Sunday, 26 April 2015

Naval Standard

Some friends were over for the weekend with their littlest and it seemed prudent to visit a steam railway and offer some ale. The main companion of this particular beer journey was not a fan of the ale but his wife had brought along some specialist stuff she had discovered, which was eventually not tried over the weekend, but it is coming: consider yourself warned! A trip to the supermarket to pick up a chocolate gateau also garnered a return visit to the Muirhouse Brewery Taps, and a much welcome return it was, and so there was even some actual cask ale imbibed. It was a very nice weekend, the weather has been lovely, and the trains were much appreciated by all the small people. I believe that counts as a success!

Join me, won't you, for a sojourn along the wild flower side of the path, pausing only to sniff of the scent and sneeze because of the hayfever induced by city living and the slow inexorable drift to the ultimate heat-death of Universe. Would you like to know more?

It did not take long before we cracked open the first ale. My friend, who serves in the Royal Navy (hence the title), had not long arrived when I decided that the time had come to share a beer and offered several choices. I had taken some time to get in a stout, a golden ale and a blonde just in case. With some trepidation he plumbed for the Pendle Witches' Brew, a golden ale at 5.1% ABV that last graced my table back at Hallowe'en (link) and was much appreciated. Sure enough it poured as I remembered, a deep amber tending toward copper, and burnished in the light filtering through the kitchen window. Fruity meadow flavours danced and sang in the nose, hops doing their bit above the hint of a decent malt, and then it was into the taste: full mouthfeel with a fiery edge provided by a good yeast. Fruity hops provided the muscle of the taste, shouldering aside the malt in an almost gentlemanly fashion before ripping open the aftertaste of good bittering hops without being so bitter as to ruin that faint sweetness in the aroma. That slight nuttiness that was noted back in the first outing was again in evidence and, overall, I felt that I had been served well.

My good companion was less impressed by this offering and so it was that as we went on to the next ale he ordered a cider. I plumbed for a Chocolate Mild from Muirhouse Brewery itself (see here for the last time I was there). I'll admit, I was old by the pastiche of the Cadbury's advert on the label and a desire to really push the boundaries of what kind of weather to have a heavy stout in. Well, okay, it was a mild, but it certainly looked the part. It smelled heavily of chocolate, not a little unlike the bars one can buy of slabs of chocolate from the supermarkets, right down to that faint (and very British) tang of vegetable oil that makes the rest of the world wonder what on earth we're about as we eat chocolate. Anyway, it was 4% ABV, and it tasted very creamy. Given the effect that was being aimed for this was not out of place and actually complemented the general feel of the ale. Very smooth, virtually no carbonation with a depth of blackness that would have made it fit in nicely to augurs of doom in the old days. The sort of abyss that would look back if stared at too deeply. Low head too, it was biscuit coloured but very short lived. In all, more than an entertaining diversion and deserved either a full pint or else a second, but we were supposed to be in a hurry and so neither was possible. I will note that I do rather like this public house and will be visiting again. 

Finally for the day we settled down to an evening meal, prepared by the fair Anna, of cous-cous with roasted vegetables, drizzled in balsamic vinegar, complementing grilled and peppered salmon fillet. Starter was a toasted ciabatta with beef tomato and melted mozarella cheese garnished with fresh oregano and parsley. Pudding was as described above.

Reasoning that this was mainly a fish dish I plumbed for the Robinson's Dizzy Blonde as the ale most likely suited to deal with that as a dish. It seemed to work well. A good citrus aroma bringing lemon and lime to mind combining with a decent enough malt that the hops weren't left to carry the whole taste. There was a good mellow Belgian feel to the concoction that would not have been out of place had I been pushing the Leffe Blonde (link) on our guests. I was alone in the ale but at 3.8% ABV I did not feel that I was being terribly alcoholic. Whilst they quaffed the white wine I felt that I had made a good heady choice. Plenty of dryness to supplement and enhance the salmon, a good set of hops to edge out the herbs and the pepper of the meal, whilst simultaneously allowing for a flavourful finish, and an aftertaste that was bitter enough to improve the fish and subtle enough to duck out as the courses changed. All in all, this was a decent enough ale to finish on and not a damp squib either. In fact, it rather put me in mind of the excellent Jorvik Blonde (link) that I had a few years ago and that is no bad thing.

After that, we retired to bed before heading off on a trip to have some steam train journeys and look at some old trains in somewhat lovely sunshine (though the wind did mean that I had to wear a jumper). Here we watched much coming and going by model engines, thus making the Boy very happy, and the Girlie got to watch over the child of our guests, thus making her a happy bunny as well. Winner of the ales for me, perhaps predictably, was the Chocolate Mild and I confess that I think it was down to being pulled from taps rather than bottled. As much as I love my bottled ale (and I do) there is a lot to be said for decent ale pulled from taps.

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