I'm in the Bacchus, High Bridge, Newcastle upon Tyne, A Sir John Fitzgerald pub. It's a strange place: it's modern but seems to have an ambience of 1930s Ocean Liner - with halogen downlighters. The Burglar's Dog described it as "a bit like the Poseidon Adventure but, like, the right way up". It's one very big redeeming feature is that it's managed by a beer geek whose cellar-keeping is second to none. I've never had a bad pint there; in fact, It's provided some of the greatest pints of my life.
Jarrow Rivetcatcher - I'm still stuggling with the tail end of flu and my tastebuds are knackered but still I can tell this is a tremendous pint. I'm growing tired of Cascade hops as I feel they're often used clumsily but here they've been used with great sensitivity.
As I drink I eavesdrop on a bunch of retirement-age chaps enjoying a pint and I hear they are talking about beer. I've been a beer geek for donkey's years but I often forget that a lot of cask ale drinkers see stronger beers (starting at about 5%), and particularly foreign stronger beers as somehow dangerous and intimidating. Years of practise have allowed me to switch between sips-of-strong and gulps-of-weak with ease but I forget that not everybody does this. One chap says "I went Belgium and it was all 6% [voice in classic exasperated Geordie rising intonation; friends gasp with horror and shake heads]. The best I could do was Stella at 5%".