Monday, 28 March 2016

Rock Night at the Kings Arms

The Kings Arms - Thursday 24th March 2016

156 Broadway, Bexleyheath, Kent DA6 7DW
This was a rather impromptu visit. MB and I had met at the Furze Wren for a repeat of the previous Thursday evening's entertainment of supping a mixed variety of ales on offer at the Wetherspoons real ale festival and grabbing a curry. Unfortunately, as we had got there a lot later than last week, the ten minute wait at the bar, and the fact that there were no tables available to sit at for our repast, we decided to get out whilst the going was good (I think the bar was this busy because it was the start of the four day Easter weekend with payday occurring at the same time) and went to find another pub.

We thought it might have turned into a mini-pubcrawl, but when we entered the Kings Arms the blast of heavy rock music brought a huge smile to my face. I de-aged by twenty years and headed to the bar.

Unfortunately the Caledonian Edinburgh Rock was off (end of the barrel) and they had no other ales on. We decided to settle on Guinness - a drink neither of us has had for quite a while. The music and Guinness made sure my butt stayed firmly on my bar stool for the rest of the night.

I found out after chatting to both the barstaff that Thursday night is a regular rock night. There was a huge range of ages present; many people with their leathers and band t-shirts, alongside many who did not look like they were rock fans at all. It was a great atmosphere and it went on until midnight - Yay! I shall certainly be visiting again on a Thursday evening, maybe after a trip to another pub for food and ale first. If the Caledonian is back on then that would make for an even better evening, but the Guinness wasn't as bad as I thought it would be.

Beers drunk on this visit:
1) Guinness Extra Cold (4.2%) - Guiness Brewery, Dublin, Ireland - a dry Irish stout

Number of visits : 2nd / dozens

Friday, 18 March 2016

Wetherspoon's International Beer Festival : Mar 11 to Mar 27

The Furze Wren - Thursday 17th March 2016

Broadway Sq, 6 Market Place, Bexleyheath, Kent, DA6 7DY

I try to attend this beer festival at least once during the two occasions it occurs every year. This time round I literally only spotted it was on by noticing a sandwich board advertising it as I passed The Wrong Un (the Wetherspoons closest to my home) last week. However, as previously mentioned I prefer the ambience in the Furze Wren, so I called up my regular drinking buddy MB to see if he was available to join me for a sampling session. He said he could make this Thursday so all was set for a great evening of beer, curry and chat.

The good thing about Wetherspoons pubs is that they offer themed meal deals on certain days of the week. Thursday is our favourite day due to the nice curries on offer. MB and I used to frequent this pub most Thursdays around this time last year whilst I was between work contracts to sample the curries and beer on offer. This time round I went for my favourite Flaming Dragon whilst MB went for the Madras. For £7.49, a curry and a decent ale spells reasonably good value to me and always goes down well.

Tonight was also a special night for Irish communities around the world in the form of St Patrick's Day, and the Furze saw a couple of groups of youngsters celebrating this special occasion. It certainly added to the atmosphere in the pub with Tam O'Shanters and tricolors proudly displayed. There would most certainly have been some hang-overs the following morning.

Beers drunk on this visit:
1) Vienna Red (4.1%) - Caledonian Brewery, Edinburgh, Scotland - a sweet tasting amber session ale
2) British Bulldog (4.1%) - Westerham Brewery, Westerham, Kent - a rich full bodied bitter
3) Amsterdam Blonde (5.5%) - Banks's Brewery, Wolverhampton under licence from Brouwerij 'T Ij, Amsterdam, Netherlands - a fresh, fruity, strong blonde ale
4) JDW Irish Red (4.5%) - Everards Brewery, Leicester under licence from Carlow Brewing, County Carlow, Ireland - a deep red ale that has an unusual flavour (even the land lady mentioned it may not be for all palates)

Visits : dozens

Monday, 14 March 2016

The Coal Hole

The Coal Hole - 4th March 2016

91-92 Strand, London WC2R 0DW

This evening SH, MB and I decided to meet up for a quick drink. Unfortunately it was one of those days that all of us were feeling a bit under the weather and the enjoyment of the pub and the beers was a little tainted. I was suffering with a sore-throat (that has been affecting me now for several days), SH had problems with sciatica and MB had a bout of his ever-recurring IBS. I don't know what this say about us chaps in our late 40s-early 50s, but it does paint a picure of a sickly lot.

