NES branch socials report for Oct-Dec 2018

Wednesday 2 January 2019

North East Suffolk branch socials report: Oct18-Dec18

In October, we met up in Lowestoft with a few members from Ipswich branch for our monthly meander. We started at the Joseph Conrad, a large street corner Wetherspoon's pub on two floors, where the beers on offer included Mauldon's Blackberry Porter, Evan Evans Hop Picker, Acorn Oatmeal Stout as well as the regular beers from Ruddles, Greene King and Sharp's. Although the pub was very busy, a couple of tables were found to accommodate our group where we sat and chatted whilst enjoying a few beers. Our next stop was the Triangle Tavern, brewery tap for Green Jack brewery, where many of their beers were on offer and where I tried Jenny Morgan, Mahseer IPA, Gone Fishing and Trawlerboys. The conversation turned to beer festivals and someone in the pub (Neil, I seem to recall) turned out to have been involved in the organisation of the 1st beer festival held in Birmingham. Most of us then moved on to the Stanford Arms, located in a residential area and five minutes walk from Lowestoft Town FC. Of the many beers available in the pub, my choices on the day were Howling Hops Tropical Deluxe and Ampersand Cocow. A week later we attended a lunchtime session of the Norwich Beer Festival, which is always enjoyed by our members and also gives the opportunity to visit a few pubs once the festival closes for the afternoon.

Our first social in November was a visit to our 2018 branch Pub of the Year, the Shadingfield Fox, for their annual 'Firework Night' beer festival. A good turnout of 14 members enjoyed sampling the beers available with the option of trying three separate thirds in a paddle. Beers on gravity were Elgoods Black Dog, Lacons Hydra + Triple Dragon, Timber Wolf, Oakham Deep Thought + Elephant in the Whirlpool and, on handpump, Nene Valley Manhattan Project, Adnams Old Ale, Wolf For Fox Sake, Grain Big Red, St Peters Plum Porter + Cream Stout and Golden Triangle Hop Lobster. Our second event was a visit to the Beccles Beer Festival at the Public Hall in the town centre which, as usual, featured only beers from Suffolk and Norfolk breweries. Too many to list here but there are always a few unusual and hard to find beers which, this time, included Blimey Son of Paleface, Mr Bees Pollen Power, Peoples Brewery Norfolk Cascade, Opa Hays Armistice Ale, Humpty Dumpty Emerald IPA, Wildcraft Wild Stallion + two from Bull of the Woods, Vapour Trail and Twisted Wheel. Our final event in November was our meander, this time visiting Bungay. Poor local transport, but good pub opening times, meant that we had to travel early hence four of us could be found in a local cafe having breakfast before meeting up with other members in the Chequers when it opened at 11am. The four beers on tap in the pub were Oakham JHB, GK IPA, Green Jack Old Cock and Severn Brewing Pale Ale. As many of the attendees were local branch committee members, we also took the opportunity to have an impromptu meeting to discuss some urgent branch business. We then moved on to the Green Dragon where their Chaucer, Bridge Street Bitter, Gold, Strong Mild and MDMA were available. Two of the Green Dragon brewing team were in the pub so we took the opportunity to chat to them whilst we had a drink. Unfortunately, as our bus home was leaving at 14.30, we had no time to visit any other pubs in Bungay although a couple of us managed a few beers in Beccles on the way home.

In early December, 20+ branch members made the journey to the Humpty Dumpty Brewery at Reedham for their open weekend and the opportunity to take a brewery tour and buy something from their shop. A charity bar had been set up with many of the brewery's beers available to sample including Little Sharpie, Big Sharpie, Red Mill, Broadland Sunrise, Swallowtail, Christmas Crackling and Christmas Crack. Our December meander saw us meet at Livingstone's, a large pub in Kessingland where four beers were available. These were Adnams Southwold & Ghost Ship, St Peters Merry Elf and Timber Wolf from Wolf. We also met the new landlord who talked us through the changes that had been made and refurbishments planned. Both child and dog-friendly, we were also shown the pub's 'horse parking' in a corner of its car park, which comprised an open stable-type area for tethering horses with hay available for feed. Unfortunately, there are now only two open pubs in Kessingland so we walked down towards the beach and our final pub, the Sailors Home, which had nine beers available (some gravity). These were Scrooge's Revenge and Whiteadder from Mauldon's, Southwold Bitter and Tally Ho-Ho-Ho from Adnams, Lacons Old, Oakham Below Zero, Abbot Reserve, Green Jack Trawlerboys and Stain Glass Blue from Star Wing. I was in the mood for dark ales so was particularly happy with the choice. Our discussions frequently turn to music and the Enid (look them up), the favourite band of one of our members. After I had left to get the bus home, I am told that the landlord was persuaded to play one of their tracks with some bemusement from those still in the pub. Our Christmas social was in Lowestoft and we met at the Triangle Tavern where many Green Jack beers were available + Lacons St Nick and Black Sheep Brian. After a few session strength beers, I decided to have a half each of the Mahseer and Gone Fishing. Some of our group decided to visit the Oak Tavern before joining me and the rest of us at our next planned pub but, unfortunately, I have no notes of beers that were on tap so it's on to our next and final venue, the Stanford Arms. Beers available here were 3@3@3 & Juice Rocket from Three Blind Mice, Simple Pleasures & Manhattan Project from Nene Valley, Golden Jackal & Sirius from Wolf, Grain 3.1.6, Bronze Adder and Thomas' Tipple from Mauldon's, Golden Triangle Tramp Juice 2 and Winter's Whirlwind. A good day to finish the branch socials for 2018.

One sad occasion for us was the death of Bob Helliwell, our former Branch Secretary and regular attendee at branch socials, who passed away on 31st October last year. Many of Bob's CAMRA friends attended his funeral and afterwards raised a glass of Adnams to his memory in his local, the Angel, in Halesworth.