I'd first like to confirm to my loyal reader that I am still alive. The lack of updates was due to the company I work for deciding to move building. As the IT Manager this would have been a fairly straight forward task if it didn't involve dealing with BT. This meant being stuck on the phone with them for hours being passed from confused person to person only to be told "oh we don't deal with that, please try this department." Or even worse you get caught in their automated voice recognition system, where you have to bark out LINE FAULT, NO and YES like a cross between a demented Cyberman and Father Jack. The annoying thing is that once you break into the engineers fortress of BT Openreach, a laughable name as they are anything but open or reachable, the engineers are friendly and knowledgeable. But getting through the seven layers of BT hell to reach them is a tiresome, soul destroying process that I wouldn't wish on my worst enemy. Not even Jeremy Vine. And I hate that bastard.
Still the office move is over now so I can go back to the important business of updating this blog. To get back into the feel of things I'd like to give mention to a few good pubs I did manage to visit while my soul was being slowly eroded sorting out the move. The first three pubs are all around Borough Market, a hotbed of real ale activity. First up is the Market Porter, an old favourite which is like a South London version of the Harp. This means plenty of well kept ales in a jovial atmosphere. It also means the place is tiny yet hugely popular, which means there's rarely any space inside. The outdoor area is covered by the market's roof so it's no hardship standing outside, unlike The Harp where if you're unlucky you get thrashed by the harshest elements Britain has to offer while desperately clinging on to your pint of mild.
Unfortunately the Market Porter does insist on plastic glasses if it starts getting busy outside, and ale just doesn't taste as good from a plastic receptacle. I find it patronising when a pub doesn't trust their clientèle with glass - they may as well just hand out sippy cups and be done with it. Still at least the plastic glasses don't have the number of units you're drinking printed on them unlike some pubs in the North. Of course these glasses have the opposite intended effect as most punters try to attain a high a score as possible and proudly total up the number of units on the empty glasses at the end of the night. Well done Blackpool council!
Back to Borough Market, The Rake is another favourite in the area. Again it's a tiny place but the ale is always in good form. Well it usually is. When I visited there were three ales on from a local brewery and unfortunately they weren't great. I asked for a sample of all three - the first tasted like the tropical fruit juice you can buy in Sainsburys which is not a good thing, the second of yoghurt and the third like a very substandard version of Thornbridge Kipling. I then ended up in a awkward situation as the brewer himself was in the pub and asked me what I thought of the pints.
Luckily he hadn't seen me taste the ales and watch my face contort into what a baby might look like when licking a lemon for the first time, so I was able to bullshit my way through an opinion without offending his feelings in true English fashion. I eventually plumped for a pint of the Kipling clone which admittedly did taste better the more I drank.
The final pub worth a mention in Borough Market, The Brew Wharf is round the back of Vinopolis and is a microbrew pub and restaurant. It has a modern, industrial design which I didn't find particularly welcoming or pleasant. It reminded me of a wine bar that may have been cool in the early 2000's but now felt past it. The ale, however, was excellent. I went for a pint of their Nut Brown Ale (made with real nuts) which was absolutely spot on. A tremendous bitter taste and the nuttiness was perfect. Sadly the atmosphere won't have me rushing back but I'd pop in again if I was in the area.
Finally we leave a working market for a former one, Covent Garden, for a quick mention of the Cross Keys. I made my first visit to this little gem recently and thoroughly enjoyed my visit. Just round the corner of the main Covent Garden drag the interior of this boozer is bathed in a red light which gives the place a slightly seedy feel. Which I liked. The Lovely Jemma commented that she liked all the tat hanging from the ceiling. The beer selection was good with four Brodies ales on, and two guests, in this case Darkstar Hophead and Redemption Trinity. I went for the Brodies Pale Ale which was a nice pint with plenty of fruity hoppy goodness. The atmosphere was boisterous but pleasant. Definitely worth a visit if you find yourself stuck in the Covent Garden area.
That was fun. It's been strange not expressing my pointless opinion on London's pub on the internet and I hope to start doing it on a more regular basis now. I'll also try and get some pictures. Until next time!