Friday was a good Good Friday.
Socialising, drinking, not being at work, trying a new beer, all things that brighten one's outlook. One hing struck me though, awaking this morning to the resonating clink of bottles in blue bins and having seen the usual crowds heading into town, it seems the socialising element of the long weekend features as heavily as it does over Christmas. Mainly the alcohol related socialising.
Personally I think this is a good thing, what with pubs struggling at the moment, but the fact that the "good" element of Good Friday is unlikely to reflect the practice of having the day off and going out to drink lots of beer, suggests the church is missing a trick. After all, there's nowt as thirst inducing as an hour or two of salvation seeking. So I'm told...
Growing up in Crookes the Princess Royal and St Timothy's church just up the road seemed, to an outsider at least, inexorably linked, being the default post service destination of much of the congregation. Further afield, the village of Dale Abbey had a single building supporting both such vital institutions, with the pub on one side joined to or more likely kept separate from the church, by a locked door, and I'm sure that across the country almost every village church had or still has a pub next door or across the road. Ale and church are not, therefore, so odd a couple.
This revelation, no pun intended, thus nicely fits in with my 172 part series "convoluted justifications for going out drinking", keeping which in mind I'd like to dedicate the below described outing to the practice of pilgrimage, and the search for reward through knowledge. Jesus wept, so to speak.....
My first stop on this beer theophany was the Closed Shop. Inside it appeared that nobody had caught on to the fact that the pub was open, whilst they weren't at work. Mr N H Rodgers from the world of studies was at the bar, and Mr Stephens was behind it, dispensing ales and stories as always, so this was a good start, although initially my heart sank when I spotted no dark beer. Luckily I discovered that Brass Castle Bad Kitty was coming on. I immediately revised my expected time of arrival at the next place of worship.
Bad Kitty vanilla porter is a very fine beer indeed. I first tried Brass Castle brewery beers at Magna 2012 and considered both to be some of the best beers there, so I was excited to be trying a sip. Although, I had substantially more than a sip.
Being a fan of quiet pubs this lightly populated scene suited me just fine, and but for a spot of photography, to record the interior as is before the refurbishment, it was just supping and talking, exactly how a pub visit ought to be. Obviously, spoilsports like Mr Stephens and business partner Chris would no doubt have preferred if the equilibrium of our drinking had been interrupted by "more customers" but for an hour at least it was mainly ours.
Alas eventually other people finished home for the day and came out, and after 3 and a half pints of Brass Castle I tried to pretend I wasn't going over the road to that pub, the whatever it is.
In the Hallamshire House where I didn't go, I sat in the snug with a lovely and much needed roaring fire, to sup a pint of Jaipur and a half of Juvenia. That Thornbridge beer has something of a reputation for being costly is true, but the extra pennies did at least help me reach the £5.00 minimum card limit and thus avoid another hunt for a cash machine. And, like the night before, the Juvenia was on very good form, as was the Jaipur.
As you may know my next stop was an unplanned one, at the Hadfield, after which I headed into town to DAda for its "First pour" amazing new beer launch. Disappointingly, Coalition was just another pale beer brewed with a well respected brewery across the sea, this time Terrapin Beer Co, (probably, we all remember what happened the last time I only glanced at a collaborative brewery name...) and served on Keykeg. Had it been the stupendous Old Ale of the same name, brewed with Dark Star, I'd have bought a couple of pints. Although that would have cost considerably more, so its swings and roundabouts.
I did have another pint in here as well but unfortunately I have left DAda since then, the very act of doing which has emptied my head of all memories, so we'll just have to assume it was a tasty guest beer, which they usually are in DAda.
And so endeth my search for salvation, but definitely not redemption. Eight times over.