Tuesday, 29 December 2015

The Bavarian Beerhouse

The Bavarian Beerhouse (Tower Hill) - Tuesday 22nd December 2015

9 Crutched Friars, London EC3N 2AU

On the approach to Christmas, SH and I decided to get a few more of our fellow rugby supporters out. As it was at short notice and tables were at a premium, we only managed to round up MB and RT in time for this particular visit. RT has not been well recently, so this was a nice opportunity to see him and catch up after a 2 year break. He was on top form and we all had a great evening with plenty of witty banter passing across the table.

We managed to down three beers during our allotted 5:30-9:30pm shift and also partook of some fine Bavarian fare; the other three had variations on a sausage theme but I went for the Bavarian meatloaf topped with a fried egg, all on a bed of sauteed potatoes - yum!

This bar seems to be a lot quieter than the one in Old Street, but was still quite busy none-the-less. I think we will all be up for a return visit in the New Year to watch a bit of Bundesliga (although football is not really my thing) and a few more beers. My eldest son has been to this bar with me previously on a Bayern Munich match day and is also up for a return visit, so I may go for a daytime visit again so he can come along too.

Beers drunk on this visit :

1) Krombacher Dunkel (4.3%) - a rich, malty, complex dark beer
2) Erdinger Hefe Dunkel Weissbier (5.3%) - a full-bodied, rich, smooth dark beer
3) Erdinger Hefe Weissbier (5.3%) - a premium wheat beer
Number of visits : 1st / 1 previous at this actual bar

The Ship & Shovell

As it was RT's first meet-up with us in a while and he is not too familiar with the area I said that I would meet up with him before we went to the Bavarian Beerhouse. I thought that I would like that return visit to the Ship & Shovell promised to myself a couple of weeks back.

1-3 Craven Passage, London WC2N 5PH

We only had the one beer here before we moved on, but it was a lovely pint in a very busy setting. We had to prop up the bar between the central and right hand pillars of the bar, but managed to grab a seat to finish our pints after only a few minutes.

After we had finished at the Bavarian Beerhouse we all went our separate ways, but as MB lives only one stop down the train line from me, and it was still early, we decided to grab a couple more pints back here at the Ship.  MB had not been in here before, so it was a nice surprise for him. A couple of pints here went down very well after all the German fare.

Beers drunk on this visit :

1) Ruby Rustler (4.1%) - Badger Brewery (Hall & Woodhouse), Dorset - a rich, fruity session beer
2) First Call (4.0%) - Badger Brewery - a fresh, citrus and spicy ale

Number of visits : 2nd

Saturday, 26 December 2015

The Penny Farthing

The Penny Farthing - Saturday 19th December 2015

3 Waterside, Dartford DA1 4JJ

The Christmas season is upon us, so I will hopefully be popping out a few more times over the next couple of weeks. First up is another micropub in my immediate vicinity - The Penny Farthing. I have only visited this once before and enjoyed it in there very much. So, when my running mates asked where we should go for a beer I suggested the Penny Farthing as NW has been there before and CM likes micropubs. As it was ourturn to head down NW's way it turned out to be a good choice with everyone.

I arrived nice and early to grab a table but the pub was full when I got there. I ordered a pint and stepped outside to sit at one of the tables overlooking the green and the river Cray. A couple of small parties of lads turned up and I had a chat with them about beer and pubs until NW arrived. As luck would have it, as soon as he ordered a beer a table of revellers finished up their pints and left. We quickly grabbed their table and saw the night out over a few beers when the rest arrived.

Whilst supping our ales and having a great catch-up we were visited by an itinerant tradesman who sold me a bag of licorice allsorts which I shared. The next round saw us sharing some bags of nuts and crisps and as the evening panned out, the landlady gave us some salted nibbles with our drinks.

This pub is great for atmosphere, choice of beers on offer and great customer service.

Beers drunk on this visit :

1) Shuffled Deck (3.8%) - Black Jack Micro-brewery, Manchester - a hoppy golden ale
2) Sergeant Pepper (4.2%) - Mighty Oak,
3) Seasider (4.3%) - Gadds' Ramsgate Brewery, Broadstairs, Kent - an amber ale
4) Glacier Ice (4.9%) - Cottage Brewing, Lovington, Somerset - a strong IPA

I could not find a graphic for the Glacier Ice - even on the brewery site.

