The Garibaldi

No.3 :  The Garibaldi is situated on Albert Street in an area that must be among the best ‘short’ pub crawls in the country. You can visit eight pubs within half a mile – three of them within gobbing distance.  It boasts my favourite view of the city  – the Garibaldi pub sign with the view of St Albans Abbey in the background, a place of worship with the beautiful cathedral behind.
The Pub is famously named after a flat biscuit with currants in it, in fact in 1978 the Garibaldi was nearly renamed the “ The Fly Biscuit”   ( N.B. some of my facts have come via a guy named Sergei from Moscow who befriended me recently on Facebook.   I’ve not fact-checked them, and if any aren’t quite right I’m not going to complain as I don’t want to get on his nerves)

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Facts on Garibaldi in the garden

The Garibaldi is the place to come for a perfectly served pint of cask beer.  Tenants David and Caroline Beale won the master cellarman of the year award in 2017 beating the rest of  the Fuller’s Brewery estate.  They seem to take pride in every part of their business with a pub with a good atmosphere that is  very clean and very much part of the community. Examples of their strong community spirit can be seen through their active fundraising – son Michael running the Brighton Marathon on Sunday 15th April for the NSPCC and tonight Friday the 23rd of March  they have a charity Ska and Reggae night in aid of 4 year old Freddie who is battling Leukaemia ( the reason I am knocking this out quick today is to hopefully encourage a few more  in tonight). Check out the Garibaldi’s  Facebook page if you want to donate.
This Victorian pub  has one main room with the bar in the centre so you can walk all the way around it.  There are lots of nooks, snugs and crannies that make it a real Tardis of a pub –  it would be a great location for one of those horror films where the stars are legging it away from the crazed killer and seem to go through a hundred rooms before the axe finally hits. It has a very tidy garden laid with artificial turf. One of the rooms is home to the top of the league darts team who were just off to play an away game in Sandridge.

 

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Good Arrows

I visited on an early Thursday evening to sample some beers from the ever expanding Fuller’s range including one or two guest beers, starting with a perfectly served London Pride. Lulu the dog was made very welcome as was Elvis with maybe a couple of looks of “ who is this nut job with Elvis!”   I first spoke to a guy called Pete who says he likes a pub with a good atmosphere that’s friendly like the Gari and he loves the log fire when it’s roaring away.

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Pete

I then ordered my first ever Unfiltered London pride which is one of Fullers many keg  offerings.  Whilst being served I got talking to a chap called Kevin who loves  a pub with good beer, and bar staff with great tattoos, quite a coincidence really,  as I was at that very moment being served by Tattoo enthusiast, Erica the very personable lass behind the bar!

 

 

 

Unfiltered beers are a very good addition to pubs for the ever growing numbers of vegetarians who can’t drink beers cleared with fish finings ( Isinglass).  However in my opinion the Pride didn’t taste that similar to the usual Pride and wouldn’t sway me from my usual pint.  The next beer I chose was again a new one too me, a Fullers “SESSION IPA” a take on a modern hoppy golden IPA , not overly hoppy  and maybe brewed with the usual yeasts?

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I then spoke to Sarah and Rob who liked the Gari as a relaxing local pub, Rob also liking the good beer quality, his favourite being The Seafarers ale which seems I noted has lost all mention of Gale’s brewery heritage on it’s clip now. The locals I spoke to here  did not seem to live that close to the pub but considered it to be their local, one chap in the darts team came from Biggleswade and stays with his Dad once a week to come to this pub.

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Rob and Sarah

By this stage Elvis was arguing with Lulu over who should pay for the next round, Elvis was sure that it was about time Lulu got her “Shout in”   so I went to the bar and got myself a Fullers Black IPA , a mix between a hoppy Black IPA and a brown ale, I liked it for this mix

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It’s always on my mind that you never get a round in!

The Garibaldi is an excellent community pub in the heart of St Albans that serves great  beer and by all accounts an excellent Sunday Roast. I shall be popping in again tonight, minus Dog and Elvis to support the charity night and enjoy some SKA and Reggae.  On a last note Can people  please stop nicking the attractive  ESB glasses here! #noneleft

 

 

The King Harry

Pub 2 on my tour de pub Snorbans was the King Harry on an early Tuesday evening. The pub’s situated on King Harry Lane on a busy double roundabout as you enter St Albans from the south side. The junction is a bit of a bottleneck and at one point the council were trying to knock the pub down to improve the junction, a lorry hitting it nearly did the job for them a few months later and the pub was closed for some time.

