Fifty Pounds Gin…

This mysterious dark bottle has been causing quite a kerfuffle in the pub recently…  an exquisite gin with an intriguing history:

‘When William of Orange prohibited the importing of alcohol to England in the early Eighteenth Century, so began the production and consumption of (domestic) English gin by huge numbers of distillers, the majority being of dubious quality.

Its popularity was such, especially amongst the poor, that gin was distilled and sold in one fifth of all London homes. This excessive and uncontrolled consumption provoked a rapid degradation of society, a period given the name the Gin Craze.

Shortly after the Gin Act 1736 a family of independent London Distillers came up with an original gin recipe, known ironically amongst themselves as ‘Fifty Pounds’ in honour of the Gin Act levy, which was characterised by its particular smoothness and flavour.

The recipe remained hidden for generations, until the descendants of those pioneering master distillers rescued it from oblivion and re-discovered its extraordinary qualities.

Fifty Pounds Gin is produced in a small and legendary distillery located in the south-east of London, with a tradition of more than two centuries behind it. The method is carried out in a still manufactured by the legendary John Dore & Co Limited, in which a perfectly balanced, secret combination of herbs, spices, fruits and flowers, together with grain spirit (a neutral alcohol, previously distilled four times to achieve a greater purity) is distilled.’

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Try Fifty Pounds gin here now for £4.20, believe us it’s worth every penny.

For more information on Fifty Pounds gin click here. 

Only in this way is the unique & complex personality of Fifty Pounds achieved.

The Spirits of Adnams…. by Georgia Gerson

Two weeks ago the team at the Sir Garnet went on a research trip to the Adnams Copper House distillery in Southwold. Here is Georgia’s account of the experience:

‘Walking up to the Copper House distillery, one is confronted through the windows a vast piece of machinery that looks like something straight out of Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory. Our very able tour guide Mandy had worked for thirty years in a distillery in Zimbabwe before joining Adnams, and her knowledge of and passion for spirits was evident from the start. She told us the distilling machine, which comprised of tall copper towers entangled with lengths of silver pipes and ship-like portholes, had been a £700,000 investment when the distillery was conceived four years previously.

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Inside, the large space was filled with the noise and rich smells of the distilling process. In front of us the copper towers seemed to reach up to the sky, with liquid bubbling away cauldron-like inside each of the little circular windows. Behind us the large windows allowed us to look out over the Southwold rooftops to the lighthouse and the beautiful seafront beyond. If nothing else, the Copper House distillery is an aesthetically masterful blending of machinery and environment.

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Over the clanging sound of whirring engines and washing liquids, Mandy explained the distilling process. The base alcohol which goes in to producing the Adnams spirits comes from the same brewery fermentation process which creates their beer – just one of the many ways they maximise efficiency – and all the barley used comes locally sourced from East Anglia. When it finishes life in the brewery, it enters the distillery at a very low abv, less than 7% in fact. Then starts the boiling process in one of the huge stills which works to separate the alcohol molecules from the liquid to increase the volume. Due to this process, it takes a very large volume of base alcohol from the brewery to make small quantities of distilled alcohol for the spirits. The still splits the alcohols due to the weight of the molecules, and first extracted is vodka at 96%, from which all their white spirits are made. The heavier alcohols and oils go on to produce their whisky.
From the distilling room she lead us to the laboratory, where the pungent smell of distilling malts made way to the rich aromas of various spices. It is here the head distiller John McCarthy, who – astonishingly – had no experience of making spirits before the Copper House project, tests the flavours which are to make their award winning spirits. In 2013, their Copper House Gin was named best gin in the world at the International Wine and Spirit Competition, and in 2014 their Longshore Premium Vodka won the same title in its category. From here Mandy lead us to the cellars, to show us where Adnams keeps their barrels of maturing whiskey. The cellar alcoves are filled with wonderfully crafted new bespoke barrels, each emblazoned with the Adnams logo, and each costing a small fortune and utterly magnificent. Depending on the flavour desired for the different whiskys, the oak used to make the barrels is specifically sourced from different corners of the globe.

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After visiting the Adnams distillery it seems obvious why, despite the fact the project has only been running for four years, they have enjoyed such great acclaim for their spirits. Perhaps we had been sceptical about the genuineness of the project when we arrived, but it is safe to say we all left as bonafide Adnams enthusiasts. No corners have been cut and no expense spared in the distilling process, and every stage is laboured over with great care and a clear love for producing a hand-crafted, high-quality product. ‘

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To learn more about visiting Adnams brewery and distillery click here.

We will be stocking the Adnams Longshore vodka as of next week.

