Category: Beer


Don’t it always seem to go…

Hi, it’s been a year since I last posted (I know, shit blogger or what!) and I wasn’t planning on blogging about this either, that is why there are no pictures. I’ve decided to ruminate over what happened to me last week more as a cautionary letter to myself than anything else.

Please be aware, I didn’t think I’d be blogging so all images are an artists impression, although I don’t think you can tell.

It was a Saturday and I was stuck in London. I had to get the train back to work but, advanced fares being what they are, I could only get one train at a semi-reasonable price, which meant I was stuck in the capital until 4pm. I had woke up, showered and checked out by half 10 and got myself a breakfast at the Polo bar outside Liverpool Street station (a bit pricey but highly recommended – and they’re open 24 hours!). A quick tube across town and I was outside Paddington with three hours to spare. What shall I do…

The previous night I had been out with a friend at The o2. I’m sure you will know that the drink availability is not only eye-wateringly expensive but also dire in its variety. Infact the bars that were near my seat at the gig had two offerings on tap either Budweiser or Bud Light. At nearly £6 a pint is it any wonder that the pub next door is always full of people trying to time it until the last possible second before running into the gig!

So, a pint of something actually nice was required. You will by now know that I prefer real ales and I’m always on the search for a new really god pub to add to my mental list of places worth drinking in. I therefore went to my phone, opened the cask marque app and took a punt one of the pubs around Paddington.

The Pride of Paddington was my first port of call and all I have to say was, it was lovely. Real ale on tap, friendly bar staff, quiet enough to read my magazine, clean toilets, wood panelling on the walls and soft furnishings to sit on. It was all reasonably priced too! I ordered a pint of Tribute, scanned their cask marque certificate and sat down to read my magazine. Before I knew it my glass was empty and I decided to try another pub down the road.

Just down the road and back towards the station is The Dicken’s. It’s a Greene King pub (which usually means the beer is at least well kept if nothing else). I walked through the door and was met with the screeching cacophony several TV screens all blaring out the football. This was a bit of a shock to the system after the calm, quiet and relaxing embrace of the Pride of Paddington. Nevertheless I joined the substantial queue at the bar and ordered a pint of something dark, Winter Star by Twickenham Ales. By the time I sat down I was thirsty and had several large gulps before I realised it was off. It tasted fine in the mouth but the aftertaste was repellent. I tried a few more mouthfuls but it really wasn’t up to scratch, but it was only in the aftertaste. I could swill it around in my mouth all day and it would have been fine. I know I should have told the bar maid but to be honest with all the noise I just couldn’t be bothered to stay in the pub anyway.

There were two other pubs to try, The Sawyers Arms (which was across the road from The Dickens) and The Beer House (actually on the concourse of the station). I went to try the Sawyers but as I approached I could hear the football before I even opened the door. I turned on a sixpence actually said “NO!” out load and went to the Beer House. I thought that this might be a good idea anyway as time was now moving on and it would be easier to catch the train.

The beer house is a small black wooden box sat on the floor between two platforms. Whilst inside it is a reasonable sized pub it is dwarfed by the canopy of the station. After my problems before I went back to reliable Tribute. I know tribute well and if it is off I can say with some authority. It was quiet.There were televisions on but they were muted with subtitles and they were showing some sort of long distance running. Whilst not really a problem it did keep catching my eye while I was reading, which was a distraction. The beer was good but they seemed to have an o2 pricing structure on their beer. I dread to think what the more exotic bottles would have been charged at! Otherwise not much to write home about.

I think the moral of the story is that while it is nice to try different pubs, sometimes it is also nice to stay in a good one that you have found. A friend of mine always joked that when we die we will all end up with a trump card of our lives with all the possible statistics imaginable. Some statistics (number of jobs:1) will probably be quite low but others (number of pubs visited: hundreds) will be the reason why my card will keep a player from losing but is it really worth it? Is training up this cosmic playing card going to help me enjoy life more? Answer, probably. I love discovering new pubs and always visiting the same one over and over would be dull. That being said, when I find a good one and the mood is right, I don’t think I’ll be as quick to move on just for the sake of an extra tick in the book as I used to be.

The session – Porter

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This months beer blogging session is titled porter. We’re  supposed to talk about  the style in whatever capacity we feel is appropriate and quite simply, I forgot. So tonight I was in the supermarket desperately looking for a porter to drink.

The Guinness was nice by the way.
It is amazing how few porters there are available in British supermarkets. In fact I could only find one, Guinness West Indies Porter. It is amazing that so few are available. There are loads of IPA’s but nearly no porters. Is the style doomed? There are a few stouts (mostly other Guinness  brands or equivalent competition). My question, are dark beers really just for beer geeks because the powers that be think most people dont want to drink it.  I have no answers. Does anyone else?

