Sunday 20 June 2010

Canada's best brewer comes to town

One of my Canadian friends, Brian, came to visit this week. He's the man who made the beer rated as the best in Canada by beer writer Ben McFarland. Brian brought his friend Mike with him, but more importantly he brought a couple of bottles of Olde Deuteronomy too.

Brian reading about his beers

Having visitors from overseas there was only one thing to do. We headed up to the big smoke to get some quality cask beers in. First stop was The Blackfriar, for the fantastic interior and the delights of Timmy Taylor's Landlord

Brian and Mike in the Blackfriars

Then it was on to Ye Old Mitre. As well as proper beer I was keen to show the colonials some history, and taking them to a pub older than their country combined the two. Despite now being owned by Fuller's there was still a varied selection of beers on which was good to see. We had Oakham Ale's excellent JHB. On the downside they have stuck a sign up pointing down the small alley way the pub is in, so playing spot the pub was a bit of a damp squib.

Brian in Ye Olde Mitre

Next stop was the only pub on our list that the lovely Lisa and I hadn't been too. We were off to one we'd fancied checking out for some time: beer nerd HQ, the Gunmakers arms. One time king of the beer bloggers, Stonch, runs this pub and the diminutive Northerner behind the bar may well have been him. Though Stonch knocked his blog on the head in January, when beer bloggers meet in London they seem to congregate here. Anyway, the guy seemed friendly enough and pints of Purity Brewing's Mad Goose were had by all. We weren't overly taken with the pub though, and the noxious odour one of the Canadians emitted didn't help, but with so many excellent pubs nearby I can't see us rushing back anytime soon. 

Outside The Gunmakers

Our next port of call was the Cittie of Yorke, a Sam Smith's pub. It's another pub with a fantastic interior but Sam Smith's beers are always a bit of a disappointment. The lovely Lisa skipped on the beer here and the rest of us had the stout, with Brian also having a half of the ever boring Old Brewery Bitter so he could tick off having had beer served from a wooden cask. We managed to get seats in one of the confessional booths, though no one took the opportunity to own up to dumping their guts in The Gunmaker's. 

One of the many eccentricities of Sam Smith's is that everything they sell is own brand. Not just the ales but the lagers, the wines, the spirits and the soft drinks. I once heard it said that there were only five non-own label thinks that can be found in a Sam Smith's pub and one of those is the angostura bitters. It might be less now as we noticed the crisps are now own label too. 

Own label crisps

We needed food next so scoffed our emergency sausage rolls and headed to The  Old Bank of England. This fine looking Fuller's pub may not have quite the architectural interest of some of the pubs we visited but it does serve good pies, and pie and mash was just the thing we needed to set us up for the next leg. It was washed down with pints of pride for most of us, but Brian edged further ahead in the alcohol stakes by going for an ESB. 

The Old Bank of England

Revived by the power of pies we moved on to the Devereux where Brewer's Gold was the order of the day. The after work crowd was starting to thin out as our pints went down so when we'd finished we popped next door to the Edgar Wallace

The Edgar Wallace

The beer we had was Blackwater Ska from Salopian brewery. This was an excellent pale beer with a new world hop flavour. I could almost pretend I'm a proper beer writer there. I wouldn't be at all surprised if there were hints of kumquat in the nose.   

I have a photo of one of Brian's legs from this pub, which I feel I should share with the world. 

Masonic infiltration of Ed's beer site

We poured ourselves back to Woking after this and all had a pint of Bitter and Twisted in the Sovs before the walk home.

I was up to eight pints by this point so I'm not quite sure why I ended up sharing with Brian a bottle of a double IPA I've been working on but no doubt it seemed like a good idea at the time.

Many fried pork products were needed the next morning... 


  1. Out of curiosity, what was it you didn't like about the Gunmakers? My only visit made me want to come back, though not at extremely busy times I must admit, as I'd guess it might be uncomfortable. Perfect for a quiet pint at other times I'd say.

    The beer too was exemplary and I don't say that often.

  2. There wasn't really anything wrong with the Gunmakers, and the beer was fine. But it didn't have the character of say, the Old Mitre, so I can't see myself making a point of trekking up to the Gunmakers again.