Archive for November, 2012

Cask ale week – And finally….

If you read my posts about trying to get to twelve pubs which have been acredited with cask marques, you will know that I have been waiting for a t-shirt now for some time. If you didn’t know about this, you can read about it here, hear and heere.

Well, finally it arrived. Email after email came through apologising for delays and problems with printers. But now it’s here. I checked Jay also got his t-shirt as well. Thanks to all at cask marque. It was fun.

The frustrations of working away

My job sends me all over the country. Now you would have thought that this would mean that I would be able to visit loads of different pubs, with all there different beers to try and I would be busy keeping this blog fresh with new and exciting beers to try. As you can tell, this not so.

The problem is this. We don’t want to end up spending the night in some dodgy b&b with no heating, no hot water, a shower that would be more effective if you were to use a pipette and a mattress that would be more comfortable sleeping on the floor (I’m looking at you Saxon Holme Hotel, Stockport). So as a result we generally stay at one of the major chains of hotels that we are all familiar with, particularly Premier Inn. At Premier Inn the beds are always warm and soft, the shower is usual adequate and there is always a restaurant on-site to get some food and a pint after a long days work.

The trouble is that when you go up to the bar it’s nearly always the same few mainstream lagers, Guinness and the tasteless Smoothflow ales. Only if you are very lucky do you ever get a proper pint of cask ale, and even then it is normally one of the big names, Marston’s Pedegree, Wychwood’s Hobgoblin and the like. Now I’m not complaining about that. I just wan’t a little more variety when I drink out.

I’m going to be going up to Burnley, Lancashire, on Monday and I know that the Premier Inn there has got no ale choice at all. Infact, the most exciting thing they have is Magner’s Pear and Ginger, which I am yet to try.

I don’t want to seem like I’m having a downer on Premier Inn, I’m not. Holiday Inn and Travelodge are far worse. They NEVER have any beers bar a few bottles of lager in a fridge behind  a bar where you can order something which I would define as a snack but they insist on charging for it as if it were a full meal.

If we are lucky we can sometimes stay in one of these and there will be a local pub down the road. This is not often the case though. Most of the large chain hotels are built on the outskirts of the towns where land is cheaper, nowhere near walking distance from any pubs.

A few weeks ago I was working within spitting distance of the regions “CAMRA pub of the year”. There is bound to be some good beers in there, but I can’t tell you that for sure because our hotel was two miles away on the ringroad, with a pub attached to it that, to be fair, did have a Greene King IPA tap on. We were there for a week and they didn’t have any IPA in all week, so again we were having to settle for Guinness.

I think mostly that it is a shame because Premier Inn is part of Whitbread. A company which started out in the brewing business has turned its back on beer and makes its money now out of hotels and coffee.

By the way, can anyone suggest a pub/hotel/restaurant that has some good beers, good beds, good showers, secure off-road , home cooked food and preferably a TV with at least full freeview channel listings. It’s not much to ask for is it?

London and Lager

People who know me know that I’m not a huge fan of lager and also I’m not all that mad on football. So when we decided to go to see England play San Marino it was obvious that I was going to drink anything but lager wasn’t it?

To make a day of it we decided to go into London for the day before heading for Wembley that evening. We each had places we wanted to go to, pubs we wanted to visit, things we wanted to do while we were in the capital. This is how things went.

We started off with a quick visit to the Science museum. Having all been there before, we didn’t stay for long. We then made for our first pub of the day. The Zetland Arms, South Kensington. A nice traditional pub, kept fresh and clean, but in essence still how to my mind a pub should look. I had a pint of London Pride. While we were in here we got our only cask marque scan of the day for the worlds biggest ale trail app.

I wanted to go for a ride on the new cable car that goes over the Thames near Greenwich. We therefore left Kensington and made our way to the O₂. We had our second drink in the O₂ before we got onto the cable car. We stopped in the Slug and Lettuce which is inside. I had a Samuel Adams Lager. I had heard about this beer before and the read the fuss which is made about it on beer blogs. I thought I’d better try it. I must say that I did quite enjoy it. I’m glad it was only in a small bottle because I couldn’t drink much of it though. Also, being in the O₂, the price tag was enough to make a man weep, god only knows what a big bottle would cost.

After a fantastic view over London, on the other side of the river, Jonny took us to one of his London hangouts which he goes to after work, The Fox at ExCeL. They did have Deuchars on the bar but it was off, so instead I had an Amstel, a beer I hadn’t had for a long time, infact it was more than two years ago I had it last, back when I was last in Amsterdam.

After this pint we realised we were behind and if we wanted to get to the game on time we were going to have to hurry up, especially as we wanted to go into Brewdog Camden first. In Camden I had a Brewdog Zeitgeist and Punk IPA before we headed off to the football.

When we arrived and got ourselves into the stadium, we made our way directly to the bar, I couldn’t see anything which I would want to drink, especially as the only beer was Carlsberg. It wasn’t until later that we got talking to a guy who pointed out that selected bars around the stadium did have Tetley’s Smoothflow on offer. My question is why? Why can’t they have both beers on all bars? is it really that much of a logistical challenge?

Several Tetley’s and 5-0 win later and the game is over. Jay and Jonny decide to head for home while myself and Darren head back into Camden. We meet up with Joe, an old school friend, back in the Brewdog bar (he works there). I have a dead pony club. Joe nearly kills us all with some beef jerky which is hotter than the sun. Brewdog closes and we head into The black heart, just around the corner, in there I have a Camden Ink followed by a Camden Hells Lager, which was also really nice.

Following this the Black heart closes. We part company with Joe and Darren and I descend into the Camden night life until even that closes. finishing off the night talking to a French girl, who clearly just wanted to go home, about the problems of getting out of London when there are no trains late at night.

So that was our day out in the big smoke. Many, many beers. Two of them lagers, which I liked. I wasn’t expecting that.