Beer Blog

A Day in Leicester with my Beer Blogging Heroes!

Leicester? Nothing wrong with it at all. Nice friendly folk. Clean and tidy for the most part. I couldn’t put my finger on it? Other than, it was a bit like their football team; everyone likes them, they excelled when winning the Premiership in 2015-16, but they’re a mid table team at best, prone to yo-yo-ing in and out of the Premier league. Instead of perpetually sacking their manager they should have sacked the city planner years ago. Or maybe they never had one?

 

I reckon this view of the city was reflected in the pubs we visited when I went for a wander round with fellow bloggers Martin Taylor  and Pubcurmudgeon (aka Old Mudgie), plus a wonderful chap from Stafford who you probably won’t know.

They thought we were going on a fact finding, sort of exchange of views and thoughts mission. Little did they know that unwittingly they had become involved in a complex plot to steal King Richard III, and return him to his rightful place in York Minster!

Thing is, that’s all just a myth. As a fully paid up member of the Guild of Professional Yorkshiremen, I wouldn’t have given Richard of York the time of day and would have been a card carrying supporter of the House of Lancaster in the time of the ‘so called’ Wars of the Roses. There’s a lot of other myths that we all need to examine from time to time through a new lens, which in a way, was what the day was all about for me.

 

Someone once said, ‘How do you remember all that stuff when you go out?’ Well, I write it down in a little note book that goes everywhere with me. I fill one every couple of months, often with material that might seem trivial.

Mudgie? He writes it down too. Mr ‘Organised’ Taylor had produced a printed itinerary, and map. ‘Even more organised’ Mudgie appeared to have improved on this with his own version of said agenda, including printed train times and other interesting addenda, upon which, in each public house, he scribed concise notes in neat capital letters with a biro. A quick slurp, a glance around the room and the paper was produced from an inside pocket, thirty seconds later the paper is neatly re-folded and replaced. I have no doubt that Mudgie’s itinerary and notes will be filed under Tuesday 17th October, Leicester, and cross referenced ‘Random days out’.

Martin’s style was to make notes at irregular intervals on his smart phone, and like me, he utilised the captured image to record things of note. Which brings us neatly to cameras; smart phone, ageing but quality compact digital, and my own beloved X100F.

I don’t think I alarmed anyone, but as soon as we reached the first boozer I started snapping; bar man, customers and the pub. I’m pretty certain they thought my stand up, walk round, ‘can I take a photo mate?’ style was a bit brazen. I didn’t lay down in the road outside the Ale Wagon to take a photo though, I crouched, actually Martin! I did nearly get run over by a bus later in the day, stood in the road photographing a pub exterior! Conversely, apart from pub exteriors, the point of view from both Martin and Mudgie is an almost surreptitious one from where they sit.

The candid shots of some other pub bloggers were discussed, and were felt to be a little risqué. Personally I’m not so sure? It’s called street photography and some revered photographers made names out of it. Or were they ‘posed’ pseudo candid shots, like the ones in magazines from the 50’s & 60’s that Boak and Bailey are fond of? I chatted to the barmaid in the Blue Boar, she was fully consenting and aware I was going to take a photo of her when she served the next punter.

Leicester-2

I’m going to blog about the individual pubs seperately, and if anyone says, ‘He’s done a hatchet job on Leicester.’ I shall remind them of the main intention; to visit the new entries or re-entries into GBG2018 that Martin hadn’t previously ‘ticked’. That effectively means we will have missed the Leicester stalwarts, the heritage pubs and anywhere remotely resembling North Bar? It wasn’t my fault that, apart from The Ale Wagon and The Real Ale Classroom, my tastebuds weren’t tingled or remotely challenged. In the other eight pubs the range was steady, even where extensive, and the quality sometimes slightly above and sometimes slightly under the NBSS 3 mark; never 3.5 and not quite 2.5.

I’m not sure I could do this GBG pub ticking thing? Yes, it’s interesting, but I’d rather be selective; look, listen and then visit the stars, the dead certs, avoiding these near misses. I want something that was created after they discovered where Richard III was buried, not the sort of beer they were drinking when they put him there.

You’ve got to be dedicated though, eight pubs, including lunch, between 1215hrs and 1800hrs (timings are precise). You’ve got to be willing to wear some shoe leather out, and walk round in circles waiting for the latest brewpub to open at 1700; first ones in though!

After leaving Mudgie and the gent from Stafford in the dreadful Kings Head on King St, around 7pm, I headed off with Martin to a splendid curry house (Mudge eats no fancy foods), and then two suburban pubs before bed time at 2300hrs (appx.). The Real Ale Classroom being undoubtedly the apogee of the day, where even though it was easily the best beer I had tasted all day, a second pint was not allowed!

