Question on Pub

#1
On a recent visit to London, we took a one day bus tour from our ship moored in Dover to London.

We visited most of the major tourist sights around London to include the change of the guards at Buckingham Palace, etc. It was on a Sunday, so traffic was light and we were able to see and get around pretty well.

My question is about the 'Pub" visit for lunch, we had scheduled by the tour company.

The Pub was the Freemasons Arms. The food that was served was fish & chips. One was also offered a choice of larger, bitters or soft drink with lunch. Coffee or tea after lunch.

The fish & chips was't very good, at least I didn't like the batter, as I thought it wasn't to tasty and to thick. The white fish, was good though.

I chose the Bitters for my beer. I was really disappointed in my choice of beer it was flat and had no body to it. It was like colored dishwater.

I was wondering what the reputation of this particular Pub was like with locals? Is the beer named bitters, normally like that? Did we get a tourist rip off?

I discovered Hall's Ale later on in the UK, NI and on the ship and liked it.
 
#2
where is The Freemasons Arms? Do you remember the name of the street?
 
#3
Poppy said:
where is The Freemasons Arms? Do you remember the name of the street?
Sorry, no I don't! :?
 
#4
My guess is that you were at the Freemason's Arms on Long Acre, in Covent Garden - the only other one I know of in London is up by Hampstead Heath, which is a little out of the way for a day trip.

The beer you refer to is generally known as 'bitter', not 'bitters', and, given that the Freemason's is a Shepherd Neame pub, should have been fairly good - they're the brewery that produce Spitfire and Bishop's Finger, among other real ales. TW, this may make more sense to you - they're the only brewery to produce Samuel Adams under licence in the UK.

The thing is, bitter/real ale is cask conditioned. That means that when it arrives at the pub, it's not yet ready for drinking, unlike lagers or so-called 'smooth flow bitters' (like John Smiths and Boddingtons). The effect of this is that it is possible to get a bad pint of bitter - it might come from the very end of the barrel, it might have been tapped up badly, poured badly, served through dirty lines or simply be from a dodgy barrel.

The pay off from this is that when it's got right (most of the time), you end up with a quality pint, with a lot more flavour than most non-cask-conditioned beers.

What you say about flatness sets off a warning flag in my head - bitter is meant to be flat, it's not like a lager. Body varies from bitter to bitter, but a pint certainly shouldn't taste like 'coloured dishwater.' If it does, then tell the barman -- any barman worth his salt should smell/taste it, and if it's off, pour you another one/an alternative, for free. I work in a pub, and I certainly would - we pride ourselves on the quality of our real ales.

I can't comment on the fish and chips - all I'd say is that you're better getting them from a chippy (a proper takeaway fish and chip shop) or a genuine fish restaurant (Platters in Plymouth still holds my affection) than a pub, where, yes, the fish and chips is designed for the tourist market.

If you're ever in England again, I recommend looking out for real ales like Spitfire, Abbot, Pedigree, Tanglefoot, Deuchars' IPA, Theakston's Old Peculier (caveat emptor!), or simply asking the barman what bitter he recommends. Certainly, the standard "pub experience" shouldn't be as bad as it sounds yours was.

edit: Review of the Freemason's Arms.
 
#5
smithie said:
My guess is that you were at the Freemason's Arms on Long Acre, in Covent Garden - the only other one I know of in London is up by Hampstead Heath, which is a little out of the way for a day trip.

The beer you refer to is generally known as 'bitter', not 'bitters', and, given that the Freemason's is a Shepherd Neame pub, should have been fairly good - they're the brewery that produce Spitfire and Bishop's Finger, among other real ales. TW, this may make more sense to you - they're the only brewery to produce Samuel Adams under licence in the UK.

The thing is, bitter/real ale is cask conditioned. That means that when it arrives at the pub, it's not yet ready for drinking, unlike lagers or so-called 'smooth flow bitters' (like John Smiths and Boddingtons). The effect of this is that it is possible to get a bad pint of bitter - it might come from the very end of the barrel, it might have been tapped up badly, poured badly, served through dirty lines or simply be from a dodgy barrel.

The pay off from this is that when it's got right (most of the time), you end up with a quality pint, with a lot more flavour than most non-cask-conditioned beers.

What you say about flatness sets off a warning flag in my head - bitter is meant to be flat, it's not like a lager. Body varies from bitter to bitter, but a pint certainly shouldn't taste like 'coloured dishwater.' If it does, then tell the barman -- any barman worth his salt should smell/taste it, and if it's off, pour you another one/an alternative, for free. I work in a pub, and I certainly would - we pride ourselves on the quality of our real ales.