The King Harry was originally on the other side of the road until it moved into the current building, that was two cottages knocked through, opening sometime in the 1800’s. It’s the only pub in the St Stephens district of the City.

I used to drink  here when I first moved to St Albans, as very good friends lived on the estate adjacent.  They were married in St Stephens opposite the pub,  the occasion of which the bastards had asked me to do their wedding camcordering.  There was so much light flooding into the church I couldn’t tell whether the damn thing was on or off and therefore had to nip into the King Harry to calm my nerves, worried  that I had missed the vital shots.  At that time the pub had a large Benskins sign on it, a pool table in the back bar  and didn’t have half the choice of beers it has on today.

On Tuesday I got  quite excited when I first saw the cask pump clips as the offerings were mainly Thornbridge beers, certainly one  of the highlights of the new  21st century breweries. Thornbridge hail from Derbyshire and their beers are gorgeous, but alas like the proverbial Actress to the Bishop, the beers were”coming soon!”

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Viagra Fools

 

The only Cask beer on was Doombar which seemed to be very popular in the pub. I have decided to ask people I meet two questions; what do you like in a pub? and what do you like about this pub? So I ordered a lovely milk stout on keg from Thornbridge called Ena and wandered over to talk to a bloke called Paul who looked like he could be a local. Now I love beer, and I will do anything for love, but like Meatloaf I won’t do Doombar (we all know that’s what the big guy meant!) Paul was a local who told me he comes into the pub most days, he used to drink in The Duke Of Marlborough down the hill but that closed a couple of years ago to make much needed funds for property developers.

The Duke was an after work pub for me briefly, and once I recall being so desperate for a pint I stopped my car outside, opened the car door and a lorry promptly took it off.  I blamed the lorry driver who didn’t stop and the fact I had named the car Lucifer after  the letters in its number plate.  Lucifer was not happy as I had agreed to sell him three days before.  It was an expensive pint!

Paul likes a pub with a great pint of Doombar and says the pub serves “the best pint of Doombar in St Albans”. He also likes a pub where the staff are friendly.   The staff in The King Harry are “like friends”. Paul was waiting for his grand children who really like the Fish and chips served, he is St Albans born & bred  having been to St Julian’s school just up the road from the pub. ( Now called Marlborough School) and has lived  on the estate not too far from the pub all his life. Whilst chatting to the assistant manager about Doombar another punter agreed the Doombar was the best in St Albans so I decided to get a half …

 

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Paul & The King

of  a  “I Love you will U Marry Me”, a hoppy slightly sweet strawberry beer which was OK but not really for me. The Camden “Other Pils ” was much more to my tastes although tasted more like a hoppy pale ale to me.  Thornbridge have had a tap take over at the King Harry and it has been so successful that going forward the pub is going to have one permanent Thornbridge line on.  The 8 week takeover,which is happening in over 100 M&B Castle pubs ends on the 17th March.

The picture below shows Lulu looking for a new Pink Brewdog Punk bottle as she feels by drinking that it will empower her and lead to the end of pay inequality, but then  again she has a brain the size of a walnut like some of the dudes in Aberdeen.

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Lulu celebrating International Woman’s day

I then spoke to Joanna and Kaylee. They like the King Harry as it’s local to them and they can sit in the small bar looking out the window at the traffic. Joanna likes the ambience in a good pub and particularly likes the Peahen in the centre of town whilst Kaylee likes a pub that does a good Sunday Roast! The King Harry has one very small room with a small bar but no pumps on it, the main area which includes a small eating area, and a large snug at the back of the pub.

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Joanna and Kaylee

Now Paul was correct about the staff here,  the assistant manager John is a lively fellow from Wexford and his very knowledgeable barman Jamie is great lad to chat to also. I can see from them why the locals feel at home here. Jamie was teaching me about  the importance of Patagonian yeast in Lager and how to use my camera correctly.

 

With the warm welcome received I will try to visit again soon, I will go later in the week when they are more likely to have more than one cask on, but  I’d always rather they have just one cask on than a few past their best like some pub serve on a Tuesday.  I ‘ll strive to make that visit whilst the pub is still named after Henry V and not as is a possibility in the future  The King Harry Markle-Windsor!

