Buenos lugares para cerveza en Westminster, Londres

[Intro­duc­to­ry note – this arti­cle first appeared in Eng­lish way back in August 07. We’ve updat­ed it recent­ly with a cou­ple of new pubs]

Este artícu­lo apare­ció en inglés en este blog en agos­to 2007. Espero que sea útil para los tur­is­tas-cerve­ceras en Lon­dres, espe­cial­mente para los que quieren pro­bar cervezas ingle­sas. Hay mapa aba­jo.

parliament.jpgEs difi­cil encon­trar buenos lugares para beber cerveza bue­na en West­min­ster. West­min­ster es una de las des­ti­na­ciones más vis­i­tadas en el Reino Unido, por eso los pubs mas vis­i­bles son los más turís­ti­cos, que venden “fish and chips” de cal­i­dad infe­ri­or y cerveza muy cara. Pero hay algu­nas joyas, la may­oría llena de fun­cionar­ios y políti­cos, char­lan­do… [este artícu­lo con­tinúa…]

Con­tin­ue read­ing “Buenos lugares para cerveza en West­min­ster, Lon­dres”

Pork Pies

porkpie.jpgZythophile has writ­ten elo­quent­ly of the his­to­ry of the ploughman’s lunch. Usu­al­ly, the main pro­tein com­po­nent is a big lump of sweaty yel­low cheese, but I’m very par­tial to a piece of pork pie.

So par­tial, in fact, that I made one.

The plan was to eat this with a nice pint of beer for Sun­day lunch. Of course, what we end­ed up doing was get­ting a bit tip­sy with Stonch at the Bet­sey Trot­wood, and eat­ing half of it at four in the morn­ing…

I got my recipe from Eliz­a­beth Orsini’s The Book of Pies. If you fan­cy mak­ing your own, here’s a decent recipe online.


Beer people

session-logo-r-sm.jpgThis month’s Ses­sion top­ic, cho­sen by Stonch, is “beer peo­ple”.

We puz­zled over this one a bit. We’ve met the odd brew­er and some pub land­lords, but that’s about it when it comes to beer peo­ple. “Most of the peo­ple we know,” we thought, “aren’t that both­ered about beer.”

And that’s the mar­ket most ale brew­eries are work­ing in.

Peo­ple like our mate Jack are where they make the bulk of their mon­ey. Jack drinks real ale by default – it’s in his blood and, these days, a cul­tur­al prej­u­dice of the edu­cat­ed mid­dle class­es. But he won’t go out of his way to try new beers. If he goes to a pub and all the real ale is off, he’ll be dis­ap­point­ed, shrug, and order a Guin­ness. He’s not both­ered enough about beer to walk to anoth­er pub.

On our vis­it to the Oak­dale Arms on Sun­day, we met anoth­er char­ac­ter who struck us as being a typ­i­cal British real ale drinker. Char­lie was a very chat­ty, friend­ly bloke who wan­dered over to say hel­lo. He want­ed to know if we were “tick­ers”, hav­ing seen our type before. We denied it hot­ly, of course. He then told us that his big prob­lem was that the beer he’d been drink­ing was off, and he didn’t like to change. “I tend to find a beer I like and stick to it,” he said. “I’m not both­ered about try­ing new things.” But he was adamant about one thing: he was a real ale drinker through and through.

How much mon­ey can a brew­ery make by appeal­ing only to ‘beer peo­ple’? Or beer geeks, if you like. Not as much as it can by appeal­ing to peo­ple who just want a weak­ish, refresh­ing pint of ale and becom­ing their default choice, per­haps.

Have Moor ever done a bad beer?

pembury.jpgThis is the ques­tion I ask myself in a semi-soz­zled state, hav­ing had to try all of their beers cur­rent­ly avail­able in the Pem­bury Tav­ern.

