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Sunday, 4 April 2010

A Tale of Two Bars.

For someone who prefers to sit at home with a cheap can of lout, I ended up visiting a fair few bars this Easter weekend. My first experience left me feeling that whilst a lot of the beer snobbery that appears to exist within the blogosphere is just that, snobbery, I at least understand it.

I quite like Wetherspoons. I like the fact that the bars are generally smart, the food is edible and the prices are cheap. They will win no gastronomy awards but you can easily pay more and get less. Burger, chips and a pint doesn’t cost an arm and leg and hits the spot. The Spoons represent a decent enough deal it is difficult to beat. Popping out early on Saturday to buy an Easter present for the love of my life I did something I have never before done. I went into a pub before noon. I went into a wetherspoons pub at 9am for a fry up and cup of tea, thinking I’d give it a go and making a change from a greasy spoon café. At 9am there was a queue at the bar. I was the only one to order food. The whole queue was buying pints of beer at 9am. I’m no puritan, but you cannot say they were all shift workers. The place was full of pissheads at 9am. I enjoyed my fry up and cup of tea. I was joined at my large table by 2 old codgers (40 or 50+) drinking pints and enjoying a conversation where every other word was the word “fucking”. I pondered why when in mainland Europe I might strike up a short conversation with people that joined my table, but here in the UK I am more inclined to ignore them and just read a newspaper. It was the unnecessary profanity. Profanity when used well is a wonderful way of expressing a passion for what you are saying. As a general adverb it marks the user as thick. Why talk to thick people when you've just realised that you are as much of a snob as those bloggers you disagree with?

Despite the nice décor, good service, the decent enough fry up, the nice cup of tea, I was overwhelmed by a sense of snobbery. I’m not proud of that. I still love the Spoons, but fair is fair, I get the snobbery so many others express. I still think it is snobbery and I’m not proud to think it myself, but I understand the criticism. I guess the test of a libertarian attitude is when you find things you don’t like, but do you no harm. Do you want to ban it? My choice is simply that I won’t be stepping in any more pubs at 9am. Even though I liked the bacon. It was chargrilled, and I smothered it with 4 sachets of HP sauce. Live and let live.

The next bar worth blogging about came about due to friend of the squeeze getting a new fella. I avoid girls’ nights out. When the squeeze goes out with her mates I leave them to it. It’s not my cup of tea. I have no trust issues, she goes out with her mates, comes home pissed, and whilst I’m sure no shortage of scrotes will try to chat her and her mates up, I’m the one rattling her. However one of her friends was dragging her new guy out on the girls night out so I got dragged along to be a bloke he could talk to. Not the best choice as I’m as anti social as I claim to be. Bloke talk is all football and cars and bores me to tears. I’d like to go out for a beer with a bloke that wants to discuss efficient market theory versus value investment theory, but that’s because I’m a little odd.

One bar on this journey through trendy bars and night-spots was worth a mention. Simply because it was the type of bar Mr Curmudgeon claims does not exist. The bar in the centre of Manchester was called Taps. A smart urbane bar, with great beer, an interesting novelty, and helpful staff. A bar that the squeeze and her mates all drank beer in. We walked in, got a table and all poured ourselves a taster of what we fancied. The Duvel was decent stuff, the Vedet White was popular though I thought a little fizzy and the Belgian fruit beer not as liked by the girls as I thought it would be with my sexist prejudices in regard to lasses and beer. The only one I had a full glass of was the Amstel as most of the time; a regular glass of lout is up my street. Next up was a cocktail bar, so I won’t mention it. I won't mention that I was enjoying myself, more because I was surrounded by pretty girls and talking to them and not talking to the other bloke than the nice beer on offer.

You won’t check Taps out. It was all foreign keg beer, in a smart modern environment. It wasn’t a proper pub. But I liked the gaff. It is a pity that many fine UK beers wouldn’t fit the profile of urban sophistication of such a bar, or would they? Is it outside the bounds of comprehension to imagine a UK ale on the bar taps? It would have to be a keg product, and a quality one at that, but the issue I fear is one of image. An image created by the bearded twats that enthuse about pongy ale. It's only beer and there is no reason a fine UK beer could not have the same degree of sophistication.

After a night on the piss, I felt pretty okay this morning. Okay enough to keep the squeeze under the duvet for a lie in and even tolerate a healthy breakfast of fruit and museli and not sneak out for a fry up. After spending hard-earned money in bars, a night or two of cheap lout is in order.


Sid Boggle said...

Well now Cookie, this is why you ought to get out more. And I think this speaks to a thread that The Boy Dredge ran with some time back about good keg beer and the orthodoxy thereof.

I agree with you up to a point about how pubs get 'profiled', but I don't think it would be the case that places that majored in good foreign or keg beer would never see a pongy beer fan in it. Good beer is good beer, but sometimes, the bar is as appealing as what it's selling.

I like The Rake, Cask sells an appealing range of keg and bottled stuff, North Bar in Leeds and Vox in Huddersfield ditto. I'd turn my nose up at somewhere that had 4 crap brewed-under-licence lagers on, but apart from that, I'm not that much of a snob. I'm not sure heading for good beer is snobbery. That's the market doing its job.

Curmudgeon said...

Cookie, such bars do not exist outside the centres of large cities where poseurs tend to gather. I wonder how many of them you can find in any of the 9 other metropolitan boroughs excluding Manchester.

And isn't it great seeing Spoons busy at 9 am - long live the traditional English pisshead!

WV = "canio"

First Stater said...

"I was joined at my large table by 2 old codgers (40 or 50+)"

In the words of your tablemates- fuck off from an old codger.

Cooking Lager said...

@Boggle Get out more? The only reason to go to a cake shop is if you have no cake? The only reason go out boozing is if you need to hunt for a bird. I've a tasty chick & a cupboard full of cake.

@Mudgie There is nothing poseur about smart bars and putting a clean shirt on. Now you can go out and return home not smelling of fags, there is ever more reason to tart yourself up.

@First Stater. Pity you're in the states mate, you'd love 9am in the spoons. No one under 30. By lunchtime or evening a smarter dressed younger crowd pop in for a bite to eat and cheap drink. The old codgers and coffin dodgers are presumably sleeping it off by then.

First Stater said...

I never drink before noon GMT.

Anonymous said...

Now we can return home not smelling of fags...

Of course vast numbers of extra customers are now filling up pubs and bars...

Oh right...

Tyson said...

Hmmm. I'm going have to rule in PC's favour on this one. Even the lads who like to see a bar full of birds and no pongy ale think Taps is too poncy.

It's very much a birds place-as you admit you were on a girls night out-but not one where you can pick them up. There's no reason why you couldn't have pongy ale on here, but even then I'm not sure it would be the sort of ideal bar you aspire to.

Oh and sorry about the language. If I knew you were on the other table, I'd have told my granny to keep it down.

Tyson said...

"I wonder how many of them you can find in any of the 9 other metropolitan boroughs excluding Manchester."

Automatic/MALT in Bury fits Cookie's criteria perfectly. And it sells pongy ale!