When we talk about pubs we like, we often find ourselves rating them in terms of their cosiness. And in contrast, barn-like is one of the most common pejorative terms used to describe pubs — big, cavernous pubs are simply not cosy in any way.
People seem to love pubs where they can have a little privacy, which is one of the reasons for the popularity of some of Sam Smith’s pubs in London. The Cities of York, for example, retains a quaint layout with multiple little rooms, within which are further subdivisions — cubby-holes and partitioned booths.
The great thing about this approach is that, if the pub is empty, it doesn’t matter — you’re not exposed, and don’t feel lonely. Conversely, if the pub is busy, you get some space, and can enjoy the buzz without having to overhear everybody else’s conversation.
We don’t really know why other pubs don’t try a bit of strategic partitioning to boost the cosiness level. How much is a sheet of MDF these days?
In yesterday’s post, what I didn’t mention was that the Old Monk is serving its real ale in old fashioned handled dimple glasses. I gather that a couple of would-be trendy pubs in the Islington area have started to do the same thing.
This is an interesting affectation which seems designed to appeal simultaneously to the old school beer fan and the retro-ironic hipster. I suspect we’re going to see a lot more of it about.
I gather the reason for their demise was that they were relatively expensive to make, prone to breaking, and hard to stack. Those arguments hardly hold up now that fans of German wheat beers or Belgian obscurities are getting their favourite tipples served in ever-more elaborately shaped and printed glasses, some of them a foot tall, others as delicate as egg shells.
Mild in particular tastes a little bit nicer out of a dimple — well, it does to me, anyway, because that’s how my grandad used to drink it. Let’s hope that by May, when every decent pub in the land will have a mild on, the dimple has made its triumphant comeback everywhere.
Picture from h-e-d.co.uk, who also sell dimples if you fancy a few to use at home.
Yet another halfway decent if slightly charmless Westminster pub, the Old Monk Exchange usually offers a biggish range of foreign bottled beers. Recently, though, they’ve also upped their game on real ale.
This month, they’re having a “real ale festival’. In practice, that means they’ve got a rotating selection of ales, with four or five from cask at any one time, with another ten or so in bottles.
Tonight, I drank Nethergate Umbel Ale, Nethergate Suffolk County and Sharp’s Doombar (which is fast becoming ubiquitous). All were in good condition — it’s depressing that that’s noteworthy in London — and the first two were really quite interesting.
Umbel Ale in particular struck me as a well-made beer. The pump-clip makes much of the presence of toasted coriander seeds, but I’m sure there are some American hops in there too. Citrus and coriander is a classic combination. Would C-hops would work in Belgian-style wheat beers?
We popped along to the Speaker last night. All their guest beers this week are from Somerset. We tried Cotleigh Barn Owl (pleasant), Moor Revival (great) and Newman’s Wolvers Ale (funny tasting, but drinkable). As Tandleman pointed out, this pub is from the 70s — there’s a big tin of Henri Winterman’s cigars behind the bar, ploughmans were on offer, and there was a man drinking at the bar who looked like Peter Sutcliffe.
We just received a glossy little magazine full of vouchers from Wetherspoons, like the ones you get from ASDA or Iceland. It contains such exciting voucher offers as:
- Coors Light — £1.49 a pint — new!
- Efes Pilsner — £1.49 a bottle!
- Finest real ale — Pedigree and Abbot at £1.29 a pint!
Hmmm. No, that’s going to get us down to Wetherspoons, especially as our nearest one is full of tramps with the shakes.
Stella Artois has successfully marketed itself as a premium brand in the past, and so now we see Marstons and Greene King seeming to do the opposite. Marston’s Pedigree — “worryingly cheap…?”
One thing that’s rather heart-warming, though: this flyer appears to be aimed at what Location, Location, Location calls “cost-conscious neighbourhoods”, but still finds room for a page on Wetherspoon’s (sort of) ethical food sourcing policy. It’s nice that we’re getting over the idea that working class people don’t have a moral code.
Bit of politics, there.