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.