Tuesday, 4 January 2011

A few beers in Nottingham on a quiet Sunday night

On a quiet Sunday night I headed towards Nottingham city centre in order to go to some of the nice ale houses in the city. The first port of call was the Hand in Heart on the Derby Road as it drops down into the city centre. The Hand and Hard was originally a Victorian brewery which used the caves beneath for storing the ales. A Victorian shop front was added which enabled it to start operating as a public house.
The hand and heart is an interesting establishment due to the unusual setup of being carved into caves. There are normally about 7 beers on tap including a special brewed for the pub. The bar staff who served me were very friendly and knowledgeable about ale. My first choice pint of beer was the very last one in the cask. I was pleasantly surprised when the bar maid asked me to see if it was ok and if it was not, they would get me another beer. As it was, the beer wasn’t right so I choose another ale upon the recommendation of the helpful barmaid.
Anglo-Dutch Brewery Kletswater (4%). The Anglo-Dutch brewery is based in Dewsbury, West Yorkshire and has been operating since the year 2000. The name comes from the fact one of the partners of the brewery is Dutch and one is British. Kletswater is a light amber coloured ale with a thick dense head. Some lime can be detected on the nose. Upon drinking, Kletswater is a wonderfully balanced very smooth drinking beer. There is a slight caramel sweetness at the start which then has some biscuit and even Stilton tones. This is a superb ale with great length and a very complex flavour. 8/10
I then left the Hand and Heart and walked to the Lincolnshire Poacher pub which is on the Mansfield Road. At the Poacher I tried two beers.
Oldershaws Brewery Caskade (4.2%). Oldershaws has been brewed just outside Grantham since 1996. Caskade is another amber beer with a thick head. It is an easy drinking beer with a slightly warming light malty character and citrus nose. 6.5/10
Castle Rock Brewery Lords and Ladies (5.1%). This is Castle Rock’s December monthly special which is brewed to promote the Nottinghamshire Wildlife Trust’s work. This dark mahogany bitter has a thick head. It is extremely smooth, creamy and easy drinking. Flavours of sweet brown sugar and light treacle can be tasted. 6/10
I then walked into the city centre to one of my favourite pubs – The Kean’s Head. At the Kean’s head it was an easy choice on which beer to try, one of my absolute favourites, Screech Owl from Castle Rock.
Castle Rock Brewery Screech Owl (5.5%). Darker golden beer which has a rich sweet indulgence to it, as well as complex grassy and citrus flavours. This is another ale with great length and although it was not at its best, it is still a smashing beer. 7/10
I then took the short walk to the Newshouse on Canal Street. This is another favourite of mine for some quiet drinks and a bit of a chat. Traditional pub games are present in the Newshouse and I took the opportunity to hone my dart skills. The service in the Newshouse is always very friendly which helps create a very nice ambience in this traditional pub. Overall the Newshouse tends to appeal to the more discerning drinker, due to its slightly off the beaten track location. I always appreciate the choice of ales in the Newshouse, especially as they always try to serve at least Mild. After chatting to the barman, he advised me to drink Pitchfork from the RCH brewery.
RCH brewery Pitchfork (4.3%). RCH brew down in Somerset and have been in operation for nearly 30 years. Pitchfork is a golden bitter with a medium head. There are some lovely complex flavours which include grassy and citrus tones. This is a lovely well balanced beer that left me wanting to drink more. 7.5/10

Monday, 3 January 2011

Lunch at the Trent Navigation at Trent Lock, Long Eaton

I thought I would make use of the bank holiday Monday by going on a nice bike ride. The route was to go from the Nottingham University Park Campus to the city centre along the canal before picking up the River Trent which I would follow to Trent Lock. The bike ride sounds a great idea, but the practicalities of it with hyperthermia setting took some of the shine off. It therefore goes without saying that upon arrival at Trent Lock I was in need of a good pub to warm myself up and replenish my energy.
After dumping my bike outside the Trent Navigation I went in to order a drink/food. The choice of ales was poor with just some un-flavoursome beers from some of the uninspiring corporate large breweries. So I took a pint of mild, which as expected turned out to be bland. Whilst ordering my food at the bar, things did not get much better as the barman was having a war-of-words with someone over an issue of a locked door. Thankfully this disagreement only got as far as threatening to kick someone’s door in! For lunch I ordered the Navigation burger (topped with cheese and bacon) and chips. Since the pub was busy, we were told there would be a big wait for the food - I did not really mind this, as it meant I had time to defrost myself.  
So I sat there sipping my poor beer waiting patiently for my lunch, when someone decided that playing a best of the 1980’s CD at a loud level was a good course of action. Things were not getting better at the Trent Navigation!
Eventually the food arrived and I was impressed – for all the wrong reasons. The burger was the greasiest vile insipid thing I have had for years. Combine this with poor quality soggy bread made for a disgusting lunch. The portion (or lack of!) of chips that came with the burger would have been perfect if you were on a diet. Sadly I am not on a diet, and after riding nearly 15 miles on my bike I was very disappointed with the portion size.
The combination of terrible food and the music made this place a real throw back to the 1980’s, in all the wrong ways! Without doubt this is the worst pub I have been in for a long time. It is sad to see, because it is in a good location. I think this is probably the reason of the poor service – a captive audience who are forced to put up with crap food/drink/ambience once they arrive.