Monday, May 12, 2014

Bricklayer's Arms, Putney

A late addition to our Top 25 pubs tour, the Bricklayer's Arms in Putney was quiet on a Sunday night: literally the kind of atmosphere were the locals look up at you and go quiet when you walk in. Which for a multiple award-winning, often recommended pub that must get a lot of visitors, is kind of strange, no?

They don't seem to serve food, and only two ales appeared to be on offer at the bar. (But a dozen pumps, the rest of them empty, may be promising for a better selection on busier nights?) The bar itself is not very comfortable, but classic, dry wood-floored pub style, with vintage but not terribly imaginative decor. They don't take credit card, or make much effort at friendly service (again, maybe unless you're a local?), and I kind of get the feeling it will be busy, too loud and understaffed on a Friday night. I hope the normal beer selection is what caused Des De Moor to rate this so highly.

(There's a vintage Baths and Recreation Management rules sign framed on the wall which brings back memories of swimming baths in the 70s and 80s. Quaint.)

The beers, all from the Somerset brewery Cotleigh:

Cotleigh, Nutcracker Mild: dusky, still ale, glowing when held up to the light like a very dark red gemstone. Woody and smoky, it smells a bit like a chicory coffee syrup, but has a slightly watery and sour first taste with a bit of apple pit, leading to slightly more musty, malty brown in the mouth. The aftertaste of hops, coffee and yeast doesn't linger, which is a bit disappointing, but the pint is not bad overall. (***)

Cotleigh, Honey Buzzard Premium Beer: a caramel/red-brown beer, with lots of flower honey in the head; flat, with cane sugar sweetness leading to a grapefruit bitterness, and a pithy swallow that doesn't really linger. Nice, quaffable, and more interesting than the mild, but a bit too flat to be really satisfying. (Review by VV.) (**)

(There was a third beer on tap, but the label was turned the wrong way so you had no way of knowing unless you asked.)

Cotleigh, Buzzard Dark Ale: a dark dusty red ale, more mahogany than ruby, with a sweet, smoky molasses aroma. A slightly yeasty ovaltine first taste, becomes more chocolaty and chewy in the mouth. The fruity and slightly rancid swallow leads to lingering smoke that becomes yeasty a whole after it goes down, so it's more pleasant if you keep drinking and don't give it a chance to go stale in your throat. Quite a good balance overall, an interesting mix of sensations and flavours, but the Nutcracker is more quaffable. (***)

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