Day 1 of the Northern Ireland Tickathon, and while my son hit the Dublin Guinness factory, Mrs RM and I wobbled round Strangford Lough trying to find cask.

Strangford Lough has some cultural resonance, I’m sure Van Morrison wrote about a light snack of two pounds of potted herrings or similar, but I bring you the “friendly dog on the Strangford Ferry.

Look ! He/she/they even have a pink bib ! Definitely a ticker.

Portaferry looked pleasant, like a budget Tobermory, but we ignored that and headed for my second legitimate GBG tick at Greyabbey.

A smart little lochside village, a Poundshop Plockton, perhaps ?

It’s a pound a pun here, anyway.

The Wildfowler (something to do with the time Robbie got caught sniffing grass, I believe) looked busy but the car park was just full of Ards mums picking up the schoolchildren.

Nice old entrance,

classic rock,

some great stained glass,

but, as with Saintfield, a pub entirely set for dining.

On principle, I never sit at a table with knife and fork on it, lest I scare away someone putting £50 rather than a fiver in the till.

Do you have any real ale ?” I said, noting the Ards keg font.

Sorry ?

I did the international sign of the hand pump.

Oh no, we don’t have any of THAT“.

I had a half of the Ards, icy cold but tasty. Please don’t start that Key Keg debate.

Mrs RM listened intently to my tale of keg woe.

Oh no, you didn’t do THE SIGN, did you ?


  1. A regular issue with NI CAMRA is that many of the pubs in the GBG don’t actually have any real ale on the bar. Even if they do it’s from the appalling Hilden brewery. the John Hewitt in Belfast used to have Hilden beers, but now apparently have the local beers from Shepherd Neame. Last time we were there McHughs was selling vinegar and refused to take the beer off as “We don’t have any more”. NI CAMRA are crap!


    1. Well, there’s a view !

      I reckon if you take out the Spoons and the National Trust/Nicholsons Crown, there’s only a couple of pubs actually ACTIVELY selling cask (Errigle and Dirty Duck). And even the Errigle hides its cask, and I didn’t revisit the Dirty Duck. That said, I loved the pubs, and what can NI CAMRA actually do ?


      1. You’re right, nobody can MAKE people drink cask, despite what CAMRA might wish. Some places have no conception of it. Here’s a tale from north of the 60th parallel:
        I wander into Capt. Flint’s, a former GBG pub in Lerwick. The solitary handpump shows Lerwick Brewery Skipper’s Ticket. “Pint of Skipper’s please”. Barman gets glass and pulls handpump. Some beer comes out. Barman keeps handpump down and stares at it, wondering what to do next. In the end I had to go behind the bar and show him how to do it.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Similar to when you go in a GBG pub with little cask trade and despite you stating the full name “Evan Evans Pale, please” the staff have to turn the solitary pumpclip round to check it’s right. You rarely see them checking Madri or Carling.

        Cask seems to be served far too warm, irrespective of season, for the average customer. Cellar cool really isn’t a thing. In contrast, keg/key-keg is served ice cold.


      1. Always thought he was missing a trick not expanding into Europe, especially Scandinavia. The price differential would make them insanely popular, and if high streets there are emptying at anything close to UK rates there must be a huge amount of propective property.

        Liked by 2 people

      2. If Humphrey can have forty pubs in London and Charles Wells eight in France
        ( Queen Victoria, Lille. …
        The Bombardier, Paris. …
        The Cross of St George, Paris. …
        The Jolly Sailor, La Rochelle. …
        The Sherlock Holmes, Bordeaux. …
        The Starfish, Bordeaux. …
        The London Town, Toulouse. …
        The George & Dragon, Toulouse. )
        I would have thought Tim could have a few dozen venues outside the British Isles, that’s unless he has some idealistic reason against that.

        Liked by 1 person

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