I can't comment on the fish and chips - all I'd say is that you're better getting them from a chippy (a proper takeaway fish and chip shop) or a genuine fish restaurant (Platters in Plymouth still holds my affection) than a pub, where, yes, the fish and chips is designed for the tourist market.

If you're ever in England again, I recommend looking out for real ales like Spitfire, Abbot, Pedigree, Tanglefoot, Deuchars' IPA, Theakston's Old Peculier (caveat emptor!), or simply asking the barman what bitter he recommends. Certainly, the standard "pub experience" shouldn't be as bad as it sounds yours was.

edit: Review of the Freemason's Arms.
Thank you for your reply!

The place you attached in the website was that place that we stopped at. The ship that we were on held 2600+ people and I suspect 80 % took the London Pun tour.

We may have overwhelmed the Pub. I wish I could have a better chance to test 'bitter' against what you have said about it. I do like Guinness, and did have a nice pint in NI! It of course, was VERY Good!

I notice that you didn't say anything about Halls Ale a bottled beer that I tried on the ship mostly. I thought it was pretty good, for a bottled ale. There wasn't a great selection of beer on the ship.

I also suspect, you are right about the fish & chips too. I have had great Pub lunches, on previous trips to the UK. I tend to like the 'Plowmans lunch.

What do you think of this particular PUB? I think they were overwhelmed, by the sheer number of people arriving at one time and thier service was below their normal standards. They also no doubt were aware, that we wouldn't be coming back in most cases. :wink:
 
#6
Trip_Wire said:
Thank you for your reply!

The place you attached in the website was that place that we stopped at. The ship that we were on held 2600+ people and I suspect 80 % took the London Pun tour.

We may have overwhelmed the Pub. I wish I could have a better chance to test 'bitter' against what you have said about it. I do like Guinness, and did have a nice pint in NI! It of course, was VERY Good!

I notice that you didn't say anything about Halls Ale a bottled beer that I tried on the ship mostly. I thought it was pretty good, for a bottled ale. There wasn't a great selection of beer on the ship.

I also suspect, you are right about the fish & chips too. I have had great Pub lunches, on previous trips to the UK. I tend to like the 'Plowmans lunch.

What do you think of this particular PUB? I think they were overwhelmed, by the sheer number of people arriving at one time and thier service was below their normal standards. They also no doubt were aware, that we wouldn't be coming back in most cases. :wink:
I think you're probably right. Certainly, in the place I work at, if we get 40 people in and eating, we're pretty much overwhelmed - the numbers you're talking about are far larger... So the staff would have been more concerned with getting food and drinks out as fast as possible, rather than with the quality.

I've only been to the Freemason's a couple of times, but both times it's seemed perfectly alright - nothing too extraordinary (unless you're a football history buff), but certainly not below par.

As for Hall's Ale, I can't say I've ever come across it. However, there are some very good ales that only come in bottles now on the market - Innis & Gunn is excellent, as are Phoenix and Firefly.

And if you usually eat the ploughman's lunch, then what does he have? :wink:
 
#7
Trip,

I honestly thought your original post was a wah.

I know of the Freemason's Arms in Hampstead (I went to school not ten minutes walk from it). It was known then as a gay hangout and is only about ten mins walk from a famous cruising area (Hampstead Heath, where George Michael was caught by photographers).

I honestly thought you were trying to bait Crabtastic. Obviously as a member of the Air Farce he could have been expected to regale us with stories of many a drunken night in the Freemason's, sorry he didn't have the fish, more of a pork sausage man. Never mind.

As for decent fish and chips - wrong part of the country for that really. You need to head about 150 miles North before it gets good.
 
#8
I fcuking resent that. You're only a poof if you push back or look around, and you know it. Clearly you were traumatised by many years of dipping your hand into their pockets to get sweeties.

I don't know where you get the idea that there are a high proportion of quegs in Her Majesty's RAF. If there were, don't you think we'd dress better and our messes wouldn't have the charm of a Swindon Travelodge?
 
#9
Tripwire:

It's Bitter not "Bitters".

Its Lager not "larger".

Its Ploughmans not "Plowmans".


So where did you visit in Belfast then??
 
#10
Bossdog said:
Tripwire:

It's Bitter not "Bitters".

Its Lager not "larger".

Its Ploughmans not "Plowmans".


So where did you visit in Belfast then??
He's not sure- he just followed the tour guides in bowler hats, orange sashes and holding up umbrellas on a delightful walking tour of the city.
 
#11
Bossdog said:
Tripwire:

It's Bitter not "Bitters".

