The ubiquity of Timothy Taylor’s Landlord

postll.gifWould-be trendy pubs seem to think it’s com­pul­so­ry to offer Tim­o­thy Taylor’s Land­lord. Maybe it’s some­thing to do with Madon­na?

Last night, I went to a friend’s birth­day par­ty in a sup­posed “gas­trop­ub” (viz. they had square plates). It was a per­fect­ly nice place, with very friend­ly bar staff and (impres­sive­ly) a dog. But I wasn’t impressed with the TTL. It wasn’t off – it was just old and tast­ed dull, with no dis­cernible hop flavour or aro­ma. In fact, it tast­ed of Mar­mite, which is not a qual­i­ty I look for in a beer.

The last good pint of TTL I had in a pub was in 2005, at the Trafal­gar in Green­wich. Since then, I must have had 10 or 12 off, hot, stale or just plain dull pints. It’s a nice beer when it’s on form but, like a lot of sim­i­lar prod­ucts, its rep­u­ta­tion is being dam­aged by indis­crim­i­nate dis­tri­b­u­tion and poor qual­i­ty con­trol.

It must be a real dilem­ma for small­er brew­eries – push to expand and risk los­ing con­trol over the qual­i­ty of the prod­uct, or keep con­trol and nev­er sell a pint more than two miles from the brew­ery.

Why no London brewing museum?

lamppost.jpgThe reopen­ing today of the Lon­don Trans­port Muse­um in Covent Gar­den has made me won­der why there’s no muse­um of brew­ing in the cap­i­tal.

Sure, indi­vid­ual brew­eries around the coun­try have their own muse­ums, and Coors/Bass have the best claim to run­ning the nation­al muse­um of brew­ing in Bur­ton Upon Trent.

But there’s noth­ing in Lon­don. The whole city is, in effect, a muse­um of brew­ing, but it would be nice to see key arti­facts brought togeth­er in one place (the old Tru­man Brew­ery on Brick Lane, for exam­ple) to tell the fas­ci­nat­ing sto­ry of brew­ing in this city.

Fail­ing that, though, what about an exhi­bi­tion at the excel­lent but occa­sion­al­ly over­looked Muse­um of Lon­don? That has a great “Vic­to­ri­an street”, includ­ing a pub, and some great stuff in the archives, so they’re halfway there already.

Update: I won­der if this sto­ry on Hop Talk might not have sub­con­scious­ly influ­enced my think­ing?

Boozing tactics – pre-emptive greasy spoon

regency.jpgIt’s not a great way to increase your life expectan­cy, but tac­ti­cal use of junk food can make a night out a much more plea­sur­able affair, and save you from a hang­over the next day.

The Regency Cafe in Pim­li­co is beau­ti­ful­ly pre­served 1940s cafe with a menu of fine­ly pre­pared stodge. It’s a five minute walk from West­min­ster, and the per­fect place to go before the pub.

On Fri­day night, I ate a huge plate of fish­cakes, chips and beans before meet­ing mates for sev­er­al pints of Crouch Vale Brewer’s Gold. At the end of the night, I bare­ly felt even tip­sy because there was so much pota­to in my stom­ach.

You don’t get the same effect by float­ing a spicy kebab on top of the booze. Eat before you drink!

This, of course, is food and beer match­ing in the crud­est sense…


Hoegaarden Grand Cru

grandcru.pngOn Sun­day, I made my 3000 words by lunchtime, so earned a Hoe­gaar­den Grand Cru.

I’ve had it before and real­ly enjoyed it, but I didn’t real­ly have a tast­ing hat on then. This time, I real­ly took my time over it.

There are many of the same flavours as Hoe­gaar­den Wit, though this isn’t a wheat beer, as far as I can tell. Here, though, the accent is on spice (corian­der, I guess) rather than cit­rus, although there are orange flavours). The thing that real­ly stood out for me was how well the spices, the spici­ness of the yeast and the alco­hol (8.5%) com­ple­ment­ed each oth­er. It’s more warm­ing than refresh­ing. It’s also a real­ly beau­ti­ful gold­en colour, rather than the pale yel­low of the Wit.

Both Boak and I are big fans of Hoe­gaar­den Wit (although it’s not as good as it used to be, owned by a big com­pa­ny, etc. etc.) but Grand Cru real­ly is some­thing spe­cial. It might even make it into my top ten.

Service update

You might have noticed that the posts have been a bit less fre­quent recent­ly. That’s because:

1. Boak is study­ing for an exam and so has time nei­ther to drink nor write about any­thing oth­er than some­thing called “sub­junc­tives” (search me…) and

2. I’m in the mid­dle of my sec­ond attempt at Nation­al Nov­el Writ­ing Month – I’m sup­posed to write 50,000 words between 1 and 30 Novem­ber.

Of course, beer is play­ing a part in the lat­ter. Is it unhealthy that my reward for reach­ing a day’s tar­get (say, 3000 words by lunchtime today) is usu­al­ly a strong Bel­gian beer…?