So, I’ve been on holiday. My girlfriend came over from America, we went places, we drank beer, and rum, and ate food, and we got engaged, in the beginnings of a hurricane, at Lands End. I also opened the first bottle of AG#3, aka The Special Relationship, which I brewed back in March to celebrate our engagement (and subsequently our wedding, and an anniversary which is yet to be decided, there were three bottles essentially).
More on that later. First though, some of the highlights of my last few weeks…
On the first Tuesday we ended up at The Old Brewery in Greenwich, so that Shannon could have some London Lager. Whilst there we also had a bowl of chips, which as it would turn out, would be the best chips we had during the two weeks. As well as the lager, we also bought a paddle of four thirds, the only one really worth remembering for me being the stout, which I rather enjoyed.
Thursday night was “Drink all the rum” night. We didn’t, I crossed eight off my card. We did all enjoy great burgers, and learned that the 2008 film The Wrestler was based on the book written by Robert Siegel. After we had eaten, we started playing Trivial Pursuit. The same question based on this fact appeared at least three times during the game, and became a running joke throughout the holiday.
Saturday was Falmouth day, specifically Falmouth Beer Festival, where the day before, Rebel Brewery’s Mexi-Cocoa had been awarded overall gold (and rightly so). As a result, by the time we got there, there was none left. That was until there was midway through the session. On hearing the news I made no hesitation in finishing what I had and getting a half for myself. If you like chocolate, and beer, it’s certainly one you should try.
Whilst there I also enjoyed a pint of Bristol Beer Factory’s Southville Hop, which was my favourite beer of the Maltings Festival back in April, more from Rebel Brewery (all of which was great), and a rather nice perry, which I forget the name of.
Beered out, we headed back up to the town, via The Front (with more beer and some chips), to Beerwolf Books. It’s a bookshop that sells beer, or a pub that sells books. Whichever way you look at it, it’s a nice place to spend a bit of time. Shannon and I went for a cup of tea each, which came to a surprising £2 (for some reason, I always expect to feel slightly ripped off when ordering non alcoholic drinks in a pub). If Falmouth was closer/cheaper to get to, I imagine I would spend a lot more time in Beerwolf.
Sunday was the big day for me. The one that I had been preparing for since the start of the year. Unfortunately, my plans of an engraved trumpet mouthpiece had been scuppered by delays, but that wasn’t going to deter me. I had my ring(s), buying a second after I decided the first wasn’t good enough. We stood at Lands End, wind blowing, rain imminent. I proposed, she said yes. We got our photo taken under the signpost, and a few more in other places, before the rain had us running for shelter and warmth. Thankfully it didn’t last long, but there it was. We were now engaged, and we had a memorable story to tell to people.
That evening was when the first bottle of The Special Relationship was opened, having spent around seven months in the bottle. Having not been convinced when I bottled it back in March, I was pleased with how it turned out. It was intended as an American style barley wine, and whilst it’s not quite what I wanted, it’s still a beer I’m happy with. I look forward to seeing how it tastes when it comes to the big day.
The first part of our second week was spent in Bath, a rather beautiful city that is well worth a visit. Whilst you’re there, do the Abbey Tower tour for the chance to see some great views of the city and it’s surrounding area.
In terms of beer, the only beer I actually had in Bath was a half of Bass, served directly from the cask, and a half of a local beer, Abbey Bellringer, which neither of us could bring ourselves to finish. You may try it and enjoy it, but for me, it was undrinkable.
We did however find a rather nice Pizza, Pie and Cider Bar at the top of the hill, not far from where we were staying. It’s called The Stable, and on Tuesdays they offer a pizza or pie, plus a salad and drink for just £10 (considering the pizzas we opted for were normally £14 each, this seems a good deal). It’s either testament to how good the pizzas were, or as to how hungry I was by that point, that I actually finished a whole pizza, and wanted to order another. It may have helped that the base was a rather thin crust, and didn’t seem as filling as many other pizzas I’ve had.
In terms of the ciders, there was a very good choice, with 10 keg taps, around 20 boxes, plus bottles. They also offered tasting paddles, with five thirds of cider or perry for just £7.50. The staff were also very happy to suggest and recommend which ones to try as well.
As I was in the area, I felt I had to make the short trip across to Bristol, and pay a visit to The Grain Barge and the Bag of Nails. The two are conveniently not far from each other. We went to The Grain Barge first, which is actually a boat on the river, converted into a pub. We spent a good bit of time in there, and it seemed like a nice place to spend an afternoon.
We didn’t spend as long in The Bag of Nails, though I would have liked to. It’s the sort of pub I like, with a record player, and good beer, and full of things for the wondering eye to catch (posters, toys, the rules written in chalk on the pillar by the bar for example).
The end of the second week was spent up in the Midlands, taking in the Birmingham Beer Festival (which was, in my opinion, slightly disappointing this year), Beavertown’s tap takeover at Brewdog Birmingham, and a trip to Shrewsbury to see some friends of ours.
It was at Brewdog that we ended up spending four hours, and that I realised that four hours is perhaps too long to spend in a Brewdog, especially when you’re trying not to get too drunk before the beers you want to try come on. As a result, I ended up making one beer, a half of lager, last a full 75 minutes.
The Beavertown beers when they came were a mixed bag. I liked the Damson Sour, but it wasn’t sour enough. The Barley Champagne was nice, yet whilst drinking it, I wondered if it was better from a bottle, rather than keg. My favourite of the ones I tried though, was the pumpkin beer,
So, that is what I’ve been up to. I’ve now been engaged for just under two weeks. I have a wedding to plan. I’m rather looking forward to it, and I’m rather nervous at the same time. If anything I’m at least looking forward to choosing the beer I’ll be drinking…