Anyway, this pub is fast becoming our go-to pub if we meet in central London. It always has a great selection of ales that regularly changes and the bar staff generally seem to know their stuff.

It was very busy when we arrived at around 5pm and remained so until we left around 9:30pm. Luckily, MB was off work this day and had paid a visit to the Cosmonaut exhibition at the Science Museum before arriving at the pub nice and early, so we were able to sit at a table. Most visits here have had me being stood up (and oncesat at a proper table), but this time we were sat at one of the tall tables which have tilted seats - not comfortable and our belongings kept falling on the floor. Next time, I think I will either sit at a proper sized table or stand up for the duration.

Beers drunk on this visit: 

Top of the Hops (4.3%) x2 - Great Yorkshire Brewery -a hoppy, golden ale
Nicholson's Pale Ale (4.0%) - St Austell Brewery, St Austell, Cornwall -a session pale ale
Stateside Rye (4.5%) - Everards Brewery, Narborough, Leicestershire -a hoppy, malty strong golden ale

Number of visits: several

Monday, 7 March 2016

Pub Crawl in Bexleyheath

Pub Crawl in Bexleyheath - Saturday 27th February 2016

It was my brother-in-law's birthday so we reunited the Brighton crowd for a proper knees-up in our local town of Bexleyheath, Kent.

The Furze Wren
Broadway, Bexleyheath, Kent DA6 7DY
This was going to be a mammoth session that started in the early afternoon and would end with last man standing at a night club somehwere local. Now, I am no longer a night club person, so I knew I would be baling out at the last pub. The first pub most of us met in was the Furze. My brother-in-law plus a few other had started a little earlier in the Jolly Millers just a few hundred yards up the road.

I have been in here on many occasions and there is always a good selection of ales on. However, this time, the first beer I tried took a while to settle and tasted very odd. The landlord said it had been on only for that day, so was not either the first pint out or the end of a barrel. He changed it for something else but muttered that there was nothing wrong with it - to my palate it was definitely not tasting how it should. Anyway, I ordered up a replacement Bomabardier (an old faithful) which was bang on and had another whilst chatting, watching the rugby and awaiting the others as they slowly arrived.

Visits: Dozens

The King's Arms
156 Broadway, Bexleyheath, Kent DA6 7DW
Once everyone who was due to arrive had got to the Furze, we supped up and moved onto the next pub. For some reason I always get the name of this pub wrong. Bexleyheath used to have both a Kings Arms and a Kings Head. Due to the confusion I now only refer to this pub as the Kings Anatomy, so that way I am constantly right and wrong and know exactly which pub I mean.

Anyway, for a large bunch of lads to arrive all of a sudden, the bar staff were very friendly and served our drinks quickly. The ladies behind the bar joined in with our banter and played along with some of the little pranks we played on each other.

I used to come in here often with MB as we made our way around Bexleyheath's pubs trying to find a proper local. We managed several visits in a row (like with many other pubs) before we settled on The Robin Hood and Little John.

Anyway, the pint in here was served well but the rest of the lads were in a bit of a hurry to move along to the next venue, so I had to rush my pint a bit more than I would have liked to.

Visits: 1st / dozens previous

The Rose
179 Broadway, Bexleyheath, Kent DA6 7ES
The next port of call was The Rose. I had got chatting with a fella (Mark) in the Kings Arms who was a friend of a friend, who said he was a regular in The Rose. This claim was backed up by him getting us a nice discount on the round we ordered, result!

Again, the beers in here are well served and there is a nice choice for an evening's entertainment. Unfortunately, the younger lads were getting restless at the end of their pint so we headed on out to either get to the next pub or to grab a bite to eat.

