JUST up the hill from the main square is the Red Lion. It’s a real old market-town pub: just one small main room, and one old geezer on a bench (the night I visited) sipping slowly on pint after pint, a fire gently hissing away, and a lively and lissome barmaid joking with a couple of young men at the bar. And nothing on offer but drink. (At lunchtime you might be lucky enough to get a cheese roll.) This is a pub that has made no compromise with the times. The brown linoleum floor, the mix of tables, the darts board, the Aunt Sally at the back (a peculiarly delightful game played only in Oxfordshire and three neighboring shires, involving wooden battens, a clay pot and a lot of tipsy near-misses) — this place can hardly have changed since the ’70s, or even the ’50s. The creed might be: If the beer’s kept well, the pub is delivering itself of its chief charge.It's easily the best piece of beer writing I've encountered since Michael Jackson's death. Don't cheat yourself: go read the whole thing. Photo essay here.
Monday, July 20, 2009
You must go read "Going Back in Time in Old England, Sip by Sip" by Henry Shukman in yesterday's NY Times. He's a novelist and he directs his lush prose at the pubs of Cotswold in such a fetching manner that I regret not being in one at this moment: