Bar Man, by Jeff Hoyle, September 16, 2016

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What’s your favourite beer? I must have been asked that question dozens of times, and I should really have an answer prepared.

However my response varies due to the situation. It might be different on a cold winter’s evening than on a summer lunchtime. Some beers go well with a meal, while others are more suitable for an evening out with friends. If you happen to be in a tied house or brewery tap, the local brew is often the best choice. Around this part of the world my top three selections would be Beeston, especially ‘Worth the Wait’ which can be found, for example, at the Dabbling Duck in Great Massingham, Norfolk Brewhouse’s Moongazer range (try Marriott’s) and JoCs, especially ‘Norfolk Kiwi’. Jo is the wife of the Flying Kiwi chef, Chris Coubrough and her beer can be found in their Inns, such as the Ship at Brancaster.

However I have found myself being strangely attracted to another beer recently. Occasionally we will go down to London for the day. Perhaps we will see an exhibition in the morning and then head off our separate ways. I will find some football or head up to Wood Green for the Rugby League, whilst the bar wife continues to explore. We have taken to meeting up at the Betjeman Arms on St Pancras station, upstairs by the big clock and the statue of the lovers. It gets less crowded than the equally good Parcel Yard on Kings Cross and it is easier to find each other. It also sells an excellent range of beers, but I almost always choose Purity. It happened again when we were in Cheltenham for the weekend. We were staying with a friend who just happens to run the national CAMRA Pub of the Year, the Sandford Park Ale House, and over the course of the visit we had to pop in several times. I tried several of the extensive range of beers, all of which were as good as you would expect, but in the end I settled on the Purity.

Imagine my delight when we went to see Coventry City. Being a Tuesday evening game we booked a night in the hotel at the stadium and found that unlike most chain hotels, there was a decent bar with a couple of hand pumped beers by Purity. Not only that, but inside the ground there were a number of ‘Purity’ bars with the casks racked up behind the counter. Perhaps it’s due to the fact that the Ricoh Arena is now owned by Wasps Rugby, and rugby fans desire a higher class of beverage to those usually available at football grounds

So, who are Purity? I had no idea, but with the internet, everybody is now an expert, so I can reveal that it is a Warwickshire based brewery formed in 2005. It’s not common to see it around Lynn, though I have tried it at Shouldham’s Kings Arms and at the Rathskellar, probably left over from their beer festival. As with all cult beers, there is a chance that they will either sell out to one of the big boys, in the same way as Doom Bar and Meantime, or blandify (is that a real word?) the recipe to cater for mass distribution. – think Ruddles County, Abbot, London Pride or Wadworths 6X. Hopefully a similar fate will not befall Purity, but if you do spot their Mad Goose, UBU (named after the brewer’s dog, Useless Bloody Urchin – see the pump clip) or Gold beers around, give them a try and

get ahead of the trend for once.