At Zane’s request, I have decided to create my first post dedicated to beer, and I would like to begin with a little introduction to the beer and pubs over here. Two common misconceptions of the beer here are that it is served warm and is flat (not carbonated).
Well, the beer is definitely warmer than some counterparts I have had in the states, but I would not call it warm. In fact, I probably wouldn’t call anything here warm just yet. Anyway, the temperature of the beer isn’t all that much different than if I were to grab a beer from the Chapter House in Ithaca. In fact, the cask ales they serve there are probably very much like many of the beers here. Most pubs will also have “Extra Cold” taps, dedicated to beers like Carling, Guinness, and cheap lagers, but I would describe the temperatures of those beers as “American Cold” instead of “Extra Cold”.
The beers here are also carbonated just fine. Those familiar with my home brews will know that I have a problem over-carbonating beers, and I would say that is the same for much of the forced carbonation that occurs in large-scale US breweries like Anheiser-Busch. In combination with the slightly warmer temperature, the slightly lower amount of carbonation causes the beer here to be much easier to drink. It doesn’t fill you up as much, and doesn’t burn on the way down. I really like it.
We plan to visit many of the pubs here in Oxford, all of which have their own history, and will report back our findings. In general, I find that the pubs are centered around the bar. What I mean, is that you order both your food and drinks from the bartender, and don’t rely on table service. Pub staff will bring food out to your table once it is ready, but if you ever need a refill, head back to the bar. A high percentage of the pubs here are “tied” to a brewery as well. For example, The Three Goats Heads in Oxford is tied to Samuel Smith brewery. That just means most of their taps serve Samuel Smith beer, with the possibility of a guest tap or two.
Speaking of which, lets move on to our review.
This review will focus on one brewery: Samuel Smith’s, and two pubs: Three Goats Heads, and The Chandos, both tied to Samuel Smith’s. We visited Three Goats Heads here in Oxford, which is located right in City Centre. You’ll have to go down below St. Michael’s street a level, but the entrance is really easy to find and well lit.
The seating area inside is not very big (though it appears to have expanded recently), but when we went it wasn’t a problem, as not too many patrons were crowded around. This is some of the cheapest beer in town at ~£2.50 per pint, and quite good. Apparently, the beers are all produced by the Tadcaster brewery and no large-corporation spirits or soft-drinks are available.
The second place we visited was The Chandos on London. After work one Friday we went to visit one of Chelsea’s friends from high school, and were advised that this pub would be a great spot close to where he was staying.
We were there around 7:00pm on a Friday evening, so the pub was properly packed full of people (even a guy in a Cornell sweatshirt). Unfortunately, our hunger got the best of us, and we couldn’t stay very long, but did manage to try a few beers.
We tried pints of the bitter, lager, and extra stout, and all three were outstanding. I have heard that Samuel Smith’s has some of the best beer on the planet, and so far I can attest to that. We will have to get back to one of these pubs during the year to try more varieties, but for now, I can say that Samuel Smith’s has earned the first 6-glass rating of Brideau’s Beer Scale. Awesome.