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 The guest beer list was a couple of weeks out of date.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!
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. He also judges beer at both the International Beer Challenge and the World Beer Awards.
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