Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Farewell, Englad

Sitting at the lounge in Heathrow, waiting for a flight back home.

It was a good trip, but a hard one. Over 50 pubs visited, I'm sure well over 200 beers sampled. I'll have a full after action report after I'm back and recovered somewhere.

Oh, and I'll finish the partial posts.

Thank you for reading.

Day Thirteen, Sheffield

Monday we headed to Sheffield for the day. It is even a more impressive city, beer-wise than Derby. Today we are traveling back to London and some clients have problems that need fixed, so pictures only for now.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Day Twelve, Burton-upon-Trent

First a procedural note: The hotel's internet service is flakey. I've uploaded Sunday's pictures and hopefully will get Mondays up soon as well.

We took a short train ride over to Burton-upon-Trent to visit the birthplace of pale ale. The most shocking thing was the Coors logo plastered all over the remaining large breweries. I knew Coors had acquired some British breweries when (then) InterBrew was forced by the EU to sell some, but I hadn't realized they were the old Bass breweries!

First stop was the Cooper's Tavern, across the street from one of the old breweries (now with Coors all over the place)

Cooper's Tavern, Burton-upon-Trent

Great old etched glass window

First three beers

Round Two

The Devonshire Arms, Burton-upon-Trent

Round One

Burton Bridge Brewery Porter

Burton Bridge Brewery

Pub Sign

Round One

A last beer, with Martin our guide in the background.

Casks at the back of the brewery

The Elms, Burton-upon-Trent

The Elms

Burton Cottage Inn

The first and last place we visited was the Cooper's Tavern, which is right across the street from one of the three former (now Coors) breweries. These photo's are from our return visit.
Back entrance to Coopers Tavern

Wem Cherry Bomb, Castle Rock Black Gold, Oakham Helter Skelter, Tower 3rd Anniversary

Innkeepers of the Cooper's Tavern

When we got back to Derby, we walked over to one of the Wetherspoon's pubs in town, the Standing Order for dinner and a pint.

The Standing Orders, Derby, England

Day Eleven, Derby (Updated)

We left London this morning and headed for Derby. Our train left from St. Pancras Station, a few tube stops from where we were staying.

I was last in St. Pancras in 1991 and it has changed quite a bit. It is the England end for the Eurostar (Chunnel) train and got a total make over in recent years.

St Pancras Station in London.

The trip was uneventful. When we arrived at Derby there was a very visible police presents (yes, we paid our bill before we left!). On the way to our hotel we passed by a brewpub, the Brunswick Inn, and went in for a beer and maybe something to eat. There were security guards all over and Luis realized what was going on: there was a football match today. Well, we managed to get a pint each and a premade sandwich but even that was a chore because the place was so crowded. The three beers we had were very good and they had quite a wide range so I'm sure we'll be back. With all the security guards I didn't want to risk taking a picture of the outside, so you'll have to make do with beer pictures.

Brunswick Inn: Triple Hop, Black Sabbath and Old Accidental.

All the beers were excellent. There was a bit ot diacetyl in the Black Sabbath after it warmed up, but it was not objectionable at all.

We continued on to our hotel, passing the Alexandra Hotel -- another recommended pub -- but it was still to close to game time and there was not chance of having a quiet pint, so we pushed on.

After checking in, we headed back to the city center and checked out the Babington Arms. This is the local Wetherspoons pub and had come highly recommended. It did not disappoint.

The Babington Arms, Derby

The selection was great. I had a Tower Brewing Summer, Luis the Dr. Mortens Djinn Jar (ginger beer) and Tom the Atlas IPA. A were very good, but the ginger in the Djinn Jar was a bit too much for a "drinking" beer.

Tower Summer, Dr Mortens Djinn Jar, Atlas IPA

Next up was the Royal Standard, the newly reopened tap house for the Derby Brewery. It was just across the Derwint river from the city center.

The Royal Standard, Derby

Lots of beers to choose from. I had the Derby Hop to You Drop, Luis the Burton Bridge Deans Damascus and tom the Crown Brewing Nat King Cole. Again, all were very good. I was starting to see why Derby came so highly recommended.

Derby Hop To You Drop, Burton Bridge Dean's Damascus, Crown Nat King Cole

Round Two was a Derby Dashingly Dark for me and a Derby Business As Usual for Tom. Luis was not quite finished (and I wasn't sure if was having another) so I went a head and took the pic with just two.

Derby Brewing: Dashingly Dark, Business As Usual

The Dashingly Dark had a very nice dark malt flavor without any of the astringency you sometimes find in the these beers. Luis decided to join us with a Derby Free Spirit, their "session beer" at 3.8% alcohol. It was very nice and very drinkable and hid its (lack of) alcohol well. I wish more American microbreweries would brew a really flavorful lower alcohol beer.

Derby Brewing Free Spirit

We wandered back over the river and it was such an idyllic scene, I had to take a picture even though there were no pubs a beers in it at all.

The River Derwint as it passes thru Derby

Since I was being a (regular) tourist, I also took one of the famous Cathedral.

Derby Cathedral

Just up the street was an old pub that has recently reopened: The Old Silk Mill. So we stopped in.

The Old Silk Mill, Derby

The inside was very nice and very large. Some evenings and Sunday afternoons they have live music, which I guess can be good or bad depending on the musicians and your tastes in music. But overall, I think its a good thing. A large selection of beers but no food. But even that is a good thing -- if you bring your own carry out ('takeaway' here) or have it delivered they'll provide plates and cutlery. They said they are trying to work out deals with some nearby restaurants to provide delivery deals.

Anyway, to the beers. I had a Kelham Island Pale Rider. I really like this beer. Luis had a Purity Mad Goose and Tom the Beowulf Dragonsmoke Stout.

Kellham Island Pale Ride, Beowulf Dragonsmoke, Purity Mad Goose

The Pale Rider was excellent as it always is, nice hops and clean finish. From the name you might expect the Dragonsmoke to have a little smokey character (which you can sometimes get from deeply roasted malts and grains) but it was s straight -- delicious -- stout. The Mad Goose was well made, but I think the other two beers overpowered it so it was hard to judge.

The Bar at the Old Silk Mill

Tom and I had a second round, Tom the Castle Rock Screech Owl and I the North Cotswald Shagweaver.
Ye Olde Dolphin Inne, Derby

The Bar at Ye Olde Dolphin Inne

The Flowerpot, Derby

Some handpumps at the Flowerpot

The Cask Room at the Flowerpot

Another view of the Cathedral tower.