Making craft lager

[Set up a mobile brewing facility] Take a group of men, any ordinary men, say a group like this…

Scary scrum

[Source desired ingredients] Direct them towards a pub with some good beer; we’re talking proper ale here. A good hoppy pale ale like this normally brings them back for more…

Tastes like it looks

[Processing and storage] Good ale is converted into lager by a natural rapid fermentation method, encased within a human frame. But, it needs close proximity storage, before the onward distribution to preferred lager outlets (i.e. other places not frequented by those who like good beer). The Hopbunker in Cardiff has perfected the storage solution…

Making lager

Water [2]

[Distribution] Until we speak again, just don’t ask where the above storage units are subsequently distributed to! I think I’m going to be a little more cautious about what I drink.

A night on the Toon

When you’ve seen a bunch of bridges by day, the next question is “what has Newcastle got for visiting cats to fill the evening?” It seems that it has a bunch of bridges by night!

Tyne Bridge at night

Underside of Tyne Bridge at night

Thirsty work, all of this bridge watching, so I’m unreliably told. But, in Newcastle, who needs an umbrella when even the pub comes with its own shelter?

Bridge Tavern and Bridge at night

So, the so-called business trip turns out to be something else altogether! The aptly named Bridge Tavern (formerly Newcastle Arms) provides an excellent watering hole, if you can’t bear to be too far from your precious bridges. With brewing at the back end of the bar, and a great range of regionally sourced beers, this could be a pub crawl without needing to move from your bar stool!

Bridge Tavern [1]

Bridge Tavern [2]

Bridge Tavern [3]

All tastes catered for, so an Allensdale Cardinal pale ale was swiftly followed by a sample of a Cloudwater stout:

Pint of Allendale Cardinal A pint in Bridge Tavern

 

 

 

 

Newcastle isn’t all about beer. If you’re looking for some culture the Theatre Royal is sure to satisfy…

Theatre Royal at night

But, I should have known, if I send my old soak on tour, resistance to a Rolling Stones reference will soon turn things back to beer…

Pleased to Meet You at night [1]

A pint in Pleased to Meet You [2]

And it seems wherever you are in this city reference to the bridges will always be close by…

A pint in Pleased to Meet You [1]

Sleeping cat

 

Until we speak again it’s enough to give a cat a headache.

Food history

Call this food!So, what are my credentials for talking to you about the history of food? After all, as a true cat I appoint others to do the hard graft for me!

Blue Anchor [9]

 

 

The President of my predecessor’s (Juno) fan club was recently celebrating a birthday, the number of which sounds to me like like something out of history. It’s one of those numbers where you people can easily tend to get lost; who knows where she is going here? Are the loos down there? Or is this a subterranean dining experience going on?

Blue Anchor [1]I digress, the thing here is about how history and food came together… at least in my mind anyway. This train of thought came together when my ‘appointed food taster’ said they were off to a Blue Anchor, or somewhere nautical that is actually miles from the sea (strange ideas happen when it comes to naming pubs, inns, restaurants).

Blue Anchor [2]

 

 

 

But this one is old, very old, 1380 old! And it seems from reading a brief history about the place like it has always been an inn, always into the beer and food groove. So I guess they must have learned to do some things right by now. It’s a cold and bleak winter’s day, so you need something to take the chill away, and this place certainly oozes that cozy old inn vibe…

Blue Anchor [3]

Blue Anchor [4]

Apparently the Blue Anchor is well known amongst the beer aficionados for its small but well-kept range of the amber and pale nectar. And I’m told the lotion more than adequately complemented the nosh. As for the eating, where do you start? Ham Hock sounded like some ancient vittles, but I’m informed it was a thick and tasty starter, though who knows what the green stuff was up to hiding under the

Blue Anchor [5]

This being a Sunday, my instructions were to go for the traditional roasts, and my compliant diners duly obliged…

Blue Anchor [6]

Whilst these Yorkshire puddings take up space the beef (and those going for lamb) reported a very tasty meal. The real test is the vegetables, and they came through as lightly cooked and crunchy… “just right” I said. So my local fans have found another place well worth re-visiting; and being around since 1380 this place isn’t going away anytime soon. The place is East Aberthaw in the Vale of Glamorgan, and until we speak again I’m Bella, and my advice is ignore history, go now!

