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Entries in UK pubs (3)

Sunday
Mar292009

"Top Shelf Whiskey"

On the last night of my recent trip to England, some friends took my out for a pub crawl in London.   We took the train to Waterloo station and just planned to stop in whichever pubs caught our eye.  We walked across a bridge over the Thames River and ultimately found ourselves at Trafalgar Square.  At 66 Trafalgar Square we found the Scottish bar named Albannach.   Albannach was an upscale bar/restaurant with a trendy club feel (complete with vinyl spinning D.J.) and the wait staff were decked out in kilts.   While the name of the bar literally means "Scottish" or "Scottish person" I think the only person there of Scottish descent walked in the door with me.  However, the joint was jammed full of fine Scottish Whiskey.  This is was by far the best selection of Scotch I have ever seen.  The bar offered a menu with detailed descriptions of each of their 140+ whiskeys.  Each was served in 50ml measures and ranged from £7.00 (<$10) for a glass of Bunnahabhain 12 y.o., Aberlour 10, or Auchenentoshan 10 to a lofty £760.00 (>$1,000) for a glass of The Balvenie 50 year old, Cask 191 from front and center of the top shelf!

Here's a description of Cask 191 from the menu:

The Balvenie 50 year old, Cask 191 45.1% abv

Great presence with creamy fruit and nut chocolate, raisins, prunes, fruit poached with cloves, and a hint of foaming cappuccino.  Rich but retains dryness, balance and intensity.


Sounded like a lot more flavors than my pallet could ascertain at the end of a pub crawl, so I settled for a pint of Deuchars IPA from Edinburgh which was fabulous!  Maybe next time...

Cheers,

-D

PS:  The DJ was drinking Budweiser....guess that proves everyone likes an import now and then!


Sunday
Mar222009

Oldest Bar in England?

While in the UK for business this past week some friends were kind enough to show me around a bit and help me make the most of my stay.  Those diversions will be the subject of a few posts since they typically involved a visit to local pubs!

The weather was fantastic, clear and sunny all week with temps approaching 20°C (upper 60's F).  This led to an impromptu visit to Stonehenge near sunset.  On the way back my friend took me to Winchester in Hampshire.  Winchester was the medieval capital of England and is home to their largest cathedral.  After admiring the Winchester cathedral we decided to take a stroll through the city center and grab a pint.

We stopped at the Royal Oaks Pub which claims to be "the oldest bar in England".  This is quite a claim considering that most pubs that boast a est. date predate our country's existence by a century or more.  The pub's entrance was hidden down a narrow alley next to a 15th century building with signs hung out by the street to attract patrons.   It was a very nice pub with selection of "real ales" (cask conditioned) as well as several other beers including imports and lagers.  The pub was warm, inviting, and even updated with a mix of traditional and contemporary atmosphere including video games.  No doubt it was older than most pubs I've been in but it didn't seem to live up to its claim.  I hit the Interwebs and found this reference on Frommers:

A Lager at England's Oldest Bar -- Royal Oak Pub (tel. 01962/842701), is located in a passageway next to the God Begot House on High Street. A busy pub with plenty of atmosphere, it reputedly has the oldest bar in England. The cellar of this establishment was originally built in 944 to dispense drink to Winchester's pilgrims; the present building was constructed in 1630 atop the much older foundation.

I'd wager that the pint of "Irish Whiskey Ale" I enjoyed (a guest ale pumped from that ancient cellar) was better than what they served in the 10th century.

Cheers,
-D

Monday
Mar162009

Sunday Afternoon Pub Crawl

Started off my UK trip on the right foot! Had one of the finest beers I have ever had today. It was a cask conditioned ale pumped from the cellar!  I think it was called Hopping Hare from Badger brewing.  I'll post details soon. Sorry for the poor picture quality, I just snapped these with my iPhone.
Cheers,
-D