Sunday 16 August 2015

Norfolk Part 3 - Great Yarmouth

I love a trip to the seaside. The sea air, the amusement arcades, the shops selling every kind of tat imaginable, the bad but delicious food and of course a relaxing pint once the sea and sun has become too much. As part of my Norfolk break The Lovely Jemma and I had a day out at Great Yarmouth. I'd never been before but was looking forward to it, and it didn't disappoint. The shops did not let me down on tackiness, there was plenty of trashy food available, although we chickened out and ending up eating at a Spoons, the arcades were plentiful and there was even a surprisingly thrilling wooden rollercoaster to ride at the far end of the prom.

The aforementioned Spoons was The Troll Cart - despite the original and amusing name the pub was sadly an identikit Spoons with the usual grubby floor, sticky tables and solid range of ales and reliable food.  Once settled in the pub I ended up going for a Southern Fried Chicken strips and chips, which was a glorified chicken nuggets but despite being a meal clearly designed for children it filled a gap. To continue the American theme of my lunch I enjoyed a SixPoint The Crisp which went down a treat and was included with the meal - bargain. I really enjoy the SixPoint beers and am glad that Spoons are still selling them despite rumours of poor sales. The pub was packed when we arrived at noon but soon emptied out once the lunch time crowd were down and we left sitting amongst typical Spoons "characters." A less reputable blogger than I would make a comparison between the name of the pub and its weekday afternoon customers but I'm better than that. It was soon time to move on to the next pub.

There are two Great Yarmouth pubs in the Good Beer Guide and we only got the chance to visit one of them. The GBG can be a bit hit and miss - sometimes the pubs are pretty grim but because they serve a good pint the CAMRA beardies are happy to put it into the guide. Luckily The Mariners turned out to be a bit of a gem. An impressive stone facade outside, and a cosy two room interior made this a cosy and welcoming pub. There was a good selection of ales on and my half of Slap in the Face from Totally Brewed was in great condition and tasted hoppy and delicious. Only one of the rooms seemed to be open. As I'm a nosy bastard I couldn't resist opening the door to the second room where I was greeted by a large dog looking at me inquisitively before deciding he didn't like me and barking his head off. I quickly shut the door, the barmaid had a good laugh and all was well in the world. Located off the beaten track this pub was a nice place to enjoy a quiet pint.

We headed on down to the Pleasure Beach, stopping at the Lacon Brewery along the way. They have a shop at the brewery which was supposed to be open until 2:30pm, but was firmly shut when we arrived around 2pm. Luckily the head brewer saw me looking forlorn at the shop and took pity on me. As they were very busy he'd taken the staff member who usually mans the shop on to the production line, but he got him back in. The brewer also had a chat with me about the history of Lacons and led me into the small museum that they had. Founded in 1760, the brewery had a illustrious history until it was bought out by Whitbread in 1965, and they sadly closed the brewery in 1968. InBev, who make Budweiser, subsequently bought out Whitbread and the Lacons trademark was passed over to them.

After lying dormant for nearly 50 years, in 2013 a drinks distributor tycoon bought back the Lacon brand and brewing returned to Great Yarmouth. There's clearly a bit of money behind the operation and the museum and shop are in great nick, and the branding is very smart. I bought a few bottles in the shop. I've only had the chance to drink the Legacy so far, and it was a decent bitter with pleasant floral notes in the finish.

Overall I had a great time Yarmouth and North Norfolk overall. The weather was on our side, the pubs and beer were excellent, and the scenery was lovely. Well played Norfolk, well played.

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