Moor Beer is a micro­brew­ery based just out­side Bailey’s old manor in Som­er­set. Their web­site paints a pic­ture of a charm­ing­ly ama­teur set-up, but there is noth­ing ama­teur about their beers. The Peat Porter is a love­ly drop, sour and roasty in all the right places. Milly’s Mild, at 3.9%, slips down extreme­ly eas­i­ly but with­out being watery – a fault of some oth­er milds.

But the piece de resis­tance is undoubt­ed­ly the 7.3% “old Fred­dy Walk­er”, cham­pi­on win­ter beer of Britain in 2004. This is a stag­ger­ing­ly com­plex beer that I feel defies clas­si­fi­ca­tion. I say that because I was con­vinced I was drink­ing some kind of impe­r­i­al stout, only to find that Roger Protz clas­si­fies it in the “Old Ale, Bar­ley Wine, Vin­tage Ales” sec­tion of “300 beers to try before you die”.

It smells of sher­ry, fruit and cof­fee. In the mouth – rum and raisin fudge, with a cof­fee fin­ish. Sounds a mess, and if any of the com­po­nents were changed, it prob­a­bly wouldn’t work at all. But it’s absolute­ly gor­geous. You can have a sip, and still taste it 10 min­utes lat­er. Hav­ing now had this a few times, includ­ing at the Great British Beer Fes­ti­val, I can say for sure that it would cer­tain­ly be in my top 20, were I fool­ish enough to draw up such a thing.

The intrigu­ing sound­ing JJJ IPA was “com­ing soon”. Moor say:

Dou­ble IPA was just not good enough – we need­ed a triple IPA. Triple the grav­i­ty, triple the colour, and more than triple the hops.

Sounds excit­ing. Has any­one tried it?


A local pub, not just for local people

The Oak­dale Arms in Sev­en Sis­ters, North Lon­don, is the sis­ter pub of the famous Pem­bury Tav­ern, but it’s a com­plete­ly dif­fer­ent crea­ture.

The Good Beer Guide has a code it uses to describe pubs like this: they call it a ‘com­mu­ni­ty pub’. In oth­er words, peo­ple who actu­al­ly live near the pub go there. That some­times trans­lates into a slight­ly unwel­com­ing atmos­phere, but not here.

For one thing, the locals are very friend­ly – more of that on Fri­day when we get to the Ses­sion. Sec­ond­ly, the locals aren’t the only clien­tele. They rub shoul­ders with a mix of CAMRA types sniff­ing their pints and tak­ing notes, and the odd posh per­son from one of the huge Vic­to­ri­an hous­es in Fins­bury Park’s mid­dle class ghet­to. Final­ly, the bar staff are so friend­ly. Before tak­ing my order, the bar man­ag­er paused to ask: “How are you, mate?” That was nice.

Unlike the Pem­bury, the Oak­dale is cosy, shady and full of moth-eat­en car­pet, vel­vet and wood. It’s a real booz­er. But, to give it a 21st cen­tu­ry edge, there’s a ful­ly stocked mp3 juke­box and a pro­jec­tor fill­ing one wall with Nin­ten­do Wii games. This is an inter­est­ing touch – lots of peo­ple play com­put­er games these days, not just kids, and it kind of added to the atmos­phere. The pho­to above is of one of the bar staffing hav­ing a go on Gui­tar Hero. He dropped his lit­tle plas­tic gui­tar like a shot when some­one came to the bar, though.

The beer was in per­fect con­di­tion. There were six Milton’s and two guests, plus a lot of inter­est­ing bot­tles. Of par­tic­u­lar note, Great Oak­ley Gob­ble, a pale, hop­py beer which remind­ed Boak of ‘gripe water’. After a quick text to Any Ques­tions Answered, we nar­rowed the sim­i­lar­i­ty down to a pow­er­ful fen­nel flavour.

Unfor­tu­nate­ly, the pub was very qui­et. It’s in the mid­dle of nowhere, frankly, so it’s not sur­pris­ing. But it real­ly is worth a trip if you want to sup­port this kind of enter­prise.