I don't know anybody who is a greater lover of real beer than my dad. If there was an Everyman beer connoisseur, it would be Papa Ginger. Forever a fan of trying new and interesting ones, he always tuts and rolls his eyes as I indulge in my girly beers which he affectionately calls "gnat's piss". So when Ocean Loans got in touch and asked if I would like to get involved in a project to help treat my dad for Father's Day*, I of course jumped at the chance. It didn't take long to decide what we wanted to do, and Ryan, heading up the mission (he shares the same passion for real beer as my dad,) jumped online to see if he could spot any micro or local brewery that we could take Papa Ginger to.
Pope's Yard is a micro-brewery not too far away from where Mama and Papa Ginger live. I couldn't recall my dad having ever mentioning it, so it was pretty much a given that going there would be a wholly novel and exciting experience. With crossed fingers, I put Ryan in charge of digging a little deeper and getting in touch to see if we could pop in for a tour. With baited breath we waited to hear back. Unfortunately there were no plans for any tours, but we were reassured that there was potential for there to be an open day at the brewery towards the end of May.
The last weekend of the month we headed down to unveil the surprise. My dad's face when we divulged what we would be doing on his early Father's Day adventure was a picture. So, with everyone in tow, we headed down on the bus to Pope's Yard to go and check out all their hoppy offerings.
It was no surprise that as soon as we got to the brewery, Ryan and his father-in-law headed straight to the bar and animatedly started talking through the beers to each other and to the Pope's Yard staff. Set in the inner-workings of the brewery, the rooms was lined with huge barrels of beer and assorted brewing equipment (I couldn't tell you what it was, but it looked nice!) The room was absolutely packed full of people, talking, laughing, and enjoying their fill of fine craft beers. I'm not sure if this is the first open day Pope's Yard have had, but the turn out was incredible. It was great to see so many passionate people all together in one room, but it really did make the room incredibly hot! With so many people and hardly any space, MG and I left the boys to it and hung back ready to pounce on a vacated table.
Although I'm not a fan of really intense beers, and there weren't that many on offer that I was confident enough to try, under recommendation from a member of the Pope's Yard team I did indulge in a glass (or three) of "Luminaire." Appealing entirely to everything I love in a beer, this was light and refreshing and went down an absolute treat.
It was really lovely to be able to take my dad out for a treat that was entirely for him. Ryan and I don't get to go to my parents' neck of the woods too often, and when we do, it's normally with a jam-packed schedule, so it was so lovely to be able to take some time out and just spend it with the Family Ginger. This was the first time we had all been together since the wedding, and it was the most amazing way to spend time together as a newly formed family unit.
I don't know a lot about beer, but one thing I know for certain is that we were all a big fan of the Pope's Yard beers we tried that day. There was something for everybody, and personally, I hope that this open day is the first of many to come that we attend. Having never seen their beers in pubs or bars, it will always be a real treat to try them again!
And yes...we did leave with some Pope's Yard beer to enjoy at home. It would have been rude not to really, wouldn't it?
Papa Ginger says....
"I was very surprised to discover that there is a micro-brewery less than 10 minutes drive from here. The nearest small, but not micro, brewery to here is, I believe, Red Squirrel which is in Hertford.
Well, the brewery certainly lived up to "micro, being but one single room. It was, and I guess that this was to be expected, packed. Packed with people who appreciate real, or is the current term "craft"?, beers.
The brewer and his assistants were very friendly and very willing to talk about the beers.
I was particularly pleased to see a "milk stout" since this was one of my maternal grandmother's favourite drinks. What is more, I now know why it is "milk" stout. It is not, as I used to believe, brewed with milk, but with lactose. Lactose is the sugar present in milk and is a sugar that yeast will not ferment.
Then there was "Galaxian" an IPA with an impressive ABV of 7.4%. Unlike like many of the newer IPAs this is brewed with Australian hops. (Makes you wonder why, with hops like that, most Australian beer is so dire!) Next came "St. Albans". This is a Belgian-style beer with an ABV of 8.5%. To me I tasted very authentic but we're a taking bottle to Belgium this Summer and will ask a Belgian what he thinks.
I think that we tried another beer, but by now the "Galaxian" and the "St.Albans" had taken effect and the memory circuits in my brain stopped working.
Overall this was a very good outing and I am looking forward to the next open day."
For more information about Pope's Yard, click here, and make sure you are following them over on Twitter
*I was very kindly gifted £50 by Ocean Loans to use to treat my dad for Father's Day. All opinions are 100% my own and always honest.