England 2006

Travels for Beer England 2006


The cruise on the Thames was windy and cold, but full of sights. I could only imagine back in 1620 when the Mayflower set sail for America from this very River. The travelers gathered at a pub then named the Ship located on this River. The pub is still there, now named the Mayflower. Or, imagining more recently, the German Luftwaffe constantly bombing this city. Big Ben appears in front of us rather

The rain has stopped for now. We find a little pub, not on our list or map. Little is the right way to describe it. We are already use to small, but walking into this pub, it is real small. Not more than 10 x 16 feet. In fact, it is the smallest in Bath. Tiny Coeur-de-Lion is a pretty pub both inside and out. The outside is painted blue, with a large window made of many small panes across the front, and a colorful wooden sign. I must say that the pubs in England all have some great, colorful, whimsical sign mounted outside to announce the name of their pub. The bar seats four, with five tables set up around the room. The wall with the windows has a banquette to be used with two of the tables. There is a sign above the bench that reads “Get friendly and please BUDGE UP”. I guess that means to squish your butts together to squeeze more people in quickly and it is time for us to leave.

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 The next morning we hop on the tour bus for a city tour. As I have mentioned before, these are usually great buys and give you a feel and layout for the city. London is big, so it is advantageous to see it from the bus. We get lucky with our Saturday purchase, because our ticket is good for 48 hours instead of the usual 24. We start the tour at Aldwych Street and the bus drives East. We pass St. Paul’s Cathedral, the Bank of England, the Fire Monument, Tower of London, and pass over the Tower Bridge before heading back West. The bus continues along the Thames River until we reach Big Ben and the House of Parliament where it crosses the river and comes back behind Westminster Abbey.

Just one block North of the River and diagonally across from Big Ben is St. Stephen’s Tavern. From the outside, it is brightly lit and very inviting. From the front door, you enter about three steps above the main bar room and get a very special view. It is like walking into someone’s old-tyme parlor. The main room is tall and small in area, but again Victorian in style. Red and gold brightly patterned drapes reach from the ceiling to the floor and the wall color is beige. The main room has small couches and tables, great woodwork, and brightly etched glass and light fixtures. There is something about the colors of dark wood, scarlet and gold that seems so Victorian and so pleasing. The bar back was nearly 16 feet tall and the bar top had four foot lamppost-like, brass light fixtures mounted on it.

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 A couple of twisting blocks away is the Red Lion. This pub was located at a point on a tree-lined road where it veered to the right. When you open the door you feel at ease. The well-worn wooden floor creaks when you walk across it. The main bar is in the center and topped with stained glass inserts. Small tables and stools surround the bar. A food menu is mounted on the wall listing potato jackets, which are stuffed potatoes. They can come with cheddar cheese, beans and cheese or salmon and hollandaise sauce. There is a room off to the side with a fireplace. The pub was built in 1752, the old pane windows remain. The walls are decorated simply, and on this cold day, it feels very warm.

Nina and I pull up two stools to a small table next to a window, which faces Big Ben. The window had a Victorian design etched on it. The sun has gone down and the sky has a deep blue tint to it. Through the window, we can see Big Ben, which is just turning on his night-lights, some gold and some green. A photographic moment. Okay, quick, a beer! Badger beers sold here. Tanglefoot for Nina and Festive Pheasant for me. The Tanglefoot is a premium ale, full body, medium bitterness, smooth hoppiness and hints of melon and pear. It seems, the name for the beer comes from the night when the head brewer did some sampling of his first batch and had a “sudden loss of steering”. Festive Pheasant, a cask ale that is “full-feather flavored”. And don’t forget their slogan, “a pint of pheasant is exceedingly pleasant”!

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