Monday, 9 April 2012

Seaside pubs and beers


    today, me, Chala, Pauline and Thangorthemotherinlaw embarked on a traditional British Easter pastime, of driving to the coast and wandering disconsolately around a faded seaside resort in the pissing rain. With this heartwarming recipe in mind, we drove all the way to Ingoldmells near Skegness in Lincolnshire.

In preparation for my journey, and knowing that Thangor was to pick us up at 09.30, I made sure I was in bed in plenty of time to get up fresh as a daisy - by getting in at 02.40 and going to bed over an hour later. I woke up, extremely hungover, initially with no intention of surfacing, but saw the challenge of getting myself ready to face the day as too tempting. So I got up at 09.28 and tried to force myself into the car, leaving only ten minutes late in the end. Three hours and a gloriously greasy bacon and sausage butty later, we were in the freezing siling rain at Ingoldmells, and I was ready for the day!

When in doubt...

I'm not going to tell you about the nuances and non liquid attractions in the seaside town of Ingoldmells. From that, you may of course read any number of interpretations into the statement, but lets just say, Ingoldmells has two good pubs.

We were looking for food at gone 2PM and I was determined to get to the Countryman to get to taste their own brewed beer. The pub was rammed so having made sure they were open all day I suggested to my soggy companions that we should go to the Three Tuns, a Batemans pub near the church, in what was potentially the only original part of the old village we saw. As I explained to the ladies, being a Batemans pub, it was bound to do real ale and food. And it did.

The Three Tuns is a long possibly  17th century building in a row of houses. The bar room is basic and quite traditional, with two handpumps on the bar counter. Through the door next to it is the large function/dining room. It had the feel of a bingo hall or working mens club, but the food was competitively priced, it smelled great, and there was a table free. So we paid our £5.50 each for Sunday lunch and sought drinks.

There were two Batemans pump clips, one, which I think was XXXB was turned round, so there was just XB available. I worried that a combination of this being a seaside town and the pub being so busy and accommodating for diners, might make this a grim offering, but the XB was in excellent form. Its also a beer you don't really see in the free trade, so made a nice change. Had I not been a little rough from my Saturday exploits I may well have had more than a pint and a half (£2.80 a pint, and no surcharge for halves).

We soon found out that the freshly cooked food was very very good and the portions enormous, and the staff chatty and friendly. All in all this was a real find and no doubt so much better to eat at than any of the cafes on the road to the market. Although we did not try the food in the Countryman, I am glad we tried the Tuns.


Our after lunch riposte took us to the Countryman up the road. I understand it used to be a club before being turned into a pub, and that the in house brewery name is taken from the buildings original name. Its an interesting observation to make that had I seen all 3 Ingoldmells pubs (there is the Greedy King owned Ship near the seafront, and perhaps more on the front itself?) I would not have gone in the Countryman as first choice. Even if I had seen and read the sign about their brewery I might have been unwilling to trust the claim, based entirely on the irrational notion that it was a modern pub conversion, and looked like an estate pub.

Snobbery perhaps? I'm not sure. Although I still think I might have tried it over the Greedy King pub though, for Brewery and proximity to the market/theme park reasons. Anyway, none of this needed matter as I already knew, that, despite probably never having been in the GBG, the pub had a brewery, Leila Cottage, and sold its own brewed beers. So I was really happy to be getting the chance to visit, since I'd also heard you couldn't buy the beers anywhere else.

Inside is an L shaped bar with a room sporting wicker chairs and plants on the left, (eat your heart out GBG description of the Old Heavygate!)  where the handpumps are, and a snooker room straight ahead with two or three areas on the right, most of which were being used by diners. There are 4 handpumps on the bar and the full range of Leila Cottage beers are usually on. Alas, the Lincolnshire Life had run out, but that still left 3 to choose from, and at sensible prices. The weaker beer, Leila's Lazy Days, is 3.6% and only £2.30 a pint. Even their strongest (5.1%) beer is only £2.80.

As we weren't planning on staying long I had a half of each - Leila Cottage Ace Ale 3.8%, the Lazy Days and the Leila's One Off, 5.1%, and brewed to celebrate their 100th brew (and presumably continued, since its on their bar mats).

The Lazy Days was very easy to drink but not lacking in flavour, it was the palest of the three but hadn't much of the hoppiness I was expecting. Instead, there was a light creamy sweetness to the beer, not unlike Hexhamshire Whapweasel, but with that Batemans-esque taste that the brewer suggested maybe Lincolnshire water.

The Ace Ale was essentially a stronger version of the Lazy Days, still with that almost treacle sweetness, but not cloying. Its definitely a traditional style of beer, steadfastly and proudly brown in that way that upsets bloggers from time to time.

The One Off was, according to Chala, but denied enthusiastically by the barman/brewer, a mild.

I could see where she was coming from, but also he - it was darkish but not mild in the sense of roast barley. Possibly it could be a mild because there was very little hops present in it (ironically Chala was drinking the One Off and found the Lazy Days too bitter, which, trying them in strength order, makes sense, as its the only one with notciable bitterness). Back to the One off, it was again quite sweet but there was also another taste in there.

The brewer (one of the gents behind the bar was definitely the brewer, honest) suggested this was down to large amounts of crystal and dark crystal malt. I think I sort of recognise the crystal malt flavour, maybe it does indeed give off a sweetish malt taste, in which case that was what defined it.

Overall the beers were  well kept and enjoyable, even if not strictly my cup of tea. There was a really good mix of locals and comforts (visitors, i.e. those who comfort day) and the staff were very chatty and friendly. I would certainly recommend a visit to both these pubs if you are in the area, as they were the highlight of an otherwise uninspiring Easter day out. I really, truly, honestly, cannot recommend you go for any other reason though....

Sorry Ingoldmells, who is a person.

Wee Beefy


  1. A mate of mine from work has mentioned the Countryman as worth a visit for the Leila's Cottage ales. Next time the missus drags me across to Mablethorpe for the day I'll make sure she's driving so I can drop in for a couple.
    Same lad has recommended the Poachers Brewery ales that are brewed in that neck of the woods too.

    1. I think you're right about the Countryman mate, the Leila Cottage beers aren't exactly hop forward but an unusual (enjoyable) style. I'll leave you to form your own impression of Ingoldmells.

      However, I would be very surprised to find a decent Poachers beer - we used to sell them at the shop and they were dire. I didn't even know they were still going....

  2. Yeah will give 'em a go next time I'm over there. Beers aside that particular stretch of coastline has never been my favourite seaside destination but if there's beer involved then it tends to put a totally different complexion on things. As for the Poachers I'll trust your judgement on them and steer well clear :)

    1. I appreciate your trust Barl Fire! However, one interesting aspect of thinking carefully about chosen ales is that sometimes, wisely or otherwise, I feel compelled to try a beer I was sure was crap! I can't say it regularly overturns my previously held opinion, but even getting a different perspective and hopefully some more details/background is interesting, and makes me more certain of my disdain. So, give it a try (taster?) and let me know I say...