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Sunday 29 December 2019

Beers, Boats and Boozers, No.57.

We found another pub before heading back to the boat. More later.

We were moored close to this factory. I was puzzled by the canopy until we could read the faded sign that offered drinks and ice creams for sale. I wonder how much passing trade they were expecting?

Straight ahead is the modernised Loughborough Basin. This was the terminus of the River Soar Navigation that arrived here from the Trent in 1778. It wasn't until 1794 that the Leicester Canal arrived in the town. This explains why the junction is at ninety degrees from under the bridge on the left. I assume that it is called Chain Bridge as it would have been chained shut until a toll had been paid.

Just 5 minutes from the Basin is a fairly new micro pub, the Needle and Pin. It opened late in 2015 in the old H and R electronics shop that had been empty for a good while. The bar is sparse downstairs but the upper floor has seating with games and a record player available. The pub is linked with Wicked Hathern Breewery somehow. Sparse doesn't really mean bare and the place is comfortable enough, and was well filled. The barman greeted is nicely and was very knowledgeable about the beers and ciders that were on offer. For our visit there were six beers on hand pull with plenty of choice in cider and bottled beer too.

I spotted a brewery from close to home that I hadn't tried very much previously, North Riding Brewery from near Scarborough. They started out in the North Riding Brew Pub in the seaside resort, which they still own and brew small batches and test runs from there, but the bulk of the brewing is the North Riding Brewery that was started in East Ayton, near to Scarborough. In fact they have just moved. December 2019 to new premises a bit up the raod, to a new unit at Snainton. This allows them to bre 40 bbls a week rather then the 30 previously, but just gives them more space for storage etc. They should start brewing at the new place in January 2020. In fact the beer I tried was a collaboration with Five Towns Brewery so perhaps I should also credit them too.

Five Town Brewery was set up in 2008 after starting out with home brewing. The brewery is Malcolm Bastow who actually has a full time job as a nurse. The running of his 2.5bbl plant takes up what spare time he has. No wonder he collaborated for this beer. The five towns referred to are the five that go to make up Wakefield, Knottingley, Normanton, Pontefract, Featherstone and Castleford. After tasting this beer I will look out for the beer in the future.

I do like a dark beer so the combination of colour and brewery led me straight to this pint. I wasn't disappointed. What a lovely pint. The head came out almost a coffee in colour, and the pint appeared to be black but when held to the light definitely had red there too. The head looked like it had been floated on top. At 4.3% could be said to be strong for a mild but the taste was did it for me. Not being very good with the descriptive powers, the best I can do is subtle, nothing was overpowering, but the complete symphony was extremely pleasing. You could tell from the name the flavours but nothing hid the others. Just a great pint all round. The Needle and Pin is well worth a visit, and I will definitely look out for more beers from North Riding and Five Towns.

Friday 27 December 2019

Beers, Boats and Boozers, No.56

We Headed down through Sawley Lock before the volunteers were on duty and continued down the Trent past the entrance to the Erewash Canal and the Cranfleet Cut leading to Nottingham, and the Trent Valley Sailing Club that had been established in 1886 before heading into the River Soar where it joined the Trent.

Quickly the feeling of the waterway changes as the banks draw in and it looks very like a canal. Here are the flood gates just before Redhill Marina. Open now, but in flood they will be closed to direct the water round the bend in the River Soar proper.

You have to pass through Radcliffe Lock that still has the old lock next to it, seemingly complete with gates, but filled in. I assume that this was part of flood protection works. There is another flood lock at Kegworth before arriving at Kegworth Deep Lock. This also has the old lock filled in next to it. This is looking back down towards Kegworth.

It was really quiet as we passed up the Soar. Helen is waiting for Zouch Lock (Zotch) to fill. The canal passes some flood time moorings in Ashby de la Zouch. Worth knowing where they are.

We continued onwards through Normanton on Soar that has some great big houses with large gardens right down to the river that kept Helen busy. Then when out of the town there is a line of chalet. Some of these are a bit ramshackle, but most are well kept and what a great place to be on a sunny day with the river chuckling along in front of you and views across the water meadows. We continued on until we reached Loughborough. We moored up just before Chain Bridge rather than in the basin or along the main road and found it a good quiet spot.

About 15 mins walk up from our mooring, through the basin, is the Generous Briton pub. The first mention of this pub I can find is when the publican James Palfryman had his potato clamp robber, three times in 1849! James seemed to have died in 1853 but his wife kept on the licence and we can see that a Framework Knitters Union meeting was held at the house of Mrs. Palfryman, and in 1861 Miss Palfryman was duped by a gang passing counterfeit florins to the pubs and shops in the area. A Coroner's Inquest was held there in 1898. In 1937 the pub was completely refurbished and rebuilt in brick. The public bar is almost as it was then built and the pub is on Camra's Heritage list as there are several other original features. The lounge is two of the original rooms knocked through. There is nice paneling and fireplaces. On the down side there are televisions in both bars along with music, although playing softly when we were there. In the last few years the pub was sold by a pub co to a property developer. Fortunately they built flats upstairs and found a local pub company to take on the pub with lowered ceilings and sound proofing. There were six had pulls on offer when we visited.

