The wife, bless, suggested a trip to the Suffolk country village of Clare. She does like a day out in the countryside, and she had heard that the Nethergate Brewery had recently opened a tap room shop and bar at the brewery. I nobly pointed out that she didn’t need to bribe me with beery activities to persuade me to go out for a trip with her, and then pointed out that whilst she got top marks for remembering Nethergate Brewery’s premises in the centre of Clare on a previous trip there several years ago, the brewery had moved to Pentlow a while back, and the brewery tap and shop had opened in Long Melford (with the brewery about to make the move).
So we hopped in the car, eschewing the Victoria Inn ‘Yorkshire Beer Festival’ in town, and drove past the beer festival at The Hare and Hound, in Leavenheath, conscious of a very dodgy weather forecast.
As you enter Long Melford from the bottom (that is to say, the Sudbury end (and none of your Finbarr Saunders double-entendres please)) the newly built Nethergate Brewery is on your left after a few hundred metres (are we going to go back to yards, post-Brexit??). The brewery building is there, but is currently empty of any kit, and next to it is the shop and micro-pub. The foundations are currently being laid for a separate building for conditioning and storing the beers.
There’s a neat little window from the shop/micro-pub into the brewery, which should be fun on a brewday. Beers is served from casks on gravity, and there are bottles of Nethergate beers and from a small number of other breweries. So I had a pint of Nethergate ‘Old Growler’, and bought bottles of their ‘Umbel Ale’ (a beer that pretty much stopped me in my tracks the first time I drank it a couple of decades ago), and Sam Smith’s ‘Imperial Stout’. There were also many bottles of gin, and wine on offer, as well as a few nibbles in the fridge, and a pickle-topped pork pie from nearby Lavenham complemented the beer. Just to be clear, the pork pie was without the traditional pasty top, but was topped with pickle – so does that make it a pie, or a pickle-topped pork tart??
The wife had barely suggested the idea of walking up the length of Long Melford and back*, which is a long old walk post-pint for an old boy like me, when (clearly Bacchus was listening to my silent prayer, and had a word with whoever is in charge of the weather) the clouds opened. Really opened. Which meant instead of a walk up and down the length of the village, instead it was a drive back to town and feet up and watch fellow Hartlepudlian Jeff Stelling on the telly box for the first EFL Saturday of the season. Huzzah!
* If you don’t know it, Long Melford is called Long Melford because it’s L-o-n-g, a ‘ribbon development’ I believe – one of the few facts I remember from GCE Geography (the school brought in a pneumatic early-20s female to teach geography to a class of 14-year olds in a single-sex school : did they *really* expect us to take in anything she said???)