When I was younger pubs were usually pretty busy, though very rarely so busy that you couldn't get in the door, or if you did, felt completely unable to force your way to the bar and were doomed to ignominious retreat. It happens in London a lot, not even on a Friday, but on a Wednesday (as I remarked here) and a Thursday, as happened no less than twice to me this week.
After awful beer in the Ten Bells in Spitalfields, we went to Liverpool St to find a cash machine and for whatever reason, I fancied a drop of Fullers, Thinking they might have something interesting on, we tried to get into the Still and Star. Well I suppose it could have been done, but not with any degree of comfort and the thought of having to press our way through suits and suitesses just didn't appeal. Nor did standing with our drinks and being jostled seem like a plan either, so we beat a retreat.
Our next port of call on the way home, The Bell on Middlesex St, had a rather amusing A board* outside. What it didn't have and should have had, was a warning that the beer is totally flat. In contrast to my earlier experience, this version of Harveys Sussex Bitter was a dead parrot. It had shuffled off its mortal coil of life giving CO2 and had been vented to death. It was flat as a pancake. No discernible CO2 at all, which was presumably, to quote Mr Python again, singing with the Choir Invisible. I left most of it while E chewed her way through a half of lager.
Back to Leman St and I thought we'd try the (newly reinstated in my circle of trust), Dispensary. It was packed to bursting and we couldn't even see the bar. Forget it, so it was gin and lager for us in the Oliver Conquest, which was pleasantly busy, but not packed like the Black Hole of Calcutta.
Mudgie is always saying that London is not like any other British city and he is right. Wealth abounds, but what makes people still go to pubs after work in such numbers? Two things. They have the money, but the second is public transport I'd guess. Almost everyone travels by it and that makes going for a drink after work and then staying on for a few, much more accessible.
It's my theory unless there are better ones?
I had Meantime Pilsner in the Oliver Conquest. Not the greatest beer in the world, but at least not flat and warm.
* I was wearing fingerless gloves, but then again, I have been for the last 30 years.
A bit of a CV. Tandleman is a veteran beer lover, local CAMRA Chairman and activist, beer author, 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. He admires good brewers wherever they are and has travelled extensively in pursuit of good beer to drink.
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