Degrees of difficulty

Seems that the good burghers of Grangetown in Cardiff don’t hold out the warmest of welcomes for posh people!

Grange [2]

But revenge looks sweet, as the owners are no doubt members of the landed gentry; and my guess is they decided if we are not getting in then nobody is getting in!

Grange [3]

Call this food!

 

Until we speak again this Bella hopes that all of your preferred lotion is accessible!

Why go to Newport?

If Newport is the answer I would have to be very curious as to what was the question! Well, it’s the christmas season, so how do we get to avoid all of those obsessive bargain hunters flooding a shopping centre near you, purchasing all those things they don’t need just because the marketers have substantially dropped the price? It turns out that a couple of cats in the City Arms in Cardiff decided that Newport was the best way of avoiding the strange seasonal habits of the human race.

So three Cardiff-based cats… Yours Truly, Fat Freddies and The Banker (aka India Pale, Chocolate Stout and Organic Cider) set out to investigate…

Ye Olde Murenger House [4]Could it be that Newport has the highest respect for preserving its history? Here’s a novel way of showcasing those spare circa 1530 inns you happen to have lying around down the road from your railway station. Ye Olde Murenger House is so old that everything around it is either closed down or falling down!

Ye Olde Murenger House [1]

Perhaps it’s the modesty of the locals that shines through? Though when a place is often thought of as a beer desert you would be well advised to listen to local wisdom…

Ye Olde Murenger House [2]

Is it the haute cuisine that attracts inquisitive travellers from quite simply miles (well yards) around? The antidote to turkey is probably best found elsewhere…

Ye Olde Murenger House [3]

How about the courteous service? Though my ‘intrepid lotion-guzzler’ suggested that The Lamb has had an interesting recent makeover, providing pleasant surroundings, tasty beer, and perhaps a new innovation in the form of self-service (due to customer invisibility at a distance of a couple of yards). It was probably the desperate efforts to achieve a re-fill that got in the way of any photographic evidence of the makeover.

Or, is it the hotbed of sporting achievement that encourages mere mortals to simply look on in awe? Nuff said…

Newport v Plymouth [2]Truth be known, The Banker has been long exiled in Cardiff from somewhere mysteriously unnamed in south Devon, and has waited more than 66 years to watch the boyhood local team (Plymouth Argyle). Out of pure unadulterated respect the home team, Newport County, lost the match 2-1 not to spoil the occasion. The Banker has the truly unrivalled record of 100% success (take that Leicester City FC fans, with your altitude-induced nose-bleeds at the top of the Premier League!).

Call this food!Until we speak again I intend to be Bella, content with the thought that I can employ a personal envoy to represent me when trips to places such as Newport are on the agenda! Though my ‘ignominious traveller’ claims to have had an enjoyable day in the grunge capital of Europe. Please form an orderly queue when making your unnecessary purchases for temporary pleasures at over-filled emporia near you.

Mounty bites the dust

Sleeping catMy ‘resident inebriate‘ does bang on about how traditional pubs are disappearing, only to be replaced by swanky bars, and craft this, brew that and hop the other! Why should I care, after all, any self-indulgent cat worth their whiskers would always go for swanky whatever’s.

However, as I was prowling around the Adamsdown-Splott-Roath who-knows-whats-where boundary in downtown Cardiff, I couldn’t help but notice that the local maple leaf had hit the turf, as the Dead Pubs Crawl gets a little longer…

The CanadianUntil we speak again I will continue to be Bella, but I guess that’s the end of any potential twinning of Cardiff and Ottawa!

Lunar confusion

It’s getting late… You looking at me?a pint or two too many at the City Arms kind of late. These days I miss out on Juno’s quiet air of indignation as I return home later than promised; though I wasn’t sure whether she knew the time, or simply presented in the same way whatever time I got home.

