UK wine sellers Oddbins, with branches all over the country, are now selling Sierra Nevada Bigfoot Barley Wine and Early Spring Beer. They’ve always had a passable beer selection, but this is really good stuff. Let’s hope they ditch one or two of the rubbish Euro-lagers soon and replace them with more interesting beers along these lines.
INTERIOR, LONDON REAL ALE PUB, DAY.
An innocent looking PUNTER approaches the bar and peers over at the fridges where the bottled beers are stored. After a few moments a bearded semi-goth BARMAN (resembling Dawn of the Dead make-up artist and actor TOM SAVINI) approaches. Throughout the following, he does not blink.
Are you waiting?
Ah, yes. Erm… a couple of weeks ago I came in and you had Weihenstephan Old Bavarian or Old Munich or…
An un-Earthly gleam comes into the BARMAN’s eye. He interrupts.
BARMAN (gleeful but blunt)
Ah! Now, I think you’ll find you’re confusing two completely different beers, namely the Erdinger Dunkelweiss and the Augustiner Edelstoff. We’ve never had the Weihenstephaner dunkel weiss.
Well, I’m not sure I am confused. It was definitely by Weihenstephan. It had a sort of brownish red label. And it was a dark lager, rather than a dark wheat beer…
There is no such beer! We’re out of all of our dunkel weisses, including the Weheinstephaner.
There is an awkward silence. The BARMAN switches into lecture mode.
Perhaps you’d like something called Rrrrraushbier? It’s smoky tasting because the producers use…
It’s fine, thanks. I think I’ll go.
The bewildered PUNTER leaves shaking his head.
The moral of this story? Try not to use the phrase “I think you’ll find…” at the start of a sentence. Exactly like the words “I’m not racist but…”, it will mark you out as a buffoon.
In theory, a pub quiz can help boost midweek trade.
Trouble is, they can rather take over the place, and if it’s not a quiz you’re interested in, it’s a lot more intrusive to your drinking and conversation than any music could ever be. It’s also difficult for quizmasters to strike the right balance between charismatic and annoying.
Then there are the pub quiz professionals. You know — the humourless groups of individuals who absolutely kill the mood, not so much by always winning, but by the fact they’re a group of people whose sole purpose for coming together is to win a pub quiz, not to enjoy each other’s company or the atmosphere of the pub.
Landlords and ladies — if you are going to have a pub quiz, make it short and sweet, and ideally limited to one area of the pub.
The London Drinker really is invaluable for keeping tabs on the comings and goings of London pubs. The editorial is, of course, interesting, but in the current issue, it was an advertisement that caught our eye.
The landlord of North Nineteen, a recently refurbished pub off the Upper Holloway Road in North London, included this refreshingly friendly line in his advertisement for a “mini beer festival”:
We are looking for ale lovers not just for the event but also to become regulars as we always have good well kept real ales on draught. Real ale and the British pub are national treasures, so we are doing our bit to keep this fantastic British tradition going.
On top of that, a warm review in Time Out gave us the nudge we needed to brave a barely functioning public transport network and give it a go.
First impressions: they are trying very hard, and partially succeeding. The beer was, as promised, on good form, and there was interesting selection including two from Wooden Hand. Black Pearl was a very tasty porter/stout — one to look out for.
In terms of atmosphere, there’s a little work to do. Wooden floors and white walls, contrived to send out come hither signals to North London middle classes, actually make the place a bit cold and echoing, but that will change as the place gets busier. That’s certainly what happened at the Pembury. One of the two bars was already crammed with people enjoying live music from three bands, which bodes well for the pub’s survival.
The biggest asset, though, is likely to be the energy and commitment of the owners. The landlord was very much the host, readily dishing out the hellos, goodbyes and welcomes. He also got out from behind the bar to, as they say in the modern vernacular, “work the room”, which really helped to make us and others feel at home.
In short, we like this place, and we want it to do well, even if it’s not quite there yet. If you’re in the area, do pop in for a pint.
Picture from the pub’s rather swanky website.
This month we have the pleasure of hosting The Session – where beer bloggers around the world blog on the same topic on the first Friday of the month.
Continuing the “Beervangelism” theme, we’d like you to write about the moment when you saw the light. At what point did you realise you were a beer lover / geek / enthusiast? What beer(s) triggered the conversion? Did someone help you along your way, or did you come to it yourself?
In short; how did you get into good beer?
If you can talk about a specific beer, so much the better — it would be good to see if there are any trends.
1. To take part, write your post on Friday 2nd May, and send us the link, either via a comment, or by email on firstname.lastname@example.org