An out-of-area pub crawl for a change: Finding myself in Chester I thought I'd tick a couple of Good Beer Guide pubs not previously visited, so I started in Artichoke:
Another converted warehouse on the canal side, this one is nicely done inside, although the plastic chairs look a little uncomfortable. I sat on a luxurious leather sofa instead.
Up to four cask ales are served, the Osset Butterley was excellent.
I must say it was very quiet in here at one on a Friday.
There is an off licence attached, I learned from the blackboard that if you buy your drink in there the "corkage" is £2.50 for beer and £12 for wine. Ouch!
I perused the drink menu. The scotch ranged in price from £5.50 to £75.00. It didn't say but I'm guessing that is for a single!
Next, off the towpath and up to street level, to Cellar:
A somewhat quirky place decor wise, this one. And it's not in a cellar. Very pleasant anyway.
Six handpumps, I chose Thornbridge Kipling which was very good. They've got an array of craft taps as well.
The menu looks rather good; a small selection of pizzas, nibbles, pates, sharing platters and the like. Perhaps not for you if you're after a bog standard fish and chips.
Once again, very quiet at two on a Friday afternoon, surely it's near enough the weekend for the denizens of Deva to come out? Maybe later.
Now here's a typographical note: On the food blackboard, the zeros in the prices have a line through them, as I was taught to do back in the 1970s when programming computers. Imagine my annoyance when I got to university and they wanted a line through the letter O. I still "slash" my zeros when necessary for clarity.
By the time I had finished my pint I was the only customer, a shame for such a good bar.
Number three is really hidden: You start on the upper level of the famous Rows then you go in to a wine bar, snub the friendly welcome from behind the counter and proceed up the stairs to find the Cavern of the Curious Gnome:
A wonderfully decorated room with a very high ceiling, the peculiar decor includes toadstools to sit at the counter, church pews, and a truly enormous gnome.
Four handpumps on the counter, and I chose long time favourite White Rat. An impressive array of fonts includes Chimay Rouge and Geuze Boon. Is this the first time I've ever seen a Geuze on tap outside Belgium? I see they've got some Kwak flasks behind the bar, I must try that some time. (I've drunk the beer, but never in the novelty glassware. Is it just for "tourists", like Scotland's deep fried mars bar?)
I noticed the draught beer list, including the cask, was painted on the wall. Do they never change it, or does someone have to climb a ladder and repaint every time a cask runs out?
Unlike the previous calls it was by no means empty in here, and the echoey room was filled with chatter.
Much later, in fact well past my bedtime, I headed for Telford's Warehouse. No picture I'm afraid.
This is a large converted warehouse split into a number of areas. The somewhat eccentric decor is very good. There were six handpumps on the counter and I had another White Rat, quality once again spot on.
For ten thirty on a Friday evening it was not quite as packed as I might have expected, but certainly busier than all the other pubs I had visited today. A lively band were doing an excellent job of standards such as River Deep Mountain High for an appreciative audience.
So, four pubs new to me, four quality pints, a great result. And Kate Rusby, the actual reason I was in Chester, was brilliant.