From Sydney, I’d been sent to Coventry, UK for engineering work. I had arrived there by bus from Heathrow a few days before. It was the end of the week and definitely time to get back to my roots of the ‘The City’. There are places to go and although I’d spent time in the UK before, this time that I would definitely look at London as kindred homeland somehow.
No need to bus or drive to London in their A or M style roads, which can really drag on a Friday afternoon.The trains are direct and fast if you need them. All trains definitely seem to lead to London in this case.
Train then, Coventry ticket office, single fast train anytime please. About an hour from Coventry to London Euston, through green landscapes in the setting sun, with long shadows flicking across the windows. The train tilts as it rounds the bends and your ears either suck out or in going into and out of the tunnels at speed.
Naturally I checked out the carriage, 3 levels of emergency exit. Level 1 – the door to the next carriage, Level 2, the door to the outside, Level 3- the emergency glass break windows. Just the day before there were reports of Police evacuating Baker Street station IN LONDON and doing ‘controlled explosions’ on a panel van seemingly abandoned in the middle of the road just outside. In the wake of the November 13th terror and carnage in Paris just the week before, everyone in London must have also been a bit on edge.
Well, needs be I might make it out the emergency window, but Level 3 type emergency exits are a bit of a jump to the ground. Might be breaking a bit more than the toughened glass at my age. Thankfully, we arrived Euston safely with no breaking or jumping required. I retrieved my pretty worn luggage and exited the station.
I taxi ranked a quick cab and check-in to my hotel nearby. Switching from late Spring to Autumn cool, I added a pullover for warmth and went back out into the early darkness. Actually right outside the Euston station are several pubs to attend. The first one, All Bar One, seemed upmarket and was a cross between bistro, winebar and pub. All people going to and from the train station with roller luggage and overcoats, dropping in for a quick pint. There were some obvious locals who seemed to know everyone, introducing themselves to strangers, slapping people on the back, somewhat intrusively I observed. Lots of really tall well dressed people. Not me of course. Somewhat short and shabby compared. I thought shabby chic for chillin’ dudes from Australia. That’ll do. Of course short people get lost in the crowd in anycase. Beer London Style. Good.
Afterward however the Euston Tap bar seemed more interesting. Enclosed in a 19th century gatehouse at the entrance to the old Euston Square Garden, a small door leads you into a welcome heated space with a bar and a craft beer wall and chalkboard arrangement behind it. At least half dozen bartenders crammed in a space of around 20 square feet. The only women in the bar were behind it or upstairs perhaps at the end of the mysterious black wrought iron spiral staircase. Everyone of those drinking downstairs at least seemed young, relatively happy, and their conversation sharp. The ‘Tap’ could be the local watering hole for those from the University across the road perhaps.
I ordered ‘Half Mast’. How would I know what it tasted like, it was listed number something on a chalk board just above some other sophisticated craft been name. The only clue was that it had alcohol of a calculated percentage and was on the ‘KEG’ side of the room rather than the ‘CASK’ side of the room. Tasted good. I drank the whole pint — ok slowly — taking some time to read Time magazine found in the lobby on the way out. Craft beers, kegs and casks of specialty brew shipped in from somewhere. The lifetime of any of them depending on the number of drinkers. As Casks were emptied, their chalk tap numbering designation rubbed out like the way our teachers rubbed out the workings and started something new in the space.
Can I have a pint of ’20 please’ he asked, the guy next to me.
‘Sorry mate, It’ll be around 10 minutes or so’ the bartender said, as her colleague in black quickly rubbed out it’s space on the wall.
‘OK then perhaps number 15, thanks’.. he replied.
So then, beer by numbers and crafty names at the cool bars in London. Who thinks these names up ? Is there a standard dictionary of ‘Craft Beer’ names. Perfect for trivia nights back in Australia perhaps. Category.. London Craft Beer Names. I thought of a few more crafty beer names, promptly forgot them and went back to the hotel to sleep off some jetlag.