Country pubs and Butcombe IPA

As we’ve men­tioned before, the pubs in my home town aren’t much to get excit­ed about, but there are some nice places hid­den out in the coun­try­side.

sunshapwick

As we’ve men­tioned before, the pubs in my home town aren’t much to get excit­ed about, but there are some nice places hid­den out in the coun­try­side.

The Red Tile at Coss­ing­ton, for exam­ple, is a per­fect cosy coun­try pub. On Box­ing Day, it was busy with din­ers (there’s an unpre­ten­tious pub menu) but I man­aged to find a cor­ner in which to enjoy a pint of But­combe Brunel IPA. I’m a fan of Butcombe’s beers but I’m hap­py to admit that region­al chau­vin­ism makes it hard for me to be objec­tive. But­combe ‘ordi­nary’ is brown, very bit­ter and slight­ly sul­phurous. The IPA is quite dif­fer­ent – less bit­ter, if any­thing, but with a warmer orange colour and pro­nounced flow­ery hop aro­ma. A good exam­ple of the Eng­lish ses­sion IPA.

Also worth a look is the Bur­tle Inn. This pub is even cosier: dark, but not gloomy, with light from wonky 18th cen­tu­ry win­dows and sev­er­al fierce wood fires. Although the staff looked exhaust­ed and the pub’s sup­plies were deplet­ed (“We’ve only got parsnip crisps left”) the real ales were in good nick and were also avail­able hot and spiced! In Lon­don these days, we take it for grant­ed that a pub will have Czech lager, wheat beer and Leffe on tap, but it’s less com­mon in the depths of the West Coun­try.

Final­ly, there was Crown at Cat­cott, which my Dad called “old Fred Vernon’s place” after a land­lord he remem­bered from his youth. It’s up a wind­ing track on a par­tic­u­lar­ly windy spot on the Som­er­set lev­els, so its burn­ing fires and low ceil­ings were very wel­come. There was a selec­tion of West Coun­try ales on offer from larg­er brew­ers like Sharp’s and But­combe. The But­combe ordi­nary was, well, extra­or­di­nary – per­fect­ly fresh and in such good con­di­tion that the head didn’t move even in the stiff breeze whistling under the old wood­en door.

In short, if you’re in Som­er­set, ditch the towns, get your­self a des­ig­nat­ed dri­ver and go on a crawl across the lev­els. It’s like­ly to be a lot more fun than Bridg­wa­ter, Taunton or Yeovil.

Pilsner Urquell: control subject?

Anoth­er Prague post we didn’t get round to putting up at the time…

On our first night in Prague, we grap­pled with a com­plex log­ic puz­zle at the cen­tral sta­tion: how to buy an 18 crown tube tick­et with a 2000 crown note, when every­thing is shut? It took us near­ly an hour to make it to our hotel, by which time we were very grumpy indeed.

For­tu­nate­ly, the pub across the road (U Ceske­ho Lva) hap­pened to serve Pil­sner Urquell ‘tanko­va’. Tanko­va dis­pense is some com­pli­cat­ed arrange­ment where the nasty gas­es used to pres­surise the beer don’t come into con­tact with the beer itself, but push it out of a bag, result­ing in a rather gen­tle, nat­ur­al car­bon­a­tion. It’s also unpas­teurised, unlike the usu­al prod­uct. Nice. We sank sev­er­al pints very eas­i­ly and a bit too quick­ly.

It tast­ed just fan­tas­tic to us.

Five nights lat­er, hav­ing made a whis­tle-stop tour of as many pubs and brew­eries as we could, we’d got a bet­ter han­dle on Czech beer, so when we returned for one final pint of tanko­va PU, we weren’t as blown away. It seemed a bit clin­i­cal; rather sharp; one dimen­sion­al. Where was the fruiti­ness; the body; the yeasty com­plex­i­ty of all those oth­er beers we’d tried?

For all that, it’s still a great beer, and one we’ll con­tin­ue to seek out in Lon­don. Our home city is a hard place to get decent pale lager, hence our enthu­si­asm for Meantime’s prod­ucts, Morav­ka, Bud­var and Urquell – and, for that mat­ter, our tol­er­ance for Staro­pra­men.

You make the most of what you’ve got, right? And per­cep­tion of qual­i­ty is rel­a­tive.

For more on tanko­va beers, this post by Pivni Filosof is very infor­ma­tive, as is Evan Rail’s Czech beer guide.