‘Seriously? Come on Martin, nowhere’s come close to this?’

‘Come on, we haven’t time or we won’t get to the next one, we can catch a bus at the top of the road.’

As soon as you could gasp, ‘ten minutes brisk walk and a quarter of an hours bus ride’, we were holding pints of Everard’s Tiger in a massive, atmosphereless, one room pub at the side of a main road on the very outskirts of the city.

Don’t get me wrong. I enjoyed every minute (honest), but if I’d been alone I would have a) soon gone back to the first pub (The Ale Wagon), or b) gone on the internet and revised my itinerary. I definitely would have stuck in The Real Ale Classroom drinking excellent modern progressive beer for the rest of the night, and knowing what I know now, gone there first and stayed there.

The second question is, could I go in search of some legendary brew that was once a mainstream standard from a long redundant brewer which is now a shade of what it once might have been? The answer is definitely, No! Not Bass. Not Bathams, Bank’s, Robinson’s or any of the other brews that were mentioned throughout the day. You may disagree with me here, you shouldn’t because different isn’t wrong. If that’s what you like then that’s cool, just don’t make me have to like it. It’s good that we’re all different.

Now having said that, the true colours came out in The Blue Boar, a very nice little, more Pub than Micro. Faced with a choice of eight cask ales, everyone independently (this includes Martin who had wandered off in search of wi-fi to upload a post and only reappeared latterly) went for the Titanic Kölsch variant, including me. A discussion on it’s authenticity ensued, which restored my faith in the broader church somewhat. It still didn’t stop them banging on about BBB and defunct brewers though.

Leicester-3

In the pub Mudgie last visited as a student in 1978, the gent from Stafford produced A Real Ale Guide to Leicester & Rutland; price 60p! Really interesting stuff, a succinct summation being, there were a lot more ‘proper pubs’ in the city centre way back then. I’m not going to go anywhere near ‘proper pub’, we all know what it means, don’t we? Turned out the cask of Everard’s Old Original they served us from had actually been on since Mudgie’s last visit. They had a framed B & W print of him sat drinking it back in the day, in almost the same seat he’d returned to forty years later! Fair play, it was exchanged without batting an eyelid and the lady behind the bar was lovely.

Leicester-4

Highlights: The Ale Wagon; proper pub, excellent real ale and diverse customers. The Real Ale Classroom; classy micro with even better beer. Nawaaz Curry House; puppadums and pickles, pakoras and dip, staff curry (hot), nan and pilau rice, ice cream and fresh fruit, £18.70 for two! Yes, for TWO! We happily threw ten quid each onto the plate and dipped into pockets for extra pound coins to tip. Lovely people, lovely food.

 

At one point I summoned up enough courage to ask the widely followed Mudgie if he had any beer blogging tips for me? Martin fully endorsed his suggestion of photos of pub cats. The Black Horse on Braunstone Gate duly obliged, they both dashed off after Edna, but I think I got the best one?

Leicester-5

Prices? When I can’t afford to drink what I want, where I want, when I want, I’ll stop going out. Generally, the more you pay the better quality beer you get. We didn’t pay less than £3 a pint and generally nowhere near £4 a pint. The dearest drink I had all day was £3.80 for a pint of Arbor Ales Smack My Brew Up, which was subliminal (NBSS 4 and a bit more) and proves my theory.

Overall? A cracking day out in good company. I’m looking forward to the next round, hopefully in Leeds, and would like to be asked to go over to Greater Manchester for a session in Stockport sometime.

NB – Individual posts from each of the three bloggers who went on this tour of Leicester should be published, more or less simultaneously, at around 1200hrs Friday 20th October. I wonder what they’ve written? Probably just some random stuff and a few crap photos.

Update: You can read Mudgie’s ‘Loafing around Leicester’ version of events here and Martin’s ‘Leicester Pub Crawl’ version here .

22 replies »

  1. I can assure you my notes, although written in capital letters, weren’t remotely neat, although the quality didn’t noticeably tail off as they day progressed.

    And I definitely do eat “fancy foods”, and indeed have remarked in the past that I don’t in general care much for “traditional English” dishes. But when you need to include a food stop on a pub crawl, that tends to be what you end up having.Plus I can’t stand gravy 😮

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Very interesting to read all three posts in parallel – sounds like you had an excellent day, even if the beer could have been better. Actually that was my experience the one and only time I’ve visited the city, too. The Blue Boar had only been open a week but the Shiny Stout was the best of the bunch we tried, with the Oakham Green Devil in the Real Ale Classroom a very close second. A pint of Bathams might just have pipped them, though 😉

    Next time you visit, cross over the road from Nawaaz and go to Chettinad’s, one of the best curries we’ve had anywhere outside of Bradford!

