Monday, 14 December 2015

THE SAINTS FORGOT TO MARCH

It was just after 11:00 when Parker arrived at the Fuggles residence, Citra was already on board, and Pharp was last on the pick-up list. We forgot to tell Pharp what time we were picking him up so we had to hang around in Rushden for a bit longer that we would have preferred. Nevertheless, Pharp was on board by 11:30 ish and we were on our way to the town of borrowed bones. I say borrowed, I suspect that St Neot’s remains will never be returned to Cornwall. We were parked up in the Waitrose car park around 12:20pm, rain was in the air and the wind was picking up, that was not a Pharp pun.
The Pig n Falcon is just a few yards away so we were slugging down our first pint very soon after. The Pig ’n’ F have eight ales available, 4 on hand-pump and 4 on gravity. Potbelly’s Best and Beijing Black, Lacons Extra Stout and GKIPA were on hand-pump whilst Batemans Gold, Hopback’s Citra, and Blue Monkeys BG Sips and Ape Ale were all being served direct from the barrel. This is one of those pubs where you just want to stay for a decent amount of time, loads of good ales on tap, even if the d├ęcor leaves a lot to be desired. There’s a bit of a ramshackle outside which looks like recycled sheds turned into an outdoor drinking area cum smoking pit, loads of assorted seating and tables. Today it was bloody cold, so not too many outside enjoying the shanty ambience.  The band that had performed in the pub the night before had turned all the radiators off, so needless to say it was just as cold indoors encouraging the teeth to chatter. Nevertheless the temptation to hang about rather than trudge around in the wet and windy weather was strong.

Not the actual list, we forgot to take a photo Doh!
Blue Monkey Brewery’s BG Sips was screaming out at both Citra and me so we had to sample it. This fine pale ale was the first to sell out at the Poppies Halloween Beer festival back in the winter of 2010; we’d just gained a 2-1 win away at Newport, so it brought back fond memories. Parker, ever the adventurer went for a beer from Kettering; Potbelly’s Best whilst Pharp was going for something much darker; the Lacons Extra Stout. All the ales were in good condition if a little on the cold side, the BG Sips is 4% golden pale ale, quite bitter, refreshing and easy drinking. The Best and the Stout being drawn through the hand-pump had tighter heads clinging to the bottom of the glasses. Lacons Extra Stout has a very rich roasted malty taste, naturally dark with strength of 4.5% with a slightly bitter, smooth dry finish. Potbelly Best is a good standard session bitter, chestnut coloured ale at 4% all very nice. Next up for Fuggles and Citra was Batemans Gold, 3.9% golden/blonde ale almost like a lager. Nice and hoppy and with citrus bursting through, quite dry, in good nick. A few more Poppies supporters were now in the pub, the Weebles, the Poppies TV commentators and Fleco popped in for a pint. Luckily for us the landlord also arrived and promptly turned the heating on and the placed warmed up. Citra went to fetch the next ale using his CAMRA card for member’s 40p discount on each pint and came back with Hopback’s Citra, who’d of thought. As you would expect with a beer with this name it was very citrusy and very easy drinking, 4% blonde ale, slightly loose head but still clinging to the glass, perfectly clear, lovely. Pharp was content to sup the stout so had another one. With no real time to go elsewhere we had another pint here, Fuggles went for Blue Monkey’s Ape Ale a powerful 5.4% pale ale with loads of citrusy hops, this ale had won many awards, far too easy to drink considering its strength. Citra had another Citra, naturally. That was it, Parker had sat and watched us all boozing whilst he just had his usual pint punctuated only by nipping outside for a crafty drag on a fag now and again.
It was just a 5 minute drive to the ground; well it would have been had Parker not missed the turn. So we had to drive round a bit before we got there. The ground is now surrounded by houses and shops. When we came here for the first ever game there was a whole lot of open land, with very high curb stones marking out the future road infrastructure, now you have a job to find your way in through the maze of boxes on top of boxes next to even more boxes. It’s a nice set up all the same, although no decent ale in the clubhouse, you can’t have everything I suppose, not even a match day programme, it’s on-line apparently.
The game, well it was a very windy affair which was decided by a super strike, a positively powerful thunderbolt of a header or was it a tap in, was it an own goal, or did Rene’s bootlace actually make contact with the ball, does anybody know? A good turn out by the Poppies faithful who witnessed a battle against the elements and watched their team come out on top.

On the way home we decided to go all the way back to Rushden and go to the Rushden Historical Transport Society bar. This is a gem of a bar located in the old railway station, the whole placed is bedecked with memorabilia, huge enamel signs adorn the walls and 8 hand-pump fill the small bar. There is an old carriage on the platform which is used as the lounge. The Weebles arrived just before us and were just about to down their first pint. Pharp, Citra and I went for Phipps’s IPA, whist Parker had a Woodforde Wherry. The Phipp’s ale was brought back to life about 6 years ago, around 40 years after Grotney’s replaced it with a keg wazz called Special Bitter, god that was awful stuff. The IPA was initially brewed at the Grainstore brewery in Oakham but is now brewed back in Northampton just up the road from the original Brewhouse. Phipps’s IPA is delightful 4.3% golden pale ale, very refreshing with just enough bitterness to quench the thirst, and it was in very good condition, clear as a bell with a tight head. Parker’s Wherry looked just as good. Next up for Fuggles was Church End Brewery’s Woldbane, a light brownish colour with a strength of 4.7%, quite malty and very tasty. It goes without saying the ale was in very good condition that is the norm here at the RHTS bar a former CAMRA National Club of the year winner. Citra had Rudgate Odins Voyage, a deep chestnut coloured ale coming in at 3.7% not his usual style of tipple, he didn’t seem too impressed but I’m sure it was ok. We decided to have just one more each, Citra returned to Phipp’s IPA whilst Fuggles had the stronger Phipp’s Gold Star, 5% golden ale a stronger version of the IPA but perhaps slightly sweeter. Well that was it for the day, or at least we thought it was, for just as we were about to leave a new ale became available. Dark Star Hophead, oh no, Citra and I looked at each other and thought soddit. So we encouraged Parker to take Pharp home who’d both had enough ale for the day and then come back for us, and so he did. Hophead has to be one of our favourite session ales, golden pale in colour, 3.8% in strength, clean and fresh on the palate. Marvellous, a great day rounded off beautifully.

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