I was beginning to feel peckish, so I joined half-a-dozen of the others in the local Wimpy. Now, I have not been in here for many years and was surprised at the choice of burgers etc. on offer - all served on a plate with a knife and fork by local girls.

Visits: several

The Wrong Un
234-236 Broadway, Bexleyheath, Kent DA6 8AS
The next port of call was The Wrong Un. Those that had gone on before had managed to grab us a large booth in which to sit and chat (and watch a bit more of the rugby if I am honest). They were still eating their lunch when we arrived so more drinks were ordered.

We stayed in here for quite a while as the atmosphere was good, but things began to sour a little as the Jagerbombs took their toll on one or two of the younger lads. We drank up quickly, made our apologies and moved on.

Visits: dozens

The Golden Lion
258 Broadway, Bexleyheath, Kent DA6 8BE

Our final port of call was The Golden Lion. The last time I drank in here was with my brother-in-law (whose birthday it was we were celebrating today) many moons ago. We got rather tipsy on Grolsch that time, but I do not recall seeing it on tap this time. I ordered an ale (but forgot to make a note of which one it was) and settled down at a table for the long haul.

I must admit I felt a little too old to be in here on a Saturday evening as the clientele was most definitely at the younger end of the spectrum. It was great to people watch, chat to the other oldies and generally look out for the welfare of the youngsters.

About an hour or so after we arrived, half the party disapeared to get changed for the evening's night club event. A few more late arrivals (one chap all the way from Bristol!) turned up at this point. As the group was beginning to fracture a little and getting rounds in was proving bothersome due to the noise etc. I did my usual rugby session trick of going onto the bottled lager with everyone else to make things easier. I managed a couple of American Budweisers before being handed a Budvar that rounded off the night for me.

It was at this point that I took stock of my surroundings in readiness for heading home and realised I was actually last man standing! They had all gone off to meet up for the night club. Oh well, I finished my beer, said godbye to a couple of young ladies I was chatting to to help them rid themselves of a clingy and irksome young admirer and wended my way home via the kebab shop.

Beers drunk on this pub crawl : 

Furze : Bomabardier (4.3%) x2 - Wells Brewery, Bedford -a rich, full-bodied, strong ale
King's Head : Edinburgh Castle (4.1%) - Caledonia Brewery, Edinburgh -a malty, bitter red ale
Rose : Proper Job (4.5%) - St Austell Brewery, St Austell, Cornwall -a hoppy IPA
Wrong Un : Red Head (4.1%) x2 - Twickenham Brewery, London - a malty, ruby ale
We followed our beers in The Wrong Un with a couple of Jagerbombs
Golden Lion : 2x Budweiser and a Budvar from bottles, plus an ale on arrival that I unfortunately forgot to note down

Pub Crawl in Dartford

Pub Crawl through Dartford - Thursday 25th February 2016

On the back of our mini pub crawl in Welling, the Three Muskabeers planned another trip out for a similar purpose - to try a number of pubs in a town we have not been out in for a while. As I had seen a few pubs in Dartford with "Now stocking real ales" signs outside, I mentioned this and the trip was agreed upon.

Now, Dartford is a town I have not been out for a drink in for maybe 20+ years. When I was in my late teens/early twenties, I spent most of my free time here with my friends. Times change and people move on (I lived in Dartford for a year or two) and places become forgotten. However, Dartford came back to the fore when I took a grocery shopping trip to the town when the route to my usual supermarket was closed for road/traffic works. As mentioned already, I spotted two pubs with those sign soutside and we decided to pay them a visit...

The Rose and Crown

43 West Hill, Dartford, Kent DA1 2HJ
MB and I got to Dartford a little early so quickly hopped off the bus and straight into the Rose and Crown as it is on the same side of the road and only a quick stumble into the bar. We ordered a pint of Over the Bar as we were in a rugby mood from a choice of three ales on tap. Not a bad selection and they would keep one busy for an average evening out.