I decided on a pint from Castle Rock Brewery. This started out when a past Chair of CAMRA, Chris Holmes, put his money where his mouth was in 1977. He started buying pubs and making them into places he would like to frequent and went on to own 12 places by 1997 when the next logical step was to start brewing. His company was called Tynemill, and they started up with Bramcote Brewery. Subsequantly Bramcote has gone. They expanded from 30 bbls a week in 2004 to 100 in 2010. Now they have expanded again and are up to 360 bbl a week. As the Castle Rock beer Harvest Pale was voted the Supreme Champion beer in 2010 at the CAMRA Great British Beer Festival it was obvious capacity had to be increased. The name Tynemill was dropped for the recognisable Castle Rock and they have gone from strength to strength.

I chose their Screech Owl. This said on the clip to be an American IPA, but really it is a strong bitter at 5.5%. That is not me who says so but the Society of Independent Brewers who voted it a top beer in the Strong Bitter category. It is brewed with American hops, but it's colour is more close to a bitter than a pale and the taste definitely is. The head pulled with a thin head. Not so promising either when brought towards the lips as I wasn't overwhelmed with aroma, but once I had a sip I was very pleased. Where a pale ale could have a dry feel in the mouth, a sweetness meant that it real had 'mouth appeal'. It had a well balanced body and was not overwhelmed by the amount of alcohol. I shall certainly look out for this and other beers from Castle Rock Brewery. The Geenerous Briton is worth a walk up from Loughborough Basin to see what they have to offer on hand pull.

Tuesday 24 December 2019

Beers, Boats and Boozers, No.55.

The reason we stopped in Sawley was to head home for a while. There was a beer festival I was helping ouit at and a trip down to London to see our daughter singing and then back home for 'stuff'.

We did manage a walk along the Humber at Stone Creek. It looks a little like a canal when there is a breech, but this happens tqice a day. Plenty of mud about, but no bikes, traffic cones etc etc.

When we arrived back at the marina disappointingly 'Holderness' had not quite had her blacking completed and needed to dry off a bit before launching so we agreed to spend the night on the blocks before launching the next day. The anodes were all good for another couple of years too.

The next day we were backed down the slip and dunked once again before we were on our way.

The extra night meant that we could wander up the road and sample another pub. We had been here before, but still worth a second visit. The pub was under exterior renovation so the best picture was from the side. The pub seems to date from the early 1800's and at one time had a bowling green attached. It was a tied house to Alton and Co Brewery of Derby. They started in 1788 and were registered in 1888. By 1903 they had been bought by Streeton's Derby Brewery following the death of the last Alton family member. The two breweries were run separately until 1922 when they were closed. The pub has open fires and serves wood fired pizzas too.

The Old Sawley Brweing Co was set up in 1013 by Jim and Claire Bryce who had bought and saved the pub from closure. They started brewing in the kitchen with a half barrel plant before moving it upstairs. Twelve months later they had opened a new 10bbl plant in the outbuildings behind the pub and had brought in Roo Stone as Head Brewer. Their plan seems to be to collaborate with micro pubs etc to brew special beers for them as well as their core beers.

With the White Lion being the brewery tap for Old Sawley beers it would have been churlish to try any other beers so I started with a pint of Jobber, designated an amber beer at 4.2%. It poured beautifully with a clean white head. The amber colour shone well in the glass, and one swallow was enough to realise that this was a lovely best bitter. It is made with with classic Fuggles and Golding hops and Crystal Malt. What else could it be than a great balanced bitter  with a real roundness in the mouth. A beautiful pint.

I then tries another Old Sawley brew, 'Plummeth the Hour'. It sounded as though it was pitched to battle Titanic's Plum Porter at 4.5% This beer has won a silver medal at the SIBA Midland (Society of Independent Brewers) Awards, and has one accolades at beer festivals too. However my experince was the best. It pulled from the hand pump with no head, and I like a nice head. However the clour was beautiful and black. There was a good sniff of plums as I brought the glass to the lips but I was disappointed after a swallow as despite there being a good taste of plums there was nothing else to back it up. It had a thin feel in the mouth and I wondered if I had the end of the barrel or something. Next time I see it I will try it again just to see, but Titanic is still THE plum porter for me.

I will definitely return to the White Lion as I didn't get to try the Tollbridge Porter, or several of their other acclaimed beers like the Little Jack pale ale. I will be back.

