Beer Blog

The Boot, St Albans

The Boot-8

The Boot was the first Olde Worlde style boozer we visited on the St Alban’s Proper Day Out. Positioned down a narrower lane towards the end of the broad High Street (Chequer St, locally) whose assortment of quality shops transcended the usual sad Charity Shoppe Worlde of many middle England towns.

To be fair St Albans is a very nice town (I know it’s a city but the population is less than 150k) with many interesting, individual shops and businesses and a disproportionate number of estate agents; seriously, there’s one at every verse end.

The Boots website  says it’s been in the GBG for the 11th year running in 2016, without walking upstairs to look at last years guide, I’m assuming that’s now a straight 13 years?

I walked in, with high hopes, but felt a bit let down on entering  Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing wrong with it. It’s just … a bit sparse, bare, with lots of room for standing. It feels more of a VDE than the cosy boozer my first impressions promised. There were people sat down, some dining, several with pushchairs and well behaved infants. You wouldn’t have wanted to take your kiddy in a pub like this before the smoking ban would you.

I don’t know what it was, I couldn’t put my finger on it, but this pub just wasn’t the same as the first two. The beer wasn’t as good neither. It wasn’t bad. My Oakham Citra was NBSS 3- (but above 2.5), it just tasted a bit old. Not fresh, as opposed to having been tapped to long. There wasn’t that vibrant taste to it that I’d expect. I’ve experienced this before with Citra, which raises the question pub, distributor or brewer? I can’t fault any of the Oakham beers when on form so can only assume this cask and been hanging about somewhere for a good while.

Altogether there were seven cask ales on, plus two real ciders on draught from the cellar. I can’t tell you how much the beers were as I’d still not put my hand in my pocket. I kept seeing folk pulling purple and brown ones out to pay and clearly needed a few more ales before my own wallet came out.

I think someone went for the Arkell’s Spiced Pumpkin Ale. Not me, I got put off Pumpkin beer a long time ago in a NY Brewpub. And aren’t somethings best left where they come from?

Several went for the Anarchy Guzzolene 5.4% Desert Juice, an unfined and unfiltered IPA. This prompted the usual ‘Is it meant to be like that’ comments from some of the assembled real ale fanatics. I sincerely hope they were joking/trying to be sarcastic, or hadn’t properly studied the writing on the pump clip. I tried some of Martin’s, he was pretending to like it but he gladly passed it my way. To be fair, although well kept, it was gopping, not what I was expecting and instantly resigned to the never again bin.

I took this juncture to chat with Pubmeister. It fascinates me to analyse what drives someone to complete all the pubs in the GBG (or any other similar feat). Especially considering my own take it or leave it, enjoy it nevertheless, approach.

Turns out he bought his first Good Beer Guide when he was a student in Bradford in 1981. I might have joined up myself back then, but as a young student in the same year, I thought the majority of clubs, associations and campaigns at the Freshers Fair were over politicised, in whichever direction they wanted to become polarised.

I didn’t realise it as we walked down the road, but sat here typing, I have to say this was my least favourite St Albans pub, despite the friendly and engaging staff.

14 replies »

  1. I kind of agree with your observations here Richard, although it is obviously an authentic pub of a very good age, it didn’t quite feel right, plastic would be too harsh, maybe it was the pushchairs that done it, I don’t know. Regarding the beer, I had Oakham JHB, it to had a very slight musty taste and smell despite the barman stating it was just new on, definitely a cellar problem in my view. That all said It,s still a pub worth a look if your’e new to St Albans.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. It was I who went for the Arkell’s Spiced Pumpkin Ale.
    I didn’t think it was as good as the Kingsdown, 3B or (discontinued) 2B with which I am familiar but it was better than other pumpkin ales I’ve drunk and that surely suggests that 175 years of brewing experience counts for something at a time when there are so many newly established brewing concerns about.

    Liked by 3 people

  3. I think I also had Citra, which was OK…as you described it. The pub itself was OK, but as you rightly say, it was the least good out of all the ones we visited. Possibly because it is in the town centre and doesn’t have quite so many ‘locals’ (as a proportion of the trade) to keep the landlord on his/her toes.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. The Anarchy tasted less than vibrant (good word, Richard) to me, and my pint here last year wasn’t stellar either. Probably a good thing they didn’t have the Bass they sometimes order on the bar.

    That said, this was my favourite barperson of the trip, a really interesting and interested chap. And a classy pub. Just too much cask on.

    Interesting to see the commonality of views.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. “Not me, I got put off Pumpkin beer a long time ago in a NY Brewpub.”

    Right with you there mate! They keep trying to foist that stuff over here on us every October. And come late November it’s on sale in every liquor/beer store!

    “It fascinates me to analyse what drives someone to complete all the pubs in the GBG (or any other similar feat).”

    To be fair (from over this side of the pond) Brits are kind of known for that (i.e. build cathedrals out of matchsticks and the like). Heck, 90% of the gaming world is a bit like that (gotta get ’em all!). So doing it to beer is bloody brilliant! 🙂

    “I have to say this was my least favourite St Albans pub, despite the friendly and engaging staff.”

    Sadly, on an outing such as this, someone has to come last. (sigh)


    Liked by 1 person

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