Ps  Elvis and Lulu didn’t fancy the walk home on the dark Alban way, so my wife picked me up and found this is the third pub in a row we have been to that doesn’t sell her favourite tipple – sherry!

The Robin Hood

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I have decided to do a temporary blog as I visit every pub again in St. Albans,  inspired by beer writers Peter McKerry  (http://www.brewgeekery.com/) and Matthew Curtis ( UK Beer Editor of http://www.goodbeerhunting.com/) who will be visiting  all the pubs in N8 where they live. Alec Latham  ( http://www.mostlyaboutbeer.co.uk/) a local beer writer had also encouraged me to revisit the Farriers Arms, a pub for years I have avoided and which many had nicknamed  “The Slaughtered Lamb” because of previous welcomes.  It was great and I shall be back again for a lovely pint of Betty Stogs and a good welcome soon. The other reason is that there are obviously not enough bloggers in England, the current England blog manager bemoaning only recently that she only had 3 million to choose from for her six  person  team.

I moved to St. Albans in 1995 after living for a few years in Droylsden, Manchester  and like most sensible people decided to visit every pub as soon as possible. Three months later I had visited them all, over 70 pubs back then. I cannot remember that much other than being served by Melvin Hayes in the White Hart Tap, being offered a car stereo within 5 minutes of entering the King Offa  (now closed ) and there being   lots  of no longer seen Benskins signage about.

To help with conversation  I will in most cases be taking our small dog Lulu with me and Elvis.

PUB No.1   The Robin Hood , Victoria Street

I decided to start with a pub  I know fairly well as it has become the after work Friday pub of choice for a group of us. This group probably says a lot about the current population of St Albans – they mainly commute into London for work and none are originally from St. Albans.  They are from Belfast, Edinburgh, Sutton Coldfield, Bolton , Whitley Bay and myself the only one from Hertfordshire. You do not meet many people actually from St. Albans – rising house prices have moved locals north to places like Hitchin, where I am from, and people in Hitchin, for the same reasons, have moved to Biggleswade and so it carries on until you reach the North Sea.

Lots of couples move to St. Albans from London with pre-school children or arrive to breed. They find they can  afford a house rather than a flat for similar money  along with better local schools and a commute of under half an hour into the City of London –  it is seen as a no brainer. I’ve pictured an education shop which has recently opened that maybe shows the changing  types  moving into the area in recent years since house prices went chicken oriental ,  remember in certain areas not all piglets are equal!

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These families do not tend to be regular pub goers so the increase in population has not helped with pub closures, but has prompted an increase in upmarket shops and restaurants in St Albans and a few Gastrofied pubs.

The Robin Hood opened in the late 1860’s as a new build pub in what was then  Sweet Briar Lane, with the whole length of the road not becoming  Victoria Street until 1897. The mock Tudor building  is the second nearest pub to St Albans station and probably opened it the first place partly due to the newly opened Railway Station in 1868. The building is attached to a  much higher very ugly Iceland Store circa 1980’s.  How planning justified that when they won’t let me have a dormer because ‘ it’s not in keeping ‘ who knows!

The Robin Hood  is what one local described to me as  a ‘ proper boozer’  not pretentious in any way whatsoever, it is wet led with the only food being crisps , nuts and six types of pickled eggs. One big room sort of split into three areas with a large reverse L bar,   it always has …CSC_0054

3 cask ales on,  the one permanent beer being the wonderful Harvey’s Sussex Best Bitter from Lewes. The Robin Hood  is included as one of the St Albans pubs in the CAMRA Good Beer Guide.DSC_0008 I would guess the clientele is from the 35 plus range who enjoy a chat below the low level music played from the old style jukebox. The preferred sport of the pub is Rugby Union with a few Sarries  fans amongst others  attending on a regular basis.  The bar manager Roy is about as nice a bloke as you could hope to meet behind a bar and takes a lovely photo with Elvis.

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Elvis got me talking to a local called Darren who told me he was a Teddy Boy in the 1970’s and was pleased to see that Elvis had finally made it down from Prestwick Airport.  It is important for me that a pub has clean toilets first, well served beer and pleasant staff, this pub ticks all those boxes and although Elvis would prefer a little less conversation this is the type of place where you can easily get into a chat about bugger all as most of us do in  pubs.

I will be picking the pubs randomly to visit in St. Albans, but if anyone wants to make suggestions I will happily drag Elvis and Lulu over to wherever you suggest first.