Thursday, November 16, 2006

Drinking the Black Stuff


When the wind howls through your coat and the pissing rain soaks you to your skin, then frankly there is no more pleasing sight than that slightly smug orange glow falling out of the windows of my local pub. Once safely ensconced inside, with the ever pleasing (and soon to be gone) smells of smoke, gastro pub cooking and well kept beer, there is nothing more necessary, nothing more correct that a pint of Guinness.

I'm not a CAMRA bore, though I do love a good ale and like nothing better than micro brewed porters and stouts, but somehow a Guinness, that stately monolith of a stout seems to hit the right buttons when the weather is shite and you're on your way home from work. Lately, in the UK we have been getting our Guinness from the source in Dublin and London pubs seem to have got very good at storing it, which has resulted a pretty darn good pint in my local.

It's the inevitable dark wood gastro affair. I can sit there with a pint, a plate of salted roasted almonds and get wireless on my laptop. You can keep your cheap beer fleapit. I'm a happy man. I have to say that only we Brits and the Irish do pubs properly. I'm sure I'll get a barrage of abuse from the Yanks, and, yes, I have been to some stunning places in New York and particularly up in Washington State. There are no good pubs in LA. I was assured that The Kings Head in Santa Monica was a "real pub". It had taken all the constituent parts of an English pub, reassembled them but somewhere along the line lost it's heart and soul and all was that was left was the slightly shabby husk. It's pretty much impossible to have a "real" anything in LA, but that's another story. Back to my point. Only the Brits and the Irish have to right combination of poor weather, a tendency towards alcoholism, a slight tendency to enjoy a good punch up, a culture of piss taking amongst friends and a fanatical devotion to the Pope. I'm sorry it appears a Monty Python joke has strayed into my post.

Yes, yes, the Aussies are sure to jump up and down at this point. I have to slap you down however. If you could get the fuckin' pokies out of the pub then you might be on to something and for God's sake make a decision on what each glass is called! It would appear a schooner or a pot can be one of about fifteen different shaped glasses in any given Aussie pub. The Germans and Belgians have good beer and excellent sausage but there are far too many paper doilies involved in drinking the average Germanic beer for the places to be given the honorific of pub. Only we, proud, yet frayed around the edges, have created those unique environments where we come together to drink, laugh and avoid getting too near that crazy bloke for fear of getting into one of those “Did you spill my pint??” episodes.


cookiecrumb said...

I think I saw the face of god in that foam.

Anonymous said...

Sigh. It is true. 4 years of living in LA and the Kings Head was the damn closest thing you could find. Whatever, at least we have good Mexican food!

Monkey Gland said...

anon, there are always consolations!

emiglia said...

oh how true. i live in canada now, and there are many, many pubs that claim to be "the real thing," but they tend to seem as real to me as "typical American bars" that you find in Paris. i was spoiled in cambridge, edinburgh, and wales, and now i feel i may have to move to the uk to find a decent pub again.