Visits: 1st / 1 previous

The Crayford Arms

37 Crayford High St, Dartford DA1 4HH

We left the Penny Farthing at closing time but still wanted another beer. We wandered up the hill to the Crayford Arms, a pub I have not been in for maybe 25 years. There is a small choice of real ale in here, but enough to have an evening's session on a return visit. We grabbed a final pint in here (the Spitfire was off, so I had to settle for a not bad pint of Master Brew)and then wended our merry ways.

Beers drunk on this visit :

1) Master Brew (3.7%) - Shepherd Neame, Faversham, Kent - A bitter, hoppy amber ale

Visits : 1st / a few previous

Monday, 14 December 2015

The White Horse

The White Horse - Thursday 10th December 2015

20-22 Peckham Rye, London SE15 4JR

It was raining, it was pouring and this old man really should have been snoring, but a meet up with RM one of my RPG buddies was something I had been looking forward to for quite a few weeks.

Ordinarily we just met up every Wednesday at the gaming club, but as games of interest have been a bit on the rare side recently we decided to go out and just grab a beer and have a natter. We had a great chat about gaming and a great variety of matters life and family.

Unfortunately one of the beers (Dark Star - a long time favoured beer) was off (the barrel was empty just as I ordered my first pint of it), so I was limited to just two ales to choose from. RM is a cider drinker and he was catered for with a couple of choices, but he stuck with Aspalls on tap.

The pub is much bigger than one would gather from the external view. It consists of a main public bar and a huge dining area out back. We sat in the public bar, which had a pool table partitioned off to one side. It was quite lively in there considering it was mid-week ish - evey table and stool at the bar was full and there were several gentlemen stood at the bar propping it up with ales in hand. The bar staff were very friendly and helpful, bringing one of my pints over to the table for me after ot was ordered.

Peckham Rye is not a place I have ever really visited before. I have passed through on the train on the way to work for several years, but I am glad RM decided on this little (big?) gem of a pub.

Beers drunk on this visit :

1) Best Bitter (3.5%) - Ringwood Brewery, Ringwood, Hampshire - a tangy, hoppy session bitter
2) Wandle (3.8%) - Sambrook Brewery, Battersea, London - a great session amber ale

Visits: 1st

The Ship and Shovell

The Ship and Shovell - Wednesday 2nd December 2015

1-3 Craven Passage, London WC2N 5PH

GW put out a call-to-arms a week or so ago for some trusty souls to embark upon a drinking session at a pub close to where we all work. The call was answered by myself and GL and GF - all of whom worked at my previous place of work - it was a bit of a work reunion. GW had decided on a pub he had only visited the once previously and fell in love with as it is the only pub we are aware of that has a bar on two sides of the same street and the only one in London that sells Badger beers (Hall & Woodhouse brewery). I cannot believe that in all the years I have worked in London, the amount of times (thousands) I have passed through Charing Cross station and walked down Villiers Street, and been to the shops, bars and clubs in the arcade, I never made it to the end of the arcade and up the steps to this little gem of a pub(s).

It was a busy night in the two bars but we were lucky to have a table due to GW and GF getting there nice and early. As we had already eaten, we missed out on the fine looking fare on offer, so concentrated instead on a few pints of great ale. Seeing as it was a Badger house, we quickly settled into a steady pace on one of my all time favourite beers - Tanglefoot.

This is definitely a pub I will visit again - and soon!

Beers drunk on this visit :

1) First Call (4.0%) - Badger Brewery, Hall & Woodhouse, Dorset - clean, fresh, single hop
2) Tanglefoot (4.9%) - Badger Brewery, Hall & Woodhouse, Dorset - a floral, fruity golden ale

Visits : 1st

After a goodly few pints at The Ship & Shovell we decided to move on and save a few Badger ales for another visit. We moved up the road a little to The Coal Hole.

The Coal Hole
91-92 Strand, London WC2R 0DW
This pub has become one of my regular haunts now - it always offers several different ales and a lively atmosphere. This evening was no different and we had to prop up a bar close to the rear of the pub by the fruit machines. We all decided to stick to the same beer after the first pint - Three Wise Hops. I gave everyone a quick taste of this very fine ruby red ale and they were all hooked. This beer is brewed under licence from the Nicholson's pub chain to the Truman's brewery.

