Sausage night fever only averted by a bitter punk

Have you ever eaten bangers and mash in a disco? I have, and let me tell you boy – it just doesn’t feel right.

Thursday, 12th March 2015, 2:00 pm
Roper Hall: Brewdog Punk IPA
Roper Hall: Brewdog Punk IPA

‘Bangers and mash’ is not, I hasten to add, some obscure euphemism for a little known sexual or narcotic indulgence – I’m talking a plate of sausage, spud and gravy.

The experience overtook me while dining in Roper Hall, the Alive After Five Pub of the Year 2014, Tuesday early evening just gone.

Taking a table toward the back of the spacious Friargate pub, no sooner had I regained seat and begun contemplating the ale in hand than the lights were abruptly dimmed and the background pop tones pushed way up into the near foreground.

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Who knows, maybe this was triggered automatically by my ordering nosh? Could be the kitchen is not happy to have its output viewed in the cold light of day.

Whatever, it tasted fine in that goodish quality fast food way most bog standard pub grub aims for these days, so what do I care if the microwaved sausages were grey.

An age since I last crossed the threshold of this Friargate pub, maybe a first visit in 10 years, and I was surprised to find next to nothing appeared to have changed.

But then, why would it? The ‘Scream’ chain is very much at the no frills end of Big PubCo UK, and once a space is furnished relatively comfortably and made easy to mop out why bother beyond a periodic lick of trendy hued paint? The mostly – one suspects – young clientele are unlikely to give a toss. And nor are some of the older ones, myself included.

Where most older ones, myself among them, do tend to start giving said toss on matters like choice, and there was precious little of that.

No cask offer at all and not fancying the ever-present Guinness, I fell back on the scanty bottled ‘World Beer’ selection. Scanty but, happily, two for £5.50, a decent deal.

First, an ice cold bottle of Spanish Estrella went down well, a reliably smooth, sweet smelling toffee-like ale with a nice bitter finish.

Next up, something a bit special. Brewdog Punk IPA might sound poseurish nonsense but trust me, if you see some in a fridge jump in. Hoppy herbal spicy, lingering malt, bitter as a Top Gear fan, dry like a desert – my lips smacked from first sip to last drop.

Even this, though, nor the friendly, helpful staff, is likely to tempt me back.

I shouldn’t eat sausage as it is, and when doing so the only beat I want to hear – purely for reassurance – is that of my own struggling heart.