Too much drinking to do, too little time. While there should be a proper review of the Hobgoblin Ruby Beer coming up later today (I figure it’ll still be Thursday somewhere by the time it’s done) I’ve come to realise there’s not enough hours in a day to do this for everything so from here on in I’ll be working in mini-reviews, usually for beers purchased over the bar where one is inclined not to sniff and swirl and carry on anyway because, let’s face it, it makes you look a bit of a dick so there’s less I can pick up about them in any case. Plus it’ll probably do me good to, like, go out of the house every once in a while.
This is also as good a time as any to give a bit of a shout out to some of the Dunedin pubs I frequented when I was down there recently (well, February). With my handy dandy SOBA card I could get $1 off any pint poured at either the quite cosy Inch bar at the north end of town or Tonic just south of the Octagon on the main street. All the taps at the former are devoted purely to Emersons, one of these being the brewer’s reserve. When I was there it was the North by North Pilsner, and it was decent enough as, of course, I expected it would be; crisp, clean, authentic, unsurprising but I’m really waiting for the day Mr. Emerson really lets rip and goes way left-field. It will be magnificent. In the meantime, I’ll be looking at the Weizenbock and the Taieri George before too long, they’re far too good to miss. Tonic has a slightly wider range and a great many bottles in the fridge plus a screen you can watch the black caps lose on. The staff are well-informed enough to ask me if I knew what I was doing when I ordered a Rex Attitude to inflict on my mate there. Yes. Yes I did. Also while I was there the mayor popped in for a drink so it either has a classy reputation going or wants something on the sly out of town hall. I’ll keep my eyes on the papers. They also do live music on occasion, with posters up for a guy called Bill Morris, and I would definitely have liked to stick around for that if I could have. I’ve met him several times, he’s a class act and a great bloke. Both of these places open mid-afternoon so don’t bother turning up here looking for a nice lunchtime tipple.
A couple of others deserve mention: Albar, a real ale bar found by heading out of the Octagon towards the railway station. Don’t make the mistake of going to Metro Cafe & bar on the way there looking for Green Man on tap. It’s not on there any more, apparently it was too unreliable which is a great shame for a number of reasons, not least of which is because I was forced to settle for a Boundary Road Flying Fortress, a thin, brown, generic tasting NZ Pale Ale that nevertheless excels by being nowhere near as god-awful as the Grizzly Beer or Lawn Ranger. Back to Albar though, there’s a good and interesting range of beers on tap including but not limited to Emersons, all hand-pulled, served in proper pints from memory by well-informed and enthusiastic staff who appreciate good beer and make an effort to find you something you’ll like. They didn’t have to try too hard for me and the Emersons London Porter went down an absolute treat. They don’t do screens and there’s no sports bar vibe there but I seem to remember them doing that kind of random-musos-sitting-in-the-corner-doing-their-thing thing that the Irish pubs do so well (no, I mean actual Irish pubs, actually in Ireland). That might be a figment of my imagination but it seems that sort of place – nothing happening, nothing you can put your finger on but somehow welcoming and relaxing. I would definitely go there again. And lastly I’m putting in a plug for the Duke of Wellington that specialises in British ales, with a fine range and in their new premises (still near the exchange) now have the most elegant and impressive environs in which to get rampagingly sloppy drunk I’ve ever had the pleasure of not getting immediately thrown out of. Well, not quite but it is very nice. They pour a good Guinness and also made me a fan of the Belhaven Wee Heavy, all red-brown creamy goodness, heavy and slightly bitter, yum.
Eureka Cafe and Bar hasn’t been excluded because I couldn’t find anything nice to say about it. I…um…forgot it was there and completely missed it. If any Southern travelers feel like giving it a visit, I’d like to hear about it. Oh, and Pomeroys in Christchurch? I’d have loved to give you guys a great write-up as well but instead I shall complain loudly about your closed on Mondays policy. Boo!