Sunday, 24 February 2013

An unexpected session

A message. A message from Tim asking if I want to meet up for a pint at the Euston Tap. Well, why not? I’m hanging around at the other end of London so it takes me a while to get there. When I do,
I have some Yakima Valley hoppy thing from Buxton which is okay but quite generic. Tim is not so lucky, playing guinea pig to some much-feted special release beer the Tap has on, a murky soup smelling of citrus and Bovril.

Camden’s 7 hop lager is very nice, well hopped and with the typically Camden fresh pils malt character that they seem able to get into their lagers – juicy, vegetal, as sweet as chewing a stalk of grass or munching on freshly shredded cabbage. It’s so good I have another. And possibly another, around this point my notes seem to become unreliable for some reason.

Our “swift half” turns into a long, messy session. Somehow we end up in the Craft Beer Co in Islington. I have heard very good things about this chain, but the name would normally put me off; inside, happily, there is none of the wankiness the name suggests. In fact, they have quite a bit of the old retro clutter associated with old-school pubs – a piano in the corner; enamel signs urging the customer to “Ask for Whitbread’s Ale and Stout”; an ashtray, repurposed as a candle holder, advertising Charrington Pale Ale.

Camden’s Gentleman’s Wit is a disappointment after the gorgeous lager – the egg and coriander notes (though I am told it is actually bergamot) make an over-spiced, unenjoyable omelette of a beer. Wild Beer Co’s Epic Saison is harshly bitter and one-dimensional, with no subtlety or depth.

After taking my leave of Tim, a nightcap – a bottle of Gadd’s Dogbolter to finish the night. I had bought this in Kent from the off-licence next door to the 39 Steps micropub. For some unaccountable reason I then went back to the pub and told Eddie Gadd himself that I had bought none of his beer, when I actually had. I am just going to ascribe this to the strange things that happen when you drink Dogbolter.

Dogbolter is one of those legendary beers that I’ve read about years ago but never actually drunk before. One of my favourite drinking books is a long out of print paperback called “Europe on 20 Litres a Day” that I bought in a remainder shop for a pound or so when I was a student. It came out when the Firkin pubs were still operating and still owned by David Bruce. The author’s handling of the chain starts off simply “It is wonderful at Bruce’s,” and he goes on to rave about Dogbolter in particular.

It’s because I never tasted that Firkin Dogbolter of old that is probably why I have assumed for twenty years that it was a strong ale. It turned out instead to be a light, chocolatey brown porter.

I am pleased to report that I woke up sprawled on the sofa with the lights still on. Dogbolter lives up to its fearsome reputation.

1 comment:

  1. Firkin Dogbolter was a strong ale - it was a darkish bitter, 5.5%ish and very drinkable (tasty but not too chewy), and consequently kicked like a mule. Sounds like the Gadd's version has preserved the key characteristics.