The Market Tavern was a bit of a jolt back to reality, an old school boozer nestled near, funnily enough, a bustling market. Comfortable booths line one side of the pub and a small serving area dispenses a tantalising selection of hand pumped ales and a good selection of bottled beer, with boozed up regulars propped up against the bar chatting about everything and nothing. I sampled a Bohemian, which appears to be Greene Kings attempt at a "craft" ale. It wasn't a bad effort, with a good hoppy flavour, but it wasn't anything spectacular. To be honest I still don't really know the difference between a craft ale and a real ale. Surely they're both "crafted" unless real ale is actually picked fully formed from trees or dug up from the ground? It seems the main thing that differentiates craft from real ale is about £2-£3 for the price of a pint and about 3-5% more ABV, plus about ten times more hops.
The last pub on my jaunt around Preston was the Old Vic. Handily situated across the road from Preston railway station, this pub looks a bit nondescript and run down from the outside, but venture inside and it's also a bit nondescript and run down . This is a big pub with a large central bar, and what appeared to be a faux wooden beams on the ceiling. It was quiet but comfortable enough when we visited. The first beer sampled was Doff Crocker from Three B's, which was a bit of a disappointment. It had a slightly watery flavour although a decent dry finish salvaged things a little bit. The Priory Gold from Burscough was better - a pleasant and refreshing hoppy ale with good floral flavours.
The Priory Gold was to be my last tipple at Preston before sauntering across the road and heading back to London Euston on a Virgin Pendolino. I've been travelling on these trains for a good few years now and they've finally fully fixed the issue with stinky carriages. This was due to a fault with the toilets which meant the ventilation system basically pumped everybody's bodily emissions back into the carriage. Not pleasant, especially when riding with a coach load of boozed up, kebab filled passengers, with the tilting of the carriages adding to the nausea factor.
Next up is a trip around the pleasant pubs of Bath. Hope you can join me. Cheers!