La Ronda – New year’s beer resolutions

This month’s “round” is paid for by Andres of Cul­turil­la Cerve­cera, and it’s a fol­low-up to a pre­vi­ous ques­tion on build­ing and main­tain­ing a good beer cul­ture. He asks us what our res­o­lu­tions for 2009 are to help fur­ther the cause.

beermugs

Espanol.

This month’s “round” is paid for by Andres of Cul­turil­la Cerve­cera, and it’s a fol­low-up to a pre­vi­ous ques­tion on build­ing and main­tain­ing a good beer cul­ture. He asks us what our res­o­lu­tions for 2009 are to help fur­ther the cause.

Apart from the obvi­ous answer (“drink more beer”), we do have a num­ber of beer-relat­ed res­o­lu­tions;

1. Try to per­suade our local to rotate the range of beer a bit.
Our local pub has got a great atmos­phere, friend­ly staff, and the beer it does serve is usu­al­ly in good con­di­tion. We’re usu­al­ly there at least once a week for all these rea­sons. We’ve often thought that it would be per­fect if they took advan­tage of hav­ing five hand­pumps and being a gen­uine free house to have at least one pump offer­ing some­thing dif­fer­ent each week. So our first res­o­lu­tion is to talk to the land­la­dy about it.

2. Organ­ise a cheese and beer tast­ing
We’ve want­ed to have a go at this ever since see­ing Gar­rett Oliv­er do one at Beer­Ex­posed. Could be a fun way of get­ting some of our friends inter­est­ed in beer? After all, every­one loves cheese.

3. Go on more beer expe­di­tions
There are lots of great pubs in Lon­don, some of them in the sub­urbs. There are also many great beer des­ti­na­tions that are with­in a short train ride. We always have fun when we go explor­ing, so we’re going to do that some more. At least one a month.

P.S. Jeff Pick­thall has an inter­est­ing res­o­lu­tion – to pro­vide almost instant reviews EVERY beer he drinks via mod­ern tech­nol­o­gy. Any­one else got any beer-relat­ed res­o­lu­tions?

La Ronda: Propósitos de Año Nuevo

Este mes a la Ron­da invi­ta Andres de Cul­turil­la Cerve­cera. Pre­gun­ta (en el con­tex­to de con­stru­ir y man­ten­er una cul­tura de cerveza) “¿Cuales son vue­stro propósi­tos cerve­ceros para este año 2009?”

beermugs

Eng­lish

Este mes a la Ron­da invi­ta Andres de Cul­turil­la Cerve­cera. Pre­gun­ta (en el con­tex­to de con­stru­ir y man­ten­er una cul­tura de cerveza) “¿Cuales son vue­stro propósi­tos cerve­ceros para este año 2009?

Aparte de la respues­ta obvia ( “beber más cerveza”), ten­emos los sigu­ientes propósi­tos cerve­ceros para 2009:

1. Con­vencer a los dueños de nue­stro local para que ofrez­can una selec­ción que cam­bia un poco…

Nue­stro “local” tiene un ambi­ente agrad­able, gente amable, y la cerveza que se sirve gen­eral­mente está en buen esta­do. Bebe­mos allí al menos una vez por sem­ana por todas estas razones. Pero pen­samos que sería per­fec­to si ofrecier­an algo difer­ente cada sem­ana. Tienen cin­co gri­fos (para “real ale”), pero nor­mal­mente sir­ven exac­ta­mente las mis­mas cin­co cervezas. En nues­tra opin­ion, tienen una opor­tu­nidad para pro­mover más micro­cerve­cerías. Por lo tan­to, nue­stro primer propósi­to es cono­cer los dueños…

2. Orga­ni­zar una cata de que­so y cerveza

Gar­rett Oliv­er nos inspiró cuan­do lo vimos en Beer­Ex­posed. Nos parece un buen modo de evan­ge­lizar y demon­strar la var­iedad de cerveza. Y a todo el mun­do le encan­ta el que­so.

3. Cazar cerveza en otros lugares

Hay un mon­tón de gran bares en Lon­dres, algunos de ellos en los sub­ur­bios. Tam­bién hay ciu­dades con buenos pubs y cerveza que no están lejos por el tren. Siem­pre nos diver­ti­mos cuan­do explo­ramos, así que vamos a hac­er­lo un poco más. Al menos una al mes.