Reluctant Scooping: Nottingham

Reluctant Scooping has two rules:

#1 - if you walk into a pub and find a beer you love, you must drink a pint of it.
#2 - if you walk into a pub, don't find a beer you love, you must drink a half of something new.
#3 - if you walk into a pub table, it hurts. And you're probably drunk. And there is no rule #3.

So, half-a-dozen-ish Notingham pubs were lined up. A couple of willing wingmen recruited. And mayhem ensued.

Trent Bridge Inn

Cask beers on offer: 10
Potential scoops: 2
Actual scoops: 1 (Nottingham Trent Bridge Inn Ale, halfpint, cask)

It's been a long long time since I last drank at the TBI. From being a cubby-holed, slightly-shabby and rather smelly pub, Wetherspoons have transformed it into somewhere smart and comfy. Still has a few nooks and crannies, plus a large room at the back with a big TV. Tons of cricket memorabilia adorn the walls, alongside some impressive paintings commissioned especially for the pub. Their house beer from Nottingham Brewery, TBI Ale, was pleasant enough although a bit on the brown sticky side for my taste. And here's the Trent:

  


Cask beers on offer: 8
Potential scoops: 2
Actual scoops: 0
Favourites drank: 1 (Thornbridge Jaipur, pint, cask).

You walk through the door and walk into the bar. You sit in what looks like your Gran's living room, circa 1976. Customers appear to have arrived from an Alan Bennett monologue. And the beer is... stunning. Perfect quality. The best pint of Jaipur I've drank for some time - and last week I was drinking it in Thornbridge's own pubs. The other two topers with me today - Alcofrolic Jock and Rich from Brewsters - both drank Jaipur too. Nods and knowing grunts were passed. It was so good that afterwards, Jock went outside to have sex with his bike:


Cask beers on offer: 5
Potential scoops: 2
Actual scoops: 1 (Castle Rock Spyke Golding's Ale, halfpint, cask).

I've always had a soft spot for the Kean's Head. Mainly for their super food, especially the homemade scotch eggs. There's a fridge-full of solid hoppy bottles (Flying Dog etc) but I plumped for another LocAle. It was massively malty. So much so that I was picking the bits out of my teeth all the way to the next pub.



Cask beers on offer: 10
Potential scoops:4
Actual scoops: 0
Favourites drank: 1 (Castle Rock Harvest Pale, pint, cask).

The brewery tap for Castle Rock, the VAT now has a visitor's centre and a rather shiny new seating area. Some of the aforementioned Spyke Golding's is being aged in whisky casks which could be seen through a viewing window into the brewery itself. And then there was Harvest Pale; I still love the beer, although my palate has changed and - possibly - so has the recipe. Thing is, I wouldn't want to drink it anywhere else, not even in another Castle Rock pub.



Cask beers on offer: 6
Potential scoops: 0
Actual scoops: 0
Favourites drank: 1 (Nottingham Rock Mild, pint, cask).

Full of tourists clogging up the bar, ordering the wrong food and drinking tea. Tea. Sheesh. But I love the Trip. I've sat here watching moisture glistening the silica within the sandstone; you really are drinking in a cave. There's been quiet mid-afternoon pints and raucous party pints. And I suppose I owe my existence to this pub; it's where my mother's parents met. Today, the Rock Mild was sublime.


Cask beers on offer: 8
Potential scoops: 0
Actual scoops: 0
Favourites drank: 1 (Oakham JHB, halfpint, cask)

The Sal is an old pub, some say it's older than the Trip. It sits on top of an extensive cave network. It has a ghost. But, much more importantly, it rocks. When we were there, the jukebox was blasting out one of Lars Ulrich's unfeasibly-accurate double bass rolls. Gentlemen in leather jackets with denim cutoffs debate the precarious state of the Greek economy. And the Oakham JHB did what Oakham JHB was born to do - blow away any other pale hoppy beer on the bar.

And here's a picture of Robin Hood wearing the Ginger Merkin:



Cask beers on offer: 5
Potential scoops: 4
Actual scoops: 1 (Brewster's Hophead, pint, cask).
And some Paulaner.

Wow. Only an A-board outside to suggest there's a bar here. Inside: scattered furniture, slender columns support an arcade. Plenty of beers to choose from, Brewster's Hophead was one of the best session beers I've had all year - and I'm not saying that because the brewer bought me a pint. The food looked good, the mix of diners and lounge lizards all seemed to be enjoying themselves. I'll be coming back here.



Organ Grinder

Cask beers on offer: some
Potential scoops: a couple
Actual scoops: er, none. I think.
Actual beers drank. Blue Monkey 99 Red Baboons, pint, cask. Duvel, halfpint, keg. Brooklyn Lager, several pints, keg.

Busy pub, rightly so. Knockout quality Blue Monkey beers, interesting keg choices. We sat outside in the roof garden - garden, in this case, meaning "trestle tables" - where the smell of burning garlic from the takeaway next door kept us hungry. I do remember snorting hop snuff off the table. I remember Rich looking like a right tit when wearing the merkin. I remember us all drinking Brooklyn lager as the sun went down.




All in all - a bit odd, to tell you the truth. Nothing like the range of beers I expected and very little in the way of foreign muck until late in the day. But the TBI is somewhere I'd be happy to take breakfast at again, the King William IV had quality beer, Malt Cross was a revelation and Organ Grinder is worth the jaunt uphill.

Thanks to Rich and Jock for an entertaining day and to Nottingham CAMRA's Steve Westby and Ray Kirby for useful gen.

The next venue for Reluctant Scooping will be... ah, you decide. I've been to Derby, Sheffield, Birmingham,  Leicester and Nottingham. If your city has a good half-dozen pubs and bars that offer eclectic beers, give me a shout and I'll come scooping with you. But be warned; the ginger merkin is always invited too...






5 comments:

  1. Come to Cambridge -> http://www.cambridge-pubs.co.uk/

    ReplyDelete
  2. Good write up. I remember most of it happening so I mustn't have gotten too squiffy. Good drinking buddies and good to meet Rich.
    Reading this has made me rather thirsty, though.

    Bob is right, a trip to Cambridge would be well worth it. I go at least once a year. You don't even have to wander that far from the railway station, most of the pubs are around Mill Road.

    ReplyDelete
  3. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Is Manchester a possibility at all? I'd be happy to join in with a spot of topering.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Manchester is a stone-cold certainty. I'm over in early November - on a Monday - because I'm meeting up with a bunch of topers that evening. I ought to make it over on a Saturday at some stage too

    ReplyDelete