My good pal Stu had his stag do on saturday. The original plan was to start the day with a few jars somewhere, and then shoot some clay pigeons. Someone who'd been to university rather than art college then pointed out that firearms+booze=widows, so we kicked off the day at All Star Lanes in Shoreditch instead. This was my first visit to this convincing replica of 50s Americana, and I fully expected the bar to serve the bland megabooze so often associated with this sort of place. Yes, there was a tap of Coors Light - but next to it was Anchor Steam from San Francisco, and in front of a veritable Manhattan skyline of cocktail mixers was a bottle of Taylor's Landlord - the first time I've ever seen a bottle behind a London bar.
I've had bottled Anchor Steam, but it didn't make much of an impression on me. This draught stuff was glorious - a deep copper colour and a perfect balance of hops and malts with light, buttery notes. Just a superb beer for a hot day, and I found myself wishing it was easier to find. When I'm out on the pop in summer, I don't always want a cellar-temperature ale and most chilled alternatives in an average british boozer aren't even worth considering. Strongbow? Stella? Meh.
It was such a refreshing change to visit somewhere with a bit of imagination. Typically, a trip to the bar of any leisure venue from bingo to cinema confronts you with the choice of Fosters, Guinness or - God help us - John Smith Smooth.
(I didn't have my camera with me - so here's a picture of the Anchor on Appledore Quay, Devon)