Monday 16 December 2019

Beers, Boats and Boozers, No.54.

We headed off to the end of the Trent and Mersey the next day, under bridge No.1, also called Porter's Bridge.

The Derwent Mouth Lock is the first/last on the Trent and Mersey and is named after the river that flows in from the left, joining the River Trent coming in from the right and flowing on straight ahead on its way to the Humber.

Weonly had a short trip to do so went to explore the head of navigation at Cavendish Bridge. Named after the Duke of Devonshire's family name, for they built the toll bridge to replace a ferry. The tolls were withdrawn in 1888 and the wooden bridge washed away before the concrete bridge of today appeared in the 1950's. The brewery built for Fletchers in 1815 still stands. It passed to the Eaton family in 1839, then the Offilers Brewery in 1896 before closing in 1923. Now the Shardlow Brewery uses part of the site.

This is the tow path bridge that was erected over the Trent in 2011. It replaced two previous wooden bridges and a concrete bridge. The concrete bridge became unsafe due to crumbling and corrosion that it was demolished in 2003. It took a long time to come up with this on didn't it!

We passed through the open flood gates into the Sawley Cut and moored up at the marina there. We were going home for a while and at the same time were having the boat blacked.

We were able to fit a couple of pubs in before going home however, and I was very pleased to be able to get along to Sawley lock as the Lockeepers Rest isn't open every day. The house was the original lock keepers cottage. When Dave Parrott, the last full time lock keeper here retired in 2014 he was able to purchase the cottage. He and his wife have slowly set about renovations, and at the far end have opened a cafe/teashop/coffee house, and in 2017 at this end opened a micropub, the Lock Keepers Rest. There is limited space inside but it is a grand place on a summer evening.

As can be seen above there are usually four beers on gravity that are served from the back room. Dave is mine host and there is always a good chat going on. He has several ciders in poly pins round the back too.

On the barrel ends I saw Abstract Jungle Brewery and as I had never tried one of their beers I started with them. Abstract was started by Simon King in 2014/2015. This was in Peterbrough and was cooperating with Bexar County Brewery. He has soon expanded sales to such a level that he was looking for his own site and moved out in February 2016 to newly fitted premises at Langley Mill, at the head of the Erewash Canal. That was all up and running by the November, and in the meantime he had been able to use a  Nottingham Brewery plant to keep production going.

This is billed as a session ale at 3.9%. It looked good in the glass but was a little disappointing in taste, maybe I'm not used the American and German hops used!

Nothing ventured I tried another of their beers, a porter called Jackal 4.2%. A nice dark colour but with no head. This was better but still not standing out in any way, despite the use of four malts.

I thought I had not better go back to the boat without finding a more pleasing pint so went to the Blue Monkey Brewery. This was started in 2008 by John Hickling. He had been in It at a big bank but not happy. he threw it all up to learn the brewing trade at 30 and has never looked back. After training he bought the Jarrow Brewery 10bbl plant when it closed down and was off and running  at Ilkeston. By 2009 he was selling to 100 places and had to increase capacity to 40,000 pints a month! By 2010 new premises were required and the move to Giltbrook took place, NW of Nottingham, and can now produce 100,000 pints a month. And the name? Well apparently that came to him in a dream, but apparently it was also the name given to the blue flames above Stanton Iron Works, but Hickling swears it is coincidental. And yes the monkey on the logo is fact a chimpanzee, which is an ape, not a monkey!

Infinity was the Champion Golden Ale of Britain in 2017. It is a pale ale 4.6%brewed with citra hops that give it the citrus fruit flavours. The beer is named after the Infinite Monkey Theorem that states a monkey playing on a typewriter for long enough will certainly type out a well known book (or something like that). Once again I was somewhat underwhelmed by the beer. Perfectly pleasant but not at its best. 

 I think that all the beers tried would have been so much better given a bit of air as when pulled through a hand pull pump with a sparkler attached. This will certainly get a good head on the beer and the air will enhance the aroma and feel in the mouth as well as getting the flavours out. I have never preferred gravity beer. We had a lovely evening of chat and there was plenty of boating talk as it is walking, cycling, or boating as there is little access for cars. Always a good place to visit to find new breweries to try.

Thursday 5 December 2019

Beers, Boats and Boozers, No. 53.

Well fell out of the New Inn and the night was still young, so we went across the 'green' to check out the next pub. Meanwhile here are a few Shardlow pictures.

This is the oldest warehouse on the canal built at the same time as the Trent and Mersey, 1777. It was a salt warehouse and is now home to the Heritage Centre, but it has never been open when we have been in town.

