Life’s all about variables. And so it is with life, so it is with pubs. At the weekend, when the place is buzzing and the ale is flowing, the Blue Parrot may seem the greatest thing since squeezy ketchup bottles. However, visit it later in the week and the choice and quality may not be as good. It’s what we here in these parts call the Tuesday night test. So called because there’s a tradition of visiting hostels on, yes, a Tuesday night. And yes, there are hostels being visited as I scribble this.
However, last week saw something a little different: a rare foray into the twilight zone of daytime drinking by Eddie, the eager, legal beagle. He thought it would stand him in good stead for later in life. After all, a retired solicitor can’t spend all his time on the golf course, can he? But first there was the small matter of wangling some time off. As a valued associate at Sue, Grabbit and Runne, any absence would surely be noted. The solution: grab a lady’s mannequin, put tweed slacks on her, a little costume jewellery and a deerstalker, and no one will be the wiser.
Our journey began at Cask on Liverpool Road. We called in here specifically to try the new Pictish seasonal: Amphora. Richard Sutton at Pictish has been quietly producing some of the best beer around for some 13 years now and is one of the unsung pioneers of single hop beers. This one, probably due to the inclusion of Saaz, is a mellow affair, but like all Pictish beers, very quaffable.
Our next stop-Knott-can usually be relied upon for some tasty treats and it didn’t let us down on this occasion. There was the refreshing Adnams Kristal White Ale and the even more refreshing Castle Rock Pale; which was in the best condition I’ve ever had it. But the pick of the bunch was undoubtedly Twin Peaks: the 5% collaboration between Thornbridge and Sierra Nevada. At £5 a pint, it had to deliver. And it did. Crisp citrus flavours, lemon and grass and the pine kick that you want from an American Pale Ale. A class act.
Sadly, the same couldn’t be said for Partners Pure Gold in the Britons Protection. Now there are a lot of “Gold” or “Golden” beers around and the first thing you notice is that they aren’t golden at all. So it was with this. Hmmm. And, although they are obviously trying to imply certain characteristics, these so-called “golden” beers are often found lacking. So it was with this. Not surprising, perhaps, at only 3.5%, but a weak body was overwhelmed by the use of four different malts. Quite unpleasant, really.
No such problems at the Font on New Wakefield St. This has really built itself up over the years and is now one of the top beer destinations in the city centre. With the 25% off for CAMRA members, we were laughing into our wallets with some delicious Thornbridge Kipling. But man does not live by cask alone. Spying some lesser-spotted Arbor beers in the fridge, we had no option but to try them. At £5.50 a pop for 3.8% and 4.4% respectively, it may have been sensible to share a bottle each. However, we’re nothing if not sensible, and so we were soon each tucking into bottles of Hoptical Delusion and Man v Beer. Both beautiful, unfiltered, hop heaven.
Somewhat giddy with hop fever, we made our way to the Salutation. This gem really is tucked away but has been catering to the student population since Moses was a boy. It’s had a few changes over the years since I used to prop up the bar, but its latest is the best yet. It seems to be modelled on an Islington pub and is now a comfortable, smart pub with a good range of craft beers. Recommended.
With most students in hibernation, it’s perhaps not surprising that the last two were disappointing. The Sandbar was quiet and the beer under par, whilst the Joshua Brooks fell at the first hurdle: beer choice. Day had turned into late evening by now, but we still managed some whisky on home turf in the Art Picture House before settling down for an excellent Asha curry.
As for Eddie: his bosses commended him the next day for his most productive Tuesday ever.