Tuesday 20 December 2011

A pub fantasy for Christmas week

And it’s now when I get to thinking that cause it’s Christmas, the brakes go on, the pace loses pace and I grab more time to meander along the byways and pathways of pub and beer fantasy…and so there I am thinking about some of the places I would like to sit down and study my beer in during these few days before Christmas…and for some reason I’m first at Bateman’s Visitor Centre, not a pub as such but a place for me that takes me to the heart of Bateman’s beers, which I rather enjoy…for a start I love getting off the train and seeing the windmill poking up above the village, George Bateman’s bottle collection, the smell of the brewery during brewing time and — when I was last there at least and I hope this hasn’t changed — the chance of having a glass of Salem Porter…and while I am in the east, I will travel down to Essex, first of all dropping into Walberswick to enjoy a glass and a meal at the redoubtable Anchor, before continuing to the Thatchers Arms in Mount Bures. On the border between Essex and Suffolk it sits and here I would savour the company of Dylan the dog whilst feeling the sashay of flavour that is Crouch Vale’s Brewers Gold…then to London where I would leave the craft beer bars for another day and embed myself in the Royal Oak in Borough…an afternoon in this marvel of pub life in search of the secrets behind Harvey’s Porter is time well spent…I would sit there with the Buddha of contemplation on my shoulder, in search of a sense of enlightenment until it be time to take the journey westwards and home…so I’m on my way home and it’s the Red Lion in Cricklade that will prove to be my next stop (actually I tell a lie, I fancy a quick visit to Oxford where my recent plunge into re-watching Inspector Morse can be emboldened by a glass in the Turf Tavern – it should be a bit quieter now that the students have famished themselves off to families far and wide)…ah the Red Lion, the pub where the locals gather to discuss the world and the price of beer, where the ales on show include old school bitters, new school goldies and grinning, palate-grabbing hop devils, all of which are the ideal accompaniment to time at a table catching a glimpse of a clock taking its time to circle the dial…and I would also enjoy the fried pea fritters with a bowl of the Red Lion’s robust, country-style chips (oh and to finish, two of three times, there would be a bottle of Odell, or maybe a Le Baladin beer)…home nearly so I would stop off in Bath and go to the Old Green Tree, deep in its womb of pubbery, a place where I went to immediately after the rugby world cup in 2003 and where recently engaged in a conversation with a woman as if we were old friends (which we were not)…and if there is time a jar of Bellringer at the Star higher up in the town, a warren of rooms that for me engage my senses with the box of delights that is the pub…but this being a fantasy I’m back home though with my much beloved local pubs and for that I give much thanks…

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