    Like

    • I’ll remember that Chris. Not sure I’m going back anytime soon?

      It was however a very interesting exercise, which I thoroughly enjoyed. We are all very different characters and I think that shows in the three accounts of the same events. I’m particularly pleased with the portraits of Martin and Peter (Mudgie’s real name). I think they show something of who they both are.

      Liked by 2 people

      • Yes, I agree. Nobody ever really likes photos of themselves, but I think that’s a good one. I’ve borrowed it and posted it in Facebook to show my “friends” what I look like, or for those who remember me from school, what I look like now. Mind you, one joker on Twitter retweeted it as an illustration of the evils of drink 😉

        Liked by 1 person

    • It’s surprising how often views on pubs and beers do coincide, Chris, even visiting at different times in the life of the beer barrel ! Chettinad’s did look good, but meant Richard crossing the road and he’s very old.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I never noticed Chettinad actually, I was just doing as I was told, but if it’s better than Nawaaz it will do for me. That leads us into ‘better’. Just what is it ? Like Pubs my ‘better’ might not be yours. Nawaz was simple, authentic, very cheap and with fantastically friendly and efficient service. Akhbar’s or Aagrah it was not (other swish curry houses are available in Leeds & Bradford), but then again are they comparable?

        Liked by 1 person

  3. A nice read and a nice juxtaposition to the other two write-ups.

    “I’m not sure I could do this GBG pub ticking thing?”

    I concur. They are a rare breed.

    “Don’t get me wrong. I enjoyed every minute (honest), but if I’d been alone I would have a) soon gone back to the first pub (The Ale Wagon), or b) gone on the internet and revised my itinerary.”

    Again, agreed. But, to paraphrase, the company in this instance was the thing. And besides; by trying the others you now know the Ale Wagon is your go-to next time. 🙂

    “It’s good that we’re all different.”
    and;
    “We are all very different characters”

    Yup; what we have in common is that we all like pubs and/or beer. To paraphrase that classic real estate phrase (location, location, location) in a pub it’s good company, good company, good company. Better at times an NBSS 3.0 in good company than an NBSS 4.0 alone. 🙂

    Cheers

    PS – love the montage of the 10 pubs at the top of the post

    – chuckled at the dig that the Old Original was from 1978 and;

    – you most definitely got the best picture of Edna. Reminds of that dramatic chipmunk thingy from a few years back:

    Like

      • No problem. Thanks for commenting. I guess my philosophy is to let other people try out all the different pubs and wait until someone says, ‘You must go there Rich!’ I suppose the GBG does this to a certain extent, although I reckon it didn’t do it for me in Leicester. Reading between the lines, the style of the place is BBB, unless we missed out the cutting edge bars (we did) and you have to take into account Leicester is only a small place too – I think we crossed and recrossed the whole city centre about three times on foot and 15 mins on a bus gets you to the very outskirts (which martin and I did).

        Like

      • Apologies if this sounds condescending (it certainly isn’t meant that way) but be thankful for what you have.

        I live on the far west coast of Canada (on Vancouver Island). To say we have pubs here in my neck of the woods is a bit laughable (to be fair, in a big city like Toronto or Vancouver that would be different). I just Googled “pubs near Campbell River” (where I live). This was the result:

        https://www.google.ca/maps/search/pubs+near+Campbell+River,+BC/@49.9997426,-125.2459013,15z/data=!3m1!4b1

        A total of 11. One of those is an 11 minute drive north from where I live. Another is a 22 minute drive south of where I live (and no, we don’t have public transport that one could use for that). One of the places is a take out pizzeria (no booze on the premises). Another is a coffee shop in the same location as a pub, but then the pub is also listed. Two are chain restaurants (to be fair Moxie’s is not all that bad but still almost a 10 minute drive from home). Another is an adult entertainment club *cough*… and the map doesn’t even show the actual brewpub that opened up last November!

        I envy you guys at times; even if the cask is off and the barman is surly and the it’s full of small children and/or small dogs.

        This is not meant as a rant. I love where I live but like anywhere it’s not perfect. 🙂

        Cheers 🙂

        Like

  4. No worries, although there was nothing wrong with Leicester, from the pubs we visited it wasn’t, for me, Beertopia! The city seems more suited to an ‘old school’ taste in beer. Nothing wrong with that, when done well it’s excellent, when done average it is very average though.

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s