It was an auspicious start to my holidays. Despite, as usual, underestimating the time it would take to get to Piccadilly Station I got there in time to pick up my tickets from the machine and have 45 minutes in the Bull's Head. This is a very well run Marston's pub, which somehow manages to avoid the main trap of railway station pubs by not being the least bit sleazy. Lots to choose from in this two pint session and casting my eye round the various offerings I picked out Boondoggle by Ringwood. I've had it before and enjoyed it and it didn't disappoint today. Biscuity malt, decent bitterness and a full, pale body was a good start. A new one beckoned though. Jennings Lakeland Stunner did what it said on the tin. Pale, deliciously hoppy, with a lingering resinous finish, it was one of the best new beers I've had in a long time.
As I neared Euston I was reminded of the Bree Louise by a tweet. I nearly walked past, but nipped in. I passed on Brew Dog Paradox. Nothing else attracted me except Otley Thai Bo on the dreaded gravity. It was flat as a pancake, but fresh as a daisy, with incredible Thai flavours of lemon grass, ginger, chilli and more. Why did the bastards ruin such a gorgeous beer? I want to try this when it has been properly looked after. The casks had cooling jackets on them and soft spiles. I suspect though that the temperature (15C)and incorrect cellar procedure has done for the condition. If you are serving on gravity, use a soft spile for serving only. At all other times use a bamboo hard spile.This is free and good advice. Even better advice is not to serve it on gravity at all if you can help it, especially if you can't condition it around 10C.
The pub is a bit tired looking too, but wouldn't need that much to improve it. The staff are really nice, but as a beer house, it needs someone who knows what he or she is doing to transform the offer. Shame really, because London needs good free houses, but sadly, this isn't one.
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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