It’s the time of night when sailor’s come into their own, as they navigate a way home by the location of the moon. But such a skill seems to become more difficult than expected in an inebriated downtown central Cardiff. Where is that moon when you need it? In the early hours of a Spring night Cardiff seems particularly blessed by many moons.

Moonlight [1]

Who says that alcohol marinated logic makes no sense? A walk through a local wooded copse will surely be the solution to narrowing the moons down to the real one! Well, perhaps it doesn’t necessarily narrow down the number of potential moons, but there are a few clues beginning to shape up.

Moonlight [2]

Even a few pints of the hoppy stuff can’t dim the realisation that a mix of man-made unnatural wood and a man-made built environment gives a zig-zag trajectory a bit more of a focus and direction. Now I am able to narrow down the options…

Monlight [3]

Strangely enough, the real McCoy presents itself in full-moon splendour just at the moment it is least needed… I seem to be home.

Moonlight [5]

Who needs the moon anyway, when you have a carefully developed and honed homing instinct? Now, just before the hangover kicks in… what do we do on a cloudy night?

Half cat half door

 

Until we speak again, I seem to recall similar escapades in the past, only with the scary addition to the end of the night of something that resembled half-cat/half-door. The moral of this story is drink sensibly, or if you don’t, at least try to enjoy the bizarre distortions that the world presents to those in need of surgical realignment of their ‘eyes-to-sockets’ relationship.

 

A fishy tale

Now, us cats are widely known for our gastronomic approach to the fish… after all, why waste time observing the aesthetic when you can tuck in to some damn good nosh? But my laser focus on the subject was temporarily interupted when the resident wobbly one recently staggered back from the ale house of choice mumbling something about rings, trappist monks and fountain-dwelling fish. For a moment it just sounded like the usual garbled nonsense that emerges from one who spends an hour or two longer than is wise in dens of intoxication.

A word of warning… this tale starts withOrval [3] a somewhat obscure reference to rats, a most unpleasant subject to interrupt the joys of your festive celebrations! And as for the idea of ‘Premium’ black rat, I can only hope that that is overdone in cajun spices.

Anyway, back to the original inspiration for this tale… it appears many years ago that Countess Matilde of Tuscany accidentally lost her wedding ring in a fountain somewhere in Belgium. Though I am rather suspicious already… what was a recently widowed countess hoping to find in Belgium, and was the loss of the ring accident or providence? I leave you to speculate on questions of such magnitude.

Orval [2] For those of you into religion, and other sources of miracles, it seems that while Matilde was praying (for what you may continue your own bizarre speculations), a trout appeared from out of said fountain, with her ring in its mouth. Being an avid studier of the fish I can only suggest that rings play havoc with their digestion. However, like all grateful souls, it appears that Matilde decided there and then to build a monastery on the site; and probably in consultation with her google maps app realised she was in a place from henceforth to be known as Orval.

My resident ‘imbiber general’ informs me that this was the least interesting part of the whole story. It seems that the trappist cistercian monks who took up residence in the new gaff had loads of time on their hands after daily prayers were completed. So, like all men who easily succumb to boredom as a tactic for avoiding the usual domestic chores they took to developing a hobby, most notably home brewing. From that day onwards they have been spreading joy to the world through something that Fat-Freddies-Cat describes as ‘liquidised hops’. Meanwhile my resident knobhead tries to convince me that it tastes better out of the designed for purpose glass… well at least it looks good; so I leave you with a festive image:

Orval [1]

Enjoy your lotion of choice, Arrival in Cardiffbut in the meantime I shall return to my pursuit of what fish were really designed for. Until we speak again I shall mainly be snoozing Juno.

