Sunday, 9 November 2008

The Bricklayers Arms

It's a long way to Putney on the tube for me. Sixteen underground stations, but egged on by Wurst aka Whorst, the reformed blog commentator, I persuaded E to go. Well it was a pissing wet day and it would be different. We started off badly and well respectively. Badly in that we went one tube too far because of my stupidity in mixing up my stations and well because the longish walk to the right tube station took us past the local JDW and I needed a pee. It would have been rude not to have a beer and what was on the bar? Yes, my elusive St Austell Proper Job. I had already been goaded by Tyson that morning, who texted me at 11.30 a.m. to say he was supping it in Manchester and it was good. The Railway is to my mind one of the better Wetherspoons I've been in. Not as cavernous as many, a good mix of customers and a pleasant atmoshpere. The Proper Job was indeed proper. So proper in fact that I struggled not to have another, but as E pointed out, we hadn't yet found the Bricklayers. Reluctantly I left without having another of this pale, hoppy, complex and rewarding beer which was in top form.

It was easy to find the Bricklayers (and just as easy to find the correct tube station afterwards.) Slightly set back from the road and bright and cheerful lookinng from the outside. Inside it has a slighly unusual shape with a good semi circular bar serving a full range of Timothy Taylor beers and just one guest, Dark Star Espresso Stout. Now I had taken the precaution of checking the pub's web site before going to it. The guest beer list was a couple of weeks out of date. Slight black mark for that, but a bigger one for not mentioning that the pub will close next week for urgent repairs and renovation. Wouldn't you think the web site might be a good place to mention that? I'd have been pissed off if I'd gone all that way to find it shut!

What of the beer? Well it was around 3 degrees Celsius too warm in my view and a bit below par in condition. It just lacked that cleanness that Taylors should have. A sort of blurry edge to the beers that you just don't get with cask conditioning at its peak. The good thing was that a sparkler was produced without demur for me. A couple of the locals took interest in this aspect and asked for their beers to be pulled that way. They enjoyed them and one said "It just looks better". Hopefully I've started a trend. Taylor's beers should be sparkled. End of!

I tried the Dark Mild which slightly lacked condition and the Landlord, which had good flavours but was just off the boil.. The Dark Star Espresso Stout was good. A vast improvement on the ghastly Coffee Porter I'd had from Meantime, but I doubt if coffee flavoured beers really hit my spot. We stayed for four pints and I liked the pub. It had a nice buzz, chatty customers, was friendly and I will come back.

My verdict? Not quite the classic I was hoping for, but well worth the visit and I'm assuming the lack of guest beers was down to the imminent closure for a week, so no issue with that.

I liked Putney. It had a nice feel to it and our first ever Brazilian meal wasn't bad either, but I won't be requiring much meat for a bit now!


Whorst said...

That sucks regarding the guest beers. They usually have 4-5. When I was there last summer, the landlady mentioned that the locals don't like their beer pulled through a sparkler, so she didn't use one. As you probably well know, I'm a big proponent of northern English beers. I've heard all the stupid arguments on how a sparkler rips a beer apart, or how it manages to leave all the essential hop oils in the head. In my opinion, this is simply not true. A tight head on a pint is a thing of beauty that should be reveled in. If the southern mutants want there ale to look like a pint of cider, so be it.

Talismann, regarding my reformation, it was due to my spirituality. The Christians had a reformation a while ago, and I thought it was time for Wurst aka Whorst to have one. My new shtick is love and harmony, combined with fresh ales. On this Sunday, I wish yourself and fellow northern folks the best. Even some of the southern folks have my blessing.

Here's a song that best describes our community of ale lovers:

We are family
All the lovers of ale hangin' w/me
We are family
Get up everybody and sing

Ev'ryone can see we're together
As we walk on by
(FLY!) and we fly just like birds of a feather
I won't tell no lie
(ALL!) all of the people around us they say
Can they be that close
Just let me state for the record
We're giving ale in a family dose


Living life is fun and we've just begun
To get our share of the world's finest ales
(HIGH!) high hopes we have for the future
And our goal's in sight
(WE!) no we don't get depressed
Here's what we call our golden rule
Have faith in ale and the things it does. You won't go wrong
This is our family Jewel

Anonymous said...

I'll have to go along and get 'em to take those sparklers right off again!

Perplexed that you enjoyed the DS Espresso but not the Meantime Coffee. They're much of a muchness to me - both very heavily coffee-fied.

Tandleman said...

The Dark Star was just so much better in every way and not nearly so full of coffee grounds flavour, but as I said,it isn't my kind of beer.

You've not had "proper" Landlord I take it? (-;

Erlangernick said...

This sparkler fad amazes me. Why not enjoy beer in its natural form? Why make your ale mimic a Guinness?

As great as your Lees (for example) is, it's even better in its natural condition!

Tandleman said...

All a matter of preference I'd say, but both Lees and Taylors use sparklers in all their tied houses and in the breweries. They are wrong then? As you Yanks would say - Go Figure!