Craft Beer Rising…

We like beer, funnily enough, and we were delighted to be invited to the ‘Craft Beer Rising’ festival last month at The Truman Brewery in London for a spot of “researching”‘. Largely inhabited by microbreweries up and down the country, we were lucky enough to try some of the best craft beers the UK has to offer.

Following a slight hitch with the Greater Anglia rail services (ahem)… we were soon charging our way round the various stalls with our glasses in tow.

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The enthusiasm of some of the breweries being represented was utterly infectious and it was great to see some familiar faces with the likes of Camden Hells, Redwell and Brewdog all gathering deserved attention.

On the train home, we contemplated a couple of our favourite new finds:

FIREBRAND BREWING CO:
This Cornwall brewery is still relatively small and slightly mysterious – by that we mean, their website is under construction which, sadly in this day and age, translates as ‘mysterious’. But their beer is truly exceptional. Specifically, the ‘Double Rye PA’ is a singular and unforgettable flavour. Sweet, rich, malty and dark red, it goes down an absolute treat. It was served through a ‘Randalizer’ which is, simply put, a vessel which contains a dense quantity of hops. On the way through the Randalizer, the beer picks up extracted oils from the hops giving and creates an extra boost of flavour when it finally arrive in the glass.

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ILKLEY BREWERY:
An award winning brewery from Yorkshire, they know how to impress. Their Siberia Rhubard Saison – yes, it is as good as it sounds – is co created by noted critic, author and all around expert of everything beer, Melissa Cole. It’s a toasted malty flavour with fruity, yeasty and floral notes. Everything about it is utterly charming and coming in at a good 5.9% abv, it’s a warming tipple too. One of the most refreshing drops we’ve tasted in a while and well worth tracking down if we don’t get it in before!

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The February Food Festival…

When the Baron of Beef hung up his chef’s whites there was great sadness for all at The Sir Garnet. Time to take stock of the past year and a half, and look towards the future.
The first issue which we needed to address was that the kitchen and some of the rooms above were still incomplete in terms of the refurbishment we had fought so hard to finish by the time we opened in July 2012. The time had come to crack on again..

However, before we start banging about again we thought it would be the perfect time of year to have a little bit of fun and invite back some of our friends to take over the kitchen in a series of pop-ups. The Garnet February Food Festival was born.

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Those who made it to the first day where HARBERCUE had taken over the kitchen will no doubt have relished the buzz and chaos (as well as the food!) as much as we did. Bookings were overwhelming and the cheeky team of chef’s didn’t get out of the kitchen until way after midnight. Harbercue offer a delicious array of smoked barbecued goods and home-made sauces and sides. Their last day is on Saturday before they return to their current base camp at the Ten Bells.

Click here for the menu

The Unthank Supper Club also returned to us for Thursdays and Fridays after a year away. Delicious smells started arriving down the staircase from the oven almost the minute they arrived. As well as a divine all day bar menu featuring items such as; Spicy pork sanger with sweet chilli sauce and lettuce, veggie pie, sticky short ribs and mackerel salads… they have put together a Valentine feast which made it’s debut this week and will continue next week so do book in if you are in town. Yusuf’s chorizo sausage rolls are also, without a doubt, a bar snack that takes some beating!

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On Wednesdays the Purple Plum team have taken to the kitchen with a range of Thai curries and on Sundays the Lazy Sunday brunch girls have provided an array of English, Spanish and Vegetarian brunches…

The February Food Festival is now half way through and we have had so much fun that it’s definitely something we’ll make a yearly event of from now on.

Our kitchen will be closed from the last week of February for two weeks while we take on the renovation work. Watch this space for the re-launch of our menus as we are all terribly excited here at the moment in the midst of tastings and if you are a local food producer please do get in touch.

We would like to thank The Baron of Beef for all of the memories and all of us wish him the very best for the future.

 

Lil’ ole Stokey Brown…

‘Have you got any Nukey Brown?’

No, unfortunately we don’t but it’s a question we are asked fairly frequently these days. For the uninitiated, Newcastle ‘Nukey’ Brown is  a traditional brown ale and a proud staple of many a local pub. Although it is by all accounts a fine tipple, it has dipped in popularity over the years. Not that it’s alone. Brown Ales in general have all but fallen to the wayside in favour of easy drinking, zestier pale ales with mass appeal. At least, this was the case until quite recently.

