Stamford is a nice day out, ripe with boozy possibilities, and an ideal destination for more active forms of indulgence. It's usually a better than average destination for cider and perry too, so whilst Karen did the shopping thing, I went in search of a comfy sofa and a Perry or two. Plus ça change!
Jolly Brewer Beer Festival I'd read about on the Peterborough CAMRA website, was in full swing. What luck! The cider and perry list was pretty reasonable for such a modest festival, and I plumped for a brace from multi-award winning Somerset producer Hecks. The Hangdown Cider and Blakeney Red Perry were in fine fettle, if a little too sweet for my taste. The problem with a pub like the Jolly Brewer is the huge coal fire. It's hard to drag yourself away from it on a cold Winter day, but drag myself away she did, up the High Street to shopping heaven. I'd built up a bit of momentum by now, so continued on past the '50% Off Sale' signs to the Tobie Norris for a bit of a rest.
The Tobie Norris has a lot going for it pub-wise. A beautifully restored Medieval building perched at the top of the High Street, within easy sneaking distance of the main shopping area. Great Pizzas, and excellent ales mean even Karen likes the Tobie Norris (high praise indeed). There's usually bottled cider from Jollydale of Stamford (though not on this occasion) and Aspalls Draught Cyder. I went for a pint of the usual, the zesty, extra pale White Hart from Ufford Ales, one of my absolute favourite session beers.
Time was tight, Karen was almost shopped out and we still needed to do battle with the last-minute panic-buyers in Waitrose. Thinking on my feet I managed to give Karen the slip again, heading straight to Stamfords premier ale and cider house the Green Man. The cider range at the Green Man can be very good, but on this occasion it was a rather ordinary selection from Biddenden, Broadoak, and Westons, none of which I'd travel any great distance for. Besides, winking suggestively from the bar was another hop-driven stunna' from Peterborough's peerless Oakham Ales, the mighty-mighty Citra, all juicy citrus fruit and pungent cat pee aromas, truly the Sauvignon Blanc of the beer world. Lovely!
It was time to wend our way home via the recently opened Stamford Cheese Shop (the excellent Simpole-Clarke Deli, another good reason to climb the High Street, was unfortunately closed for the day). A small slice of Scrumpy Sussex was my contribution to the days shopping, and it wasn't even in the sales! More cheesy stuff later...
We finished the day with mucho Great Oakley Ales at the Red Lion. Naturally. Happy New Year to all our reader and drinkers.