The Curfew Club is a monthly musical gathering in a small and intimate setting showcasing some of the local talent, especially those with acoustic or Americana bent. The session was first bought to my attention while reading The Bedford Clanger, a magazine highlighting all the cultural and art stuff going on in Bedford as well as getting behind local businesses and local talents. It was only a short article, not much more than an advert really, but it intrigued me. I mentioned it to Jonny, who is always up for a gig, and we decided to go.The Curfew Club poster

The first thing we had to do was sort out some drinks. Not only is this event free to get in but it’s also BYOB, so a great way to spend a cheap night out. So, because we are classy, we made straight for Lidl. A cornucopia of delicious and tempting ales it is not, however it is cheap. I through a few bottles of ale in the basket, Jonny went for the cheap pear cider.

The Weillie's interior

The Weillie’s interior

We had deliberately got into town early for two reasons. Firstly, being a small gig in a small venue it is limited to 40 people and Facebook said that there were 48 going. We wanted to make sure that we got in any queue early as to avoid disappointment. The second reason for going early is that just down the road from the venue, #44 Harpur St., are a couple of pubs (I think you can see where this is going).

Pint of Welsh Black

A Pint of Welsh Black in the wellie

First of all is the Wellington Arms, or the wellie as it is more commonly known. Previous visits to the wellie and its 14 handpumps had shown us the delights of B&T’s Fruit Bat and bottled beers such as Timmermans Kriek. With it’s range constantly changing who knows what we had in store. It’s always hard when you walk through the door of a pub and the bar maid immediately asks you what you would like. There are 14 choices and you haven’t even read them all yet. I went with Great Orme’s Welsh Black. As the name suggests it was a dark beer, a mild in fact and as dark as they come. It was a nice, if a bit lifeless, I’m guessing it was coming near to the end of the barrel.

A Pint of Doom Bar

A pint of Doom Bar in The Flower Pot next to an open fire (which isn’t blue, unlike this picture makes out)

After the wellie we moved on to the Flower Pot, I always thought it was a Greene King pub, but not serving any of their beers I guess I was wrong. They do serve Fuller’s London Pride and Sharp’s Doom Bar. Jonny and I both went for the Doom Bar. We sat by the open fire with views out of the window down Harpur Street so we could look out for any queue that might form.

No queue did form and we ended up having two in the Flower Pot, who can argue with a pint of Doom Bar and a warming fire on a drizzly February evening?

We were admitted into the venue at around opening time, it all seemed very friendly. I had worried that I had misunderstood the BYOB thing but no one queried our bags of beer as we walked through. Eventually the room filled out with more and more arrivals. I didn’t notice anyone getting turned away but I would have said that there were about 40 people there.

Gwinny performing at 44 Harpur St.

Gwinny performing at 44 Harpur St.

By about half 8 the first act was on stage and doing what she does. Her name was Gwinny and it was just her and an acoustic guitar. The act had two very distinct parts for me. The first half were all songs which had a distinct Laura Marling bent to them. This is a girl who clearly liked the album alas, I cannot swim. The second half of her songs, were much less easy to pin down, more individual in many ways and just as enjoyable as the first songs. For me the stand out song was Come away with me, which isn’t anything to do with the Norah Jones song of the same name. Gwinny was accompanied, for me at least, by a bottle of Bornem Abbey Blonde Beer which I found to be quite a sharp and didn’t settle well after the well served Doom Bar in the Flower Pot.

The Darling Mundaring performing at 44 Harpur St.

The Darling Mundaring performing at 44 Harpur St.

The headline act was The Darling MundaringAfter the bread and water that a girl + acoustic can be it was great to hear the full roast dinner that a full band can be. A much more polyphonic affair but nevertheless taking the same acoustic route as Gwinny had before but with added cello and percussion. It was a gorgeous , rich and beautiful noise which I loved listening to.There were several songs which they performed which I could easily see, given the right set of circumstances, could get picked up by the mainstream. October, Books, and As good for me are all stand out tracks that could get these guys on the radio. Their accompanying beer was a bottle of Hatherwood’s Golden Goose, a beer brewed specifically for Lidl (Not all that great either).

To sum it up them The Curfew club provides a showcase of some fantastic local talent in the Bedford area and allow you to discover some great new acoustic music. Both of the acts we saw were great. Lidl provide beer that is cheap.

More information of the Curfew Club’s Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/curfewclubbedford, the next session is on 9th March at the Cavalier Barber Shop.