Thursday, August 8, 2013

Arrived in London

After a long but uneventful flight.

The passport control line at Heathrow can sometimes be quite long (talking hours) but it was fairly short when we arrived and soon we were officially in the UK. The boarder agents always seem to get a kick when I tell them the purpose of my visit is the Great British Beer Festival. She asked if I was going to drink beer for the whole thirteen days. "Yes," I replied -- I was tempted to add "We're experts, don't try this at home..." but I didn't. You have to be careful with people who can keep you out of the country.

Now it just so happens that there is a pub with cask ale at Terminal 4. It's called the "Windsor Castle" and it is part of the Wetherspoons chain. After the long trip, a beer seemed in order...

 They had 5 cask ales but two of the interesting ones had "coming soon" tags on them, so I went with a traditional Fullers London Pride.

Fullers London Pride
Being frugal sorts, we elected to take the Tube (a £1.50 addition to our 7 day travel card) rather than the  quicker train. More money for beer, you see.

We soon were at our lodgings, a residence hall (i.e. "dorm") of Imperial College near the Notting Hill Gate tub station. London dorm rooms are a great deal during the summer if you are willing to forgo some creature comforts (shared toilet and shower) but they always have a great internet connection so it evens out.

After getting settled we headed out to Euston Station, which has a couple of nice pubs in the area.

First up was the Bree Louise. They have 8 hand pumps and another dozen or so cask ales via gravity.  Always a good selection and they are famous for their pot pies.

A couple of beers caught my eye, but I decided to go with something lighter to start, the Titanic Brewery Iceberg a hoppy 4.1% wheat beer. I don't know how much wheat it has (I'd guess less than 50%) but you don't really notice it, just the nice West Coast (US) hops.

Titanic Iceberg

One of the beers that caught my eye was the Titanic Plum Porter, so sticking with the brewery, I went with that.

Titanic Plum Porter
Unfortunately, my flush kicked in and you can't really see great color of this beer. The plum flavoring was very subtle and really only noticeable in the finish.

I was starting to feel the effects of jet lag (and beer) so I nursed the porter while Tom had a couple of half pints of cider (the Bree Louise has a great cider selection as well). Unfortunately he found his choices to be a bit bland. I couldn't disagree.

So we decided to walk around to the front of Euston Station, the home of the Euston Tap  This is a relatively new (less than 5 years) pub in an old gatehouse at the station's entrance.

The Euston Tap
They have 8 cask ales and 20 draft (keg) beers.  In my past visits (last year and the year before) the keg beers were dominated by beers from the US, Germany and Belgium (plus one Czech, Bernard). This year there were quite a bit of British beers on the keg list, which I take as a good sign.

Since I just had a porter, I went with the Arbor Ales Summer Porter. It was definitely a lighter bodied porter but still had enough of that chocolately roastiness that I like in porters.

Arbor Ales Summer Porter
After this, I was really feeling the jet lag so I decided to head back to the room, while Tom went across the street to the opposite gate house which houses The Cider Tap -- a sister pub serving only craft ciders.

I should have gone with Tom because I got stuck in an Underground nightmare. I had to change at Edgeware Road for a Circle Line train. Three different trains pulled into the station labeled as such. After about 10 minutes came the announcement "This trains is now a something else train to somewhere else."  Three different times. Finally the said "We have no idea when we will get a Circle Line train in your direction." So I took a taxi home. Welcome to London in the summer.


Carin Robert said...

How was the Great British beer festival? Taxi from where to where and how much did they charge?

The Mad Brewer said...

THe GBBF was fine, though I think I had more interesting beers outside the fest than in.

The taxi was from Paddington to basically Noting Hill Gate Tube station. I think the total was about £8