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Friday, 18 May 2018

Seeing the Light at Burning Soul

This is going to be a slightly different entry from usual and the 'blame' lies with squarely Pub Curmudgeon, West Midlands Exploration, BRAPA, Life After Football and Retired Martin. Whilst all of us share a love of pubs, their constant blogging about the joys of real ale and the incessant photography of pints/halves of (mostly) 'nectar' have turned my head.

I'd got to the stage where I would choose Oakham Citra over my long-term choice, Carling. That was before Saturday! Some friends had been so impressed on a brewery tour of Burning Soul that they wanted to return for a session.

 In typical micro pub/brewery style, the opening hours are extremely limited (Friday 4 - 8 pm; Saturday 1 - 8 pm).
It was a cool, overcast evening, but seats were still difficult to find. I imagine that on a warm summer's evening there would be twice as many people there.

There were seven different beers on the list which kept on changing as beers ran out and were replaced with new ones; all served in half-pint measures.

My first impression wasn't good as the beer I'd chosen ran out as it was being poured. To my untutored eye as a confirmed lager man, I was struggling to find something that appealed, but I did make a choice and sat down.

The first mouthful changed my demeanour, instantly. It was cool, fruity, tasty, complex and refreshing - words I never expected to be using in relation to real ale. I sampled two more of their beers (can't remember any of the names!) which were equally superb. They are all a bit stronger than normal ranging from 4% up to 7% ABV which is why they only serve in halves (and why I can't recall what I had to drink!).

Inevitably, 8 pm arrived all too quickly and we had to leave to search for some nibbles and more drink. It was only a short walk to The Church.
The Church is a lovely street corner boozer which has been well refurbished and was nicely busy. It is now an Everards pub and they had Sunchaser on. I've had this before and quite enjoyed it. I ordered a pint and one of my companions ordered a pint of Tiger. Well, what a comedown! My pint was lifeless, flat and might as well have been dishwater; the Tiger was similarly unimpressive. Neither were actually 'off', it's just that after Burning Soul's fresh, brilliant beers anything else was always going to be a disappointment.

For the first time, I understood what the real ale aficionados had been wittering on about for years - I'd finally seen the light! After a shared bowl of nachos and some chips (which all helped the beer to go down), we moved on to the newly refurbished Jewellers Arms.
It has been taken over (and refurbished) by Black Country Ales. They've done a good job, but on a Saturday evening, it wasn't that busy. Again, I can't remember what I ordered (but it was something that I liked the look of) and, again, it was dull, dull, dull! (Although not quite as disappointing as the Sunchaser.)

So, have I undergone a Damascene conversion?! I now understand what the esteemed gentlemen, above, have been going on (...and on...) about for years, but I've not been converted to the real ale scene as a born-again beardie! It has, however, opened my eyes to the new world of craft/real ale and from now on I'll be much more likely to try out new beers.


  1. I'm very impressed with Burning Soul and their beers

  2. I will never criticise anyone for drinking Carling, and I fully understand why they do. Indeed on occasion I've done so myself. But a top pint of cask beer does take you to another dimension :-)

    1. As a friend of mine said, "It's only taken 45 years or so to appreciate that fact!"
      I don't expect to become a fan of BBB, but the new hops available give flavours that I really like, so who knows where I might end up!