After another successful year at the Brewery Colin Brown (founder & master brewer) once again decided he would raid petty cash and reward us all with a day out on the beers…and this year Belvoir Brewery on Tour would be hitting the real ale pubs of Newark.
With all work commitments done by 11:30 we started off next door at the Alehouse and as Colin poured the Star Quality Beers we tucked into some lovely bacon sandwiches while the brewery team posed for the camera (phone!).
After a couple of swift halves it was time to hit the road and as always Colin had everything under control and had sorted a couple of drivers (Dave & Dave) to get us safely there and back. Amazingly he’d also sorted the weather as it was a glorious day outside and with spirits high we set off for the lovely market town of Newark.
First up was the Castle Barge and as usual Colin has organised a little something to keep us all thinking. With a bottle of wine (of all things) up for grabs the question was how much would the first round be?
With 8 drinkers and 2 drivers we all worked on the basis of 8 pints and 2 soft drinks and wrote our answers on the sheet. However, one of the drivers opted out and big Dan Little only had a half pint which caused confusion amongst us all, but the end result was a round costing just over £28…meaning driver Dave R (who didn’t have a drink) won! It was all good fun, and with Colin setting a fast pace we all headed to the second pub…The Ram.
With an impressive selection of hand pumps this bar/brasserie was a pleasing surprise to all and with Colin having had a few tasters he guided us towards the Newark Brewery BLH4.
It was a lovely pale ale and went down a treat. The amount of hand pumps was high on the agenda as Colin’s second question (for another bottle of wine) was how many hand pumps (working and none working) would there be in the first 4 pubs. With a low count of 4 in the first, the 8 in The Ram was good news for those with a higher number and with time ticking on Colin lead the way to the next pub to see how many pumps (and beers) we’d find.
Without a cloud in the sky we moved onto The Prince Rupert which was a stunningly restored pub dating back to 1452.
With an impressive 6 hand pumps it had a great selection of ales and a couple of us went for the Viper’s Kiss from Lincolnshire’s Horncastle Ales. It was a really nice chestnut bitter with a fruity aroma and at 3.7% was the ideal third beer as it was still only 2.30!
We found some seats and admired the impressive memorabilia although somehow the younger members of the team ended up in the comfy arm chairs…which was probably for the best as the older generation might have struggled to get out of them they were that low!
We supped up and moved onto the next place…The Flying Circus. It was an interesting pub with Monty Python quotes on the walls and a good selection of world beers in bottles. However, we were there for a pint and also to count the hand pumps to reveal the winner of the second question.
There were 4 hand pumps in action, although 8 in total, and it was down to Colin to confirm that the non-working pumps were included which meant that with a total of 26 pumps in the first 4 pubs the winner was…Dave S (the other driver!). Whilst we enjoyed our beer big Dan Little took great joy in showing brewery assistant Danny the brewing process that was on the wall…brewer Sean just looked puzzled by it all.
With pints finished it was time to move onto the next watering hole…Just Beer micropub. We’d heard good things about this place and weren’t disappointed, especially with the cracking half of 6.7% rum stout some of us had! The pub itself was a lovely little place with pleasant bar staff and friendly customers, but the highlight for us was the dartboard in the corner and like our last tour we were straight on the oche!
As usual though we were hustled by Danny as after pretending he couldn’t hit a barn door he starting hitting number after number and soon left us for dead on the round the board challenge. With no time to spare it was time to press on, especially as Colin was treating us all too some much needed food in the next pub.
With the sun setting with made our way to Oscar’s Inn (apparently named after a German short-haired pointer) and were eager to find out the answer to Colin’s third and final competition question. We all had to guess the average strength of the ales on tap, and although we can’t remember the exact percentage it was high (around 4.7%), and it was driver big Dan Little who took the honours. While Dan basked in his percentage glory Colin ordered some 16″ pizza’s for us to share and help soak up the stronger beers we were enjoying.
It didn’t take long for us to polish off the food and with the beer working its magic the fun continued when we found Jenga! It was a tense affair with reputations on the line but something had to give…and unfortunately it did for Colin, as despite claiming moments earlier he’d never lost at Jenga it all went wrong for him as the tower crashed to the table…much to the delight of the other players! With his Jenga reputation in tatters Colin gave us the nod and it was time to move on again.
Next up was The Vaults which was situated in the old cellars on the historic North Gate. With its original arched brick ceiling and flagstone floors it was a lovely venue, and of course it was even better with another good pint of ale in hand. As the two generation of Dan’s put the world to rights the newest member of the team Rory was starting to feel the pace! He rightly received a bit of stick but to be fair there was no way he was going to force the rest of his pint down, and with that we stumbled onto the last pub.
Nobody knew much about the Old Malt Shovel but big Dan Little was adamant we made it our final stop so with a cracking open log fire burning away we ordered our last beer of the day. The younger generation found a table and disappeared round the corner, leaving the wise heads to discuss the current state of world affairs (no real memory of that conversation!). With everybody very merry and ready for home we called it night and said our goodbyes to Newark.
It just leaves us to once again thank Colin for his efforts in arranging another great Belvoir Brewery tour…and of course paying for everything!