I’m back at the Queens Head, near Kings Cross, London. It’s a lovely, but blowy Sunday afternoon and I’m meeting my friend who likes a whisky. I know this is a good pub for a cider, but apparently also for whisky. I hate whisky, though.
I arrive to find an eclectic bunch of older folks and a band is setting up. It’s a pretty chilled out place. The barmaid talks me through the boxes of cider, sitting behind the bar, and I decide on the Rich’s Farmhouse, a dry, 6%. It seems to be the last of the box and, like a nurse helping an old man pee, the barmaid gets a collague to help squeeze and shake the last dribbles of thick, orange fluid from the spout, before shoving the wrinkled, empty sack back through the little hole.
£4.20. Not bad for a pint of grandad’s finest in this part of the world.
I check for floating things, and take the glass out back, to the tiny beer ‘garden’. I feel like I’m at an interview, sat in the centre of the table, with a big graffiti queen staring down my pint. The toilet windows open onto this little yard, so the scent of urinal cakes should perfectly complement my cloudy sample.
Rich’s is a Somerset cider, from a family-run orchard. This dry is very dry, like sandpaper. Initially, not much of a taste – not sweet enough for me, but this is where one can really pay attention, reaching an almost medatative state, focusing intently on the flavours.
And try not to fall over.
Having a sniff and a gargle, the imagination kicks in. I can detect caramel, nettles…. well, what I imagine nettles taste like, probably more like the rough texture of nettles. A deep vegetation taste, bitter like dandelion. Again, I’ve never tried dandelion, apparently nettles and dendelion are both edible and healthy foods, but in my mind it’s like eating grass.
I knew I’d tried Rich’s Farmhouse before, but it ws the sweet one, last time. This time, it’s the complete opposite. Next time, it will be the medium. Should be perfect!
The singing has started up now, from inside. The clouds are gathering and my drinking buddy is on her way, probably time to head inside. Just time enough to nip to the loo and recreate the scene from the old people’s home. Hopefully I won’t need the help of a nurse, at least not after the first pint!