Its Lager not "larger".

Its Ploughmans not "Plowmans".


So where did you visit in Belfast then??
Thanks for the spell check Bossdog, I get careless with spelling, on the computer sometimes, too busy typing what I'm thinking. ;)

Again, we only had a day in NI and Belfast. We stopped at the town of Balley Castle for coffee & scones at the Marine Hotel. on our way out to the Causeway. We took a bus tour of the city, after a long bus trip through the countryside, out to the 'Giants Causeway.'

I had a nice pint of Guiness, at the Causeway hotel. We had lunch, in a place 10 minutes down the road from the Causeway. (Royal Court hotel.) It was served family style on platters and was pretty good. It started with a cold fruit salad, sliced Beef, Yorkshire pudding, Gravy, carrots and peas. Choice of beer (Bitter or Lager) and of course coffee, tea and a dessert. I took the lager this time. :wink:

I understand that the food at the Causeway hotel, is good; however, I'm sure that the number of people in all our buses, on this tour (All from our ship.) would have overwhelmed the hotel's facilities.

We passed fairly close to the Bushmills Distillery; however, we didn't get to visit it nor get a taste! :(

Our tour guides, were well informed and did a great job! I didn't see any Bowler hats or Orange sashes, but then, we didn't take a walking tour of Belfast either. As I recall, a walking tour of the town of Londonerry, was offered, some friends took that tour and enjoyed it.

The Plowmans lunch, I didn't have one on this trip; however, as I recall from previous trips, they were mostly sort of a hot pie type dish with beef/lamb potatoes and veggies. I always thought they were very good for a lunch.
 
#12
I am sorry to hear that you were tied up in Dover; it's an awful, awful place.
 
#13
Trip_Wire said:
The Plowmans lunch, I didn't have one on this trip; however, as I recall from previous trips, they were mostly sort of a hot pie type dish with beef/lamb potatoes and veggies. I always thought they were very good for a lunch.
That's not the ploughman's you normally get. Normally it's all cold - cheese, crusty bread, pickle, pickled onion and an apple.

Or have I been lied to?
 
D

Deleted 20555

Guest
#14
Next time you come and visit mention the fact here and you'll probably be fighting off invitations.
 
#15
I always thought Wetherspoons pub chains to be very good for their drinks and food, I always enjoy going into one,their standards are generally high and reasonably priced, they are also very good for converting Old Crown Courts, Cinemas and any old notable building into a Pub and give it a new lease of life.

Of course i do like other Pubs as well, In my last trip to USA and Canada, just got back this week, I have seen British style pubs in USA and i have to admit that it is not done quite as well the UK own, the Canadian Pubs however do resemble British Pubs best, I have seen good examples in Ottawa and in Victoria, having said that Canada developed differently from USA so different Drinking traditions had developed.
 
#16
Deleted 20555 said:
Next time you come and visit mention the fact here and you'll probably be fighting off invitations.
I think you are right, even if I disagree with T_W on virtaully everthing :wink: I would willingly take him to decent pub and stand him a beer. In my opinion there is nothing worse that visiting a country and having to suffer poor food/beer becuase you are a tourist.

Smithie is correct, a good cask conditioned beer is best. If I remeber correctly there are some decent small/mirco breweries in T_W's patch that make some very pleasant light ales, yes I know that they are not Bitter per say but they are worth a sample :D .

As an aside T_W, since I am in the USA what you suggest I go and eat/drink to sample a ture taste of the USA. Currently in Md but hope to get around a bit, so regional suggestions would be welcomed.

editted once to add extra question.
 
#17
Jailorinummqasr & Others:

I'm glad to hear, that most here would invite and/or buy a round, etc. I realize, that many here disagree with a lot of my opinions, etc. I would do the same thing if the position was reversed... except for a couple of people here. ;) Just kidding?

These days, most of my overseas trips take the form of cruising on cruise ships. My wife loves to cruise and we have been taking at least two cruises a year. In the past, we flew to places and stayed a few days, visiting places and doing things on our own. (My wife worked & retired from Northwest Airlines, 41 years.)

Traveling on airline passes (Non-Rev) on standby, these days is hard to do, as most flights are oversold and full. So, we seldom use her pass privileges , these days. The fact that she is a retiree, puts her on the bottom of the standby priority list. We used to beat full flights, in the past by paying a little more for a 1st Class standby pass; however, with all the upgrade programs these days, it's usually full too.

We have also gotten to like, only having to pack and unpack once on the cruise ship Vs many times, flying to many places and staying in hotels, etc., not to mention the security circus, that one must do at every airport.

