Wednesday, 29 February 2012

Bricklayers Arms Yorkshire Beer Festival

I can only hope the gates to heaven look like this.
I made a welcome visit last Saturday to the wonderful Bricklayers Arms in Putney for their Yorkshire ale festival. The Bricklayers is a real gem of a pub with a warm, welcoming atmosphere as soon as you enter the front door. A roaring fireplace is to your right and a fully stocked bar is straight ahead with a fabulous selection of ales. If I wasn't such a self concious chap I'd probably dance a little jig every time I walk in. 

For their ale festivals they put out a few extra barrels in the beer "garden." Not really sure a concrete patio counts as a garden but it will do. I went through a few ales but the highlight was the "Nettlethrasher" from Elland Brewery, a refreshing and wonderfully hopped ale that was a pleasure to drink. The lowpoint was the Theakstons "Lightfoot", a light golden ale which sadly failed to taste of anything much at all. The best named ale was the "Smutty Mutt" from Marston Moor which thankfully didn't taste of a naughty dog with an eye for the ladies. Part of the motley crew who came along to the festival were the Beta Males, a comedy sketch group who would you believe it are up for an award from Chortle. I hear they are funny and I did once laugh at something they said so why not vote for them here. (Editors Note: Guys I expect a fiver for doing this for you. I'm sure the votes from my two regular readers will push you into victory!)

The Bricklayers is a great pub and I always enjoy visiting but unfortunately every time I've been there (twice) there have been morris dancers doing their pagan shenanigans outside. I have covered my deep rooted fear of morris dancers in a previous update but suffice to say they still scare the hell out of me. I made the realisation that what terrifies me is that there's absolutely nothing normal about them, no refuge from their insanity. The sinister hats, the rosette nipples, the wooden sticks perfect for bludgeoning and the never ending jingling a bells ensure they are the stuff of nightmares. Not even the sight of a little girl trying to join in the dances while holding a twig could shake off the fear. They are truly unnatural beings. I fear the day their pagan ritual of knocking wooden sticks together and singing songs about saucy ladies actually works and the evil Morris Overlord rises from the ground and smites us all with a giant wooden stick while ringing bells incessantly.

AAAAAAAAAARGH. I tried to take more photos of them but my camera burst into flames in my hands.
This is going to be my last update for a while as I'm off to sunny America for two weeks next Wednesday. But don't worry. I'll be visiting every micro brewery I can so I can bore you with the details when I return. If you know of any good drinking places in Los Angeles, Las Vegas or San Francisco why not leave a comment and let me know?

Sunday, 19 February 2012

A return to two old favourites

BrewDog Camden continues to impress.
Sadly I haven't been visiting too many new places recently. In fact I haven't really been visiting any boozers at all in the past couple of weeks. The pressures of work have meant that rather than going out for a nice pint I've been heading home to cry myself to sleep. I haven't written off pubs completely and have had the chance to visit a couple of pubs - one a old favourite and one that is rapidly becoming a new favourite of mine.

The Harp is a pereninal favourite in Covent Garden, an ale oasis in a area filled with expensive, soulless bars packed to the rafters with confused tourists and twats. The place is tiny which means it always seems full of happy punters, even when it's not actually that busy. A visit last weekend led me to have a tremendous pint of the Titanic "Nautical Mild." I love a good mild and this was one of the better examples I've had. A lovely, bitter coffee taste comes through with just the right amount of chocolate undertones. A fine effort. I also enjoyed a pint of Thornbridge "Lord Marple" a solid example of a traditional bitter. Very suppable. The problem I have with Thornbridge brews is that none of them match the mighty Kipling, which is probably the best ale I've ever sampled. Still the Lord Marple was excellent and well worth a pint or three.

