Saturday, 22 December 2018

Bitter choice

Did you notice that Twitter poll? The one that asked which beer you would pick if you went into a pub and they four handpumps serving London Pride, Landlord, Harvey's Best and Batham's Bitter? Well Dolores sort of got to do that last weekend.

Not that we were lucky enough to find that set on offer in a single pub. But we did have the chance to try all but Batham's in a variety of pubs. And Dolores tried all of them. Any guesses as to which was her favourite?

It all kicked off at the Friend at Hand. Even before we'd checked into our hotel. Dolores was hoping for London Pride. But since Greene King took ove Taylor Walker, who used to own the pub, that's diappeared. Initially replaced by London Glory. The first time Dolores took a sip of that I could see diappointment flush her face. I won't make the mistake of getting her one again.

My little face shone when I spotted the Landlord pumpclip. I'd been dispatched to the bar with the instruction: "Get me a nice cask Bitter, Ronald." Surely Landlord would satisfy that requirement.

"How's your beer, Dolores?" I asked when she was a couple of gobfulls in.

"Quite nice."

"Quite nice? That's one of the top-rated casks Bitters." I'd expected a little more enthusiasm.

We only stayed for the one.

Checked in and bags dumped, we headed to the supermarket for bits and bobs to munch and slurp in our hotel. Just essential things for me, beer, crisps and whisky. On the way back we walked past another pub, The Marquis Cornwallis.

"Do they sell London Pride here?" Dolores asked, impressively interested in more early-afternoon beer.

"I'll take a look." I said and poked my head around the door. "No, but they do have Landlord."

"Let's not bother then."

Damn. No more beer for me quite yet then. Just as well I'd invested in some drinks for our room.

A curry later, I ask Dolores: "Fancy another beer?"

"Yes, if it's London Pride."

"No problem. We're close to Euston Road and the Euston Flyer. It's a Fullers pub. They're bound to have it."

It was around 6:30 when we trolled up at the Euston Flyer. Not a great time to arrive at this specific pub on a Friday. It was full of the fucking off back up North for the weekend crowd. Dolores isn't usually keen on standing in pubs. She made an exception in this case. We found a corner towards the toilets.

I could tell Dolores was enjoying it by the way her glass was emptying. A good bit quicker than my pint of ESB. When she'd necked the first pint, Dolores was ready for another. Praise indeed, given the awkward corner we were crammed into.

We were up early on Saturday. I needed a new pair of shoes. I was going to say Doc Martin's, but they aren't strickly speaking that. They're another brand that are like the old DMs. Camden is where we were headed. To the British Boot Company. It didn't take me long to find what I wanted. I always buy exactly the same shoes.

It wasn't yet 11 AM by the time we were done.

"What about a beer?" Dolores asked.

"It's a bit early yet."

Indeed all the pubs around were still closed. Instead we had a wander down Camden High Street to gawp at the shops. As we were nearing the end, I spotted something.

"Ooh, look. The Elephant's Head is open. Let's have a pint here."

It's surprisingly crowded behind the door, where there's a large group of middle-aged men in sill cchristmas outfits. But Dolores's attention is drawn to the bar. Where there's the reassuring red pumpclip of London Pride.

"I won't bother asking what you want."

We stay for two rounds. Though I buy them both. Never seems to be her shout.

The British Museum is next on the list. Except when we get there, the queue outside is enormous. And it's cold. And raining.

"We could wait in the Museum Tavern until the queue is shorter." I suggested helpfully.


I knew there would be no Pride inside for Dolores. But there would be Old Peculier for me. Bound to be something to to suit the taste of Dolores. Cask Ordinary Bitter is all she seeks. I ordered her a Sanbrook Junction without asking what she wanted.

"How's your beer?"

"It's OK." I could read on her face that she wanted to add "But not as good as London Pride."

My Old Puke was as stonking as ever. It's always good in the Museum Tavern. Unfortunately, I didn't have the chance of a second as the museum queue had become just about reasonable.

When we were done in the museum our feet are aching something rotten. Time for beer to soothe our poor limbs.

"We could go back to Tottenham Court Road tube and head South." I suggested. "There's another pub on the Northern Line we could drop by."

"As long as there's not too much walking."

It was a short walk from Borough tube to our destination. But it was pissing it down "Don't worry. Another 20 minutes and we'll be there." I teased.

"Very funny, Ronald."

Considering the weather and time of day, the Royal Oak was fairly lively.

"I know what I'm having. Do you want a Mild, too?" I asked Dolores.

"Do they have a nice Bitter?"

"It's Harveys pub. Of course they do."

"How's your beer?"

"OK." Dolores didn't look that enthusiastice about her Sussex Best.

Next we both had an Old. "It's like a strong Mild."

"How strong?"

"It's just 4.3% ."

She seemed to quite like it. But swapped back to Sussex Best for her next pint. Which I suppose says something.

We ended the weekend in the Euston Flyer, whiling away the time before nipping over the road to catch the Eurostar back home. No prize for getting what Dolores was drinking: London Pride.

Friend at Hand
2 - 4 Herbrand Street,
London WC1N 1HX.

The Marquis Cornwallis
31 Marchmont St, Bloomsbury,
London WC1N 1AP.

The Euston Flyer
83-87 Euston Rd,
London NW1 2RA.

Museum Tavern
49 Great Russell St,
London WC1B 3BA.

The Royal Oak
44 Tabard St,
London SE1 4JU, UK


Dan Klingman said...

"Old Puke" really makes me want to run right out and get one ūüėĄ

qq said...

That feeling when you see the British Museum mentioned and one doesn't think of centuries of global culture, but one knows the exact beer, in the exact pub, that's going to be consumed....

How much have you explored around St Pancras - been to the Scottish Stores and King Charles?

Anonymous said...

This American lover of bitters would consider himself blessed to have any one of those on tap nearby. If I found all 4 I'd move in and never leave.

Professor Pie-Tin said...

Bloody hell - I never thought I'd see the day when Ron is worried about the saintly Dolores drinking too early.
You're going soft in your old age lad.

Ron Pattinson said...

Professor Pie-Tin,

I wasn't worried about Dolores drinking too early. just pointing out there probably weren't any pubs open yet.

Ron Pattinson said...


the Museum Tavernb is the main reason Dolores can get me in the British Museum.

We've explored the area quite a bit, as we always stay close to Russell Square. Never heard of the Scottish Stores. Must look it up.

qq said...

Scottish Stores opened 2-3 years ago in an old strip club one block east of KX. Nice enough late-Victorian building that's been nicely restored (won various awards for the refurb) so respectable enough to take even fairly pub-sceptical other halfs to. There's some connection to the Ripple Steam brewery out Dover way, so I get the impression that the cask selection is driven by what they get in brewery swaps, but it's well kept and in the GBG. Lots of keg and key keg - they usually have something voguish in from Siren etc and it's possibly the only pub with well-kept cask where I often end up having keg.

It's far from my favourite pub in London but it's a useful one to know about as it's close enough to KX that you can nip in if you miss your train, it's female-friendly and the cask is well-kept albeit the selection is a bit uninspiring. Also there's a terrace upstairs that the tourists don't know about.

The King Charles a couple of blocks up Caledonian Rd is one of the very few proper locals left in central London - cracking little pub, one of my favourites but it's a bit of a stretch to pop out to if you miss a train and the next one is only half an hour away...

Anyway, happy wassailing if I'm not back here before The Day.