A Norwegian Travels South-west

I was in London last week, which is pleasant during all seasons, but this has been the hottest July for 30 years, so there is an extra need to refill the body’s liquid reserves.

I first visited the splendid Pitfield Beer Shop, which sells both a number of bottle conditioned ales from its own micro and a broad selection of beers and ales from Britain and the rest of the world. Friendly staff that know their beers as well, so it is definitely woth seeking out, even if it is a bit out of the way for most visitors to London. I bought as many bottles I could reasonably carry, and walked back through the Clerkenwell area, where I decided to try the new golden ales on offer from Young’s and Fuller’s, the two independent London brewers which both own a number of pubs serving their beers.

Next stop was the Sekforde Arms, a friendly Young’s local on a side street. Young’s have Golden Zest as their seasonal ale this Summer. It is dark gold in color, but while it looks like a lager, it is certainly an ale. Light and refreshing, but not a groundbreaking brew. Served at the proper cellar temperature – what critics of British beer call “warm beer”, this could actually have been served colder on a hot day like this. It was nice to try the Golden Zest, but the next time I will return to their Special. The brewery blurb for this 100% malt brew: Maris Otter pale malt, lager malt, English Fuggle and Golding hops come together to produce a wonderfully light and refreshing golden beer. A few minutes walk to the Fuller’s pub City Retreat, a great place on a hot afternoon (or a cold Winter evening, as I’ve been there before). The new ale from Fuller’s is Discovery, and this was something else. An ale with a depth of flavour. It is fruity, with hints of apple and peach. A splendid summer beer, but I am not sure where it will fit in the market, as it is neither a lager nor a typical ale. According the Fuller’s, this is to be added to their year-round range of ales, along with London Pride and ESB. This was served chilled, and I found that suited the beer well. According to Fuller’s, this is “brewed using a unique blend of malted barley and wheat for a delicious malty taste bursting with rich, biscuity flavours. Liberty hops are added for a distinctive zesty character and fruity bite, whilst Saaz hops add a gentle bitter taste for a clean, refreshing finish.”

It seems like they have both aimed for the same type of beer, with “zesty” being a common denominator. It is worth mentioning that Young’s launced a beer a few years ago, the Triple A, which also aims at the drinkers who dont’t want the full flavour of their bitters. This is not a real ale, and it is served chilled, rather like a Kilkenny, but with a bit more taste. Purists frown on this, of course.

If you stay in the British Museum area of London, these two pubs are just a few minutes away by bus or taxi – if it’s not too hot they are within walking distance. They are much to be preferred to the more busy and touristy pubs in the Covent Garden/Soho area, being frequented by people who live or work in the area. You can look up their addresses on http://www.youngs.co.uk and http://www.fullers.co.uk, where there is plenty of information on their beer range, too. And, if you have more time on your hand, both breweries have tours of their premises and they have brewery taps and souvenir shops. Young’s even have published books on the history of the brewery and their pubs, see a review on my self-named Knut Albert’s Beer Blog.

Fitba Friday

I am a little unsure the degree to which the Brockville players I marked were better and, conversely, to which I sucked. I only know they seemed to have three guys going by me fairly constantly and when there was a corner I was very happy to be the guy that hugged the post. Fortunately for me, I found my copy of Offspring’s Smash which seemed to make the drive home jolly.

Big Game in Watertown, NY on Father’s Day

wizards1Duffy Field, Watertown, New York

What a game. 698 fans at four bucks an adult and one buck a kid. Out team were actually in purple…and I wore blue. And we won! “We” meaning the nearest team in the New York Collegiate Baseball League, the Watertown Wizards. The two buck program says:

The NYCBL was founded in 1978. It is a summer wood bat league partially funded by Major League Baseball. College players who have not yet signed professional baseball contracts are given the opportunity to develop skills at a higher level of play and are evaluated by major league Scouts…

Apparently Tim Hudson of the Braves was a NYCBL player. So there you go. I had thought the game would feature players from around New York state universities but there were players from across the US, including one on the Wizards from Hawaii. It was lots of fun, spotted two local Watertown TV sports personalities (as well as one news anchor later in the grocery store – kinda odd), ate a pretzel and some peanuts leaving a pile of shells behind. The $1.25 bag of nuts also bought three innings of peace as the kids focused on perfecting their peanut opening technique. It was a great game on the field as the team’s website report explained:

It wasn’t over until the final out on Sunday afternoon at Duffy Field as the Watertown Wizards defeated the Saratoga Phillies 6-5 in a thrilling NYCBL Eastern Division game. The Wizards improved to 5-1 while the Phillies fell to 4-5. It was a Father’s Day game that saw the lead change hands three times with Watertown taking the lead for good in the bottom of the sixth inning on a two-out two-run RBI double by Vinny Pennell (Franklin Pierce) making it 5-4 Watertown. Pennell ended the day going 1-4 with two RBI and two runs scored. Pennell then scored the game-winning run on the next at-bat as he was stealing third when Saratoga catcher Kevin Pratt launched his throw into left field allowing Pennell to come home.

One guy, #11 for the Wizards, Sean Conley, a freshman at Pittsburg, stood out as a great base stealer. There were a few double steal attempts as well. Pretty entertaining level of ball. Certainly better fun than I have had, for example, at a Jays game what with the real grass, the perfect day and the immediacy of it all. The municipal stadium, Duffy Field, was in great shape which made the day work and the choice of shade or sun with the east-west orientation of the battery made it comfortable for albinos like me. The team worked it hard with kids competitions of some sort between most innings; continuous and generally ignored requests made to those pesky pre-teens out behind the visiting dug-out to return shagged fly balls to the concession counter; knowledgeable and focused fans, many keeping their score sheets. One poor sap on the other team was tagged as “pizza guy” which meant everyone got a coupon for a pizza slice if he struck out. He struck out. We did not shout at pizza man or any of the other players but we did sing “Take Me Out To The Balllgame” at the seventh inning stretch. Great value for money and I may head back for another game before the short June and July NYCBL season ends. Maybe a mid-week night game. Baby.





Bonus comments

Ted Ford

Hey Ted! You may have well been the guy that gave me the pay out on the 50/50 draw we won. We attended three games this year: Genesee Valley, Little Falls and the Rochester Royals. We had a great time each game, brought friends to the last game and will certainly be back in 2007.

Ted Ford