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This is very much my blog, so don't be surprised if this doesn't follow accepted patterns and norms. Obviously it started out as a blog about my cross-dressing but it has developed a great deal since then. It is a place where I can be anonymous and honest, and I appreciate that.

It will deal with many things and new readers would do well to check out the New Readers' Page above this and the tag down there on the right. Although there's nothing too bad in here there will be adult language, so be careful. If you think this needs a greater control, please let me know. Thank you!

Tuesday, 18 February 2014

A Trip North

Yeah, I can say I felt a bit like this. Did not look like it though.

I have, however, had a haircut.
So, I went back to an area of the country renowned for its curries to take some of my home brew to the colleagues that got me the kit to start brewing. Naturally I went alone. Girlie has been getting increasingly rude and difficult to manage (sending Tilly a bit loopy) and Tilly has a massive migraine. I suspect that my worries in the last post are, well, largely irrelevant if i'm honest. However uneasy the concept of Tilly doing what she promised are I suspect that it will never actually happen, so I'm spared that particular soul search. Also, the conversation on politics continues and probably deserves a blog post at some point, but not tonight. I am failing to mark work and tired after a night out on the tiles.

We also went out to see the Lego Movie today. I shan't ruin it for anyone that hasn't seen it but it is not at all what I expected and plotted very much as one would expect from a twelve-year old. I do not mean that as a criticism by the by. Girlie seemed to enjoy it, the Boy found it hard going and is clearly a little bit ill.

Mmm, proper curry!
Going to the place of curry made me realise that the take out in this part of the country is substandard but it also reminded me why I hate big cities and made me appreciate anew where I live now. The opportunity to 'pop into town' and to cover the whole centre in about ten minutes is not to be sniffed at. The fact that there are some good pubs here, which I must start to try, and the fact that it's nowhere near as busy. Even though my host had a residence across four floors (!) I am not jealous as I would have been in the old days. I am happy for him and his family that they found that place and could get it, his children seemed very taken with it, but I do like my own house. I mean, sure, we can't return the favour for his whole family, but the space we have is just nice. And that was nice. Also, I drove up there with my bracelets and watch on. That was very good indeed and surprisingly comfortable. Anyway, I have chosen to relate the night in the form of short beer reviews because... uh... because... I... can?

My host sampled the home brew, officially now Slightly-Shitty Slow-Brewed Summer Stag and pronounced it very drinkable. Certainly the colour of the ale has improved since before Christmas and there, in his kitchen, the full tawny amber colour was unleashed. Not as fizzy, thankfully, as the last bottle I cracked open (I relieved the pressure in these bottles twice) but well carbonated just the same. It was poured with a more practiced hand than my own and so the sediment remained in the bottle, leaving a very clear ale with a good head - not too mad and not thin and rubbish - and a lovely aroma of hops that avoided being over-powering. As my host is a big fan of hops he was very kind about it but I suspect I could do better with the hoppiness for the next brew. I now await the opinion of our companion after he has had chance to drink. So far so good for people trying the home brew.

Beer 1: Thornbridge Brewery's Wild Swan. Bottled.
At 3.5% ABV it was the natural choice to start the evening. My lovely hosts had prepared four from this stable as they are their favourites and, mindful of the fact that we were visiting some fine craft ale pubs, I chose this one as a beginning. It was a straw beer with a good, vigorous head and plenty of hoppy aroma. Surprisingly heavy on the yeast taste once underway but with some clever hops over the top. It claims to be tropical and fruity (kiwi is listed) and I don't know about that. Certainly there's a hoppy bouquet, a light and almost invisible malt and plenty of yeast. A good start to the evening.

Beer 2: Brewdog's Libertine Black Ale. Draught.
This was chosen because the Brewdog bar in Leeds was full of clever things on tap. So full I confess to not knowing where to start. So I naturally plumbed for a dark ale. At 7.2% ABV I was relieved that it came in a 2/3 pint glass. It was very much a dark beer with a chocolatey head. Indeed, there was a chocolate weight to the malt that I rather liked along with an aromatic and spicy finish to the hops that rolled around either side in the gulps one took. Nowhere near as heavy as the ABV or the look warranted and thus perhaps a dangerous one to have. Enjoyable, smokey and with a hint of something of the night about it - it reminded me very much of the time I saw the then leader of the Conservative Party Michael Howard running for a train in Preston.

Beer 3: Brewdog's Raspberry Blitz. Draught.
Given my penchant for fruit beer I couldn't let the opportunity to sample some of this pass me by. At 3.4% ABV it was weak enough to settle me in for the curry ahead and a half went down nicely. The fruit was not too strong, noticeable and tart, and allowed a bitter hop to carry the end of the sip. Little malt in the body, mainly masked by the fruit, but there was definitely a weight to it. I am glad to report that there was little sugar to it and so it avoided the fate of the Wychwood Forest Fruits and, instead, did a good job of being sharp and refreshing. Pinkish beer with a clean white head that was thin, but not unpleasant. Other reviewers talk up the amber nature of the beer itself but, it was dark, I could only just make out the pink colour. Enjoyable, well worth another try.

Beer 4: Cobra. Bottled.
And so to the curry. I was very pleased to finally have access to a decent selection of curry at the Aagrah. My hosts had managed to gain a 20% off voucher for the food and the two beers on offer were Bangla and Cobra. I plumbed for the latter and, at 6.6% ABV, it was much stronger than I remember it back when I bought myself a bottle. Thin, fizzy and slightly yellowy but mostly clear it was reassuringly the same. Enough of a taste within it to stand well with the selection of tandoori meats we started with but then overpowered and beaten into submission by the main course. Enjoyable enough to drink with food, as suggested in the original review, but nothing to write home about. Still, this part of the evening was more about the food and so the fact that it could stand aside and let that have centre stage is perhaps its best feature.

Beer 5: Leeds' Brewery's New Moon. Draught.
This has been sampled before, at a colleague's leaving do, and I was glad to have the opportunity to try it again. Another dark ale with plenty of mystery to it in a pub that really looks the part. Much conversation about it being badly situated in Leeds but, I suspect, if people can figure out where it is the building worked well for the contents. This beer, about 4.3% ABV, was a good one to finish the night on. Not as heavy as I would have liked, the hops were American and offered a lighter touch to it, and the malt got drowned out in the taste despite appearing quite strong initially. Surprisingly hoppy rather than malty for its dark colouration and, as a consequence, almost refreshing. A great palate cleanser, it actually helped remove the traces of the curry we'd had.

By this point I shall confess that I could feel the effects of plenty of ale and not quite enough water along with good company and a satisfied feeling from the curry. Passing up the opportunity to get another ale we headed back to the house of my host (which was palatial) and went to bed. The following morning, sharing in the madness of their breakfast, I was struck by how similar children are and pleased to note that I am not alone in having children who are loud, enthusiastic and loud. I hope that this is a repeated experience, there are so many more craft ales to try on draught and so many more curries and decent pubs.

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