Sunday, 12 August 2012

Beer v Chocolate

It is 9:45 on a sunny Saturday morning on East Green, Southwold and it is changeover day. Holiday cottages literally belch out their reluctant occupants onto the streets and into their cars. Screaming kids, frantic and flustered yummy mummies’ with their tanned but slightly bemused husbands survey the scene of packing cases, duvets, plastic dolphins and buckets that now have to be squeezed with the skill and precision of a surgeon into the back of their 4x4’s. A plethora of vacuums can be heard as they get to grips with the clean up operation sucking up sand, nail clippings and discarded chips, that the Labrador refused to eat, from every nook and cranny. A squadron of skivvies grunt and grind for several hours, racing to set their houses back to normal before the next influx of holiday makers hit the beaches. I never realised how busy sleepy old Southwold was at this time of the morning!

But what do I care about holiday makers, distraction over, I’m about to join the Adnams brewery tour.
For those of you not familiar with Southwold, it has its own brewery and has been brewing beer in some shape or form since the 14th century, when Johanna de Corby and 17 other 'ale wives' of Southwold were charged by the manorial court with breaking the assize of ale.

Jack the Basher!
 In 1872 George and Ernest Adnams bought the Sole Bay Brewery with the help of their father George. Unfortunately, George wasn't up to the country life and took himself off to South Africa where he was eaten by a crocodile!

Look out for Southwold Jack or Jack the Spiter or even Jack the Basher which adorns many Adnams products. Apparently he was created to scare the peasants!

Interesting fact, Southwold was actually raised to the ground by a fire, many years ago. When it was rebuilt several ‘greens’ were constructed to stop this situation ever arising again.

The tour is very interesting, full of history and amusing anecdotes’ lasting about two hours. The first hour is spent walking between the various buildings that hide a multitude of industrial appliances all cleverly concealed behind quaint looking houses. Taste the various malted barleys, sniff the hops and admire clouds of yeast shimmering in their stainless steel vats. Heed the warning about breathing in CO2 as it will kill you!  The second hour is spent tasting nearly every Adnams beer that possibly existed!  The only drink that lacked a bit of flavour was the Adnams Ginger Beer which needed a bit more ginger! I have it under good authority that more ginger is being added for the next batch. It's all light hearted stuff and probably not for the serious conoisseurs. The tutours obviously love their jobs and make the whole process great fun. 

To be sure by the end of the tour I can’t remember my own name let alone all the details of how the beer actually made it to the bottle! It’s all just a happy mish-mash by the end. You’ll have to sign up to the brewery tour if you want to find out more. At £10.00 per person, (18 years or over) including a free bottle of beer it is a great way to start the day. Be warned, they cunningly guide you to the Adnams Cellar and Kitchen shop where you get to taste some delicious wines and spirits whereupon they cleverly convince you to hand over the entire contents of your bank account! Next week I’m going on the wine and spirit tour if I can find some spare cash…..
Amazing what you find on the shoreline!
The Adnams Cellar and Kitchen Shop also sells chocolate bars by Amelia Rope and I couldn’t resist buying a 100g bar of dark spearmint. According to Amelia's website these single origin chocolate bars are her latest creation adding to her her chocolate collection which is all about quality, taste, purity and indulgence. As usual her bars are beautifully packaged and this particular bar is resplendent in its bright green foil jacket. The chocolate, a 67% cocoa, single origin, is from Madagascar so one can expect a good tasting chocolate. The minty flavouring is provided using organic spearmint oil.

As you open up the foil packaging there is a good spearmint aroma. The bar is simple in design and well made. The taste of spearmint is subtle and perhaps for my taste a little too subtle. The bar is pleasant but lacks any sort of punch and is rather understated. I tried another chunk this morning and whilst there is nothing wrong with this bar it is not giving me that 'pep up' feeling or the tingle down the back of my neck that I usually associate with her chocolate.  Amelia’s bars are top-end in terms of price so expect to pay from £4.95 for a 100g bar. Overall 5/10. To buy on line click here.  Beer 1 Chocolate 0 on this occasion.

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