Saturday, 5 April 2014

Drinking keg again

You could be mistaken for thinking that my life consists of endless travel. Dolores does. She thinks I've got way too much planned this year. She may well be right.

But my latest trip wasn't a mad dash around several cities to be at various events. No, nothing as demanding and knackering as that. More a leisurely long weekend. A weekend-long pub crawl. Because I was back in Gibraltar with Mikey again.

I'm starting to feel quite at home there, especially in a couple of the pubs. Nothing odd about that, gien the amount of time I've spent in the Horseshoe and Fresh. The former is relatively pub-like, the latter more like a bar. It doesn't even have draught beer, so I have to drink bottled London Pride. I can live with that.

With age, I've learned to discard my beer-snobbery at the pub door. Why make life difficult for myself? I could go all casky or crafty, but what would be the point? It would only strip out all the fun. Going down the pub isn't all about the beer. It's as much about companionship, comradeship and banter.

They seem a friendly bunch in Gibraltar. We got chatting with people pretty much everywhere we went. That's what makes hanging around in the city's pubs so much fun. The most depressing comment I ever read on BeerAdvocate was by someone who explained why he liked bars with lots of TV's and really loud music. It meant people couldn't strike up a conversation with him. Why bother going out at all if you don't want to interact with anyone?

What did I drink apart from London Pride? Lots of old-fashioned keg Bitter. John Smiths Smooth, Pedigree and Old Speckled Hen. I avoided the Tetley's. I just can't bring myself to touch it since the bastards pulled down the brewery. Was it great? Not really. Pedigree was the pick of the bunch, with a hint of Burton snatch. John Smiths was just incredibly bland.

We did nothing even vaguely cultural or touristy. Except walk over the border into Spain and have a few beers and some tapas in La Linea. Thankfully the Spanish border guards weren't playing silly buggers and there were no queues. There is something special about walking over an international border.

There's lots to like about Gibraltar. Especially the mix of Spain and Britain. Most of the older buildings look Spanish, but many contain shops from British chains. And while the pubs mostly sell British-type stuff like pies and fish and chips, there's also a smattering of Spanish dishes like paella.

My biggest problem was where to have breakfast on the Sunday we left. Most pubs don't open until 10:00 or 11:00 on Sunday. Too late for us to able to catch our flight. Thankfully, someone told us that the Gibraltar Arms opens at 08:00 (despite what it says on their website). And a full English is a reasonable £5.50. A great way to finish off my stay.

The trip wasn't without some decent beer. We went via Gatwick, which has a couple of Wetherspoons. The one airside at the North Terminal had an interesting range of beer, all of which seemed to be collaborations of UK and foreign brewers. The Siren's Song Session IPA (a collaboration of Cigar City and Wychwood Brewery) I tried was in lovely condition. The cask-conditioning really brings out the citrusy hops. And means that it's easier to slurp back. I really can't understand those who say hoppy beers are better in keg form. Total bollocks, in my opinion.

I only had time for one, sadly.

The Horseshoe
193 Main Street,

Add to trip
5 Waterport Plaza,
Public Market,

Gibraltar Arms
184 Main Street,

The Lord Nelson
Casemates Square,


Gary Gillman said...

It's sounds like a great business opportunity to open a pub there selling cask and craft beer.


Martyn Cornell said...

I fear not - the few surviving military/naval personnel probably wouldn't be interested, and neither would the native Gibraltarians (who are much more like the Spanish than they would ever admit) or those Spaniards who come to Gib to buy cheap cheese, I suspect.