TIW said...

As a devoted Taylor's drinker from the beer's home town, I just can't abide it unsparkled, even at the Harp in Covent Garden. Sparkled is the way the brewer wants us to drink it, and that's good enough for me.

Tandleman said...


jefffrane said...

I noted elsewhere that Tyson has been discussing sparklers for 16 years. I think this pretty well removes them from Nick's characterization of a "fad."

Having tasted Bass at the Dolphin in Plymouth, it's clear to me that this fad of beer engines is entirely unnecessary. Better we drink ale in its natural state: gravity dispense.

Tyson said...


Good point-one thing the sparkler isn't is a fad. However, I fear you join the campaign too late. Even the The Society for the Preservation of Beers from the Wood accept the use of beer engines!

Stonch said...

"Sparkled is the way the brewer wants us to drink it, and that's good enough for me."

Sorry to piss on your chips, but that just isn't true. I've met Peter Eels - head brewer at TT - and he said he thinks it's a matter of personal preference. Moreover, when a pub first stocks TT beers, the landlord is sent an information pack from the brewery (I received it myself a few months ago). It features a laminated guide on how to prepare and serve the beers. Advice is given on both sparkled and non-sparkled dispense.

Erlangernick said...

A long-lived fad is still a fad. Or a gimmick then.

And I purposely left the point of gravity dispense out, hoping that someone else would bring it up--praise be unto Jeff! Gravity dispense poses logistical problems though, so I'll settle for sparkler/swan-neck-free hand pumped.

The Kraut places that serve "bayerischer Anstich" style ("Bavarian tapping"; i.e. a cask, or better, a wooden cask on the bar) tend to serve just one beer, and go through rather a lot of it. Kölsch, Alt, and Kellerbier all benefit from this. (As does the Schlenkerla Urbock from which I personally benefitted entirely too much from on Friday.)

Tandleman said...

I have always said that sparklers are in the end, merely personal preference though it is indeed mine.

Taylors sell beer throughout the UK with a large push on London at the moment. They don't say beer should be sparkled and if you look at the current beer guide it says that there.

They used to, up to last year in fact, say otherwise and recommend a sparkler, so I'm guessing the position now is that it reflects their push to make Taylor's more widely available. It is a commercial change of position.

In their own neck of the words it is all sparkled.

Erlangernick said...

You are indeed to be given credit for not being fanatical about it!

Coincidentally, here's a photo from last year's Best of Bock weekend at Der Pelikan pub in Bamberg, featuring 7 Böcke poured the natural way:
...and the list:

This year's do is in two weeks...pity you won't make it!

TIW said...

And sorry to piss on your chips Jeffrey, but what Tandleman says is right. The non-sparkled preference is a new thing solely to do with the fact that Taylors is now more available in traditionally 'flat' areas. I had this very conversation with one of Taylor's publicans in Keighley last time I was up there, after he gave me the usual ribbing about "southern beer".

Stonch said...

What you've said doesn't contradict me, so my chips remain dry and unpissed upon.

If you think Landlord is "flat" without a sparkler, I don't know where you've been drinking it. Mine comes with a massive head, as does the beer at The Harp, for example. I do use a swan neck, however, which helps. Indeed, even when poured under gravity from the cellar, it's got a healthy sized cranium.

Also, it's indisputable that sparklers make beer smoother and less lively in order to produce that thick, creamy head, so use of the word "flat" is misleading in this context.

Tandleman said...

I almost rose to the bait in your last para Jeff. The less lively bit I mean. Oops. Damn, I'm hooked. It aint true. Neither style should be flat, North or South, but I've had many more flat as in "no condition" pints in the South.

I would have thought though that your customers, being used to a Southern style pull and a very full pint, would have objected to a massive head?

Anyway, I'm glad your beer is served with condition. That's the main thing. That and temperature I should say.

TIW said...

Well, of course by 'flat' I didn't mean the sort of pint that looks and tastes like cold tea. Maybe I should have made that more clear. Excellent as the Harp is (and it's my favourite London pub by a mile), I've yet to see a pint of Landlord - it's my Spanish-born drinking companion's pint of choice in there - with a 'massive head', or indeed any head at all that laces the glass all the way down. Personally, I've never enjoyed an unsparkled pint of Taylors. Each to their own. I keep meaning to visit your pub, so I'll be sure to try your version of Landlord when I do. But I maintain that despite what may have happened in thae last year or so, Timothy Taylor have traditionally recommended their brews to be sparkled.

Anonymous said...

It was a nice pub, and there were several good guest ales on when I visited last year.
But it's a bit strange to close for renovation in the pre-Christmas season, isn't it?

Anonymous said...

sparklers sparklers are just nonsense like dyed haddock! I like landlord but it's not my favourite. I've enjoyed many unsparkled pints of Landlord with a nice big head. Sparkled pints just disappoint and the beer itself seems all the 'flatter' for them.

Tandleman said...

In your opinion!