Saturday, 11 April 2015

A pub crawl in Portsmouth

Whilst others might have spent the Easter weekend enjoying themselves I was busy researching. Researching the pubs in Portsmouth that is. 

My friend Jimmy, a Surrey compleatist, was having a Good Beer Guide ticking expedition. For various reasons, the main one being abject cowardice, I've not been on one of Jimmy's expeditions before. There were 15 pubs on the list this time, which did have my liver quailing in terror, but I was told we might not make it to all of them. So putting aside my previous poltroonery I girded my loins and set off. 


Yup, it's a port
We were using the objective scientific binary scoring system to remove any bias from the ratings, though I'll add my own subjective views too.


There's a score of 1 or 0 in each category and then these are added to get the total score out of ten. 

 The first stop was the Old Customs House, a Fullers pub.


The Old Customs House

This was a large and busy pub with a lot of Fullers beers and a few guests on. No ESB though, which didn't go down well with Jimmy. Can't say I was keen on the place so it's score of only two is fine by me.



Next stop was the Bridge Tavern, another Fullers pub.




The Bridge Tavern
This one was empty though, despite it being a much better pub, which was reflected in its score of five.



I wouldn't have it as my local mind you, the fire wasn't lit.

After that it was on to The Pembroke.



I like this one, it's the sort of place they have meat raffles in. 


They had Bass on here, which as usual I had for nostalgic reasons. To my horror though I saw it was served through a sparkler so automatically a zero for beer quality.

Bullshit Corner

This elementary mistake meant they only scored four, which seemed a little harsh, but you can't argue with the scientific facts.

On the way to the next pub we passed something called Brewery House, though sadly it's used by the scouts.

Brewery House
The Hole in the Wall was where we were heading to:

The Hole in the wall
It looked promising from the start:


And they were clearly going for the "beard or weird" score here.


This pub scored a very impressive eight points, making it the clear front runner at this stage.

Our next port of call was in spitting distance, The Barley Mow:

The Barley Mow
This had a pool table and a jukebox you could get 80s rock on. I fear this may have lead to some researcher bias as it's massive nine points seemed more than a little generous to me.



Five pints in I was definitely getting a bit pissed so had a half in the next one, The Apsley House:

The Apsley House
They had a cat on the bar, which definitely counted as a special feature, but I don't think anyone was particularly taken with it otherwise and it only scored two.

Next door was another pub, the Auckland Arms, with a very impressive exterior so we went off piste and called in.


The Auckland Arms
I wasn't overwhelmed with it but it scored a very respectable five.


Continuing with our research we passed what looks like more brewery history:

The Old Brewery
I may have to read up on the brewing history of Portsmouth. The Phoenix was the next pub on the list:

They had what I'd been looking for: beer from Irving Brewery.


Very good it was too, and the taste definitely reminded me Gales, the brewery Malcolm Irving worked at until Fullers closed it.

The score here was a very solid seven.

After that it was the Leopold Tavern:


There was a big beer range here...


 ... and no doubt about the beard or weird.



Then it was on to the Northcote Hotel:




They had Landlord on here, and very good it was too.


I've got a bit of a thing for Styrian goldings hops, probably down to me being brought up on the late lamented Burton.

The overall score here was only three though:


By this point it was time to get a curry in.

Leading to Quain Avenue
I must have had some of my wits about me at this point as a passed up the dubious delights of whatever crap lager they had on and stuck to lassi.

We managed one more on the way back to the station, The White Swan. This pub had its own brewery, which scores highly in my books, though of course this still scores only one in the binary scientific scoring system.



They had their version of a kolsch on cask, and unsurprisingly it was better than any real kolsch I've had. Definitely a point for beer quality here, and an overall total of five:


And with that it was time for the train home. Most of my mates fell asleep on the way back - light weights! Despite at times wimping out and having a half, my tally was more than the all important eight pints, meaning I can in fact still drink a gallon, and am indeed still a real man.

I hadn't been overly looking forward to going to Portsmouth, my previous impression being that it had all the charm of Aldershot by the sea, but there were some cracking pubs and I really enjoyed myself. I may even have to return.

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