This didn't take place in two days time. Oh no, much more down to earth drinking experiences for me. This was something that is, as part of my week of imbibition, the second update on my revelry over the period of celebration just passed, starting with a few choice chalices on Wednesday.
I was to meet Chala after work for night one of her birthday celebrations. I found myself a little spare time and headed for a couple of halves prior to meeting up. I started at an old stalwart from my youth.
The West End seems to be in a kaleidoscope of fuzzy and misfiled memories from my past - for a start, I always call it the Hallamshire, even though the two names don't sound the same, and the Hallamshire was in fact the boozer I migrated to a year after I gave up on the West End for being grim.
Visiting now it doesn't look radically different on the outside. But then things change. For reasons not immediately (or, really, ever) obvious to me, the interior is currently done out in a sort of faux medieval style. There is a dark wood bar with abbey style window shapes behind it, and fake castle or abbey wood ceilings, and other thematic nods to the era. Its odd, yes, but I reckon when I used to drink in here aged 17 and 18 it would have suited me quite well then and crucially gone unnoticed.
On the bar were three ales in direct opposition to current beer styles, Theakstons Lightfoot, Greedy King OSH, and Old Peculier, which, had it not been en route, I might have stayed to try. As it was I felt sensible and had a half of the Lightfoot. It was OK, cost £1.45 and was so inoffensive as to be strange, but one assumes the owners or managers have an idea what sells and if this is what does then so be it.
I popped in for a quick half and found a plethora of tasty choices - such is life, when you have time for a session there is little to tempt, when you have ten minutes everything seems great. As it was I opted for a half of the Stroud Brewery Teasle, 4.3 % and £1.35 a half. This was a fantastic beer, my first Stroud offering, and one which I particularly enjoyed.
Sat in the beer garden it was nice to take advantage of a rare spell of vaguely clement weather to enjoy my beer, but as was the flavour of the evening, I was all too soon off elsewhere.
I met Chala in here for a pint or two. She had already chosen a cocktail and after a taster or two I opted for a pint of my "usual" Bradfield Farmers Stout. This was quite nice, but all too soon Chala was out of Birthday drinks so I fetched a cocktail or summat and a half of Pale Rider for a change, plus a half of the Bradfield Plum Bitter. The plum wasn't that bad, but I wouldn't have a session on it, and the Pale Rider made a pleasant change. I also bought a bottle of Saison Silly, since it appears that everyone on the Internet likes Saison. It was also enjoyable, though hardly a defining moment in my beer tastes.
Having booked our table for a meal elsewhere we had a bit of time to kill so went to the Forum for a change. Here the Brew Co/Forum Group/True North First Born was on (and drinkable) so I had a pint of that. The decor has changed slightly and the wine list isn't as good but at least the beer was orate....
After our meal I persuaded Chala that the best place to sample a good jukebox and for us both to drink something we liked was the 11 minute walk away Rutland Arms. We made it in 12, but I was still broadly correct. Here I had a pint of one of the excellent Mallinsons single hop beers Amarillo 11, a fantastic and hugely quaffable bitter ale with all the best flavours afforded by amarillo hops.
Chala meanwhile commandeered the jukebox and we met up with a couple who were doing the same, Neil and , erm, oops, in the passage of time she has become Mrs Neil. Sorry both!
Time passed enjoyably and we both had another beer, before Neil very kindly bought us a drink, seeing as it was Chala's birthday. She had another Leffe (perhaps a Leffe too many?) and me a half of the mild. You know, the mild. Which was on. From er, you know. Thingy.
All in all this was a fantastic night out with great company and due to a certain somebody being a trifle refreshed we were home just after 22.00 and I had time for some food to erase any ill effects. A great night out.