January Detox? Carry on Regardless.

January Detox has never been my thing. It always seemed pointless to steam through Christmas and New Year eating and drinking with impunity to then arbitrarily stop on January 1st or 2nd for a month. With a feeling of entitlement you then look forward to a February 1st blowout. Added to which January is, in the UK at least, a bit depressing. It’s dark and cold, the lights of Christmas have been stripped away and the corpses of dead Christmas trees litter the pavements. To deny yourself that slender enjoyment of an odd pint just did not make sense.

That was until Decembergeddon. I spent last month in a perpetual cycle of consumption. It started on the 1st of December with a trip to the States. At 11am it started with a Full English Breakfast and a pint of Bass at Heathrow. What followed was 10 days of Breakfast Burrito’s, Burgers, French Dips, the odd Reubens and more Beer (craft and otherwise) than you can drunkenly wave a stick at. On returning to the UK it was straight into Christmas party week with all that entails (minus storeroom cupboard and photocopier antics). Christmas in Cornwall would have been easier if I just stuck an I.V. in my arm and sat by the fridge. You get the idea.  The predictable  result was a bloated, lethargic version of the 30th November Me. Something had to be done and so I resolved to cutback. No meat. Less drink  (well you didn’t think i’d completely abstain did you?) and no pub until the second week of January. In just a matter of days the scales were edging in the right direction and the trip to the tailor was off the cards.  Hardly laudable but I was chipping away at the French Dip induced poundage.

Then came a much tweeted BBC article suggesting that abstinence was indeed futile. If Auntie says it so then who am I to disagree?  What then followed was much “pint related workplace daydreaming”. Within a matter of minutes I find myself sending that email. You know the one. It’s the one that has no content and merely a subject line that says Beer. No question mark, as you aren’t taking no for an answer. There’s a flurry of communication and a few hours later you find yourself stood at Liverpool Street with your trusty sidekick (yes, that’s you [English] that is) debating whether the Central Line is quicker to Craft Beer Co. (English’s assertion) or the Farringdon option of the Circle, Hammersmith & City or Metropolitan (my assertion). Any normal person wouldn’t give it a second thought but i’ve been starved of Bacon and Beer and so we go our separate ways to test the assertions. 

As I sit quaffing (one only quafs when feeling smug) my half of Magic Rock, High Wire I watch the clock. With each minute I feel more and more vindicated. Without this premature breaking of my resolve we wouldn’t have answered this most important of questions. On this lone trial it is in fact 5min and a whole 38 seconds quicker via Farringdon. We will of course have to carry out further iterations of the trial over the coming year to provide a definitive answer. Selfless, I know.

Halves of Southern Tier Farmers Tan and Mikkeller  Ris ala Male follow. We declared 2012 the Year of the Half (or was that half measures), before the sidekick leaves and the sidekick understudy, Silvio continues to test my resolve. With a move to The Gunmakers for dinner it’s back to the pint, a Trinity by Redemption. A perfect January beer. At 3% ABV you can convince yourself that it’s a sensible choice! An then there’s the food. The Gunmakers is rightly known for the jovial atmosphere thanks to Jeff and the team and great beer, but I think it’s equally becoming known for the food. As I look over the chalkboard I keep coming back to Oxtail or Steak. There are fish options, or plain veggie options but my mind is already working out excuses for ordering steak. I came up with, no meat at home or prepared lunches, but eating out is fine. It’s weak sub clause to the original resolution but just strong enough to justify a ribeye. Needless to say I devoured it in all its medium rare, buttery goodness.

By this morning the self loathing had set in and much cursing of my weak will. I couldn’t even last 4 poxey days. To compound the woe I pull out the scales, step on and look through one eye at the result. Down on the previous weigh in. I step off and back on again. Same result. I repeat to check that despite my indulgence I have in fact proven that complete abstinence is not necessarily the way forward in January.

I perhaps kid myself but for the time being the resolution is re-resolved, if that makes sense… Carry on regardless.

January Detox? Carry on Regardless.

2011: A Quick Salute

I can’t resist the temptation of wheeling out the old Blogger cliche of a roundup of the year. A quick salute to the great and the good of 2011.

I realised when cobbling this roll call together there is so much that i’ve done this year that hasn’t made it to these pages yet. Hopefully something that will be put right soon. These are my highlights, but I’d like to know yours. You know where the comments box is!

Best Pub… All roads lead to Leather Lane.  Craft Beer Co., has this one hands down. It’s the place I most eagerly anticipated visiting and to date have not been disappointed with. The ready availability of Mikkeller pushes it out front.

Best Beer (oh hell and Brewery)… Anything by Mikkeller. It was a close one. In another mood it would have been anything by The Kernel Brewery, but the Dane just pips this one.

Best Sunday LunchThe Cross Keys, in Leeds. I’d had a spate of mediocre London lunches which had left me underwhelmed. It took a trip North to restore my faith. If Craft Beer Co or Mikkeller did a Sunday lunch they’d have possibly bagged this one as well.


Best Bar SnackThe Pearsons Arms in Whitstable. Long strips of deep fried Pigs Ears. What more can I say?

Best BloggerBoggle About Beer. I’ll admit without shame that this is due to Boggle’s specific recommendations for San Francisco. More from Boggle in coming weeks with the return of the Pub Diaries Q&A.

Best Tweeter@HERMANOPRIMERO the Mild loving half of Dos Hermanos. Says it as he sees it. If you find pleasure in curmudgeonly outbursts, this is for you.

Best Barfly… well there were too many in 2011, to pin the title on one… more about theses characters in upcoming posts.

So that was my 2011… how about yours?

2011: A Quick Salute

North v. South: You Decide!

Having recently written a Crafty Pint feature  on the London beer scene, it brought me back to previous posts hailing SE1, and indeed the South, as the place for all things beer. I’m now left pondering whether  North of the River is actually out in front. It’s keeping me up at nights and no end of counting sheep seems to help.

While the Dean Swift, Rake, Draft House et al are as ever excellent, recent visits to Katzenjammers were dismal. I won’t waste too much time on this, but table service should have an element of well service in it and eye contact in some form shows that you’re still awake. I may have to get my fix of proper Pretzel and Paulaner elsewhere from now on. Any suggestions on the proper Pretzel front appreciated. Now it’s not really that the South on declining. It’s just that the case for the North seems to be getting stronger.

In addition to all the usual suspects of the Euston Tap, Mason & Taylor, Jolly Butchers and Cask I seemed to have blanked EC1 out of my mind. Strange as it’s a place I lived, worked and drunk in throughout my formative London years. It counts amongst it’s great pubs, The Gunmakers with an always excellent beer selection and menu, The Peasant, Jerusalem Tavern, Three Kings, of course the Ye Olde Mitre. The Castle (just inside EC4) tucked away on Furnival Street has consistently good Ale on offer and recently the odd keg of Anchor. This would all be compelling enough in itself. The killer blow has to be the soon to open Craft Beer Co. on Leather Lane. Although sad to see the Clockhouse, a decent enough market pub, close its doors, the fact it will be reopened by the team behind Cask is enough to raise a cheer.

Now can you see my dilemna? In the interests of me getting some sleep I throw it open to you. North of the River v. South of the River… vote, discuss, let me get some sleep!

North v. South: You Decide!