Sunday 29 March 2009

A night out in Whitehaven

I've had a busy time this last couple of days. Working hard and playing hard. Spring is well on it's way, the clocks have changed and the visitors are now arriving in numbers that make opening worth while. I've got at least two extra blog topics as well as unfinished thoughts on BitterSweet. It'll just have to wait.

Additionally, last week, I got an email from an old work colleague inviting me to a night out. Actually, he's not that old, being only about the same age as me, but I've known him a while. It seems Stuart was finally leaving the old place for pastures new after 26 years with the old company. There was me thinking he'd be there till he retired. How could I refuse? A chance to catch up with people I haven't seen for nearly 6 years.

The venue was Whitehaven. Meeting in The Bransty Arch, a Wetherspoons outlet. Oh dear. Well never mind. On for a curry after and then around town. It should give me a chance to try out some beers. Last time I went around Whitehaven on a night out I was, as yet, to be turned into a beer nerd. Then I drank Guinness and little else.

In the first pub, despite it being part of Tim Martins empire, would be fun as I'd get to meet up with old friends. Indeed, the banter would have made up for any shortfall in beer quality and Steve's business advice on beer strength added to the amusement. But actually, I was reasonably impressed with the beer in here. Not quite so impressed with the overall ambiance and feel, but then I'm a country bumpkin.

So on to the curry house. Generic bitter or lager on draft. I guess these beers might have a name, but they couldn't be bothered to print it on the menu. I decided to plump for Kingfisher as at least it was named. I'm sure I'd have been disappointed by the "bitter". Still, the owner coped well with the sudden group of around 30. We caused some headaches with ordering and table arrangements.

So, where to next? Oh no, back to Wetherspoons. Still, a couple of strong beers to try, that was nice. Late on on Friday I found the atmosphere getting a bit rough. Wetherspoons doesn't encourage inappropriate drinking eh? A drunk knocked over a glass and it was left for ages rolling around and threatening to drop on the floor. My licensees instinct saw it at least got sat back on it's base.

An intermediate stop in a cask free bar resulted in me saving my liver for a round. Why did I want to waste money and coherence on Extra Cold Guinness. Gee, how things have changed. Thank god, we're moving again. Where next? "The Candlestick" I suggested "At least it's got proper beer".

Alas, the Candlestick is a Robbies pub. Double Hop the only offering. Goodness me, no wonder The Bransty Arch sometimes makes the Good Beer Guide, it had the best beer all night. I noticed that the other 2 cask drinkers in our group avoided the Doublehop. Apparently, it's always crap in there. Is it the beer or the pub? Perhaps Robbinsons is appriciated better back in Stockport.

There are two good pubs in Whitehaven. The Vagabond and The Whittington Cat. Personally I prefer The Vagabond.


ChrisM said...

Double Hop, when kept right, is a lovely beer, but goes rancid very quickly. In fact my local landlord keeps it so well that we've managed to persuade him to get it in over the Easter weekend before he hands the keys back to Robbies!

Tim said...

I told you that Whitehaven is a beer desert beside the 'spoons!

jocko said...

Praise for Wetherspoons from a microbrewer.How unusual to see a
balanced view on this pub chain.

cheers jocko

John Clarke said...

I can assure you that Robinsons beers are very much appreciated on their home turf - you will see plenty of their pubs in the GBG under Stockport (and environs).

Unknown said...

ChrisM, perhaps Double Hop is good, but I don't know anybody around here who likes it.

Tim, you did tell me and I pooh poohed you, sorry, you were right.

Jocko, I think Wetherspoons fills a requirement that people want. I've no problem with that. The fall out is that some other pubs will have to close. If we can accept that then there is no problem.

John C, I believe you. Rightly or wrongly it does not seem to be well received in Cumbria. Is this the "travels badly" myth? I doubt it. Is it perhaps locale loyalty? I think so, and there is nothing wrong with that.