Tonight, I’ve been tasked to deliver a tupperware full of spam and baked bean curry. It’s a delicacy round these parts. However, my target is out on the lash, and suggests making the drop off at The Jolly Butcher’s.
That’s fine for me, as I could throw a 2.5 litre bottle of Strongbow further than I have to walk from my flat to this pub. I can’t ever remember having thrown a bottle of cider, so I don’t really know how far I could throw one, but the question will play on my mind, now.
The Jolly Butchers. I remember when this pub was an early morning haven. After all the other pubs had closed, one could decant to the Butcher’s and watch the sports screen with all the other balding, stained degenerates, until 4am. Now, it’s a very fashionable ‘Ale and Cider House’, with a wide range of proper beers and ciders, and a whole wall of Fornasetti wallpaper, and a trendy clientele, you know, the sort who ride fixie bikes with ginger beards and no socks.
It’s normally hard to get a table in here, but this Tuesday night is easy pickings. I locate the target on the left, sitting with a tall bearded man, and two females, and I move towards the table. I sit down in front of the main man, his eyes follow my hand as I slowly retrieve the container from the Morrisons placcy bag, and place it on the table. The target makes a cursory nod to the bearded man, who grabs the box, slides it towards him, opens it and sticks in one finger, staring unblinkingly at me as he licks the curry sauce from his finger.
Beard man glances sideways at the target and gives an affirmative nod. The spam and bean is good. I sigh in relief and go to get a pint of cider.
Ooh, what goodies do we have here! Amongst the little known tap signs, I notice a Welsh cider! With a climate mostly of warm rain, seemingly perfect for growing apples, Wales is a reputable cider making nation, and the “National Pride” on offer, by Blaengawny from Caerphilly, is a definite contender tonight.
Just like a Swansea girl on a night out, the barmaid spends a long time trying to pull this one, and finally, after a lot of pumping, she hands over the glassful and asks me for four quid.
This cider is hazy and pale. The smell reminds me of a Dutch barge toilet. The septic tank chemicals, not the cannabis-laced turds. However, as with many ciders, it’s bark is worse than it’s bite. The taste is ruggedly appley, it conjures up a scene where I’m lying in a field of wheat stubble, while the sky turns the yellowy-grey of a coming storm.
I learn that this cider contains a content of keeved cider, which is a very old technique of stalling fermentation, to give a sweeter, fruitier cider. However, keeving takes a few days, so it’s not so commercially viable, but the French do use it in their ciders, which would explain why their Brut is trés sucré. However, as keeved cider tends to be lower in alcohol, well, that wouldn’t sit well in Britain!
So, I’ll have another pint and chat to the bubblegum-smelling Canadian about Canadian celebrities. I’ve already forgotten if there were any or not.
Oh, Celine Dion?
And Brian Adams