London in the sun. What could be nicer? Well Manchester in the sun obviously - better beer to be had - but culture? That's a different issue and London has it all. After a (half) day out with Tyson and crew, we decided on a trip to an old haunt - Greenwich. Two or three ideas. A walk in the park, a look inside the old Royal Naval College, a quick shufti at the Cutty Sark - it was built in my home town of Dumbarton don't you know and there is still a pub on the High St with the same name - and a couple of restorative beers in Meantime's Old Brewery, a place, to which somewhat neglectfully, I hadn't been.
We enjoyed the walk, I thought the Naval College and whatnot delightful and unfussy. They even allowed you to sit on the banqueting seats to allow you to stare more comfortably at the impressive ceiling. The Cutty Sark was rather antiseptically impressive, though like a hammer where you have replaced both the head and the shaft, you have to wonder if it is indeed the original hammer at all. All that sightseeing and walking about in the sun makes you thirsty, so our arrival at the Old Brewery was welcome. Outside was a sea of bodies in the grass and in the beer garden. I observed closely. A mixture of plastic and glass gave me an inkling that likely you were meant to use plastic outside, so I wondered what would happen. Inside we found a decent spot in a corner. It was going like a fair busy, but the staff were cheerful and kept good order. I put my barman through his paces by asking for a couple of samples even though I knew what I would likely have. He was professional and friendly, offering decent advice despite the hordes. Good stuff. I settled on North Fresian Lager, a Jever-alike, but really rather magnificent, with good body, freshness, bitterness and a hopsmacking finish. What's not to like? Well perhaps the £5.20 a pint price? OK. Certainly the £5.20 price, but it was good. Very good. E was much less impressed with her Pilsner which did seem dull. Or was that just dull in comparison. She rapidly switched to the same beer as me.
The place was heaving and we watched the dynamics of it all. It seemed that you randomly got glass or plastic and nobody was stopping anyone going outside with glass. Service was friendly and efficient. My three rounds were all in glass without me asking. Top marks. I did have a couple more tasters, but nothing much impressed beer wise. Perhaps I was spoiled by the North Fresian? Service was brisk and friendly, décor was comfortable to imposing, with the brewery conditioning tanks, clearly signed with exciting forthcoming beery attractions being a high point.
So overall? I (we) had a good time, thought the North Fresian excellent but expensive, thought the service good all things considered and hopefully when I come back on a quieter day, I'll have more interesting beers to choose from.
A bit of a CV. Tandleman is a veteran beer lover, local CAMRA Chairman and activist, beer writer, beer reviewer and pursuer of all things good in beer. He lives in the North West of England and London. Despite his CAMRA membership, he does not limit himself to cask conditioned beer, though he believes that cask conditioning, when done correctly and appropriately, brings a quality to beer that is hard to equal by any other kind of presentation. He is a strong supporter of Northern methods of beer dispense and avidly detests poorly presented beer and dislikes pasteurisation. He regularly visits Germany, has conducted corporate British and German beer tastings for CAMRA at the Great British Beer Festival where he has worked for years on Biere Sans Frontieres and was Deputy Organiser at CAMRA's very successful National Winter Ales Festival in 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2012 and at the Manchester Beer and Cider Festival from 2013 to date. He admires good brewers wherever they are and has travelled extensively in pursuit of good beer to drink.
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