Now known as the Clock Warehouse it was built in 1780 for the Cavendish Bridge Boat Co. It then became the No.2 Mill in 1840 but finished it's working life in 1975. In 1980 it became a museum and tearoom and then again in 1995 the pub and restaurant it is today.

This is Steven's No.1 Store, and part of Sutton's Wharf, built around 1780 and locks as if it is still looking for a new purpose.

This is Trent Corn Mill No.1 but was built as a warehouse in 1816. It is now a business centre.

This was Soresby's Warehouse and Dockyard built about 1820 and looks to make a great private house.

This is an old malt store or maltings that stretches away from the camera. I love the right hand side of the building that has the upper story jutting out over the loped off corner to give more room to carts to make the turn with out damaging the wall. 

All moist opposite the new In is the Malt Shovel. As can be seen from the date stone it was built in 1799 and was the managers house for the malt stor in the last photo and can be seen behind. Iy has unsympathetic alterations made but it still has the original beams and quarry stone tiles. It has been knocked about a bit inside but the various small rooms can be  defined. There was the ever present, in this area, Pedigree and just one other hand pump.

The Other beer on was a bitter by the name of Painted Lady at 4.0%. As can be seen it is brewed for the pub and on enquiry it seems it is brewed for them by Marston's at Shobnal Road. Maybe the name refers to a colourful narrow boat if the pump clip is anything to go by. It was supposed to be a bitter but it tasted quite hoppy and was a pleasant drink to finish the evening off.

Apparently at Marston's Shobnal Road brewery they have a small plant especially to supply small batches of 'own brand' beers to pubs and bars etc.

Monday 2 December 2019

Beers, Boats and Boozers, No. 52.

After a cold but quiet night we walk up to a nice sunny day, but with a frost. I nice frost even makes a muddy towpath look good.

The cut that went down to the River Trent left the canal by the bend in the canal to the right. The buildings in the centre are the toll house and amenities, along with the little wharf that was there too.

This is the point that the Derby Canal Joined the Trent and Mersey Canal and then a little behind me is the cut down to the Trent. The Deby and Sandiacre Canal Trust keep working towards reopening the canal to Derby and out the other side to the Erewash canal. HS" did look liie it may scupper things but a revision saved the plans, plus who knows what will happen with the HS2 in the future, or anything that is decided using politics to be honest.

This Tudor building over looks a sports ground called the Cuttle. It was used as a grand stand it is thought. What for is not sure, jousting, bull baiting or just bowls are some of the ideas. It was part of a Tudor mansion for the Harpur family but the rest has disappeared since the Civil War. The Harpur family left to take up residence at Calke Abbey. I love the chimney myself.

New gates last winter resulted in my first new logo plaque being sighted. We stopped when we found a nice mooring in Shardlow and naturally head off to sample the pub.

We crossed the bridge and entered the New Inn, which was just the first we came to. It seems that it was built in about 1799 and formed part of an industrial area that formed after the Trent and Mersey came through. It is obviously an old building with lots of bit stuck on the side. As you can see the windows haven't been replaced always as sympathetically as they may have been. There are several rooms or areas, and there was a lot of diners too. There was a good open fire inviting us in too. We had no plans to eat but were seduced to stay and sample the home cooked lasagna and chilli which gave me the excuse for two pints! They had Marston's Pedigree and a beer from Derby Brewing Co. which I tried. I didn't make a note of it, presumably as I was too busy eating. I did note that it was a pale beer, slightly hoppy but pretty nondescript! They always have a Derby Brewing beer on it seems. Luckily the second pint I had was a Titanic Brewery.

Titanic is a Burslem beer with a story. Kieth Bott started out as an apprentice brewer at the Stoke Brewery. Years later in 1985 with his brother Dave they bought the place and started brewing 7 barrels at a time. They are now up to over four million pits a year! I have only once had a bad pint and that was at a beer festival where it wasn't/couldn't be kept properly. It seems an odd name for a brewery about as far away from any seaside as you can get. It is actually named for Edward John Smith who canme from Stoke on Trent and was the Captain of the Titanic on that maiden voyage and went down with his fated ship. 

This beer is right up there towards the top of my favourites. It is a dark beer, and at first glance looks as black as the night, but hold it up to the light and it can be seen as a dark red beer. At 4.9% the taste of many beers may be overpowered by the alcohol, but not this one. It pours with a deep cream thick head making a great contrast in the glass. Pick it up and you first get a whiff of the fruit that give a rich and sweet start to the tasting, later the hops come to the fore and you get a satisfyingly full mouthful of flavour.  Even my wife has been known to taste this one, until I caught her and warned her to stick to her cider. (only joking by the way. I would have gone and got her one if she had really wanted!). If you are hovering at the bar, surveying the pumps, and spot just about any Titanic beer dive right in, especially if the Plum Porter in on. It is there biggest selling beer.