Saturday, 1 June 2013

let's drink from the well at the world's end

. . . beer joint lights come on
And then the crowd starts rollin' in
Pretty soon you got stars on the water 

Moving on from my previous post but not very far, let's think about beer just for a change.

I'm currently reading The Search for the Perfect Pub by Paul Moody and Robin Turner. I started reading it the day after my last post in a brand new drinking establishment. As many of us know Micro Breweries are the in(n) thing at the moment and seem to be springing up everywhere. I first noticed this phenomenon in the States a few years ago. Scorpion beer in Moab was excellent but arriving in Los Angeles and staying in a hotel with its own micro brewery was brilliant! Anyway, back to the point. The most recent one around here is in Ipswich, called  Briarbank which although it used to be a maltings, had also been a branch of Lloyds bank. It seems to be a vanity project for a local wealthy entrepreneur but a brewery it is.

The premise of The Search for the Perfect Pubs  to take the ideas put forward for the perfect pub by George Orwell in his essay in the London Evening Standard published on, get this, 9th February 1946. That's right exactly ten years to the day before I was born. It's an interesting read and is throwing up all sorts of ideas for songs, blogs, private thoughts and memories. As I haven't been reading the book it for too long, I guess I'll come back to it at a later time. However, it seemed apposite that I should have picked it up and start reading it that particular day.

The brewery building itself doesn't look that interesting but as you get a little close whatever's going on inside seems to look more intriguing. The large chrome kettles downstairs gleam beautifully on a sunny day but look a bit like something out of a science fiction story. The bar itself has only been open for three weeks but the brewery has been going longer. There is a (pretty awful) pub behind it owned by the same people and I have been informed that they sell some of the beer brewed in that very establishment. I have no intention of ever setting foot in that particular establishment again so can't verify that.  Around the back of the building is a private car park and a chalk board informs you as to what they're brewing and if you're of a mind please ring and go upstairs. It all seems a bit clandestine but I followed the polite, gruff-voiced gentleman upstairs.

Several people I've mentioned the experience to have likened the "club membership" idea to the drinking club in Minder. It crossed my mind too. Although the barman was quite short, he came across as a dead ringer for Dave the barman of the Winchester Club. It would seem that they are after a rather select membership as they don't have a lot of room up there. But when I entered the bar upstairs I was immediately impressed and felt at home. It's all new wood and chrome with an interesting selection of own ales. I guess it's a modern Brewery Tap. Two old guys and the barman and me. Later a couple of old guys came in for a nose around and they were talked into trying a stout or two. The bar food currently appears to be either crisps or peanuts. I was more than happy trying out the bitter which I can't actually remember what it was called ("Old Something or Other"). Very light tasting and quite pleasant - typically a fairly bitter taste but not floral at all*. I think it's about 4.7% abv so not really a session ale but a good one definitely. I guess it's not going to be a regular haunt due to distance. Also, they obviously don't want large groups of drinkers, which means regular jaunts to Ipswich with workmates will not be welcome (they get a bit raucous), so  it seems to be a place to gather thoughts, read and generally chill out. No problem there, I'll be in there occasionally on trips to Ipswich. Miles better than a Wetherspoons.

Ah, Wetherspoons. A company that have been trying to get a foothold in our little seaside town for years. It would seem that they may finally have managed to wedge that foot in the doorway. Due to some Pasta War about to start in the high street one very nice restaurant may end up as a J D Wetherspoons. Somewhere to keep the riff-raff in.  As I mentioned recently, the pub a few hundred yards from our house has finally been refurbished after about two years. It's now an expensive bar and boutique hotel - whatever that means - but it is just around the corner overlooking the sea and they sell three types of real beer. Not complaining. . . It'll keep me out of bloody Wetherspoons. Ironically they're selling the nice high street restaurant probably to J D. Anyway, the mention of that company came about because, laughingly, they have a fair few of their pubs named The Moon Under Water. That's right after Orwell's perfect pub. Evidently they are far from that!

We'll see how it goes.

In the meantime, I've finally succumbed to Spotify after both Messrs Chisholm and Cox have been telling me to try it out. After a bit of a false start by trying it on my phone - I thought it'd be better than using iTunes until I realised it was going to cost a tenner a month - I'm happily sitting here listening to it whilst writing as it's free on computers. I don't have to get up out of my seat to change a track or a cd. Brilliant! Okay, the adverts for bad breath and Alzheimers I can live with as I tend to zone them out. But I've been listening to Rosanne Cash's Black Cadillac and Rodney Crowell stuff whilst writing and they seem to have tons of great stuff. Even things I can't find on iTunes or Amazon. Suits me.So thanks, guys, it took me awhile but I'm converted. Shame you can't burn stuff but this week's WebUser may hold a key for that in their article "Record Anything From The Web" . . .

I'll let you know. In the meantime, cheers!

*There seems to be a move towards floral tasting golden beers nowadays. Presumably this is in the vague hope that lager drinkers will have one taste and turn away from the error of their ways. As in Wychwood's T Shirt that says, "What's the matter Lagerboy afraid you might taste something?"


Mike C. said...

Yes, Spotify is good -- one trick worth knowing is that [whispers] if you pause the track just before the end, then choose another, the "play advert after X tracks" algorithm gets bypassed.

I find that since developing tinnitus a few years ago I actually prefer the lo-fi listening experience given by my cheapo PC speakers to the overwhelming access-all-ear-areas sound of a stereo.

They've brought out an iPad app for Spotify, but it's only for paying subscribers. Presumably that's what you tried on your phone.


Dave Leeke said...

Hi Mike,

Yep, that's the one! I was away in London and hadn't taken my iPod thinking I'd use Spotify instead. I got a bit fed up when I realised the trial had ended. It was brilliant while it worked. Anyway, I'm not prepared to pay for it. I'll get it if and when they introduce it free.

According to "WebUser" magazine, is better as it's ad free, has a massive library and you don't have to sign up. Might be worth a go.

Thanks for the tip, too.