BASS AT ITS BEST, NEARLY

Just outside Lichfield in the village of Whittington is the parish church of St Giles where I once attended the wedding of one of Mrs RM’s Uni friends.  It cost about a zillion times more than our own wedding; I think her Dad owned the salt mine.  I’m sure Mrs RM wants to tell me off for something I did wrong there 24 years ago, like leaving before the final whistle.

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If I’d been visiting Beer Guide pubs back then I could have done a pre-emptive tick of the Bell, but probably I’d have avoided the Bass. It was the mid-90s before my own conversion to the Red Triangle.

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That is a classic line-up

The Bell would have looked a great pub at any point in my pub career.  The autumn leaves certainly brighten the exterior, and inside it’s a three roomer separating a modest dining trade from its proper function of serving beer.

A friendly village pub” is all the website offers up, which I like it a lot. It really was friendly as well. Half a dozen locals sprawled the public at 2pm drinking pints acknowledged my entry cheerily.   A pub offering bench seats, small tables and bar seating is rare these days, and it was easy to feel involved without feeling intrusive.

The lady behind the bar was otherwise engaged in lengthily determining the exact constitution of the potatoes.  It all seemed a bit unnecessary, but exciting at the same time. Trip Advisor shows other visitors have had similar potato-based obsessions.

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There’s been a fair bit of love for Bass this year on blogs like Pub Curmudgeon and Tandleman, and it’s still available in much of rural Staffs. It’s reputation relies more on the care invested by specialist beer places like the Black Lion and Wellington though.

This was classic creamy Bass, only slightly impaired by the use of an Old Speckled Hen glass.  There were Bass glasses, but pleasingly they were all in use. So here’s one I made earlier.

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It was a superb accompaniment for the ghost scratchings*, a guest scratching put on especially for Halloween. I’m thinking of asking my Mum to get me a case of those  for my birthday this year, instead of a jumper. But it’ll never happen.

QUIZ TIME – Where did I have these before (I’ve forgotten). 

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An attractive dog made my acquaintance but I resisted offering a scratching. Her owner was a sprightly 79 year old holding forth on triple heart bypasses and the joy of going “Back to Butter” now it was OK again. Simon will be in heaven here.

Entertaining toilets* were the icing on the cake, if that isn’t mixing metaphors.

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Sometimes when I visit gastro nonsense like the Trooper I wonder why I’m doing this (or wish I’d stayed in the shops with Mrs RM), but the half hour here was just wonderful. I’m already planning a return visit; this is an immediate Top 100 Pubs contender.  I’ll take my own Bass glass though (please don’t ask me where it came from).

Rural Staffordshire has some fantastic unheralded pubs.  The main cluster of them are north of Stone, and of course there’s a classic by the canal that sells 6X.

 

*PUBLIC HEALTH WARNING – After consuming chilli scratchings, wash your hands thoroughly before visiting the Gents.

21 thoughts on “BASS AT ITS BEST, NEARLY

  1. How does a pre-emptive tick work ? Surely to tick a GBG pub you have to do it in the current year, ie – September to August for it to count ? I like the bloke in the wellies – very countrified. I think I`ll wear mine next time I go to The Anvil in Wigan and see what happens ?!

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    1. A pre-emptive tick is a visit to a pub that isn’t in the Beer Guide, so of no immediate use, but likely to be in a future edition when you can tick it. Micropubs and places called Cask/craft/Tap are obvious candidates. BRAPA is the expert on those.

      Let me know when you visit the Anvil in wellies and I’ll turn up for a photo !

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  2. “I don’t belieeeve it!” In all my years on the canals (35+), I’ve only ever stopped in Whittington once and we went to The Swan which is near the cut! Now that you’ve alerted me to The Bell I’ll be recommending a stop there next time we are passing!

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  3. Snaffling Pig do a range of 10 or 12 flavoured scratchings, one of which ( I don’t sell it but have sampled it) is labelled “pig of doom” and is the spiciest product I’ve had that wasn’t in a curry; be warned. Their standard chilli, or habanero, scratchings are well worth a look.

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      1. As part of my eclectic lifestyle I do the buying for the fella who has both the hotel in Clapham (Bedford), the dull village you so accurately described recently, and an interesting two-level bar in Newcastle under Lyme.
        I saw Snaffling Pig in a farm shop near Market Drayton and put them into Newcastle just before the Snaffling Pig founders appeared on Dragons Den.
        I can’t believe I’ve confessed to all this.

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  4. My mate Chris who manages the Rochdale Spoons has become a Bass convert. He is hoping to source it for the Regal Moon but has hoops to jump through first. Bugger keeps making me jealous by sending photos of full then drained pints of Bass.

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