Brown Ale is making a comeback along with its close cousin, the equally brilliant Mild Ale. More and more breweries and micro breweries are producing new Brown Ales, making them a common sight in real ale pubs once again.  Just in case you aren’t familiar with the style, here’s a basic description from www.beeradvocate.com:

‘Spawned from the Mild Ale, Brown Ales tend to be maltier and sweeter on the palate, with a fuller body. Colour can range from reddish brown to dark brown. Some versions will lean towards fruity esters, while others tend to be drier with nutty characters. All seem to have a low hop aroma and bitterness.’

Sound good? Well not wanting to fall behind on the world’s rekindled love of Brown Ale, we’ve begun to stock something very special…

‘Stokey Brown’ comes from (have you guessed yet?) Stoke Newington’s ‘Pressure Drop’ brewery. It’s a very young and humble operation but one that produces some very interesting beer.

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Stokey Brown is one of their best – a perfect balance of sweet malted flavour and hoppy bitterness. We stock it by the bottle and while it may be more expensive than some alternatives, if you’re a fan of artisan products with something slightly different to offer then you’re going to love this. And coming in at 5.1%, it’s got that kick that gives a beer such as this an extra level of flavour that cannot go unmissed.

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Next time you pop by craving rich yet dangerously drinkable Brown Ale, then why not give the Stokey Brown a try? It’s not Nukey Brown but, I can assure you, you will not be disappointed.

Read more about Pressure Drop brewery here.

 

A Visit to Lacons Brewery… (by Benjamin Harding)

On Monday 21st October, the Sir Garnet team visited Lacons Brewery in Great Yarmouth. Two things you should know is 1.) It was the first time I visited this coastal town and 2.) I completely misinterpreted the meaning of ‘Pleasure Beach’. Those things in mind, I was quietly excited about the trip. However, when it came to the day, some bad omens materialised. These came in the form of a hand scalded with molten coffee – think the ending of Mean Streets but less dramatically satisfying – and a swollen, grey sky. Although, all considered, we were in fairly good spirits and ready to get on with things.Image

Convoying through the main street, it quickly became apparent that this was a once beautiful and vibrant place let down by a drought of industry and some unfortunate endorsements from Jim Davidson – if you’re going to have a spokesperson for your town, I think we can all agree that he’s a poor choice. In the drizzle, the amusement arcades looked like bad jokes, all flashing lights and empty interiors. I wondered how a rebooted brewery like Lacons would fit in.

Entering the courtyard, you could see all the time and care that has been invested at rejuvenating the Lacons name. It was slick, but subtle and aesthetically in keeping with the heritage of the brand. Apart from the intense smell of malt – to be expected but the scent did evoke an early memory of spilling hot Horlicks over my Dad’s freshly washed work shirts – it was a promising first impression. Head brewer Will Wood then escorted us onto the brewery floor. It didn’t help that Wood shares his initials with Breaking Bad’s protagonist but the place looked shockingly similar to Walter White’s lab. While there was nothing nearly as sinister as crystal meth production happening, it was every bit as scientific, precise and impressive.

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Plying us with free beer – consisting mostly of seasonal special ‘Destiny’ which I can thoroughly recommend – he made us feel welcome and patiently walked us through the process of creating his beer recipes. He handed us bags of American grown citra hops and explained where the bitterness and sweetness was derived, emphasised why he conditions the beer in units rather than casks and other excellent nuggets of information. Granted, two pints deep at eleven in the morning, it was quite easy to be positively swayed but Wood clearly knows his stuff.Image(Citra hops)

To round the trip off, we had a quick peruse through a mini museum. It displayed retro branded bottles, original brewing equipment, timeline posters and an assortment of period rarities. Again, what it highlighted was the love and enthusiasm that has gone into revitalising the Lacons brand. The beer is right; the branding is right and most importantly the people are right. As gushing and romantic as it sounds, the re-opening of Lacons brewery feels like a beacon of hope in Great Yarmouth and a possible kick-starter for an industry in a place where it seemed long departed.

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The visitors centre for Lacons is open every Wednesday and Thursday. To learn more about Lacons visit the site here.

*We proudly serve Lacons ales every day from the tilts at the bar*

The Sir Garnet garden…

As we head in to Autumn, it’s nice to look back over the incredible Summer we’ve had. Weddings, christenings (our one year anniversary!) laughter, tears… and there is a little place on our balcony above the pub which has looked over it all.

Underneath the web-cam, with a beautiful view of Gentlemans Walk sits our herb garden…

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It was naturally the idea of The Baron of Beef, as my interests in gardening are fairly limited. The idea of fresh herbs for his creations, which he could simply just nip upstairs to collect, was understandably appealing.

However, after one cracked window pane from doors slamming due to over-enthusiastic bar staff on watering duties… I was convinced it might just be better to buy them from the market stalls. Difficult to appreciate the splendour when faced with shattered glass and a miserable looking grow bag.

