Sunday, 28 October 2012

Vine Street

Now the journey to Vine Street had been approached for some time with a nice frisson of anticipation as it’s the nearest square on the Monopoly Board to our offices; which stand on the north bank of Tower Bridge. It’s also another one of the odder Monopoly squares in that is doesn’t seem to have any notable features or historical factors which would explain why it was included in the game in the first place, it’s also a frequent headache to those trying to complete the Monopoly tour as it has no licensed premises anywhere along its length.

The most boring street in London? BGC doing his best street-walker impression.

Luckily for us who are not burdened by such details as actually drinking on the specific street we can take the chance to move just one street to the east and hit The Minories, which has no less that two Cask Marque accredited pubs contained within its length. In fact there are a few more but seeing as these are so nearby to my workplace it’s no surprise to find that places like The Minories (at the Tower Hill end of the street) and TheStill and Star (at the Aldgate end) have already been visited and scanned. Somehow though, I had so far not visited the two pubs in the middle of the street; the independent Peacock and another Fuller’s pub, (or rather hotel) The Chamberlain.
Because this was going to be a “home match” for us with no tube travel involved, I’d tried my hardest to get a maximum attendance for tonight’s visit but alas certain things had gone against me. Tour stalwart Buddy Rob was also otherwise engaged and at first we thought that Charlie (who was away on business in Durham (although to be fair he did research to see whether there was a Vine Street in Durham – turns out there is)) would also miss the jaunt but he did make it back in time. I then managed to coerce Mags back for a return visit and tour novice Niresh also made his first appearance - so by the end it was a well respectable 8 of us that made the very short walk in the drizzly evening past Tower Hill tube station and up the Minories, pausing only long enough for a quick snap-shot of the Vine Street sign (really, this street has got nothing in it) and then sprinting across the road to the first stop of the night, The Peacock.
Ma Peacock, cock, cock, cock.......etc
The first thing that greeted us was the Cask Marque certificate perched on the wall by the end of the bar, the second thing was the landlord explaining the origins of the three cask ales on draught as I was squinting at the labels. Alongside the well-known Best Bitter from Ringwood were interesting looking offerings from Deverell’s and Ironworks Ale. Once again I seemed to be the person in the electric chair as everyone (apart from Mags (Amaretto – fruit based drink for the lady) and Ed (Stella – mass produced euro-fizz based drink for the boy band member) said “we’ll have what Rich is having….”
Which is fine, but only to a point and that point being three sips into the drink when they all pull facing and say “oooo, I don’t really like the ales, it’s a bit too bitter for me.”
So it was with something approaching doom laden preconception that I ordered a pint of the Deverell’s beer called Redemption, which I chose first only due to the fact that there was a scantily clad devil lady on the pump clip – who says that sexist marketing doesn’t work!
Pint of naked woman please......
Once we’d got the complaints about the beer out of the way we retreated to a back table and assessed the pub. It was certainly a “locals” pub with a real community spirit about the place especially as it seemed to be darts night with hoards of players descending on the place with much good natured joshing going on. I can’t say the place is particularly salubrious, indeed there was a certain rough at the edges charm about the joint, but there again I like pubs like that, I feel I fit well in!
We're smiling cos we're so full of crisps.
Seeing as we were on a go-slow tonight with only the two pubs involved a second drink was called for and the some of the BGC sheep did decide this time to drop out of the drinks suggestion box but Aussie Pete and Charlie stuck with my new choice of the Ironworks Ale and No-nickname Michael remained with a second pint of Redemption. The second round was well timed to coincide with the arrival of another newbie to the tour, Elleni who announced her attendance with a pint of Fosters shandy and treated all 8 of us to a bag of crisps…….that’s right one bag between the lot of us!
One crisp later it was time to move across the road to TheChamberlain, which is not really a pub but a Hotel but that said, seeing as it’s a Fuller’s Hotel the hotel bar is pretty much like a pub. Nice shiny beer pumps and nice polished tables and bar. There was also a nice shiny pretty barmaid wearing sexy glasses* and only too happy to serve us pints of Bengal Lancer, Fuller’s very fine IPA.
Shiny bar pumps. Note sexy barmaid, note sexy glasses......
I think I’ve mentioned before how when asking for the certificate many a bar staff have directed us to the Cask Marque plaque which normally sits outside the pub, well the pretty barmaid did exactly this but in The Chamberlain the plaque is on the inside. We explained further about the certificate which led us to a discussion with the burly bar manager, a nice Polish chap who would have loved to have helped us but unfortunately didn’t have a clue where the certificate was. He even offered to phone his boss but we decided that was far too much trouble, especially when we can rely on Trevor to add the scan from Cask Marque HQ.
We started to look towards the bottles for inspiration on our next round and Fuller’s absolutely gorgeous London Porter certainly ticked my box, Aussie Pete again followed suit but Charlie started ploughing his own furrow with a bottle of Sierra Nevada. Thinking I was doing New guy Micky a favour by getting him a bottle of Discovery (he was seriously struggling with the Bengal Lancer) I hadn’t realised that he’d asked Pete to get him a whisky instead – ah well Micky you’ll just have to pretend the Discover is a very big dram.
It was about this time that the night’s strange story happened as during a visit to the Gents I was just on the final shakes when another chap stumbled into the toilets and pronounced loudly “I’ve been looking for a shirt like that for ages, will you sell it to me?” Unsurprisingly I was rather taken aback by the suggestion; I make it a rule never to buy or sell anything in the toilet, and didn’t quite know how to respond. In the end I made my response a quick escape from the loos, just in time to get a new round of unusual bottled drinks (Chimay Blue for Pete and me) whilst Ed was trying his best to corrupt the others with some nasty Jägerbombs.
This was just before the "twisting incident" - she looks like butter wouldn't melt but note devil's eyes!
The corruption certainly worked on Mags who I blearily remember painfully twisting my nipple at one point. Whether this was part of some group based S&M practice that she does will everyone or something specifically aimed at me (or perhaps she was also after my shirt?) I’m not sure, but it did hurt and could only be salved with the final random bottled beer of the night, Fruitesse from Brouwerij Liefmans which whilst definitely living up to its fruity claims was also sickly sweet and felt very manufactured. Aussie Pete tried to tempt me back towards Tower Hill and the lure of KFC but I stuck to my Paleo guns and instead headed up to Aldgate with Niresh. The final memory of the night was being shushed in the quiet carriage………… Derek Jameson might have said “Did they mean us, they surely do(n’t)………”
* - Aussie Pete later discovered the sexy barmaid was Italian. I have to say she was far more impressed with my Italian of "il cucchiaio" than Pete's awfully clumsy "una cioccolata per favore". If anyone can correctly suggest why I would know this random Italian word I'll buy them a pint............and a packet of crisps (between the two of us)

Number of Cask Marque Pubs visited = 103
Drinking Advice = Don’t mix your drinks, even if they are all beer!

Fashion Advice = At least see how much he was offering for the shirt………..

Next Stop = Free Parking


  1. Significant lack of Spikey-haired Ed. As ever "Mags" steals my inches...

  2. Yes, I heard that Mags was still "stealing your inches" after we had all left.............dirty boy!

  3. STILL "stealing my inches"? She never was and never will be in the context you're implying, ya dirty old man.