A month that started in Leigh and ended in Dublin is quite hard to sum up. Just the paltry 35 new Beer Guide pubs, though at least I’ve cleared most of London now.
I lost one week to the after-effects of the Manchester Beer Festival, and another to Dublin, whose best pubs really ought to be in the GBG just to give Simon some travel grief.
Beer quality was generally good (NBSS 3 up), but eight pubs were unexpectedly closed due to refurbishment, hibernation or staff parties.
Highlights (?) weren’t always things to be proud of;
- Got locked in Victoria Park before West Ham away and had to scale the fence
- Gatecrashed a wedding in Nunhead
- Disrupted a quiz night in Kidderminster
- Also in Kiddy, we were in a town centre when police were called, also a first
- Enjoyed an Ember Inn
- Drank two pints of John Smiths (two more than Cloudwater)
- Walked most of the industrial estates of Slough.
Thank goodness it was Dryanuary.
Pub of the Month was Weavers Real Ale House in Kidderminster, which pulled off the rare trick of being a micro-cum-craft house for all ages and pockets. Black Country cobs, too. The venerable (and BYO food) Seven Stars is just as good, but I knew that already.
Beer of the Month – my first cask since Manchester came from Trouble Brewing of Co. Kildare and showed the Irish can do cask, even if later pints suffered a bit from lack of turnover. The Black Sheep in Dublin was a PotM contender too.
Two classic gigs in month, from Laura J Martin in a tiny pub, and Maria McKee in a cathedral. More death metal coming up I think.
My top discoveries weren’t that new, but the craft bars and street art of Dulwich make this our new favourite bit of London, while the ArcelorMittal Orbit suddenly all made sense up close, rather more sense than West Ham’s new ground anyway.
In February I currently have trips to Bradford, Glamorgan, Sheffield and Leeds, which suggests I need to plan some southern trips urgently. About time for a trip back to Devon I think.