I can only remember going into this pub on a few occasions as, when I first started drinking in Dartford many moons ago, the place to be for my group of friends was the Oddfellows Arms over the road.

Our third member got to the Rose only about twenty minutes after we had arrived but he soon caught up. The fellow behind the bar realised we were on a bit of a pub crawl and thanked us in a friendly manner before we headed over the road.

Visits: 1st / a few previous

The Oddfellows Arms

72 West Hill, Dartford, Kent DA1 2EU
I have drunk in this pub on many occasions, but was shocked by the changes that have been wrought in this establishment since the last time I ventured in here over twenty years ago. The inside has been modernised and my 'usual' table by the door had gone. We headed for the bar to find there was only one beer on. The landlady said that although they had advertised for real ale being on the premises, the lack of people drinking it had caused her to lose half a barrel of the previous ale to finish.

The atmosphere in here was very subdued, and the music, although it appealed to my rock-style tatses, was too loud to have a proper conversation. We quickly drank our beer and moved on down the hill into town.

Visits: 1st / dozens previous

The Royal Oak

57 Spital Street, Dartford, Kent DA1 2DX
This is another of my regular haunts from yesteryear. As previously mentioned, I used to live in Dartford, in fact only a stone's throw from this pub. It was a quiet pub back then, apart from one night when I witnessed a massive bar-room brawl (the kind with stools being whacked round people's heads etc. - and that was just the girls!).

There has been a modicun of modernisation in the pub but it still retains a lot of its old character. What really surprised me was that a flight of stairs that used to be in the main tap room had completely disappeared.

It was quiet in the Oak this evening but the beer menu was rather good, what with it being a Shepherd Neame house. We could have stayed in here the rest of the evening, but as we had more pubs to visit and more beers to drink we only had the one and moved on.

Visits: 1st / dozens previous

The Wat Tyler

80 High St, Dartford, Kent DA1 1DE
Although I have drunk in here several times and it did on occasion become my friends' place to be, I didn't really get on with this pub, so generally drank elsewhere. This is not to say that there is anything wrong with the pub, indeed it has a tidy selection of tasty ales (more Shepherd Neame) and some olde worlde character but it was not a pub I really felt at home in.

This evening was a bit like that too. Although I was in great company and the beer was nice, there was something about the pub that unsettled me. We drank our pints and moved on up to East Hill.

Visits: 1st / several previous

The Malt Shovel

3 Darenth Rd, Dartford, Kent DA1 1LP
This is another pub I spent far too many evenings out in. It is set back far enough from the main road to give a country feel. The atmosphere as we walked in was very welcoming and the choice of ales on tap was reasonable. It too has been doen up a bit but not modernised too much. I felt right at home when I plonked myself down at a table close to the bar.

The barmaid knew her stuff; we ordered a pint of ale (can't remember which one now), and she poured them for us. She let them settle a bit, took a second look at them and then declared the barrel off. She asked if we would prefer something else. Now that is customer service - she did this before we even got to taste the beer.

The evening was still quite young when we arrived but by unspoken concensus we decided to stay here for the rest of the session. The ales were plentiful and well-kept, so what was there not to like?

Beers drunk on this pub crawl : 

Rose : Over the Bar (4.2%) - Caledonia Brewery, Edinburgh - a copper-coloured, aromatic, hoppy ale
Odds : London Pride (4.1%) - Fuller's Brewery, London - a deep amber, malty beer
Royal Oak : Master Brew (3.7%) - Shepherd Neame, Faversham, Kent - a well-balanced bitter
Wat Tyler : Spitfire (4.2%) - Shepherd Neame, Faversham, Kent - a dark-amber, fruity, hoppy bitter
Malt Shovel : Tribute (4.2%) - St Austell Brewery, St Austell, Cornwall - a light, hoppy and fruity session ale
+ another beer that contained rum (2.5 pints of this!) that I unfortunately forgot to note down. As far as I can remember (judging by the tap label) it was not Rum Runner by Greene King (but I may be wrong).