The White Horse has locals from all over the world. Jeremy, living 20 minutes train away, considers this to be his local. And so do I, whenever I’m in the London area. I think you’ll find people from Tasmania adhering to the same school of thought. Better even, it’s only three stops away from Olympia, and in this weather that does count. Once arrived, we found Theresa, Thom, Jacob and Martin there already. We immediately set out to lay some stomach lining for the rest of that memorable day’s Gambrinalia.
Two little parenthesises. First, there’s the White Horse itself. The beer will stand out anytime: cask ale is nowhere better cared for, the choice would honour any place, and, as Lut and I experienced, the food ranges from quite likeable to very good indeed. I have the impression amateurs of fine wines will be glad they found this place, too. But. They have obviously a training problem. I once saw a girl murder the innocent cork of a bottle of Vigneronne, until the customer could bear it any longer, and asked for the bottle to put it out of its misery himself. This time around, on a certain point I had to go to the counter, and had to ask for a Hoegaarden Grand Cru on behalf of Theresa. Guy takes my order, and after two minutes of ineffectively opening some fridges at random, goes up to a colleague. This one points in the right direction, so the guy’s face lit up, he brings me the bottle, opening it on the way. After which he makes a weak mental copy of a doubletake, and asks if I would like a glass? ???? What the dickens would he have me do, slobber Grand Cru out of the bottle? So after the obvious answer, he goes around again with a pained look on his face, to find me a glass… for Hoegaarden Wit. Oh dear. T wasn’t very pleased. Glasses seem to be a problem – I do not know how you look at it, but I do not like to taste beer out of a small wine glass, filled up to the brim. And I will keep asking for half pints, no matter how effeminate they might find me.
Another problem the WH struggles with, is the hygiene of its toilets. They looked as something British Rail gave up on. For such a yuppies’ pub (don’t protest. They make out the main bulk of the punters!), this is a rather poor show. More pubs in old England seem to have this kind of problem – and sometimes it spreads out wider than the wee room. I’m going to get a CAMRA Fatwah for this, but I despise their so venerated Wenlock Arms. The place just oozes grease and neglect. If a tenth of the care given to their beers would be spent on cleaning. And I’m NOT going to start about that pub’s main snack, the horrible whelks on formaldehyde.
And last about WH itself, their taking of orders is very trustful, but not very realistic. But that is already going to the second parenthesis.
Indeed. This whole evening, as you will read below, was a huge success IMO. Yet, it ever so nearly ended in disaster, because of the negligence of some people. People, ordering food, together, apart, and all for the same table, and so the same bill. And then, the food consumed, they forget about it, even to the extend of walking out, and forgetting to pay… Which would have been very hard on Jeremy – as he had booked the table in his name for us. And yes, this involves some babblers. We had to collect money as in ‘a pound each’, or somebody would have ended up paying for other peoples’ dinner.
End of parenthesis.
In the following hours, a steady trickle of people came in and joined ranks. Ian, FredW and friend, John and Joyce White, Marcus and Briony, Edo, Paulette, and much later, depending on how they escaped Olympia, babblers as Cornelia and Ray, Mat, and Ratebeerians as Jez, Anders and Bjorn, etc. Amongst the latest to arrive, where KUASKAwhojustspokeonkriek, together with Nath and Jim, and another friend, who’s name I didn’t catch. Lorenzo had of course become totally infatuated with the good girl, as is his habit with any girl in sight – but once he had put his elvenears on and played his noseflute, the feeling had become mutual – she even wrote so on Ratebeer! So the two groups mixed – and my little idea, that the Babble Belt and Ratebeer, as far as not composed of the same people, are bound to go great together. I think most people agreed. Thanks to Jeremy of course, for having the idea of a booked table in the first place. It was great craic, as my hoarse voice hours later proved.
The beers? Oh well; Rooster’s Hooligan on cask (good, but for that glass), Wrasslers XXXX Stout from the Porterhouse (and excellent) – and whilst I was ordering that, Mark Dorber made a blitz appearance, which resulted in a jug of beer been brought up, under the name of Hammonds porter. OK. Nice. Thanks. But can somebody please tell me where that hails from?!? There’s NOWHERE something to find on this medium-sweet porter. DUH. And after missing Sam Calagione on the festival (with my DFH T-shirt on), I missed the other boss! Story of my life. I then went into the serious stuff, and ordered me a Lees Harvest Ale from 2002. Words are not sufficient to describe the depths of this elixir of life. I tried, on Ratebeer, anyway. Normally I would have stopped, there and then, but the evening was still young and my glass very empty. So I did a rating of… Chimay White on draught. It HAS gone down.
Not everybody was happy with that. Notably Mrs. Pattyn. Me, myself, I thought me to be in a good mood. I was yelling, yes, but so was everybody in eyesight. She told (yelled?) me I was being bl**din’ drunk. As it is improper to gainsay a lady, I will leave it at that. People got merrier and merrier. We had a critic’s session of Critic’s Kölsch – that’s a beer brewed by Ray at Backstage Brewing, and Lorenzo would have none of it, until we agreed it is a good beer – but anything but a Kölsch. So did its brewer.
Unfortunately, no more Mark Dorber, and no more DFH or other mystery beers. Well, Lut was probably happy about that. She was drinking decafeiné, poor thing… Somewhere, in the midst of the night it ended somehow, and in a temperature that wouldn’t even be called mild in a normal summer, we tubed back to ol’Wimbledon – not to meet Kim Clijsters but that Neanderthaler I spoke of, and we went horizontal in order to wait for <a hrefhttp://www.ratebeer.com/Story.asp?StoryID=222>part IV, or the second day…