Be my guest

Talking of arse-end surveillance, as I was just recently… I have just found a new way of consuming news:

Newspaper

Anyway, I digress… a particular problem when, like me, you have a passion for writing loads of stuff and your concentration tends to wander. So, the opportunity has arisen for me to take a break, step back, and take pleasure in welcoming another cool cat from Cardiff to share an experience with you. My good friend Fat-Freddies-Cat accompanied me on a trip to Newport in a much earlier post on this site, but also happens to wander into many a pub in many a town for the odd beer or two. In fact, he continues to produce a photographic series ‘Time for a pint’ which now has over a million views on Flickr. Why not check it out by clicking the following link:

a pint in the minerva, plymouth

As a taster, so to speak, Fat-Freddies-Cat has a tail (or is that tale?) to tell about one such adventure in the local area. This is a brief story about a visit to Kitty Flynn’s in Cardiff, and a personal reflection on the changing fortunes of the SA drinker over the years…

kitty flynns <!-- Missing Medium URL -->

“There’s gonna be trouble in here later” said the lady determined to shake my hand.

It’s a quiet Monday night, hardly looks like there is trouble brewing. My first visit here this century. This used to be The Cambrian, on the corner of Cardiff’s most notorious street, wall to wall with the brewery that owns it. Hookers and hustlers used to fill the room, Brains SA was known as ‘skull attack’ and a thick fog of cigarette smoke hung about waist height. Today, The Cambrian is Kitty Flynn’s – an Irish bar, the smoke has now moved outside, the brewery has moved to what was then the wrong side of the tracks. Caroline Street is now mere ‘chip shop alley’ – people even live there. Brains SA has not attacked any skulls in many a long year.

I didn’t stay for the trouble, it only occurring to me after I had left, that I was wearing an orange t-shirt which was probably not a good idea in an Irish pub.

 

Until we speak again I aim to continue being Juno, 4. Brains journey [1]but with a degree of caution about the colours I wear in distinct hostelries about town. The search for the long-lost SA tradition will continue (though it can look and taste pretty good at times); and I do believe that Fat-Freddie-Cat is consuming what remains of the pint next to it! Cheers.

A dead pubs crawl

The recent fact that around 20,000 pubs have been closed down in the UK during the last couple of decades hardly caused me a ruffle of the whiskers. After all, us cool cats are much more sophisticated in our tastes… I am more concerned with preserving my premium wine stocks.

Wine stocks

As far as I am concerned pubs are uncouth places where dogs are more likely to be found. However, my ‘resident old git’ seems somewhat more perplexed than I about this dilapidated state of affairs in the ‘world the beer guide forgot‘. It being the beginning of the season to be jolly, I thought I would send the thirsty one on a tour of modern day temperance; and there is no shortage of places in Cardiff you can no longer get a drink!

Whoever said that the pubs of today are being taken over by food has certainly been to The Neville recently. Unfortunately, it seems that this former favourite of fans of the local team has gone the whole hog, its become a local supermarket… so the only grog available here will be the discounted stuff better drunk out of a brown paper bag!

The Neville [2]

An even worse fate for The Splotlands, as the chances of even getting in the inn are now completely blocked. I hope the last customer at last orders managed to get out in time!

The Splotlands

Black Friday and even Cyber Monday have now past us by, but anyone still in search of a bargain need look no further than downtown Butetown. The White Hart either finished off on a sale of its remaining stocks, or more likely has now become the subject of a sale.

The White HartBut not all pubs are allowed to finally give up the ghost and die; take an amble along Constellation Street and you come across a fine residence that probably shouldn’t be… all hail local activism down at The Tredegar as people exert squatters rights as a means of keeping a grand old landmark in occupation other than by rats and mice.

The Tredegar, Tin Street

Talking of rats and mice… just look what happens to a prestigious city centre site when you neglect history. The York Hotel might well have long since given up its final incarnation as an Indian restaurant, but it still serves as a grim reminder of former halcyon days.

York Hotel

My in-house beer monkey returned stoically sober after this particular pub crawl. Until we speak again I hope your pre-christmas crawling is to your satisfaction. Meanwhile I shall continue my duties as Wine Merchant Juno.

[With special thanks to my original guide and mentor into the world of blogging The Gentle Author for the original idea of the ‘Dead Pubs Crawl’].