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I’m pleased to admit I was being a horrible bore. The miserable grow bags now burst at the seams with fresh life and colour;  different varieties of tomatoes (cherry, marzano, tomatillos) and chillies (scotch bonnets and razzmatazz). The smell of the abundant rosemary, thyme, sage, oregano, margoram is just incredible and there is something very pecaeful about peeping through a rosemary bush to the hustle and bustle of market life below.

So next time you are in Norwich and walking along Gentleman’s Walk, do give our tomato plants a wave… they’ll be watching you!

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A fine city of fine ale…

We’ve been so excited about joining the ‘City of Ale’ festival for the first time this year but not without a degree of apprehension also. Ales are a full time commitment and our cellar and the logistics of getting barrels to and from it (there’s a market stall over the hatch as of 8.30am each morning) has meant we’ve had to get in to a strong routine over the past year.

On Wednesday morning it actually seemed like I might never get out of the cellar. Every time the hatch closed, another delivery turned up and back down again I went with bleary eyes.

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The ‘City of Ale’ festival was set up by a passionate group of individuals to promote Norwich, nationally and internationally, as the UK City of Ale. It now runs as a ten day festival around May/June and the buzz is fantastic. With so many great pubs and breweries at our disposal in Norwich we couldn’t be more proud to be a part of it.
(Our page on the ‘City of Ale’ website)

For me it was also great to see life breathed back in to St. Gregory’s church on Pottergate for the opening party. Despite the haphazard Summer and doom mongering about the economy, it really felt like Norwich was not only ploughing on… it couldn’t care less.

The return of Lacons brewery has also added a touch of ‘stuff the recession’ in to proceedings. We sold out in the first two days they were all lined up. It’s been also lovely to read and learn about the history of Lacons on their web-site.

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As the last few days of the festival finish i’d like to say a special thankyou to everyone for getting involved, to the organisers… and also to the guy from CAMRA Gt.Yarmouth who popped that man in his place last week about the taste of one of the offerings!

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It’s all up in the air…

Curious goings on when wandering through the market to the pub the other morning. A girl was struggling with a big mass of long black balloons, trying to shove it through the entrance of the Undercroft (under the war memorial).

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It’s all up in the Air is a concept by visual artist Rhona Byrne. ‘It acts as both site-specific outdoor sculpture and a travelling host to happenings, events and social encounters.’

From Friday 10th – Saturday 26th May these intriguing clouds of black matter will be inhabiting that space like a strange think tank. There will be a series of related talks and workshops also happening whilst it’s in situ.

So how do you feel when you walk in?

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Supposedly these balloons represent an emblem of misery and pessimism. I am guessing a sort of brain, confused and over-whelmed. But the patterned slices of triangle carpet, whilst chaotic, seemed to offer a sort optimism. Partnered together, there is definitely something very special about sitting under one of these sculptures. It gives a moment to let imaginations run, yet also a moment to gather thoughts.

It’s like entering the door to a little part of your brain….(whilst another part of it is still outside in the bustling market)

… definitely worth popping in to!

http://www.nnfestival.org.uk/festival/visual_arts/its-all-up-in-the-air

A ghost or two at the Garnet…

It was this rather inconspicuous stool sitting in the corner of the farthest away attic room that cemented our suspicions… we have a ghost (or more than one).

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Concern had first been raised by Nick, who had gone upstairs three times to shut and bolt the french door as a curtain at the bottom of the stairwell had been billowing at such a volume that it was constantly distracting him. On the third time of noticing the curtain again, he went upstairs assuming the door was open… to discover all doors and windows bolted shut.

“there just wasn’t a draft from anywhere. It made no rational sense why the curtain kept flapping…”

Then came continuing calls from Jonty (a good friend who has installed a web cam on our roof to look over the market) to say the web cam was off… again. The plug for this is at the very top of the building also (and you must understand, it’s in an attic… we don’t use it regularly) and kept being taken out. The more I kept asking everyone working at the pub the more bafflement, it seemed nobody even knew where the plug and camera was…let alone would go up to turn it off.

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So the final straw was when I noticed one of the little bar stools we had downstairs had gone missing. I’d assumed it may have found itself to one of the upper dining rooms but none of us could fathom its whereabouts.

Finally, after being informed the webcam was off AGAIN I trotted up to the top of the very building to switch it back on… and there it was. Solitarily sitting by the window, like someone had been sitting on it gazing dreamily at the market below or Guildhall opposite.

Should we be scared? Maybe but then again we all like the weird and wonderful so hopefully we can all muddle along!

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