‘Top drawer’ sums up my couple of hours in The Triangle Tavern. I hadn’t intended to spend a couple of hours here, but when I got to the other GBG listed pub in Lowestoft town centre, I found it was closed all day, and I had to walk back again, but that’s a different story.
As soon as I walked in I knew this was a good place, 11.30am on a Thursday, and there’s eleven punters spread between two bars in what looks like a quiet side street boozer.
The back bar is a pool table, juke box sort of place with a door leading out to the smoking area in the street behind. The front bar is more sedate, somewhere to sit in pleasant solitude where you can keep your self to your self or join in with the communal discussion.
Although each bar had it’s own identity, the atmosphere was relaxed and friendly, a bit of a community feeling going on. You know the sort of thing CAMRA says is good for you, chatting to people in the local over a pint or two. And if I’m honest, I never saw anyone have more than a pint or two. They’d just pop in, get a drink, mostly real ale, have a sit, a bit of a natter and then be on their way.
One chap came in, got a pint, a place to sit, and started to eat a pie? I asked Sue, the friendly barmaid if this was okay? ‘You can eat what you like love, we don’t do food.’ She even told me where to go for the best pies, so we ate the sarnies we’d brought with us, whilst enjoying a pint of Green Jack Brewery ale. My old dog sat looking at me all appealing, even though he knew he wouldn’t get a morsel. Sue rectified this with a dog biscuit and a bowl of water for him.
The manager showed me where the Green Jack Brewery used to be out the back, they just use it as a store room now. The brewery itself moved to larger premises about seven years ago, still in Lowestoft though. They brew ten core beers and The Triangle Tavern is the de facto brewery tap. The nearby Stanford Arms used to be the sister pub, but I was told, following marital difficulties and settlements, the two pubs became independent. If you read the previous post, you’ll find I was a bit non-plussed by the Stanford Arms, which was closed all day Thursday, potentially leaving twelve tapped casks of real ale sitting untouched for 39 hours? Maybe they run the number of lines down towards Wednesday and start again on Friday, sadly I’ll never know.
I’ll finish the descriptive off before I get to the beer. On the downside, the pub could have been warmer, a fire would have been appreciated in the front room. The toilets were however adequate, clean and hygienic with the largest urinal I’ve ever seen. It looked like it had been fabricated from a cattle feeding trough, even the messiest dribblers couldn’t have missed.
Around the ceiling beams there was the evidence of many years of guest ales. Someone must have used a ruler and level to line them as precisely as they were. It’s only when you started looking closer you realised that some of these were quite old. I can’t remember Roosters pump clips that old, like cheaply produced laminated card ones. I’ve not heard of Roosters Millennium neither, but I reckon the name gives away the date?
They had seven Green Jack Brewery beers on plus a guest from St Austell and I hadn’t come to Suffolk to sup ale from Cornwall. Between us we tried all of the Green Jack Brewery beers, the prices varied, dependant on ABV from £2.90 to £3.50 a pint. The quality was in the class of Very Good, looking towards Very Good/Perfect (NBSS 4+) and constant across the board; I wouldn’t expect anything less in a brewery tap and they didn’t disappoint me.
My personal favourite was Mahseer IPA, an English style 5.8% IPA, balanced with a modern twist. Quite a few of the older drinkers were plumping for the 3.8% Golden Best. Whether it was price or the lower strength they were seeking, I’m unsure, probably the former.
Least favourite was the Gone Fishing ESB (5.5%), although there was nothing wrong with it at all, just personal preference. Coincidentally Mrs C’s fave was Fruit Bat (5.5%) which I was told was simply Gone Fishing ESB with some Plums thrown in? We tasted Rose Hips in ours.
Lurcher Stout (4.8%) was a very nice drop of ale too, although I would argue that it isn’t strictly a stout. Red Herring (5%) was interesting, brewed with smoked malt, it went very well with my chicken sandwiches and it was a nice subtle take on a smoked beer, probably one that people who say they don’t like smoked beers should try. Fitting for a brewer that’s located in an old smoke-house.
While we were sat, just enjoying everything, just talking with folk, the biggest tin of Brasso I’ve ever seen came out. Apparently there was a wake being held the next morning, and Sue told us she wanted everything to look right, she expected the pub to be heaving. Turned out the funeral was for a much loved local who’d died back in August. Sadly the authorities hadn’t been able to find any relatives, so they’d organised a crowdfunding event and raised over three grand to send the chap off properly.
You can have as much good ale as you want, and as characterful pub as is possible. Thing is, it’s the unseen things that make a proper pub, the camaraderie, the public spiritedness, the friendliness. That’s what made The Triangle Tavern for me, and I thank the staff and the local customers for making us so welcome. We even travelled back to Southwold on the bus with one gent, turned out he lives in the same street as our holiday let.