A repository of articles, musings and hazy recollections concerning pubs and beer from a London-dwelling beer user.
Monday, 16 March 2009
Home and spring in a glass
I am from Kent. Born west of the Medway (a geographical feature of some importance to those from Kent - me neither), this makes me a 'Kentish Man', as opposed to a 'Man of Kent'.
None of which has stopped me, in the past, describing Kent as 'the Alabama of England' or bemoaning the number of former Tory leading lights mooching about spending more time with their families.
But memories of my home county are shaped by cruel proximity to London - west Kent dorm towns had the life beaten out of them long ago. The inhabitants may be cash rich, but they spend what they have indulging in the cultural promise of the bright lights.
My fondest childhood memories are of lazy afternoons driven around the countryside by a kindly uncle figure who had a battered taxi in which he lounged around the county searching for barley wine. His dedication to the pursuit of his favourite nectar necessarily limited the number of fares he could pick up. He was not rich, but he perfected completion of the Times crossword.
Work done for the day, the sun shining and fearing a train home to Cambridge would limit my enjoyment of it, I took the executive decision to trundle my way to West India Quay and its Lloyds No. 1 bar The Ledger Building. Now Wetherspoons would scarcely be my first choice - but this effort has a sizeable outdoors area and was just the ticket. In shirtsleeves and pretty chirpy, I ordered a pint of Westerham Grasshopper.
Westerham is three miles from where I was born, in west Kent's prettiest countryside. If you've visions of oast houses and stately homes bounded with rhododendron bushes, you're most of the way there.
Canary Wharf was but a memory. UV rays and a pint of this tasty beer (imagine a perfect pint of Shep Neame Masterbrew - but with an added warming blanket of chocolate malt and bitingly spicy hops) and I was scuttling down the hedgerowed lanes of my youth, with uncle and his barley wine on the way.
Sentimental, perhaps. But a beer that can put a smile on your face is ok in my book.