Archive for December 14th, 2007

Want something stronger?

Intelligent Life is published by the Economist,and they have a web site covering both serious and more amusing sides of culture. If you want something stronger than beer, have a look at A Drinker’s Guide to Eastern Europe written by their Eastern and Central Europe correspondent.

Some of their readers from Central Europe are not amused, especially not by the six dishes to avoid list.

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The Swedish food and drink web site Tasteline has tested the Christmas beers on the Swedish market. Mysingen Midvintersbrygd from Nynäshamn came out on top, but there were good scores from some of the other craft brewers like Nils Oscar, Jämtland and Oppigård as well. I would not be surprised if the best of them are sold out at Systembolaget already.

Dagens Nyheter has tested the Christmas beers, too, and they do not agree. Tomte from Slottskällans Bryggeri comes out on top.

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The White Horse

The White Horse has rightly deserved a its place on the map of pubs that managed to turn the trend towards craft beers in the UK. But an honorable history is not enough to rest on your laurels. If you sell beer and food, you’ll have to be doing your best every night.

I have visited the White Horse in Parson’s Green, London, several times over the years, and I have had quite a few good beers there. The former management were very inventive in pairing food with beer, and they also built a very decent cellar with bottled beers from around the globe – and that does not mean exotic lagers. There are usually some nice ales on tap, too, and the food is very good, both the bar menu and the slightly more upmarket restaurant.

But my objections to this establishment are the same as last year – you need to have competent staff. It is not enough to have young men and women just off the plane at Heathrow with nice smiles and a willingness to work for low wages. You need staff who are interested, or, rather, passionate, about beer. You cannot just print recommendations for bottled beers with each menu item and then relax.

I ordered a Fullers Vintage Ale from 2002. The waiter first brought me a bottle of another Vintage Ale, Greene King Suffolk Strong, I believe, already opened. I sent it back, insisting on a Fullers Vintage. He came back with a bottle of Fuller’s 1845, and I sent him back again. After 125 minutes, he triumphantly told me he had located a bottle in the cellar, and proudly poured me a bottle of the 2004 vintage.

This could have happened to anyone, but it fits into a pattern. Last year there were three of us having dinner there during their annual Old Ale Festival. Our American waitress was totally lost about which cask ales she was serving, we actually switched to bottled beers to make sure we actually got what we ordered.

A pub with splendid credentials that delivers 80% is usually better than a medicore one that delivers 100%. But it is dangerous to let it slip.

To be fair: I had a chicken and leek pie there, and it was excellent.

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