PupPaper 582 – The Undercover Drinker

Posted: 19th November 2010 by admin in Pub Paper, Writing

This weekend sees me leave the real ale jungle that is West Yorkshire and head to the relative savannah which is my hometown of Leicester for the bi-monthly visit to my parents. Which made it even more of an imperative to get a good sampling of ale before I enter the land of Everards. It’s not that my hometown doesn’t have a good number of real ale pubs, but after the luxury of being able to fall out of one such pub and be at the next within 10-15 minutes walk, the spread of pubs over a larger area just makes it seem like that.

Last weekend saw a visit to the Sportsman at Ploughcroft. A cosy pub, attached to the ski slope had its normal wide choice of real ales, with a couple of examples I had not previously sampled from Bronte Brewery, and although the Bramwell was a touch bland for my tastes, the Heathcliffe Stout made a nice change from my usual diet of pale beers, with the deep heavy taste you want from such a beer. This was after the aborted attempt to get into my local, the Cock and Bottle, after a walk, without playing 10 pin bowling with the customers and my youngest’s buggy.

The pub is now into its 3rd weekend of trading and is going from strength to strength. This Sunday tea time saw standing room only, and when I popped in last Tuesday for the football both rooms were nicely populated. Popping in on Saturday for a couple at tea time had it down to 2 spare tables. The ales on offer have remained the same since opening, but as long as they keep the Deuchers IPA, I’m a happy man. I’ll be bring you the inside story of this re-opening in the next few weeks.

Being surrounded by such good pubs only puts the poorer ones in the shadows. Having half an hour to kill earlier this week, I went to an unnamed pub opposite Wellholme Park in Brighouse. The first disappointment was that it only had one ale on pump, Hobgoblin, however the second disappointment was that it was a poor example of that. I noticed that I was the only one on this beer, so I am guessing it wasn’t a fresh barrel. As I said in a previous column, if you get a bad first impression then you are not likely to return, and in this case, this is true.

I tried to avoid bringing up Greene King, but they just keep walking into this column, this time they “voiced their disappointment to the defeat of minimum price in Scotland”, citing the bill would promote responsible drinking. Nothing about them making more money from a compulsory price rise then. Irresponsible drinkers do not drink their beers, they drink Stella, its 5% relatives and cheap spirits (even irresponsible drunks have some taste then). Even giant companies such as SAB Miller and Diageo opposed this bill, despite the chance to make a lot of money off the back of it.

No all big breweries are so cynical, Thwaites are resurrecting 13 old brewing recipes and releasing them to match occasions during the year, including a honey beer in May (pollentation time), a stout for St Particks and an American Style IPA for Independence Day. I’m a fan of this brewery as their ales are consistently good for a mainstream brewer (Wainwright is recommended, and their Smooth is a good banker when real ales are not present). Their imported brands are as good, with Warsteiner, Konig Ludwig and Kaltenberg Hell all being fine examples of german beers brewed under the Reinheitsgebot (German Beer Purity Law).

A couple of weeks ago I mentioned the Brew Dog brewery, so on my visit to the Red Rooster on Friday night, it was good to see that had their IPA on pump. This is the second beer I’ve tried from their collection and it’s a great tasting beer with plenty of flavour. I also had the chance to try Marble Brewery’s Pint and although ordering “half a pint of pint” goes against linguistic instincts, it worth the effort. We’ll take that cue to round off this weeks column, and wish you a good week of real ale.