I didn’t realise I’d missed London’s characteristically headless, lifeless, lukewarm pints of beer until I had one on Friday.
It was brown, weary-tasting, with barely a fleck of scum on the surface, and yet… I kind of loved it.
I’m not saying this kind of thing is good, or that I wouldn’t have preferred something with a bit of condition given the option, but confronted with it in that moment, it resonated with my homesickness like the stink of a hometown factory.*
For many Londoners, perhaps less so now than it used to be, I’m sure this is actually a preference: no space wasted by mere froth, maximum possible booze for your cash. I remember friends from my sixth-form college and Leyton Orient supporting days grumbling if they were served even slightly foamy pints: ‘What’s going on ‘ere – are we up Norf or summink?’
I didn’t say when I Tweeted about it but the pint in question was at the usually very reliable Royal Oak in Borough, our favourite London pub these days. I stayed drinking there with friends until we got booted out so it can’t have been so bad.
But that’ll do me for a while – back to cool, properly conditioned beers with proper heads now, I think.
* Not an abstract example – Bailey grew up under the foul cloud of British Cellophane and gets sentimental when he smells anything similarly disgusting.