Several pints of this later and we had to wend our merry ways home. All of us via the kebab shop nearest to our own homes - great minds thing alike.

Beers drunk on this visit :

1) Three Wise Hops (4.3%) - Truman's Brewery, Hackney Wick - a spicy, citrusy ruby red ale

Vists : Several

Sunday, 29 November 2015

The Bavarian Beerhouse

The Bavarian Beerhouse (Old Street) - Saturday 28th November 2015

There are at least three of these authentic-ish Bavarian beerhouses that I know of; two in London and one in Bristol. They are part of a franchise and judging by previous visits to each of the bars they are very popular. On this occasion, I met up with one of my old drinking/rugby buddies SH for an evening of Bavarian fun and beer. We have both been to this particular beerhouse on three occasions and I have also visited the sister bar in Tower Hill.

190 City Rd, London EC1V 2QH
The beerhouse is in a cellar and is actually a lot larger than it appears it would be from the outside. The tables are a lot smaller than I am used to at Oktoberfest but I can understand the need for smaller tables to fit in more paying customers at the London bars. The main bar is impressive as it runs the length of the primary hall and has several taps for the fairly large variety of German beers on offer.

SH and I were seated at a small round table to the right of the pillar in the photo above.

As we were still coming down from our visit to the great Oktoberfest a month or so back, so we decided to pump ourselves up on Bavarian goodness again on our latest meet-up.

The beers come in about four different sizes (that I could see around me on the nearest tables); the standard 1 litre stein (or maas), the half-litre tall glass, a huge 3 or 4 litre glass and a boot shaped glass. I started on a half-litre glass of Erdinger weissbier an dwhen SH arrived we then procveeded to get through 2 maas each. However, knowing that we would be having a bit of a session, we made sure we ate as we drank. We both started with a pretzel, followed by a three-sausage on sauerkraut starter before finalling hitting a main course of jaeger schnitzel with fries.

The evening passed very quickly due to the great atmosphere and friendliness of the staff (thanks Eva). Music on this occasion was provided by the sound system - maybe the oompah band arrived after we left? I did manage to catch an oompah band on my previous visit.

Beers drunk on this visit :

1) Weissbier (5.3%), Erdinger Weissbrau, Bavaria - a flavoursome, refreshing wheat beer
Visits: 1st / a few previous

The Horse and Groom

The Horse and Groom - Friday 27th November 2015

136 Main Rd, Sidcup DA14 6NZ
Feeding a large family on a limited budget for a night out can sometimes be quite difficult. The Harvester range of pub restaurants fit this bill quite nicely. The range of food on offer is quite extensive and we have yet to have a bad meal at one of these restaurants. The nature of my work means I do not always have a regular income. However, when I do have work I always treat the family to a meal out on payday. The Harvester, Toby Carvery and Wetherspoons brands have a range of pub restaurants in many towns close to where I live, so are a first port of call when we go out. As they are all pub restaurants, they also sell real ale in a variety of brands and quantities.

On this visit, to go with my rather delicious Cornish Smoked Ribs, I had a pint of Old Speckled Hen. Unfortunately, this tasted a little off the norm (end of the barrel most likely), so I looked for an alternative for my second drink. Unfortunately, again, at the bar there was nothing else on tap (except John Smith's Smooth (please don't even go there) and Guinness), so I was at a loss of what to order until I saw the drinks menu - there were several decent bottled beers.

Beers drunk on this visit :

1) Old Speckled Hen (4.5%), Morland Brewery, Abingdon - a malty, amber beer
2) Explorer (4.3%), Adnams, Southwold - a light, refreshing blonde beer

Visits: 1st / a few previous

Monday, 16 November 2015

Wetherspoon's International Beer Festival : Oct 17 to Nov 2 2015)

The Furze Wren - Saturday 31st October 2015

Broadway Sq, 6 Market Place, Bexleyheath, Kent, DA6 7DY
I usually attend at least one of Wetherspoon's International Beer Festivals at some point every year. I usually manage to get through around a dozen or so brews from the UK and around the world over a few visits to a number of their pubs. This year though, I have not managed to get to the pub chain more than just this once.

