NES branch socials report for Apr17-Jun17

Saturday 1 July 2017

North East Suffolk branch

Mid-month meanders and other socials: Apr17-Jun17

Our Saturday April social was in Beccles. We met at the Butchers Arms, a short walk from the town centre opposite Beccles Cemetery. Our group of 13 members were offered a choice of St Peters Golden Ale, Woodforde's Nog, Blond Witch from Moorhouse, Marston's Pedigree and Best Bitters from both Barrell & Sellers and Theakston. There was also a cider, but I neglected to make a note of its details. Apart from enjoying the beer, we also discussed with Ian, the landlord, the street corner pub's layout discovering that the now open plan pub is mainly an extension and was once comprised of just small lounge and public bars. Apparently, the pub was originally called Victoria Gardens before the owners gained a slaughterhouse licence and changed the pub's name. Our next stop was at Graze at the White Horse, a refurbished cafe bar and grill in the centre of Beccles that was serving Fuller's London Pride and Woodforde's Wherry on our visit. As it was a warm sunny day, we took our drinks and sat in their lovely garden. It was soon time to move on to the Waveney House Hotel, which was serving Lacon's Legacy, Adnams Southwold Bitter and Woodforde's Wherry. We took our drinks outside and enjoyed a lovely view of the river before walking back up the incline to the Bear & Bells, a 17th Century Victorian pub. This was serving Adnams Bitter and, a beer not seen for a while by most of our group, Wadworth 6X. A short walk round the corner lies the Caxton Arms where, on this occasion, we had a choice of Caledonian Double Dark, Great Oakley Abbey Stout and Box Steam Piston Broke. This was the last pub scheduled so most of our group went home, although some went via the Caxton Club (four beers available) and others via the King's Head Hotel, a JD Wetherspoon with 12 hand pumps.

Over the Easter weekend we paid a visit to Lowestoft to present Pub of the Year certificates. The Mariner's Rest (Cider PotY) had ciders from Snails Bank, Gwynt Y Ddraig and Westons as well as ales from Purple Moose, Tyne Bank, Three Blind Mice, Skinners, Ringwood and Heavy Industry. The Stanford Arms (PotY) was running a Celtic Ales beer festival featuring beers from Scotland, Wales, Ireland & Cornwall plus some from Brittany & Spain and ciders from Wales & Scotland. Our midweek meander in April was a visit to Lowestoft, south of the bascule bridge. We met in Fisherman's Wharf, a bar on the pier where, on a sunny, but cool day we chose to sit in the pub rather than outside with our choice of Southwold Bitter or Ghost Ship from Adnams. We walked the 30 yards or so to our next pub, Harbour Inn, which had Adnams Bitter & Broadside and Lacon's Encore. Much of the pub's customers have meals, but there are seats at the bar for drinkers and also at the tables when it isn't busy. Next door is Notley's, a locals bar that also had Bitter & Broadside from Adnams available. A short walk took us to Blues Bar which, on this occasion, had no real ale available so we moved on to Spring Tide, a Marston's pub, serving beers from their group - Pedigree, Hobgoblin and 61 Deep. We sat in their garden and watched a gull going around the tables looking for scraps where it found a pot of mayonnaise and the odd chip. Apparently the gull is a regular and the customers and staff have named it Bob. We then moved on to the Plough & Sail, our final pub of the day, which was serving St Peter's EPA, Doombar and GK IPA & Old Golden Hen.

On the first Saturday in May, our social took us to Pakefield. We met at the Ship where Old Speckled Hen and Sharp's Doombar & Atlantic were available. This two bar pub is quite large inside and also has a well-used garden. Our next stop was the Tramways, which is split into a large restaurant area and a separate bar serving snacks. The ales change on a regular basis and at our visit we had a choice of Whitstable Bay Red IPA and Timothy Taylor Landlord. We then moved along the road to the Carlton, a street corner pub under new management which was serving Doombar + Woodforde's Bure Gold & Nelson's Revenge. Heading closer to the coastline, we moved on to the Trowel & Hammer with sea views from its garden and a choice of Purity Gold, Adnams Broadside and Doombar. Our next pub, the glass-fronted Jolly Sailors, is on the cliff top next to the coastal path and is normally busy. Here there was Wolf Lupus Lupus, Green Jack Trawlerboys and Broadside & Ghost Ship from Adnams. We then followed the path along the clifftop to our last pub, the Oddfellows, where we had a choice of Redwell New Zealand Pale Ale, Lacon's Encore, Woodforde's Norfolk Nog, Adnams Bitter and Pakefield Pride (Green Jack).

The May meander was at the northern end of our branch area and involves more walking than most of our trips. We met at the White Horse in Corton where we sat in the small conservatory with our choice of GK IPA, Old Speckled Hen and Doombar. We walked along the road to the Corton Inn, a large pub adjacent to holiday parks, where we had a swift half of Doombar before continuing. Our route took us past Gunton Hall Coastal Village, which has a bar open to visitors so we decided to pop in where a choice of Pedigree and Hobgoblin awaited us. We then moved on to Potter's Kiln, a Harvester restaurant serving Doombar and Adnams Ghost Ship. After a pint, a stroll along the road took us to our final pub, Foxburrow, a Beefeater restaurant serving Woodforde's Wherry and Purity Pure Gold.

June's meander was a two-village trip to Wangford and Wrentham. We met at the Angel in Wangford where we were greeted by the landlord who offered us a choice of Lancaster Bomber, St Peter's Bitter and a fresh cask of Brakspear's Bitter. Some of the group elected to walk to Wrentham whilst others stayed at the pub and caught the bus. The walking group went to the Wangford Plough, an Adnams pub that was serving Southwold Bitter, Ghost Ship and The Great Get-Together (a celebratory collaboration beer). This fortified us for the 2½ mile walk along back roads to the Five Bells in Wrentham, an Adnams pub serving Lighthouse, Bitter, Ghost Ship and Broadside and where we met the non-walkers. Another 10 minute walk and we arrived at our final pub, the Horse & Groom, which is under new ownership and is currently open all day. GK IPA and Old Speckled Hen were available at our visit and we had just enough time for a last drink before catching our bus home.

The branch also had socials at pub beer festivals. Firstly at the Wenhaston Star, which featured 25+ ales from Green Jack, Dark Star, Colchester, Loch Lomond, Potbelly & Tydd Steam breweries. Secondly at the Sailors Home in Kessingland where eight beers were available in the Marquee with another eight at the pub bar. The last of these socials was at the Shadingfield Fox where 10 beers were available in the marquee with eight more at the bar. These included beers from Nene Valley, Dark Star, Oakham, Beeston & Lacon's. A few of us also had a day out visiting several pubs for Norwich City of Ale. I paid a personal visit to a small beer festival being held at the Three Horseshoes in North Cove where additional ales from Nethergate, Crouch Vale & Wolf complemented their regular beers and, like many others, I also found time to explore and visit out of branch CAMRA festivals at Bury St Edmunds, Bexley, Cambridge and Colchester – all very enjoyable. A week travelling around Yorkshire (walking, steam trains and sight-seeing) and drinking beer was great. Far too many pubs to mention all of them, but a few I particularly liked are the Lion & Key and Hop & Vine in Hull, The Cornerhouse in Beverley, the Brown Cow in Bingley and the Fleece Inn at Haworth.