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.
Waiter service in bars is one of those things you often hear British people complain about when they come back from holiday.
Queuing at the bar is so ingrained in our culture that the idea of a bloke in an apron bringing our drink (and expecting to be bloody tipped for it, too, cheeky sod…) is almost as upsetting as having to use a funny foreign toilet.
But we’d like to see a bit more waiter service in Britain, now. More and more, we’re put off going to particular pubs because we know we’ll have to stand in a crowd for what feels like 30 minutes, craning our necks, hoping to catch the eye of a barman. How much more civilised to pay a measly tip for the privilege of sitting on one’s behind while fresh glasses of tasty beer are brought to your table.
This would also save us the sight of tourists in England sitting glumly waiting to be served, too. And, vice versa, standardising across Europe would save your continentals from having to watch British people whispering awkwardly near the door:
“I can’t tell if it’s waiter service. Should we go up and order? Maybe we should go up. That looks like a bar. Oh, but look, they’re getting served at the table. Shall we go up?”
“No, Brian. That would be a breach of etiquette, and then they’ll kill us or, worse, laugh at us. Let’s just go back to the hotel and drink from the mini-bar for the next week until the holiday is over.”
We noticed with some excitement that the Jugged Hare on Vauxhall Bridge Road in London will be serving Fuller’s Golden Pride, a strong barley wine, on tap for one week only from the 3rd March.
We’ve had Golden Pride in bottles and not been terribly excited – it’s like Fuller’s other strong beers, but a bit chemical. But it’s raved about by more esteemed critics than us, and on tap..? Well, who knows. We’re definitely going to give it a go.
The Jugged Hare itself is an acquired taste – there are lots of tourists and it feels a bit like a souvenir shop at times – but the beer is always in superb condition and the staff always impress us with their continental-style professionalism.
The Castle in Walthamstow has just hosted what might be the model beer festival.
The pub, which has struggled to attract the same crowds as its sister pub the Nag’s Head around the corner, was absolutely packed tonight.
The landlord was quite emotional: “I never expected it to be this popular. We’ll definitely be doing another one. And I’m going to get more real ales on the bar.”
Here’s what worked:
1. Let the local CAMRA types choose the beers and run the festival bar – “leave it to the experts,” as the landlord said.
2. Keep the selection small. There were about 10 beers, which is just the right amount. We tried almost all of them and didn’t leave wondering what we’d missed.
The CAMRA people running the bar were friendly and plainly delighted to be doing good trade. The rest of the pub was full of locals who were just intrigued to try something new.
If you can, pop down tomorrow (there won’t be any beer left on Sunday). Otherwise, keep your eyes peeled and come to the next Castle beer festival.
It doesn’t look like you’ll be able to get your hands on this without going to Rye, but a 3.7% stout with rye and scallops sounds interesting to us!
The press release is here.