Monday, 13 October 2008

My Beery Weekend

I’ve had a long weekend of excess, spread across the south-east of England in London, Brighton and Whitstable. Lauren (my girlfriend and chauffeur) and I had some ‘us’ time, which generally means I walk around the shops with her and then she sits opposite me in the pub and pretends to be interested while I talk about beer.

The first London stop, post-tourist fun, was the Fox and Anchor in Clerkenwell. This is one of the best pubs I’ve been to in recent memory: large choice of perfectly kept beer served in shiny silver tankards (although these did affect the aroma of the brew and made it tinny); a quirky snaking shape which leads back into small booths; and a food menu which features pies and scotch eggs as bar snacks (I love bar snacks – they are, for me, one of the gauges of a good pub). I had a pint of Adnam’s Old Ale which really was a thing of beauty.

Next we visited the Gunmakers, the pub run by this blogger and a fellow member of the British Guild of Beer Writers. Customers were spilling out onto the street and inside was buzzing. My pint of Timmy Taylor’s Landlord was super. The food menu was stomach-rumble-inducing, but we had a dinner reservation to meet.

Dinner was at Comptoir Gascon, which is pretty much right slap-between the Fox and Anchor and the Gunmakers. It’s a French deli-come-bistro which was serving one of my utter favourite dishes sur le monde: cassoulet; thick and sticky with duck fat, creamy with the beans and full of juicy meat. Food to die for, literally.

London done, we moved on to Brighton and the pub of note was the Basketmakers Arms, a Fuller’s-tied house just off the hippie-chic-smoothie-lined streets. The beer couldn’t be better kept and their range featured almost all of the Fuller’s brews, plus two Gale’s beers (including HSB, which harks back fond memories of the pub quizzes at the Beehive Royal Holloway University) and an autumn seasonal called Red Fox (which was stunning and both red and foxy).

The sunny Sunday was spent by the sea in Whitstable. The main purpose was to walk off the excesses of Friday and Saturday, but I had ulterior motives as it is also home to one of my favourite pubs: the Whitstable Brewery Bar, which juts out onto the pebbled beach and serves the beer spanking fresh from the brewery (the oyster stout is magical).

The only downside to the weekend was missing X Factor (read: Cheryl Cole on X Factor).

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