I like these beer festivals due to the great variety of ales on offer, and the great price they usually go for - £2.15 per pint on this visit. I usually meet up with my long-term friend and drinking buddy MB, and this time was no different.
Today was Halloween, and the Staff of the Furze Wren put in quite a bit of work to give the pub a festival feel; a few spooky decorations and the bar staff all got into the spirit (pun intended) of the event; one barmaid in particular sported a zombie look that would give the professional make-up artists in Hollywood a run for their money - she really did look scary, well done her for making a great effort.
MB was working late so we didn't meet until around 8:30pm but as the bar stays open until midnight, we still had plenty of time to have a leisurely drink and put the world to rights with our meandering conversations. We managed to sample four beers on this visit, as well as grab a bite to eat. Wetherspoon's pubs offer a reasonable fare with a great variety of choice at a reasonable price. They won't win any Michelin Stars for their fare, but it is good value and filling; MB opted for their chili dog and I went for a plain burger.

Beers drunk on this visit:

1) Festival Ale (4.5%) - Strathaven Brewery, Lanarkshire - a strong, flavoursome amber ale
2) Strange Brew (4.1%) - Twickenham Brewery, Twickenham - a dark golden, very hoppy ale
3) Owl & the Pussy Cat (4.5%) - Oakham Ales, Peterborough - a blonde looking flavoursome ale
4) Audit (6.2%) - Westerham Brewery, Westerham - a very strong bitter ale

Visits : 1st / dozens previous

Wednesday, 11 November 2015

Two Pubs in the City

JG's Leaving Drink - Friday 30th October 2015

My manager JG has moved onto pastures new, so we went out for a beer with him to celebrate his time with us. He had a great send off at The White Swan (and a variety of other pubs near the office throughout the day), which is where I caught up with him.

The White Swan
108 Fetter Lane, London EC4A 1ES

I have never been in this pub before, but passed it on many occasions whilst working in the area. It has always appeared to be a very busy pub, and tonight was no exception. I managed to down three pints in here before I had to head off home. First up was a pint of IPA OK. I think it may have been slightly off as it tasted a little strange and I had a gippy tummy the next day. The Doom Bar (the only other ale on tap) was extremely nice though. The last time I had Doom Bar, at my local Wetherspoons, I really did not enjoy it - it didn't taste like previous pints nor like this one. I am back to putting it on my good beer list again.

Beers drunk on this visit :

1) IPA OK (5%) - Long Arm Brewing Co., Ealing, London - need to try again as it may have been off
2-3) Doom Bar (4%) - Sharp's Brewery, Rock, Cornwall - a light coloured, smooth, light bitter

Visits : 1st

The Wellington
351 Strand, London WC2R 0HS

This is a pub I have not been in for ages. This was another pub, along with the Lyceum Tavern, I used to go to with my friend Graeme after work on a Friday evening many moons ago.

I popped in here as I left the White Swan as the others went off for a meal. I had a short while to kill before my train was due, so I grabbed a swift pint in here. It was very busy, but most drinkers made their way outside to the tables situated there. I still did not get a seat inside but I had a lovely pint to round off the evening along with a packet of peanuts. There was a good choice of ales on here (maybe five or six on tap), so I will book in  areturn visit very soon.

Beers drunk on this visit :

1) Revival (3.8%) - Moor Beer Co., Bristol - a light coloured, hoppy pale ale
Visits : 1st / a dozen or so

The Long Pond

The Long Pond - Saturday 24th October 2015

110 Westmount Road, Eltham, London, SE9 1UT
This deceptively large micro-pub is situated in a fairly easy position to get to. On a cold evening, pouring with rain I managed to get to the pub from Eltham railway station after a five to ten minute walk. MB my long-term drinking buddy was delivered from door-to-door by the B16 bus that also runs right outside my house. We both returned home by bus as the stop to go the other way is situated directly opposite - a result when it is pouring with rain.

This is a standard fare micropub but it somehow seems to do it better than the others locally to where I live. Although they have the same policies (no lager, no mobile phones, no music) it has much more of an atmpsphere that the others I have been to (other than my still favourite One Inn the Wood). From a purely observational point-of-view I have noticed that the micropubs that have a better atmosphere seem to have more staff. This may be due to the fact that they are naturally busier or better laid out to encourage conversation, but the greater number of staff seems to lead itself to a better atmosphere.

