Our night in Oxford drew to an end as dusk descended, in the Pint Shop, Mrs RM deciding she’d had enough pubby fun, and wasn’t doing the Sam Smiths place with the rest of the gang.
This was a slight disappointment to me, but I’d guess the Pint Shop is a gazillion time more likely to get in a future Beer Guide than Sam’s. Just a hunch, mind. Tim Hampson joined us and great company he proved.
Local knowledge suggested the Pint Shop could be quiet, just as the Cambridge original can be before the suits join in with the odd tourists.
Not quiet today, in fact a cacophony of noise, and a good mix of drinkers upstairs, with diners down below. Somehow Mrs RM found the last table. It’s a knack.
All the same things that slightly irritate me in Cambridge are here as well. Mainly, the dangling lights that I always bang my head on. “Your fault” said Mrs RM. She’s right.
And a Bristol-style “order by number” craft beer board I can’t read.
Eagle-eyed craft aficionados like Paul Mudge will notice a certain corporate feel to the beer menu; loads of Camden, Nene Valley and other usual suspects. Not much for the curious, and keg beating cask 18 to 3. #CaskIsDead.
The obvious cask to go for, Maharajah from West Berkshire (IN A HANDLED GLASS !!!), was less than spectacular, too, as noted by Pub Curmudgeon yesterday. £3.50 a pint was verging on bargain, mind.
But apart from that it was hard to fault. Mrs RM had the strong keg from Stone and Beatnikz Republic, and you suddenly could have been in a proper beer town like Manchester.
It was so good, Mrs RM cancelled plans (as they say on NBSS) to visit a Thai restaurant and we ate downstairs. Excellent pork belly and kebabs, washed down with a better cask beer from Thirst Class Ale and a beer chosen solely for the novelty name from Nene Valley. You can guess which one.
And that was Oxford.
Except I had 10 minutes before the Park & Ride bus rumbled round, just enough time to verify the Three Goats Head actually exists (I’d never noticed it before).
It comes as quite a shock after Sam Smiths in Levenshulme and Stocky, and not just for the youth of the customers.
Small, plush and cosy, without the curmudgeonly Old Boys you expect, and I wouldn’t have recognised it if not for the bar.
Closer to three quid a pint than two, the OBB was Beer Guide standard, but it will never make it. But I’d have it in Cambridge in an instant.