Update on the Speaker

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 pubs

waiter.jpgWait­er 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.”

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Pic­ture by inde­pen­dent­man, under a Cre­ative Com­mons license from Flickr.

Fuller’s Golden Pride on tap

gp.jpgWe 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.

A model beer festival

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.

3. Choose beers care­ful­ly. All of the beers on offer were decent, though some were bet­ter than oth­ers. We were par­tic­u­lar­ly impressed by Saltaire Cas­cade, Kin­ver Edge and Dark Star Mild.

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.