Anyway, this evening I arrived a bit early and had a good chat with the owner and his wife (?) about the pub and how it is doing; all seems very positive. I then got involved in a couple more conversations with regulars as they made their way to the bar which I was propping up waiting for MB.

When MB arrived, we adjourned to a table in a small side room that gives this pub its larger footprint. We managed to down four pints and partook of one of the three very tasty pork pies on offer (plain pork, pork with quail's egg and pork with cheese). We plumped for the plain pork pie due to MB's dislike of egg. They also offer the usual nuts and crisp style bar snacks for sharing.

The beer board was very busy and quite lengthy, and inlcluded a cider. They also offer a variety of wine for those that do not like beer or prefer smething different on occasion. We started at the top, but whne we got onto our final pint, the one we ordered was off, so we had its replacement. Unfortunately I cannot remember a thing about it as I didn't order the beer and it was not written up on the blackboard.

Beers drunk on this visit:

1) Pond Life (3.6%) - House Beer, Tonbridge - a good seesion bitter
2) Yellow Zinger (3.7%) - Hop Fuzz Brewery, Hythe, Kent - a session pale ale
3) Farmhouse Pale (4.2%) - Ripple Steam, Sutton-by-Dover, Kent - a light, nutty, pale ale
4) Unknown

Visits : 1st

A Brief Hiatus

I have had a very busy last couple of months, so I have not been able to update the blog as often as I would have liked to. I have been out several times, but I have only got round to writing up three of the more memorable (for beers that is) trips. These write-ups will be published on the blog over the next few days and bring you up to date with my beer and pub odyssey.

I am hoping the run up to Christmas should provide me with plenty more material for the blog, as well as other reviews if and when the fancy takes me.

One thing I have not been logging is the beer I drink at home. I occasionally buy a few bottled beers from the local supermarket when I pick up the weekly grocery shopping to keep my taste buds in tip-top shape. I have had a number of beers at home recently, especially over Halloween, but as I have not made a note of them, I cannot really log them. I may do so in the future to keep the blog ticking over if I get a lull between visits to pubs and beer festivals.

I also visited some friends in Antwerp recently. Although I visited a couple of restaurants and the local gaming club, I forgot to make a note of the beers drunk. I can only remember the main stream beers, all poured from bottles; Jupiler, Leffe Blonde, Leffe Brun and a few others whose names I cannot remember. One thing I do recall though, is that they were all well above 5% abv, most being above 6.5%. All were drunk in small quantities and at a slow pace with food.

Friday, 25 September 2015

Oktoberfest 2015, Munich

Oktoberfest 2015, Munich - Friday 18th to Monday 21st September 2015

Where to start on this one. This is the biggie. Six million people cannot be wrong.

Oktoberfest runs for two weeks from the end of September and culminates on the first weekend of October. It has been running for over 200 years and was initially held to commemorate the marriage of Crown Prince Ludwig and Princess Therese of Saxe-Hildburghausen. It has now turned into the largest folk festival in the world.

I, and my drinking buddy SH, have become something of a pair of veterans of this celebration. Although we have never got a table within the major beer tents, we have drunk in a couple fo them and also in the outdoor beer gardens that surround them. We are many-time visitors to the pair of stand up beer bars and have been in a couple of the smaller tents to eat and drink.

We no longer see the beer festival as the be all and end all of our Munich visits as we now try to hit the other bars and restuarants in the city in order to soak up the great Bavarian atmosphere generated by this weekend of festivities.

This weekend ended up being a Paulaner weekend for us. We did have one or two half-litres from other brauhauses (Lowenbrau and a few others whose names escape me at the moment) but mostly we drank Paulaner.
Friday: We arrived at the airport on separate planes, SH caught an earlier one than mine, and met at the bar directly outside Arrivals. We had a bottle and a half of Paulaner to whet our whistles and then booked into our now usual hotel - The Dolomit.

We quickly got booked in, changed and headed straight into town to find a bar that was showing England's opening Rugby World Cup game. The bar we ended up in was Ned Kelly's.

