Showing posts with label ten inch wheels. Show all posts
Showing posts with label ten inch wheels. Show all posts

Friday, September 25, 2015

Guest Post: Always There

Part 3 in the 'Always There' series of posts comes from TenInchWheels who as well as being a good writer is a magnificent photographer, take a gander at his blog sometime, even though he hasn't posted in a while, the pictures are great. Anyway....

For more than two decades I’ve been a Londoner. And for most of that time, the capital has largely been a dismal place for the lover of good beer.

I grew up in Keighley, and anyone who’s read my blog will know that I’m an unashamed Taylor’s fanboy. Maybe I’m biased about our local heroes, but I really don’t care. I earned my beergeek chops on sparkled, cellar-cool Landlord, drunk from the fountainhead, The Boltmakers Arms. From the immaculate old coaching inn to the shabby lock-in in the shadow of a derelict mill, a good pint in almost any pub could be taken for granted, and still can be. Until I left home for art college, I didn’t even know it was possible to get a bad pint.

In 1992 I moved to London. London! The greatest city on earth! Surely, in this throbbing metropolis of impossible-to-please Cockneys a good pint was a dead cert. Well, no. The pubs were good, but the beer was almost universally bad. For the first few years I persevered. Always ordering from the handpump, and I was nearly always disappointed. It was a matter of pride to find that elusive, decent (or consistently decent) pint. Soho, Camden, Shoreditch, Brixton, Holloway, Holborn, Highgate, Hackney, Bethnal Green. Flat, flabby, skunky, sour, murky, eggy. I’ve run the gamut of pints that I’ve had to return to a stink-eyed barman, swatting off the inevitable ‘it’s meant to be like that’ comments. Too many ‘nearly’ pints winced down. Too many unfinished nonics of flat, soupy brown boredom left on sticky tables. One famous day I took my dad to a pub, where - on asking what real ales were ‘on’ - he was told that the bank of six handpumps was just for decoration. So I gave up. For years - now it can be told - I drank Kronenbourg, Newcastle Brown or (heaven help me) Strongbow. But one thing kept me going through those terrible years. Bottles of Timothy Taylor’s Landlord.

On trips home I’d bring bottles back down on the train with me, my rucksack clinking like a milk float. Rare sightings in supermarkets were moments of rejoicing. Visitors would leave them in the cupboard, where I’d find them behind the cornflakes with a moist, homesick eye. Crack off the cap, wait a second, pour. The head settles. First sip and the tingling hit as your palate wakes with that characteristic smack of grapefruit and marmalade which drifts into an astounding lip-smacking, citrus-bitter finish. Full-bodied. Satisfying. As comfortable as my old Redwings, as cosy as a cashmere scarf in a Pennine February. You don’t want cosy? I do. It’s the taste of permanence, rootedness, and home.

Landlord’s a legend, and nowadays it’s in every London pub worthy of a visit. I’ve even seen it sold in a bowling alley. Taylor’s have brewed Landlord since 1952, and it’s always been a favourite among beer fans. But it was a rare sight on handpump in the capital until 2003. That was when Madonna lit Taylors’ blue touchpaper by claiming in an interview with Jonathan Ross that she enjoyed a pint of of their most famous brew at Soho’s Dog And Duck. Did anyone really believe her? It didn’t matter. Suddenly, you started to see it all over the place. And in London it was terrible whenever I tried it. And in 2015 it usually still is. So Landlord is still my go-to bottle, and probably always will be.

And now London is a city with more breweries than I can count, and a beer choice that’s impossible to comprehend. I’m sat typing this with a choice of at least twelve places to get a good, well-kept local beer within a five or ten minute bike ride. I have the pick of the best brews in London on sale at my local bottle shop, the Wanstead Tap. When out and about I no longer have to carry a mental map of a half-dozen ‘reliable’ pubs. A revolution has happened - but there’s still work to do before this is truly a great ‘beer city’. Now you can now get Landlord in almost any supermarket, but the contents of my rucksack on trips back from home still ring and tinkle as the the train clatters south to Kings Cross. Although nowadays it doesn’t matter too much if a couple of those bottles don’t survive the journey.

Friday, November 25, 2011

My Local - Guest Blog

We're staying in the UK for this week's guest blog. Ten Inch Wheels chronicles life in London from the perspective of a Yorkshireman and goes beyond being a blog just about beer. It is always a good read, and his photos are excellent as well, so I heartily recommend reading more of his posts, once you have read the one below of course!


You're home. As you walk up the slope from the station platform, an inch of snow crunches underfoot. The Pennine air is fresh and frigid, biting your face. Snowflakes hang in the streetlights. You turn left onto East Parade, the pub windows glowing a hundred yards away. Through the doors and the heat from the coal fire wraps round you like a blanket. A nod from one of the regulars. 'Yes, love?' from the barmaid.


Locals aren't always local. Mine's about 230 miles, give or take, from where I live - but The Boltmakers Arms in my home town of Keighley is my 'local'. You'll have heard of Keighley because of Timothy Taylor. Taylor's is - but me no buts - the greatest brewery on earth, and the Bolts (as it is universally known) is their de-facto brewery tap. It's a tiny pub - really a converted cottage - and almost always busy. Some nights it can be so packed it's difficult to get your pint to your mouth. If you're lucky you can snag a seat by the open fire. It doesn't matter if you're on your own. This is Yorkshire. If you haven't got your nose in the paper, someone will want to chat.


I've known the Bolts a long time. When I first started going in, it had been run for years by Eric French. Kept a good pint, did Eric. His main punters came from the printworks over the road and the mill round the back. Both long gone. I think I was the only one who liked the decor as it was back then; a palimpsest of decades of Taylor's ad hoc makeovers - Red vinyl benches, formica tables and Bakelite lampshades. When Eric retired The Bolts had a couple of wilderness years and a refit before the current guv'nor Phil Booth took over. The Taylor's pumps are front and centre on the bar. You'll never find a better pint of Landord. No, really you won't. I've looked. Phil pours a pint of Taylor's flagship brew to such forensic perfection it can make a returning native weep.

The Bolts is one of about five Taylor pubs in the town centre. They're all good, but there's something very special about the Bolts. Something you can't quite define that makes it all just right. Maybe it's the easy bonhomie between the generations - the flat cap chatting with the baseball cap. That fire, or even the size of the place which helps you feel as comfortable as you would in your own living room. Ultimately at all comes down to it being a classic town pub that happens to serve extraordinarily good beer. And you can't ask for much more than that.

Beyond January

Dry January is over, but my beer fast continues. Well, it continues until Friday. As a general rule I only drink at the weekend, thus my win...

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