Old Bike at the Pembury

It’s Design Week, which is where people in square glasses and perennial scarves, mooch around looking interested in shiny things, while trying to drink as much free booze as possible. I arrive at a swanky, disturbingly white showroom with my dirty old cycle bag and jeans. I descend the white stairs to the white basement, say hello to the host and head straight for the bar. As you’d expect at a swanky do, they don’t got no scrumpy. The day will come. Until then, I opt for a champagne

Fortunately, I have a designer accomplice and we proceed to wander round, sitting on all the very expensive furniture, without spilling any champagne. Friendly waiters in black, presumably so people can see them against the whiteness, circulate with narrow trays of dark brown things and rows of cherry tomatoes on kebab sticks. I wonder how much it costs to have a tray of very expensive crumbs, and how much it would cost instead, to have a tray of warm cheese and onion pasties for the punters. Now THAT would be a canapé. The day will come.

The booze is disappearing and the party draws to a close. I know there’s some friends celebrating a Old Bikebirthday at the Pembury Tavern in Hackney. I mount my trusty steed and brave the boy racers and minicabs and wheel through the roadworks of London. Inside the Pembury, I’m looking forward to what new gems are on offer. The Pembury always seem to have two new ciders each time I visit. I really should visit more. They do nice food, too.

There are two new ciders, but I only notice one -the appropriate ‘Old Bike’ cider. Check out the quality tap sign, lovingly drawn by the Pembury staff. While waiting, a local tells me that this isn’t Dalston, but Lower Clapton, and the adjacent development have changed the postcode and renamed the square after the pub, in order to increase the house prices, and flog ’em to people in square glasses who want to be where it’s at, (The Pembury’s where it’s at). I make sympathetic noises, and eventually escape, wondering if the pub will soon be full of those folks who pretend they’re designers, dress like Dexy’s Midnight Runners and talk too loudly.

Some research on the old Bike cider shows this to be a Hereford cider, 5.8% and this Grenet Moyle variety cider seems to be the sole cider of Old Bike. It’s a strong golden colour, flat, filtered and does smell very tangy with a lot of sweetness. The taste is equally as bold, seems like a lot of bitter and a lot of sweet at the same time, like a concentrated Aspalls. Perhaps it’s called Old Bike as it can’t quite make it’s mind up which way it’s going to go, but after getting used to the lumpy seat, it’s a pleasant ride (and downhill all the way).

I photograph the cider at the table with the lone birthday card in the background, featuring a cartoon dog, that looks like Gene Hackman, sitting next to a tiny cartoon dog. Weird.Old Bike Glass

I’m intrigued by the nose on this one, as I sip away, I start to smell things like tar, paint, nail varnish remover and orange juice. However, my ciderkick can only smell Barbie’s heads. It’s not the Bianchi of ciders, more like an old Raleigh; a few spots of rust, but it has character and a very loud bell!

After a second, my wheels start to get wobbly and I think it best to return to base with the Cidermobile.

Verdict: 3.5/5


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