The food at BrewDog. I highly recommend
the burgers.
I also paid a visit to the BrewDog Camden, which continues to impress. The wanky and pretentious scribblings are still on the walls but the friendly staff, great ambience and excellent beers make up for it. The food is still top notch and I enjoyed a great cheeseburger. This place is really settling in well and a pint of 5am Saint made for a great start to the evening. This red ale is a pleasure to drink with a pleasent bitter aftertaste. The Punk IPA was also in great form, a well hopped and fruity brew seems to taste better in draught form. The prices are expensive and penalise drinkers who don't fancy a lower strength beer as they all cost £3.95 upwards for a pint regardless of strength. This bar isn't the kind of place to have a session but it does make a great place for a few warm up drinks before moving on to the expensive shitholes that Camden has to offer.

Cameron != Churchill
One pub I've been visiting recently that I think that deserves a special mention is the Wetherspoons in Victoria Station. I usually end up here when I'm sending The Lovely Jemma back to leafy Bromley and I must admit that even though I'm dreadfully sad that TLJ has to head back, I do look forward to having a nice pint in there. This pub will never become a "favourite" as the ambience is pretty miserable and it's based in one of the more soulless London stations. However I've been impressed with the ale selection and quality over the past few weeks.  Well worth a visit if you happen to be in the station. Please rest assured I haven't sold out to Wetherspoons by the way. To prove this I'd like to say that I still think Wetherspoons founder Tim Martin is a loopy bastard although he has fabulous hair, and that Wetherspoons unique "Veto Ale" makes me feel slightly ill without me even tasting it thanks to the picture of David Cameron being compared to Winston Churchill on the clip. Terrifying.

Just look at those flowing locks. Amazing.

Wednesday, 8 February 2012

Tapping the Admiral

As I type this I am seething with rage as one of those bloody awful BT adverts has just come on TV advertising broadband and wi-fi and other internet shenanigans to the innocent British public. When will advertisers realise that ISP adverts don't need to involve kooky flatmates or brass bands. All they need to show is a chap on his computer saying "blimey that downloaded fast" before masturbating furiously to the filthiest porn while the the price per month flashes in massive letters on your television screen.

None of this has anything to do with Tapping the Admiral, a new venture from the team who run the Pineapple. I'm just easily distracted by terrible adverts. Tapping the Admiral, like the Pineapple, is in Kentish Town which is rather spoilt for real ale establishments.  I'd been reading good things about the Admiral from various beer blogs so as a responsible blogger myself I thought I'd give it a shot.
One day I'll take a decent picture on my phone. Today is not that day. Here's the interior of
Tapping the Admiral.
The walk to to the pub was a little bit hairy as I walked through the finest estates Kentish Town has to offer. As a gangly, middle class, nerdy bloke I was obviously shitting myself. I saw two young boys kicking a football against a wall and I got a terrible feeling that they would accidentally kick the ball towards me and expect me to kick it back. A horrifying premonition filled my head as I would attempt to kick the ball with my useless legs and fall over flat on my face while the ball veers off in a ridiculous angle straight into a window, while the kids point and laugh at my crumpled, crying frame on the pavement.

Luckily this didn't happen and I popped into the pub. A welcoming atmosphere awaited. This is a cosy looking pub with a large bar and pleasant decor. About eight handpumps offered a solid selection, if a little uninspired. Adnams was promiment with three ales on offer. I'm not a huge fan of Adnams so I went for a pint of Purity Mad Goose, which was in good nick and was a tasty pint. This was followed by a pint of Redemption Trinity which again was very good indeed. Some local ciders and perry were also available and a wide bottled beer selection was on offer. To be honest I couldn't see anything you couldn't get in the supermarkets, who are getting ever better at offering a interesting range of ales.

There hasn't been a picture of The Lovely Jemmas nails (and a pint) in a while so here you go.
This is the delicious Oscar Wilde I enjoyed at The Harp recently.
Despite playing it safe with the ale selection I had a very pleasent time at the Admiral. To be fair I didn't get the impression they were aiming to be a real ale mecca, I think they are just aiming to be a decent local and there it succeeds (WARNING: PUN ALERT) admirably. A grumpy Thai lady dropped a menu on our table and I thought I'd order some food in an attempt to cheer her up. The Thai starter selection plate we plumped for was pretty good. The Sunday Lunch menu also looked good and was reasonably priced, and I'm tempted to return and try one of their roasts. Overall this is a first class local and worth a visit if you're in the area.