Beery goodbyes 2012

Many pubs and breweries closed this year, so here are some fond farewells.

Beers we have known and loved

Northcote Brewery

Jiggle Juice was one of my favourite beers at the Cambridge Beer Festival 2010, a cracking Citra hopped IPA. That was the first Northcote beer I tried, but soon after that I enjoyed Sunshine Jiggle and from then on would stock up on bottles of Northcote beers each time I visited Norfolk – my parents even called in at the brewery to pick some up and said they were really friendly there. So it was sad when at the beginning of the year they announced they were closing. I was lucky enough to come across what was probably their last beer when I visited the Euston Tap in January – ‘One for the Road’, a collaboration with the Tap. I grabbed one last mixed box of Northcote beer when I next visited Norfolk and I still have a couple of bottles of the El Salvador IPA, an IPA brewed with NZ hops and fresh coffee, that I’ve yet to get around to opening.

Northcote Brewery
Northcote Brewery
Northcote El Salvador IPA


Another Norfolk brewery to close this year was Blackfriars from Great Yarmouth, just a few minutes from the seafront near the Pleasure Beach. Although the brewery has closed, it is now in the hands of JV Trading who are also “Custodians of the Lacons brand and associated trademarks, who are extremely committed to re-establishing this much loved former Great Yarmouth brewery.” (Lacons Memories). So far, Great Yarmouth Brewing Company has been established, with Wilbur Wood, who had been Head Brewer at Fyne Ales and brewed at Oakham Ales for years before that, already having brewed three new beers – ‘D.N.A.’ a 3.8% pale ale using Citra, Centenial and Perle hops, ‘Identity’ a 5% bitter, and ‘Fingerprint’ a 4.4% Golden Ale which has already been on at the Alexandra Arms, Cambridge.


St Judes

I enjoyed St Judes 14% strong ale ‘Negro Mortis’ at last winter’s Bury Beerhouse Festival and was sad to hear the Suffolk Micro Brewery ceased brewing this year, although the St Judes Tavern in Ipswich recently reopened.

Back from the dead

Buntingford Silent Night

Good news, that despite Buntingford‘s announcement last year that it would be ‘quite possibly the last year’ for Silent Night, it reappeared this winter – although as they ‘change the recipe each year, just to confuse people’ I suppose it was really only the name – that said, it did taste pretty much as I remember, a really nice citrusy bitter.

Closed pubs:


There has been good news with some new or reopened pubs (in Cambridgeshire, the newly opened ‘Bank’ at Willingham, the refurbished Mill and Alexandra Arms in Cambridge) but a lot of closures with many more under threat. The Flying Pig faces an uncertain future and is threatened with demolition to make way for more offices – the neighbouring Osborne Arms was demolished a few months ago despite being in a conservation area – the developers simply demolished it then afterwards claimed they were ‘unaware of the need for conservation area consent’ and were then invited to apply for retrospective consent – so that’s okay then?!

Osborne Arms, Flying Pig

Cambridge’s Newmarket Road, which in 1878 listed nearly thirty pubs along with several breweries, this year saw the closure of The Seven Stars and Bird in Hand, which after the closure of the Zebra last year, leaves just three pubs (the Burleigh Arms, the Corner House and the Wrestlers) along the length of the road and currently not a single brewery in the city itself (although this is set to change in 2013 with the January opening of the Cambridge Brew House on King Street). I keep looking at certain pubs and wondering if the next time I pass they’ll still be open. The proposed Cambridge Tap seems very unlikely to happen now, which is a shame as Cambridge could do with more variety.

Seven Stars


I lived in Norfolk and regularly visit family and friends there so I’ve noticed the closing of many pubs which have been familiar landmarks, such as the 17th century coaching inn the Green Man in Rackheath on the road from Norwich to Wroxham. In Wroxham itself, the Shed closed and although it may reopen as a private members club or bistro, it’s unlikely to be a pub again.

Wroxham Tap

A toast

So as the year draws to a close, I’ll crack open a Northcote El Salvador IPA and raise a toast to beers and pubs known and loved. Cheers


3 responses to “Beery goodbyes 2012

  1. Still have one El Salvador myself, I bought a bunch a while ago… a last remnant of Northcote 😦 it is a rather good version of what I personally find to be a distasteful sort of beer. I love hops, I love coffee, but the two just don’t work together in an IPA for me. (In fact most coffee beers are awful!)

    • I wanted to try it before replying – when I poured it earlier I realised I hadn’t had a coffee IPA before, only ever had coffee in dark beers. As you say, hops + coffee shouldn’t work together but I was surprised how much I liked it – a really nice beer, I liked the sweetness against the lasting coffee bitterness. What struck me most was the colour, a glowing amber, one of the nicest looking beers I’ve had lately!

  2. Jiggle Juice was probably my favourite Northcote Beer. As for Coffee and hops, even the mighty De Molen (Bed & Breakfast) can’t put the two together in a way that I can enjoy.

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