After an exciting fly past over our flat - thanks British Airways - above and beyond and all that - we landed safely at London City Airport. I like LCY and fly from there whenever I can and the added bonus of a low level approach on the Eastern runway is possibly the most thrilling flight you can have and still wear the same underpants afterwards. Is it really that low? Well seems so.
The other bonus is a quick DLR ride to Tower Gateway and then we are home. Spain is left behind but the memories remain. Cruzcampo is just about tasteless. San Miguel is dry and can be not bad, Alhambra is tasteless and Mahou is just a bit better - the best of a bad lot, but nowhere as good as Lees Original Lager which I have been known to sup with pleasure. You can see what I'm thinking can't you? I need a pint of cask conditioned beer. But I'm in London. I think of my nearest pubs. Am I going to go to the Brown Bear with its dodgy warm beer? No fear. What about the Princess Of Prussia? I like that as a pub, but seriously, do you want your first cask pint after 15 days to be overpriced Shepherd Neame? Certainly not. What about Goodman's Field? A lottery on choice and quality? The Draft House in Seething Lane? It'll be warm likely as not. So what then? It must be within walking distance and have the certainty of quality. I think and say to E "What about a walk to The Pelt Trader?" E she say "Yes".
I've written about the Pelt Trader here and as a bonus, it is now firmly established, thus guaranteeing turnover. The cellar is in capable hands and as a bonus, my favourite and toppest barmaid in London* works there, adding even more quality to the already excellent team. So we are on. Outside are suits galore. Inside is a much more mixed bunch of drinkers. I am greeted warmly at the bar and spot Stringers Gold on sale. No need to taste - it'll be good. Clean, spicy, cool, well conditioned, the beer is as good as it can be without a sparkler and a handpump. It barely touches the side and is repeated. I try a taste of Arbor Motueka, the follow up pint of which confirms a long held view which I am foolish enough to ignore on many an occasion. That is, a small taste tells you little. The beer itself is a disappointing thin effort of 3.8% with a dose of New Zealand hops to overcome its poor base. It works on almost no level. Ah cask. You lift me up and dash me down. E had fared much better with Tiny Rebel Fubar at 4.4%. Hoppy, pale, a body like a Strictly professional and just as enjoyable. I switched to it and it was a fine finish as grub beckoned.
Next day, at the Euston Tap on the way home, I enjoyed two superb pints of Buxton Moor Top. When in London, though very much improved in recent years, you still have to kiss a lot of frogs before you find your Princess. That's a worrying fact, but you can minimise your chances by careful selection. Both the PT and the ET fall into that category. They are also two of the few places where, with a pint and a half of under 4% beer, you are likely to get change from a fiver.
Quality and value. In London. Pinch me, but trust me!
* @kirstariffic of course. Ex Holburn Whippet. Another good bet and all linked. Funny that.
A bit of a CV. Tandleman is a veteran beer lover, local CAMRA Chairman and activist, beer writer, 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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