Thursday, July 29, 2010

Beerman in London, Part Eleven

To follow up on my column in today's new Weekly Surge, not all cask ales have been good.

I tried one at the Coach & Horses pub in London, not too far from Oxford Circus, at least as far as my long legs and fast walking are concerned.

Royal London Traditional Ale looked like a normal, copper-colored beer, but it tasted like some kind of fruit-and-vegetable health drink. I guess that's due to the yeasts. Maybe it was just the cask or the pour. Royal London Traditional Ale was the first cask pint I received that didn't involve a second pour to top-off.

The beer was so sour and tart, I wasn't sure I could finish it. But I did, and it felt nice in my stomach, and spiritually it was rather uplifting.

Well, tomorrow morning, at an ungodly hour, I'm flying back to Myrtle Beach. I'll miss this throne of beer, this land of ales, this ... England.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Beerman in London, Part Ten

At the Swan pub, near one end of Kennington Garden and Hyde Park, two by Fuller's: one is Chiswick Bitter, and the empty glass was Discovery Blonde. Both were hand-pulled; both were understated and good.
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Thursday, July 22, 2010

Beerman in London, Part Nine

Tomorrow, as in Friday, I'll go to Hay-on-Wye, a tiny Welsh town on the British border.

Kristi and I are staying at a small hotel known for its bar and ales.

Stay tuned!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Beerman in London, Part 8

From the top of Saint Paul's Cathedral. How far up? The Golden Gallery. Check out the diagram:
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Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Beerman in London, Part Seven

I drank Young's London Gold in a pub behind Hard Rock Cafe London.

It was a hand-pumped cask ale, and had just a tiny hint of that bready flavor I notice in some beers, like Heineken -- but not strong.

Mostly, Young's London Gold was a lighter, yummy, summer-friendly beer.

Have you tried it? What did you think?

Monday, July 19, 2010

The original version of 'Dry Web'

I'm still in London; more posts to come. 

Meanwhile, some of my most recent column was trimmed so a late news item could be squeezed into the Weekly Surge.

Specifically, the part of my column entitled "Dry Web" was trimmed, but the original was better, so here it is:

I was staying at a Baptist conference center the night before my PBR article was due.

I’m always racking up the frequent-guest points at Baptist conference centers, and cashing them in for sweet tea and potato salad.

I was there because my wife had gone the center’s accompanying girls’ camp during her growing-up years, and now my daughters are carrying on the tradition.

Don’t get me wrong – it’s a great camp, and the conference center’s room were cleaner than most hotel rooms. I guess working for cranky tourists is a little less motivating than working for the Almighty.

Anyway, I had to do a little PBR-related research to do, so I went online. The Google search returned the results, and I clicked.

Suddenly, a note popped up on the screen: the site was banned, for it fell within the “Alcohol/Tobacco Category.”

I knew I couldn’t bring any alcohol or tobacco – I was really proud of myself for not smuggling any in – but I couldn’t even read about it?

Wouldn’t it count as opposition research?

That’s why I’m an Episcopalian. Our little-known motto is, “The Protestants Who Drink.” Our Jesus turned water into wine, not Welch’s Grape Juice.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Beerman in London, Part Six

Today, I was at the amazing Kew Gardens, about a 30-minute train ride from London, with my wife, known children, and in-laws.

Think Brookgreen Gardens with far more exotic plants, far fewer sculptures, and a long history of royal residents.

In a cafe/restaurant, I got in line to purchase a Budweiser Budvar -- the other Bud, the Czech Bud, the subject of a previous column.

Two open-air, refrigerated shelves held various bottles of water, wine, beer, etc., and I picked up a Budvar at the end of the line.

The bottle didn't seem quite cold enough, so I looked ahead, saw the second chilled shelf, and decided to wait.

At the second chilled shelf, the Budvar was barely colder than room temperature.

But there was no way I was losing my place in line -- it's one of those lines where the bottled-water purchaser has to wait behind the big-food-order-purchaser.

As a testament to Budweiser Budvar, it still tasted great, even barely chilled.

But I remember, way back in 1998, when I spent three months over here, seeing a news article on the front page of a tabloid about Brits trying to regulate the temperature of beer. Maybe that was more about pubs and tapped and hand-pulled beer. Either way, apparently, the idea of cold beer is still working against convention.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Beerman in London, Part Six

The waiter poured me just a couple of inches in a labeled, snifter-style glass and stopped.

"For emergency," he said with a laugh.

This was not the Peroni we usually see in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.

Peroni Gran Riserva is intended to be more upscale than the Peroni Nastro Azzurro we always see at Carrabba's.

I had Peronia Gran Riserva at Ask, an Italian restaurant (with great food!) next to the genius Design Museum.

It was even served in a snifter-style, labeled glass, and was 6.6 percent alcohol. That might be due to the double malting -- "birra doppio malto" -- claimed on the label. Either way, the malting certainly brought out a distinctive, sophisticated taste, smoother and heavier than the Peroni Nastro Azzurro.

For one 12-ounce bottle, Peroni Gran Riserva was about 3.70 pounds, compared to 3.30 pounds for Peroni Nastro Azzurro, if memory serves.

I don't think we have Gran Riserva in Myrtle Beach, but if we do, try it.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Beerman in London, Part Five

Today, between Henry IV Part One, and, incidentally, Henry IV Part Two, at The Globe Theatre, Kristi and I went to Founders Arms Riverside Pub.

I ordered a hand-pulled Wells Bombardier English Bitter.

Hand-pulled beers are not powered by carbon dioxide. Founders had those taps, too, but apparently the hand-pulled, or pumped, beers are unique to the U.K.

The guy pulled my beer, slowly filling the pint glass. He pulled the handle twice, and when the glass filled, with a bit of head on top, he set it aside and got Kristi's Strongbow cider from the regular taps.

Then he returned to my pint, and pulled the handle again, making sure the glass was filled.

That was awesome -- genuine respect and care for beer, even in a busy pub and restaurant.

The lamb kabobs were great, too.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Beerman in London, Part Four

We've placed an online order with the grocery chain Tesco -- and guess what they will deliver to our place here in London?

Well, boring food, of course, but also 500-milliliter bottles of Fuller's ESB -- only one of the best beers, ever, and the original ESB (extra special bitter).

Meanwhile, my Pabst Blue Ribbon cover story for the Weekly Surge is now available online. See what Scott Smallin did to me with his camera! And PBR is not just a big cultural story right now -- it's also one of the biggest business stories of the year: click here.

Beerman in London, Part Three

As in January, so in July: Stella Artois ads everywhere.

The ads in the tube stations declare Stella is made with only four ingredients: malt, hops, maize, and water.

Maize = corn.

Should we thank them for leaving out the rice?

Beerman in London, Part Two

This is cute:

BBC News this morning calls it the "U.S. Oil Spill."

Not the "BP Oil Spill."

The "U.S. Oil Spill."

Beerman in London, Part One

I never see 12-ounce cans on the beer shelves in the grocery stores here.

I haven't studied each can available, but they all appear to be 16-ounce or 24-ounce cans.

Yesterday morning, when we arrived at our place in Lambeth, my in-laws, Kristi and I celebrated by splitting a can of Strongbow cider.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Saturday, July 3, 2010