy Snow Top and a Wantsum Figgy Pudding, both from Kent Breweries, bought from Wild Ferment. Now I’m on a beer from further afield, an Anarchy Brew Company Sublime Chaos, a startling 7% and described as a breakfast stout. It’s thick black, or very dark brown, with no head to speak of, very burnt bitter flavour, with a touch of espresso coffee on a rich roast – Ethiopian coffee beans apparently, Guji – and New Zealand hops. I’d expect it to be much sweeter, given the percentage, but the beans hold it down. There’s a back of the throat, warm oaty taste, which is pleasant, but you wouldn’t want a third bottle.

Time to investigate breakfast stout…