More good pubs opening than closing


It turns out we’ve now got four pubs serv­ing decent and inter­est­ing beer with­in a ten minute walk of our house. We’re spoiled.

The Old Rose and Crown on Hoe Street in Waltham­stow, in east Lon­don, used to be a cool but down-at-heel pub with rot­ten beer. It was tak­en over by new man­age­ment a year or more ago and the decor improved. Sad­ly, the beer did­n’t.

They’ve obvi­ous­ly been work­ing hard since, though, and this year have deserved­ly made it into the Good Beer Guide. Hav­ing decid­ed to give them anoth­er go, in the last cou­ple of weeks we’ve enjoyed fan­tas­tic pints of Hop­back Crop Cir­cle and Edwin Tay­lor Extra Stout (a great beer, full of flavours of bit­ter choco­late and smoke).

With the Nags Head, the William IV, the Vil­lage and now the Rose and Crown, we can say with­out any irony that Waltham­stow is worth 20 min­utes on the tube and an hour or two of your time if you’re at a loose end in Lon­don.

Even our local off-licence is worth a look – it’s now a Spar fran­chise, but the beer’s got even bet­ter, with all the old stock plus Sam­brook’s, Brodie’s and a few oth­er brew­eries we’ve nev­er come across before.

Pembrokeshire – great place for walking and drinking

The Grif­fin Inn, Dale, Pem­brokeshire, Wales

The Pem­brokeshire coast path, in South Wales, fea­tures 186 miles of gor­geous cliffs, hid­den bays – and the occa­sion­al won­der­ful pub. I don’t mean that there are lots of pubs and only some of them are won­der­ful – more that pubs are spaced quite far apart in this part of the world, pos­si­bly some­thing to do with wide­spread Non­con­formism and there­fore tee­to­tal­ism. There are excep­tions, for exam­ple Lit­tle Haven has three pubs, and I’ve already writ­ten about Sol­va. They must have been very sin­ful places. Con­tin­ue read­ing “Pem­brokeshire – great place for walk­ing and drink­ing”

Drinking in Heidelberg

Any­one who tells you that Britain has some kind of monop­oly on binge drink­ing and row­di­ness obvi­ous­ly has­n’t been to this bor­der­line twee uni­ver­si­ty city. Per­haps it was the foot­ball, or maybe the warm weath­er, but the local youths were cer­tain­ly full of beans as they bar­reled around the old town knock­ing back tequi­la and chant­i­ng:

Jawohl, jawohl – ich liebe alco­hol!”

Which is not to say that it was remote­ly threat­en­ing. Rather charm­ing, in fact. They were prob­a­bly singing the same song at the uni­ver­si­ty of Hei­del­berg in the 19th cen­tu­ry. At least these days they don’t cap a ses­sion in the pub by duel­ing and scar­ring each oth­ers faces.

We spent a cou­ple of lunchtimes in local brew­pubs which, again, we found through this web­site.

Vet­ters is the best pub in terms of atmos­phere and we were impressed by their rel­a­tive­ly adven­tur­ous approach. Their sea­son­al spe­cial, “Hei­del­berg Frisch” is a Koelsch-style “ober­gaeriges” beer served in 200ml stick glass­es – some­thing we’ve nev­er seen out­side Cologne before. They also offer a ludi­crous­ly strong bar­ley-wine type beer, Vet­ters 33. This has an orig­i­nal grav­i­ty of 33%, pours black with a brown/yellow head (saf­fron!?) and tastes most­ly of trea­cle cut with vod­ka. Not that nice, in itself, but a refresh­ing change from the end­less pre­mi­um pil­sners…

Schef­fel’s Kul­tur­brauerei is a bit snooty inside, though it has a nice gar­den, where we took this pic­ture. Their range includes a remark­ably good keller­bier which, once again, remind­ed us of an Alt, or per­haps of a Bel­gian spe­cial. It was amber coloured, bit­ter and with a lot of orange flavours. The krauzen­bier was good, too – very light, almost Hoe­gaar­den like, with grape­fruit and lemon flavours. We thought it might be miss­ing a bit of malt flavour, though.

There are plen­ty of oth­er pubs in Hei­del­berg – Unter­er Strasse (par­al­lel to Haupt­strasse and the Neckar riv­er, up near the Mark­t­platz) is a good place to start, with a range of places from young and trendy to old and trad. There’s a place where you can get a range of Hoepfn­er brews, although unfor­tu­nate­ly not their porter.


Vet­ter im Schoe­neck is on Stein­gasse, just off the Mark­t­platz lead­ing down to the Neckar. Kul­tur­brauerei is on Ley­er­gasse, par­al­lel to Stein­gasse about four streets east. Both are hand­i­ly list­ed in the Lone­ly Plan­et guide to Ger­many.

York – a great city for beer

york_brewery.jpgIf you like beer, York is a great place to spend a few days. And that does­n’t just apply to fans of real ale.

From our expe­ri­ence, you can’t go too far wrong fol­low­ing your instincts in York – if it looks a friend­ly pub, it prob­a­bly is – but here are some pubs we tried and liked.

Con­tin­ue read­ing “York – a great city for beer”

I wish I was in Cologne

cologne1.jpgIt’s Shrove Tues­day (aka Pan­cake Day). I love pan­cakes, don’t get me wrong. But isn’t Shrove Tues­day in Britain a pret­ty tame cel­e­bra­tion, com­pared to the mul­ti-day ben­ders that go on in many parts of the world?

The Rhineland goes in for car­ni­vals in a big way. Whilst we were in Dues­sel­dorf a few weeks back, we saw plen­ty of posters adver­tis­ing the big events to come. The Cologne car­ni­val is even more famous.

I wish I was in Cologne, drink­ing koelsch tonight.

And that reminds me – we haven’t post­ed our post­script to our trip to Dues­sel­dorf – a brief round up of a cou­ple more cheeky koelsches downed between train con­nec­tions.

On the way out, it was a vis­it to the Gaffel brew­ery tap in the Alter Markt. Gaffel’s pleas­ant enough, par­tic­u­lar­ly when it’s the first beer of the trip. How­ev­er, more excit­ing was the fact that we saw the very wait­er from the pho­to that illus­trates the “Cologne and the North­west” sec­tion of the Eye­wit­ness Guide to beer.

On the way back, we thought we’d pop into the famous Frueh am Dom, which had always looked too touristy/busy to vis­it on pre­vi­ous trips. It being a wet Mon­day after­noon in Jan­u­ary, there was plen­ty of room, even with all the busi­ness­men and their suit­cas­es, await­ing their train con­nec­tions. It’s a nice place. The brew itself is a very clean, crisp koelsch, very refresh­ing but not one of the more inter­est­ing ones (in our hum­ble opin­ions).

High­light this time round was Peter’s Koelsch, from their out­let in the old town. We seemed to have missed this on our first crawl round Cologne. You can def­i­nite­ly taste the ale in this one – fruity and almost sul­phurous. We liked it.


A map con­tain­ing all of the places men­tioned here and in our pre­vi­ous post can be found on Ron Pat­tin­son’s Euro­pean Beer Guide, here, which also has stacks of oth­er inter­est­ing infor­ma­tion. You can also fol­low this link for Ron Pat­tin­son’s var­i­ous koelsch crawls, all enter­tain­ing reads.