Friday, 16 August 2013

London this week

You make be forgiven for thinking that my life is just one whirl of exotic beery travel. It isn't. Most of my time is spent as prosaicly as the next man's, watching the hours tick by at work.

Earlier this week I was briefly in London for a couple of events. One of the frustrations of living outside the UK is that I miss out on most of the perks* of being a member of the British Guild of Beer Writers. I thought I'd put that partly right by popping over for their 25th anniversary bash. And fitting in the start of the GBBF the next day.

I've turned flying in and out of London into a routine. I normally get the same flights: 09:35 Amsterdam to Stansted, 19:05 back. It means I can get up and my normal time and be back well before bedtime. Not sure why I'm telling you this. Pretty dull stuff.

Getting into London before noon left me time for a little pub-crawling before the event. A leisurely stroll around Euston, taking in a few pubs and missing some others. A pint in the Bree Loiuse (a decentish Porter) but not one in the Euston Tap. I had planned a beer there, but had more pressing needs when the time came around. I had to find a pub showing the cricket. Zero chance of that in the Euston Tap.

I'd had my eyes on the Euston Flyer, but when I got there saw it was full of workmen doing work-type stuff. Closed all week. Bit of a bummer, that one. It's not exactly an area crawling with boozers. At least not the type of boozer showing the cricket. Luckily I spotted one down a side street:  Mabels Tavern. Sure enough, there were signs indicating both Sky Sport and the Ashes.

Not sure what I thought when I noticed it was a Shepherd Neame house. Probably that a whisky or two would take away the nasty astringent taste of Spitfire. Then when I was at the bar I remembered something. Or rather a display of bottles on the bar back reminded me of something: Shep's range of  historical recreations. I'd been meaning to give those a try, if I could find them. Perfect opportunity.

I went for the Double Stout. If the worst came to the worst, at least it was 5.2% ABV. But that immediately got me thinking: which era was this beer supposed to be from? Based on the strength, my guess would be 1920's. Their website is very coy, saying only: "Double Stout is based on a coded brewers' log that was recently discovered in the brewery archives."

The beer itself was pretty pleasant, with a nice roasty thing going on. The label said it contained roasted barley. Mmm. That would rule out the 19th century as the source of the recipe pretty much. Unless, of course, they'd confused roasted malt with roasted barley. It's a mistake I've made myself.

I arrived just after the Australian second innings had started. Depressingly, the openers seemed totally comfortable and were scoring at a decent rate. Bugger. Looked like they'd make the 299 they'd been set.

A Japanese woman and here daughter sat at the next table. I was impressed to see the woman had got herself a pint of cask Bitter rather than some Lager shit. They'd ordered fish and chips, which they shared. I don't blame them. I think I would have struggled to get through it. They looked occasionally at the cricket in a bemused and confused way. I can't imagine they could make much sense out of it.

I was onto my second pint when the Aussies waltzed past 100, no wickets down. Bastards. Why weren't they collapsing like they usually do nowadays? The Japanese mother and daughter looked a little anxious when I let out a little yelp of delight as the first Australian wicket fell.

Soon after it was tea. My cue to bugger off back to my hotel to get ready for the evening's jollity. Or at least the evening's jolly.

Before I leave I'll pass on what little hard information I have about Shepherd Neame's Stouts. In the usual convenient table form:

Shepherd Neame Stouts
Year Beer Price size package Acidity FG OG colour ABV App. Atten-uation
1929 Single Stout 7d pint bottled 0.07 1009.8 1034.8 3.24 71.84%
1960 Double Stout 12d half pint bottled 0.05 1008.4 1032.4 175 3.00 74.07%
1960 Oatmeal Stout 10d half pint bottled 0.02 1010.2 1029 200 2.35 64.83%
1963 Blacksmith Stout 16.5d half pint bottled 0.05 1015.3 1044.9 250 3.70 65.92%
Whitbread Gravity book held at the London Metropolitan Archives, document number LMA/4453/D/02/001
Whitbread Gravity book held at the London Metropolitan Archives, document number LMA/4453/D/02/002

Not very Stout, are they?

* Freebies are what I really mean.

Mabels Tavern
9 Mabledon Place,
London WC1H 8AZ.
+44 20 7387 7739

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