Little Grey Cell(ar)…

Poirot would feel right at home in this Belgian style cellar bar, even better with one or two little mysteries to exercise his little grey cells…

Hercule – stout detective…

Belgium & Blues, Above Bar Street, Southampton is a relatively new ‘Belgian Brasserie and Craft Beer Cellar’ bar.  It’s in the name, so this was an ideal opportunity to clear up the mystery of ‘what is craft’.  Maybe here – with a bit of Belgian detective work – I could find out?

B&B – not quite open in the minutes before noon

My son Martin joined me for this visit, as part of a Saturday afternoon pub walk, and we arrived just before noon and formed an orderly queue behind two employees waiting outside the door.

The bearded manager who let them in looked at us, checked the street furtively, and then invited us down to the cellar bar – a few minutes before opening time.

Belgian beer and craft beer – the plot thickens…

I think this may solve another mystery highlighted by RetiredMartin about customers already drinking beers when you walk in bang on opening time…

Down in the cellar bar the subdued lighting gives it a moody, atmospheric feel.  I’m sure it is very much like a Belgian bar, though I’ve not (yet) been to one personally…

Cellar bar – Belgian style


Plush bench seating and bottles of Belgian ales of repute…

Of course the finest ales from the Trappist abbeys were on sale, and to be honest there aren’t many finer ales to be had than these…buy it (by the crate) from Belgium in a Box  delivered to your door much cheaper than you can buy it from UK retailers….

The wonders of Westmalle – ‘brewed in the abbey’…

It is rare to see a keg font in the UK without Burton’s finest lager, but here’s one….

No Carling – keg font…

…and the menu board explicitly prohibits pints, though some of the prices and alcohol contents will probably steer most rational people in the direction of a half anyway.  However Kernel’s table beer – staggeringly expensive for a low alcohol beer – is probably (in a Carlsberg kind of way) the tastiest beer ever – so that’s ok.

No pints – but two halves absolutely fine…

Resisting the keg offerings, including the ‘tastiest low alcohol beer ever’ and the ‘dark sweet porter from Manchester’ (not Belgium), I choose a cask ale…

Cask ale line-up

The beer from Fallen Acorn brewery, an ‘American brown ale’,  seemed like a bit of a mystery beer style to me and perhaps that was the fake news.  It tasted like a fairly straightforward fruity american hopped pale ale – it was just a bit ‘browner’ – like it had a fake sun tan…though it was (good)…

Fake News – American Brown Ale…

The ‘After Work Club’ posters provided another mystery…

After Work Club deal 1…
After Work Club – deal 2..

…the £2 difference mystery…discount or price rise?

Leaving that mystery unsolved, I decided to try the Thornbridge ENA (4.6%).  This is a ‘nitro’ milk stout according to Thornbridge – so I handled it very carefully in case it exploded.   Luckily it didn’t…through oddly it had a distinct ’smokey’ taste, and I didn’t get much ‘luxurious milk stout’ effect. I’d say it was good thougheven if it was experiencing something of an identity crisis.

Unexploded bomb – possibly……

Talking of identity you might think the name stands for Extra Nitro Ale, but no…it pays homage to Mrs Ena Sharples,  Coronation Street’s moral guardian, and milk stout drinker in the snug of The Rovers Return.  Ena always had plenty of ‘nitro’ of course and here’s a bit of Les Dawson’s review of Ena Sharples .

How did I get onto The Rovers Return?

Never mind…Belgium & Blues is a great pub/bar and a 2018 Good Beer Guide pub.  It’s well worth a visit particularly for the specialist belgian bottled and keg beers.

By the way the ‘Blue’ part is a reference to regular blues music hosted by the venue…

Mr Black & Blues; Bad Cats and Ben’s Thai Beer of the Week

So – is the ‘what is craft beer’ mystery solved?  Of course…

…worry not massed ranks of CAMRA…

...from the Oxford Dictionary online..


  1. An activity involving skill in making things by hand.

    1.3. (as modified) Denoting or relating to food or drink made in a traditional or non-mechanized way by an individual or a small company.
‘craft brewing’”

There you have it, a proper definition…

…though of course Watt and Dickie may be a bit troubled by it….




6 thoughts on “Little Grey Cell(ar)…

  1. See you are moving into the big city pubs! Really liked that bar too. That definition of craft is fair enough in my view but impossible to hold anyone to – it’s a word that has such generic application.


    1. Yes Southampton is full of them – so plenty of material just across Southampton Water to be going on with (before I have to go to Portsmouth). As you say the term craft is pretty broad – and that vagueness suits a lot of people who use it in the beer context.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. I will… two more posts yet on this particular pub walk – and plenty more pub walks in Southampton to keep me occupied. When you visit B&B – best try to avoid Saints relegation day…(if it happens)…when there will (probably) be much anguish in town! Only 6 matches left (I think…).
      Do you need to tick Ebenezers, Hythe or is that done already?

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Ahh – decent walk involved to pick up those three.
    Micros are certainly proliferating in Southampton so it seems they will be the potential for more in next years guide too.
    I’ve been to the Bookshop Alehouse, but before I started blogging so will need to do a blogging visit sometime.


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