Frauenplatz 11, 80331 München, Germany
One side is an Irish bar and the other, connected at basement level, is an Australian bar. We had a half-litre before heading into the other bar to watch the rugby.

We managed to join a bunch of English lads who were watching the rugby at the tables on the right in the picture above (the tables had been turned lengthwise along the room when we got there). That is the big screen at the end of the bar. Most bars in Munich tend to have table service, and our waitress, Rebecca (her first time working in Munich) was fabulous. She brought us two large pitchers of beer and a fantastic burger throughout the match, as well as introducing us to the English lads watching the rugby and got us a space on their table.

After the rugby we headed back to our home turf where we grabbed a 0.5m pizza between us (and another beer) at the local pizzeria, Pipasa. We have spent a lot of time in this great little pizza bar over the years; to watch the parades, have an after beer snack or just relax and watch Bundesliga on one of their many TVs.
Schwanthalerstraße 24, 80336 München, Germany
Saturday: We got up early and grabbed breakfast in a great little cafe that overlooks the central Munich food market. We then returned to watch the brewery street parade from our hotel room which overlooks part of the main route it takes to Oktoberfest. After that we headed down to the Oktoberfest for a few beers and a go on a rollercoaster ride. We returned to our hotel after a few hours for a bit of a rest before heading out again into the rain for a few beers at one of the stand-up bars selling Paulaner Weissbeer. We met a great chap called David from Alaska and we chatted until closing time before heading to a local kebab shop for a beef doner in a wrap.

Sunday: Following a terrible night's sleep (it was very noisy with revellers all night) SH and I headed down to Pipasa to meet up with a few friends who we had met on our previous visit a couple of years ago; Peter (a retired US fireman), his girlfriend Mary-Beth and Matheus, a long time friend of Peter's. We watched the business and local village parade (a lot more colourful than the brewery parade) and then got a mini-tour of Munich on our way to the English Garden where we had a great time over a halbe-hendl and a maas of beer.

From here we then returned to central Munich via a small bridge where surfers ride the waves created by a tight narrowing of the river - a great spectacle. Matheus showed us a few more sights of the city, including an art exhibition detailing the various Oktoberfest brauhaus tents, before taking us down a small side-alley into a most wonderful sausage restaurant. It was full of locals, not a tourist in sight, and served the most fantastic sausages.

After saying our goodbyes, SH and I headed back to our hotel to freshen up and then returned to the Oktoberfest for a couple more beers and some souvenirs for the family.

Beers drunk on this visit : Mostly a variety of Paulaner, but also some Lowenbrau and a few others

Visits : This was our 7th trip to the Munich Oktoberfest.

The Coal Hole

The Coal Hole - Thursday 10th September

91-92 Strand, London WC2R 0DW
This is my second visit in just a few weeks to this pub. I met up, again, with my rugby chum SH for a few pints to discuss our upcoming trip to the Oktoberfest in Munich on the 18th. Over a few pints we discussed our forthcoming trip and various sporting items like England's chances in the impending Rugby World Cup.

The picture above is of the interior of the pub from the Wolf Club area - a separated off section of the pub where a bit more privacy is afforded. There is extra space above the Wolf Club with more tables at which most patrons tend to eat. The bar is a long, sweeping affair that runs pretty much the full length of the pub. As a result, seating is relegated to the edge of the pub and around the back where things open up for the Wolf Club.

As this was my second visit, I thought I would add a little more detail about the pub itself. The below is taken from the pub's own website...

Rumour has it, The Coal Hole occupies what was once the coal cellar for the Savoy Hotel! In the Victorian era, the pub was a 'song and supper' club where regulars were encouraged to sing comical songs and sentimental ballads. Gilbert and Sullivan regularly performed here in Edwardian times, the Shakespearean actor Edmund Keane started the Wolf Club here for oppressed husbands forbidden to sing in the bath!

Beers drunk on this visit:

1) Yardbird Pael Ale (4.0%) - Greene King, Bury St Edmunds - a bright, clear golden ale
2) Velo (4.2%) - Black Sheep Brewery, Masham, North Yorkshire - a hoppy, citrus and coriander pale ale
3) Lion (4.0%) - Hook Norton Brewery, Oxfordshire - a fruity, complex bronze ale

Visits : 2nd / a few