In the UK pubs are a part of the social fabric. Young to old, everyone has their “local”. Pubs are social hubs. They are places for family and friends. I have many fond memories of going to pubs with my parents for basket meals and shandy. Shandy is a mixture of beer and 7-up, usually in a 1:1 ratio.
Here is an interesting tid-bit; the legal drinking age in the UK is 5. However, you must be 18 to purchase alcohol. If you are sixteen, you can drink beer or wine in a pub with a meal, but a parent must be present while you drink and purchase the drink for you.
“Local” is a proxy for a small bar that is very close to your home. One of the things that I have always missed about the UK is the fact that I don’t have a local.
About a year ago a bar opened in Lutz about five minutes from where I live. It’s called the International Beer Garten or IBG for short. They have over forty craft beers on tap and lots more in a cooler that extends the length of the bar. The bar tenders know what they are about. You can ask for suggestions and they will bring you free samples until you find something you really like. It’s the closest thing I’ve had to a local since coming to the States twenty years ago.
On weekends, they offer live music. Unfortunately, the music is usually so loud it makes it hard to have a conversation. I don’t think people go to IBG for the music at all it just detracts from the experience. My suggestion to the owners: have unamplified acoustic music or turn the volume way down. Folks that want to listen can move closer and for those of us who go there to hang out and talk with our friends, we can do that without being drowned out.
IBG has lots of events and these include showings from local breweries. Recently, the Dunedin Brewery and Cigar City Brewing have both hosted tastings. I have reviewed Cigar City Maduro Brown, but have never tried Dunedin Brewery Beer. A few nights ago, I decided to rectify this insufferable situation.
Dunedin Brewery has an interesting selection of beers from sweet wheats to dark porters; however I was surprised to see that they do not make a Scotch Ale. Scotch Ale is as ubiquitous to Scotland as Stout is to Ireland. I’ve never been in a Scottish pub that did not sell “heavy” as it is called there.
The beer I really wanted to try was the Beach Tale Brown Ale. Unfortunately, this was not available so I settled for a pint of Redhead Red Ale. The Red Head is a lighter than usual red ale. I would describe its flavor as bright and refreshing with a little malt and a spicy hopped finish, all in all very drinkable, very good.
If you have a thing for redheads, try a fling with Redhead Red from the Dunedin brewery. You might just find it to be the love of your life.
As for me, I’ve still got an eye out for that Beach Tale Brown!