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The Pub Review - Stage Six

Thursday 19th April 2007

I was looking forward to this evenings pub review as it included three pubs that I hadn't been to before and that's quite unusual after fifteen years of living and drinking in St Albans.

Pub One - Farriers Arms
Farriers Arms

For some reason the Farriers Arms didn't look that welcoming as I approached it around 7pm. The bar is just inside the entrance and the only people in the pub were a couple of locals perched up at the bar chatting to the barman.
This is a McMullens pub so choice of ales was fairly limited; I chose their new Cask Ale, which seems a strange name to call a beer as cask ale is a general term.
The other two ales on offer were AK and Country. I handed over the money for my drink and headed off to the left hand side where fortunately Alex was already seated.
We started to wonder why a couple of people walked past our table and into what seemed like a small untidy back yard. After a closer inspection of the back courtyard we realised that this is where the only toilets were.
The new McMullens Cask Ale was okay but nothing special, much as expected. Dave was next to arrive, soon followed by Stuart and Rachel then Graham and Karen.
We did our best to rearrange the tables and chairs so that we could all sit together but whatever arrangement we came up with we still blocked the route to the outside toilets.
Time was getting on and almost time to move to the next pub, but where was Geoff? It's not like him to waste an hour's drinking time. Just as we were about to leave he walks in explaining that he thought the pub crawl started at 8pm - a poor excuse.
Following a quick photo outside the Farriers Arms we headed off down Lower Dagnall Street for what we hoped would be a better pint of ale.

Pub Two - Verulam Arms
Verulam Arms

Not far to the Verulam Arms from the Farriers, about a two minute walk further down Lower Dagnall Street.
The bar serving area is just inside the door with tables to the left and right. There was a good selection of real ales available and I chose Black Sheep. Apparently this pub is owned by the same people who own the Boot, hence the good choice of ales.
As some of us were quite hungry we had a look at the food menu but realised that this is not the place to get basic pub food. The food on the menu looked too up-market and expensive for our basic needs as we were only in this pub for a single drink.
This looks a nice place for a relaxed evening meal with a bottle of wine or a quiet drink after a day at the office. It is not really suitable for a large group of noisy beer drinking people such as us so once we got our drinks we made for the outside patio at the back.

Pub Three - Portland Arms
Portland Arms

It was quite a long hilly walk to the Portland Arms that took about ten minutes. As soon as we entered we noticed the vibrant busy atmosphere. Although it was a midweek evening the Portland Arms was very popular.
We were lucky to choose an evening when they had a live band playing. Being owned by Fullers there was a choice of ESB, London Pride and Chiswick.
Fortunately food is served until 9:30pm and the menu consisted of good old fashioned pub food. I chose home made steak and ale pie with chips which was excellent especially washed down with a great pint of Pride.
We were all having a good time in this friendly back street locals pub that instead of staying for the designated 45 minutes we stayed for well over an hour and ordered extra drinks.
After a couple of failed attempts to force my new camera to flash I received expert help from Rachel who managed to take the photo outside the pub.

Pub Four - Spotted Bull

Another ten minute walk to the next pub along Verulam Road.
The Spotted Bull was quite a contrast from the previous pub. It is a reasonable sized pub but on the night of the visit it was rather empty. This suited us fine as we were all able to sit down around the large table on the right. My pint of London Pride was served up too cold.
After spending extra time in the Portland Arms we were running late and starting to feel the effects of the last few pints. It was now around 10:30pm and doubtful whether we could manage another pub after this.
It's a shame this pub isn't that popular as it is a fine traditional pub with plenty of seating and a friendly welcome. I guess with so many pubs close to the centre it is too much effort for people to walk five minutes out of the way to get to this place.
By the time most of us finished our pint it was getting close to 11pm and some of us had last buses and trains to catch. Stuart and Rachel made an early move for the next pub to ensure that they completed all five planned pubs.

Pub Five - Mokoko

A few of us staggered into Mokoko but were promptly told that last orders had passed and they would not serve us. Stuart and Rachel later told us that we didn't miss much.
We were forced to visit the Boot for the next drink before having our final drinks at the Waterend Barn. It was a good thing I didn't have to go to work in the morning!