So what is my point? Although cruiseing, is now our preferred travel mode, it does have a few drawbacks. The worst one, IMHO, is that in most cases, you are only in a Port of call one day. (In some ports this might be a good thing!) 8O

Take the case of our recent visit to London. We docked in Dover, some distance from London by bus, etc. We really didn't know much about getting around, from Dover to London, nor did we have any particular place in mind, or people to see in London.

If you take such a trip on your own and get lost, or do not return on time to the ship, it will sail away without you. If you are on a tour, arranged by the cruise line, the ship will wait for the tours return.

So, we chose to take the 'London Pub Lunch' tour. This was a bus ride from Dover to London and return. The bus tour, hit the high points of London, that most tourists want to see. In some cases, we got off the bus and walked to a place, with a brief stop. (Change of the Guards at the rear of Buckingham Palace.) Other places we just drove by with comments about the place by the tour guide. (Trafalar Square.) I did note the changes there, since my last visit. Of course, you are at the mercy of the tour company for the choice of the Pub and what your are fed, etc., which I have already covered.

So, given what I have outlined above, there is very little opportunity to meet friends or do anything on ones own in such a circumstance.

I have a good ex SAS retiree, friend that lives in Nottingham, that I'm sure, would have picked us up at the ship and transported us around, with a visit to the Special Forces Club in London, (He's a member.) which I would have really enjoyed. He's been trying to get me to join the club; however, I just can't see the annual dues, for the few if anytimes, that I would be able to visit or stay there.

I just couldn't bring myself to cause him to spend his time and money doing this for us, for a few hours of being together. So, I didn't mention our trip or visit to him. I have had him visit many times and have taken care of him, during his visits.

So, my point(s) are that meeting with friends, is especially hard when the ship is docked many miles from where they are. Doing your own tours, can be risky, when long trips to get there are present. Missing the sailing is not good! One must get to the ship's next port of call. on their own.
 
#18
Jailorinummqasr:

I really hesitate to make recommendations on what to eat or what beers to drink here in the good old USA.

I mentioned my SAS retiree friend, who visits me once in awhile. He hasn't found any American beer that he considers very good.

He sort of drives me nuts, when it comes to food, especially steaks! Like most Americans, I like a nice thick NY cut, or Porterhouse, grilled to medium rare (Pink in the middle.) So, in the past I've taken him to my favorite steak place and payed for his dinner. He always tells the waiter, that he would like his steak 'well done.' He has even sent it back, for more heat, when to me, the steak was burnt to a crisp! 8O

He prefers the our local mini-brews for beer; however, complains when its served cold in a cold glass. He usually, asks the bartender, to run a glass through the dishwasher so its warm and then lets the beer sit for awhile until its warm. :roll:

So, my advice to you is this.: Every region and or part of this Country has it's speciality dishes, find out what they are, and try them, if they sound good to you. Stick with the mini-brews in each area and find one you like.

I don't like most American beer. My favorites are German and Japanese. (I grew up on Japanese beer.) Almost every country in the world has better beer then the USA. :(
 
#19
Understand the ship thing. When I was a lad went from the UK to Australia & back by a P&O cruise ship because my Dad had a posting which very strangely had the option of sea travel. Six week cruise FOC? Job done!

But 100% clear you could never risk missing the boat. Ever.

Sadly some of these London pub tours can be a bit of a let down just because they are on the tourist routes.

One of the worst used to be The Sherlock Holmes in Northumberland Street (Why??) near Charing Cross and of course not far from a certain large Government Ministry of ill repute.

So there you would be, trying to down a pint or two of the brown/yellow liquid, and in would cram a coachload or four of Japanese tourists, who would all get a half of bitter and sip at it whilst taking photographs of each other in a "typical" London pub, getting a talk on Sherlock Holmes in Japanese from the guide before all being herded out and back on to the coach after after 20 minutes. If you stayed in there another lot would cram in about a hour later.

I felt quite sorry for them!
 
#20
T_W

TY for your kind words. Let me assure you that Steak should be medium or medium rare. I for one, would not send it back for more heat :?

As for the beer, I have found local brew pleasant enough and intend to investigate the microbreweries as I find them. I found that the American desire to chill everything liquid rather difficult at first BUT I am getting used to finding ice in my soft drinks. I would love to find a warm flat bitter to drink whilst I watch my local cricket team play. In the absence of a Cricket team to watch, I'll cope with some of the better beers and ales....but not chilled to death. :x

In rural west Maryland there are lots of farms....and old german heritage...therefore local 'germerican' food is the deemed the local special. 8O
 

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