Wednesday, 18 January 2012


Geronimo are a chain of gastropubs found mainly in London and recently bought out by the Young's chain. Sadly despite the name they're not a chain of Doctor Who themed pubs. I'll have to stick to the Fab Cafe in Manchester if I want a drink while sitting next to a Cyberman and Tardis. Looking at their website you would be forgiven for thinking that the type of customer they are trying to attract - judging by the pictures - are young, moneyed, middle class, white, wankers. Perfect for me then. The reality is that having been to three Gernoimo pubs it's not easy to pigeon hole them. Each offers a very different experience.

The Betjeman Arms in St Pancras is probably the best one I've been to and as it's near where I work it's a dependable option for an office lunch. The menu doesn't change much but the food is always well prepared and tasty. The ale is usually in good condition even if they don't have a very exciting selection. The unique Betjeman Ale from Sharps is a tasty if unremarkable bitter but is worth a pint or two. Unexciting but decent sums up the Betjeman. Pleasant food, drink, decor and atmosphere but not the sort of place you'd go for a session. But it is a nice place to stop for a drink or bite to eat while waiting for a train, so I guess it's serving its purpose. The Betjeman used to do pretty good mini ale festivals but unfortunately that seems to have stopped. Hopefully they'll bring them back.

The Bull is Geronimos outpost at Westfield Shepherds Bush. When I visited on a weekday evening the pub was loud, busy, and packed full of kids. A tremendous amount of kids. Hardly anybody in there was over the age of 21 or capable of growing a decent beard. I'm not sure if this was a freak occurrence or a regular thing. The Bull didn't seem like the kind of place to attract a very young crowd, the decor giving the impression they were aiming for a slighter older demographic. I had to escape from the young crowd before I got angry at how many of them wouldn't know what a Global Hypercolour T-Shirt is or weren't alive when Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade was in the cinemas scaring the shit out of me. The ending where the villain ages rapidly still freaks me out to this day. If you don't know what I'm talking about you're either TOO YOUNG yourself or spectacularly pop culture inept. And as you're on the internet I doubt it's the latter.

We retreated to the dining room in the back for some dinner. The food in The Bull was decent. I opted for a Dexter burger which sadly wasn't shaped like Michael C. Halls face. It was tasty though. The beer was fine, although I can't for the life of me remeber what I drank. It was certainly well kept. I don't think I would return to The Bull, but that's mainly because I don't particularly want to return to Westfield, a vast, soulless, confusing monstrosity which managed to combine the worst elements of American "malls."

I've saved the worst for last. The Elgin in Ladbroke Grove is, essentially, a den for tossers. They call themselves a "Food Pub and Music House" which translates to "Stay away from this place." I ventured in anyway. Initial thoughts were the space is quite nice, despite being tarnished by ill judged decor and matey messages written on blackboards. However its true colours showed when I looked at the band lineup. It was all woozy women and gelled up double acts "re-imaging" every genre imaginable. "Re-imaging" usually means playing tired old rock standards on a scratched up acoustic guitar and a triangle, massacring the lyrics in a twee falsetto voice. There's usually a gimmick, such as the band performs standing on top of a tortoise,  which makes them "amazing, daring and unique" according to Time Out and the Culture section of the Times.

I couldn't wait to get out of there. The pint of Sambrooks Wandle was in good nick and very tasty but the pub had no atmosphere. Nobody looked particularly happy to be there and most were either by themselves typing on their MacBooks while taking up a table for four, or sitting around braying at each other while desperately making sure they were looking cool. If you were at the pub the night I visited then I'm sorry but I'm going to have to assume you're a wanker. Don't worry, I was automatically a wanker myself by sitting in the Elgin. I'm sure outside of the pub you're a lovely person and maybe you only ended up in the Elgin by mistake like I did, but if you're a "regular" of the Elgin then please never talk to me in real life. It's probably best for the both of us.

Saturday, 14 January 2012

Euston Tap & Cider Tap

The Euston Tap is one of the more welcome real ale houses to have opened in the Euston area, and popping in a couple of nights ago I was pleased to see the place is still going strong. I had a pint of a new ale made for them by the Nethergate brewery called One for the Road. Sadly it was a unremarkable pint. Although it was labelled on the board as "Wild Hopped" there weren't any exciting flavours coming through and it was all rather bland. Thankfully a pint of Ilkley Tap 3 was on good form and had in abundance the refreshing hoppy flavours that One for the Road was missing.

Euston Tap have opened a new venture across the road that specialises in "real" cider. After thinking long and hard they came up with the name Cider Tap. This is probably a better name then Euston Cider which as we all know is a euphemism for tramp piss. Although to be honest I probably wouldn't be able to tell the difference between a glass of real cider and a glass of tramp piss. Let's just say I've never understood the appeal of cider. As far as I'm concerned the stench, colour and taste are all designed to warn people away from drinking it.

