Many pubs and breweries closed this year, so here are some fond farewells.
Beers we have known and loved
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.
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.
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.
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?!
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.
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.
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