Monday 19 December 2011

Bethnal Green blues

More than anywhere else in London, the place with which I've had the most chequered of histories is Bethnal Green. It seems to be my own personal failure enclave where pretty much everything I try doesn't come off.

It's difficult to pin down the exact point this dodgy relationship with the area began, although my hazy memory is throwing up something about a missed stop on the tube that saw me end up in the wilds of Wanstead with no way of getting back without resorting to an expensive private hire car.

My next brush with the area sticks in the memory much more clearly. There was this girl, see. Beautiful, intelligent, funny. Something of a silly name, but I'd have overlooked that. We dined. We went back to hers. We chatted. Then it was time for bed. At which point, she showed me the spare room, then took great pains to tell me exactly where I could find her were I to wake up in the night and need anything. Oh I needed something, all right. A bloody written invitation, clearly, as I totally failed to pick up on this hint and left the next morning thinking I'd maybe missed a trick. A social evening some months later, during which time she'd started seeing someone else, confirmed this to have been the case.

It didn't stop there. I moved to the area shortly afterwards, into a small, damp yet costly bedsit. The year was 1999 and it saw various disappointments come my way, including a reunion then subsequent split up with a serial piss-baller, a brief dalliance with a friend that caused the downfall of their long-term relationship and, even worse, the witnessing (fortunately only on the radio) of the hideous comeback in the Champions League final by the most hateful football team in the world.

Bloody Bethnal Green. It wasn't finished either. I also experienced the crushing disappointment of being gazumped on a property that was, at the time, on the market for a piddling £75,000. Then there was the car break-in. And the loss of several coats in the Approach.

I was glad to be shot of the place, to be honest. Since when, the area has undergone something of a renaissance. Although it's slightly hipster these days, a plethora of good pubs, restaurants, shops and transport links (if you count Shoreditch High Street at the far end of Bethnal Green Road) have sprung up in the years since I left.

And now, I have Bethnal Pale Ale from the Redchurch Brewery, which has opened up in the area in the last year. The beers I've already had of theirs have been reasonably good so far and I'm told they are opening up a retail outlet at the brewery too. Which makes it all the more galling I'm no longer in the vicinity.

Beer: Redchurch Bethnal Pale Ale
Strength: A perfectly acceptable 5.5%
Colour: Mandarin orange and chimney red
Smell: Way too fruity. Like a just opened can of sweetened oranges. 
Tasting notes: Kicking the back end out of what you thought this fruity number would be. This beer has every flavour from luscious tangerine to tart blood orange and all points in between. True to form, it gives you nothing but the most tangiest aftertaste imaginable and leaves you wanting something more. And quite frankly, you're going to be disappointed. Because everything you wanted and everything you imagined is going to fade away, gently but obviously, and you're going to be left with nothing but the bile-laden hideousness of the tart you felt in the first place. 
Session factor: Poor. Quaffable, yes; drinkable, no.
Arbitrary score: 38


Piz said...

Beer is baggage...

Eddie Grace said...

Innit, vo.

Adam said...

Great post, the beer is almost incidental, shame you didn't enjoy it more.

Freddie B. said...

You're a born storyteller mate. More of the jaundiced autobiographical detours please.

Eddie Grace said...

Heh. Thanks, Adam and Freddie. The beer is sometimes truly incidental.