Going by the current rise of alcohol prices, in five years time you'll have to choose between buying
six bottles of Rekorderlig or buying a car.
I once ordered some Strawberry "Real Cider" for The Lovely Jemma from the delightful The Harp near Leicester Square. On sight of the drink TLJ was convinced I had actually gone outside and convinced a vagrant to piss into a half pint glass. It was a wretched sight and smelt like a corpse that had soiled itself. The look on TLJ's face after the first sip assured me that this half pint was going to be left untouched and unloved on the table. I tried a sip myself and was thankful my tongue didn't just pack it bags and leave my mouth after the offense I had subjected it too. I honestly don't know how anybody could drink the stuff and I imagine the makers can only drink it because their tastebuds have been eroded away by years of horrific acidic cider.

There seems to be two very different camps when it comes to cider. There are those where cider is a pint of Strongbow or Magners, or a glass of sugary sweetness from Sweden such as Kopparberg or Rekorderlig. Swedish ciders in particular seem to be priced ridiculously high and it would probably be cheaper just to mix some Strawberry and Blackcurrant Ribena together and shove some vodka in it. You'd get the same effect. The other camp of cider drinkers are the real cider fans, those who prefer to have their cider made in a bathtub by two bearded gentlemen from Dorset. Unlike beer drinkers where lager fans might go for a ale and ale fans may plump for a lager, there doesn't seem to be the same crossover with cider drinkers. And unfortunately real cider (and perry) just isn't getting the same fanbase as real ale is enjoying.

The Cider Tap bar.  I liked the rustic wooden panelling.

So I was not surprised to walk into the Cider Tap and find it fairly quiet. The Euston Tap across the road was packed and bustling. However the smaller crowd suits the small space and the atmosphere was pleasant. There were about 15 ciders on offer (excluding bottled options.) I went for a half of Hogans Dry Cider. I'm no cider expert but I managed to finish it so it can't have been to bad.

I wish the Cider Tap all the best but cider is already a marginalised market so aiming for a niche of the market may not pay off. Hopefully word will go round and business will pick up. But to be perfectly honest I wouldn't mind if the place became an extension of the Euston Tap - perhaps with a few cider offerings chucked in.

Thursday, 5 January 2012

Brewdog Camden

2012 is here and my only resolution this year is to try and do more than two updates a month on this fine blog. To be fair December was a tricky time to write blog posts as I was gorging myself on chocolate, turkey, Pringles and ale. I was also playing Batman: Arkham City and Skyrim for most of the festive period. This meant that when I wasn't writhing on the ground with an upset stomach praying for death I was smacking henchman or dragons in a virtual style. But now January is here and with the sweet tooth satisfied the blog posts are sure to come flying. I've also finished Batman which helps.

Over the Christmas period I did manage to pay a visit to the new Brewdog bar in Camden Town. Brewdog is a brewery based in Scotland whose mantra on their website states:

We are committed to making the highest quality beers with the finest fresh natural ingredients.
Our beers are in no way commercial or mainstream.
We do not merely aspire to the proclaimed heady heights of conformity through neutrality and blandness.
We are unique and individual.
A beacon of non-conformity in a increasingly monotone corporate desert.
We are proud to be an intrepid David in a desperate ocean of insipid Goliaths.
We are proud to be an alternative

Basically they're tossers but I do enjoy their Punk IPA so I can't really complain. The bar was in high spirits when I arrived and we managed to snag a sofa in the comfy basement. Sadly The Lovely Jemma didn't join me for this visit so no pictures of beer and funky fingernails. In fact I only got one picture of the basement area and it's not my best work.

I did warn you - this photo is rubbish.
A good selection of beer was on offer although the pricing structure was odd to say the least. Just about everything was £3.95, and it didn't matter if they were 2.8% or 8%. Shots of the 32% Tactical Nuclear Penguin and 41% Sink The Bismarck were available at around £6, and there was a interesting and large selection of bottled beers. I opted for pints of 5a.m Saint and Trashy Blonde which were both excellent and in great condition. 5a.m Saint in particular had a very refreshing and tasty fruity hoppy taste. A pint of the Christmas Porter was the highlight - an excellent porter with a very pleasent taste of spice. The drinking was interrupted by a cheeseburger - the menu is designed by a Masterchef winner. I can't remember his name but I'm sure he's very proud of himself. The burger was top notch - not only was the meat excellent but the bun and veggies were fresh and tasty. Sadly they do not come with chips - presumably they're too mainstream for the Brewdog chaps.

The best thing about the bar was the atmosphere. Camden bars can sometimes attract a lot of tossers (maybe that's why I seem to drink there a lot) but the clientèle in Brewdog was eclectic and friendly. A random stranger joined us to help fill in the Private Eye crossword and we had a brief chat with some folks about Game of Thrones. They appeared to be of Goth or Metal persuasion, I can't tell anymore as I'm now 30 years old. A Tactical Nuclear Penguin was thrust into my hand by a random chap who couldn't even begin to drink the stuff. I understood why after my first sip as it tasted almost exactly like treacle. I still managed to choke it all down though because it was free. The service behind the r was also friendly and efficient. Overall this is a great bar and I'm looking forward to returning.