Monday, 16 February 2009

Too Late/Frozen (reprise)

For once I'll spare you the intimate details of my breakfast and fast forward to my arrival in Lincoln - a pleasant jaunt through the snow-covered Lincolnshire landscape and the start of what promised to be a bright sunny day.

For once (again) we were ignoring the tried and tested, in this case former DAFTS Pub of the Year, the Golden Eagle, in order to try out somewhere new that recently popped up on our radar, the Green Dragon. It was about 10:45 when I got there but it was already open - why can't more pubs open at 10am?

The upstairs bar/dining area was the only bit open at that time but they had four Milestone beers available and I opted for the lightest, Hopelicious, just 3.8%. The name suggests lots of hoppy goodness but it was pretty average.

By the time I'd finished it, I was joined by John Bell and Brian Esley - and then by John and Bev Wilson and finally Colin Fletcher resplendent in his Table Soccer shirt (remembered not to use the Subbuteo word) . After a pint of Milestone's Loxley Ale, we were informed the Real Ale bar downstairs was now open and would we like to move down there? I think we were making their nice dining area look scruffy so we were happy to oblige.

The Real Ale bar does what is says on the tin - there were about 10 beers on tap, most of them quite new to me and there even some new ones for Colin. Our little group was completed the arrival of the father and son combo, Ray and Tony Waters - good timing.

The Green Dragon has it's own microbrewery, Cathedral Ales, so some of us opted for their one beer on offer, Golden Imp. A huge disappointment - at around 4.5% we expected some sort of taste but this was little stronger than water. Thankfully our tastebuds were rescued by a pint of Oakham's Gravity - a brewery that never lets you down.

As I nipped off the gents, my mobile rang and John took the call - it was Chris Stockdale informing us the game had been called off. I called him back - surely this was a joke - but he'd seen the players get their fish and chips and head off back home on the bus so not a joke - it was off. There was general disbelief which turned to amazement once the Lincoln fans in the pub got confirmation.

To break up the rest of the day and get a bit if fresh air, we walked a few hundred yards towards the station to a pub called Sippers - another newie for me. This had a couple of Hop Back beers (Crop Circle and Odyssey) plus Tetleys and Tom Wood's Bomber County. It looks slightly run-down but was very welcoming and we had a few decent pints there.

John, Bev and I decided to move to pastures new and we caught the train to Newark. Newark Castle to be precise which is not a station we've ever been to before. John and I were here a few seasons ago and we had a long wait for a train - ever resourceful we followed our noses and found a good pub and a cracking chippy and so we thought we'd drop in again.

The walk to the Fox and Crown was quite pleasant - through a side of Newark we'd not really seen before - and I opted for a pint of Castle Rock Screech Owl IPA - a lovely full flavoured beer! In the gents I bumped into Brad, one of the many London Millers who'd not been to the Don Valley Stadium that day - it's a small world.

Hunger pangs then got the better of us and we decided against another pint in favour of haddock and chips (and peas) from Appletongate Fish Bar. I wish I lived near this place - crisp golden chips, well-cooked fish, quick service - thankfully the southbound train we caught back to King's Cross was almost deserted and no one objected to the fishy smell.

As Liz was due into King's Cross about half an hour after me, I decided to wait in the Betjeman Arms which occupies a quite corner of the refurbished St Pancras station. I'm not sure what Sir John would have made of this place but it doesn't exude the class and erudition one associates with him.

The outside bar is not really designed for the cold winter months so I headed inside and settle onto a stool at the bar.

They have about three real ales on offer - their own Betjeman beer from Sharps, London Pride direct from a bar-top barrel and XXXB from Batemans. I had a pint of the latter - served in a dimple glass that I suppose the management think is quaint and old-fashioned but is just clunky - the XXXB is OK but not in brilliant condition, a bit on the jaded side.

This place is not the ideal environment for an old git like me but it's quiet and has a decent choice for a railway bar - a shame the ambience was spoilt by the burnt cooking smell coming from the open kitchen. Almost put me off my Indian takeway...

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