Fancy a pint?

It's Easter Sunday. For the first time in what feels like weeks, there's enough blue up above to make a sailor a natty pair of tailored shorts. I wander down to the village shop to buy a newspaper and then I do something hardly ever do...

... I fancy a pint.

Clarity: I fancy a pint quite often and act upon that fancy with abandon. Just not in the village where I live.

So today I call in on a pub where I used to be a regular. I buy a brown beer and sit outside. Sit under a dirty, knackered plastic sheeting roof. A manic blackbird shrills at nothing in particular. Snow stubbornly refuses to melt on the barbecue. Bar runners wave in the breeze, pegged on a clothes line alongside t-shirts and odd socks and knickers.

A lazy dog refuses to acknowledge its finger-clicking owner. Kids are told to stop doing whatever they're doing out of sight but within earshot of a fence splintering.

I think.

Much of my pub time is defined by specifics. A great saltbeef sandwich. A pint of Jaipur. A range of beers I've read about on Twitter. The prospect of a quality Scotch egg. The promise of a certain cask. Meeting friends. Escaping meetings. Into a festival. Out of habit.

This time? It's just for the fun of sitting in the spring sun, with a pint, with the newspaper, outside a pub. Because I could. Because I fancied it.


It's back! And it's LIVE!

Reluctant Scooper is back in full effect. And to celebrate, we're blogging live and loud. Hopefully. We have the technology.

Just as long as the fat organic lump on the end of it remembers to blog, we'll be fine.

The time is 0855 GMT. I'm off to a beerfest once I've found breakfast. Stay tuned in for further updates.

0955. About to have breakfast. Doesn't involve beer. But as I tweeted this morning, beer without bacon is like sex without foreplay.

1044. Cappuchino at the best little coffee shop in Derby, Caruso's. It's busy. There's a ten minute wait for drinks and a table. That's because it's great. The owner shakes you by the hand and takes your coffee to a table. You just don't get that in Starbucks.

1214. Let's get fested. First up, Moor Top by Buxton. Pale, grapefruit-bitter, dry-hopped up its wazoo. 3.6%, could be mistaken for a bold IPA of twice that strength. A first fest pint that could easily embarras others to come

1235. More Moor Top. And here's the beer list:

OK. Can't get the photos to upload. Never mind, eh?

1241 Just realised I haven't said where I am. It's the Holly Bush at Makeney, Derbyshire. Sat in a snug on settle. Part of the pub thsat's older than the USA. Three tables, a range fire. Five people, two dogs and a steady stream of people looking in disconsolate that they can't get a seat in here.

1308 Half a Marble Lagona. The ABV ups to 5% but the lupulin threshold dips a bit. That said, it's still a beautuful beer, the hops deep-set and assured in comparison to the Moor Top's whirlygig hit.

The main bar is by the snug and the banterchatter is fantastic. Two old blokes order pints of Ruddles. Served ftom the jug from the cellar. "We've a beer festival on", says the barman. "S'alreet. We like Ruddles" says the blokes. Now, *that's* reluctancy for you.

1330 Ladies and gentleman, it's Halcyon o'clock. Served in a statuesque Tim Taylor halfpint stemmed glass. It's a subtle doorman of a beer: knows it's strong, flexes knuckles, has quiet confidence. And could rip your face off.

1347 I won't be correcting spelling mistakes. Consider them dropped stitches in this blog's rich tapestry.

1401. More Halcyon. And a cabal of drinkers and brewers is forming. Take this as notice of sporadic updating from hereon in

1531 Thornbridge keg Raven is being mixed with Thornbridge cask Halcyon. Outlook: messy

1843 There was more of everything plus great banter with brewers.

Now? Goose Island IPA in the freezer, curry ready for the oven and a grand day out to recount further.

And I haven't done the video yet.


1904 Drinking Goose Island IPA, waiting for curry, time to say g'night to all this.

But this first.

Huge thanks to Chris and all the staff at Holly Bush, Makeney for a top notch fest.

To Phil & Kat & Ian & Carla & Macey & JK & Kelly and Amelia and Mike... you make the difference between a good fest and a great fest. I'll keep saying this til I'm blue in the face; great beer is about the company you keep in the place where you drink it.

I'll finish with this. With a beerfest, you've got to have a system. Let the customer know what they're up for.

This was today's guide. I don't think I've seen a finer one.

Derbyshire represent \m/


We've had the decorators in

Apologies if things get skewed around here. I'm updating the design and have to carry some of the work out whilst the blog is live.

Abnormal service will be resumed next week.