Quaint? You Can’t Take Quaint!

January 14th, 2010 by Harrumpher Leave a reply »

Oddly enough, the village pub doesn’t rate on the Alfriston, Sussex, website. I immediately suspect a tale of abrasive personalities and history thereof behind that oversight.

I can tell you two things though:

  • We truly enjoyed our lunch at Ye Olde Smugglers Inne
  • Alfriston lives up to its rating as the most picturesque village in England

After a full day of subjecting ourselves to the persistent winds and chill on the Channel beaches, we were ready for a pint. Wife, two sons and brother-in-law and I had held off on walking Alfriston on the way to the water. It’s just as well; among other treasures, I found my best pint and best ploughman’s lunch of the trip — of many tests of both.

This was one of the last days of the trip. By then, my brother-in-law and I had fallen into a very comfortable pattern. We’d see the sights and sites and keep one to four eyes out for a likely pub. Yes, there was the play in London proper, and yes, there were cathedrals, and yes, there was the Charles Dickens house, but pubs there are as common as donut shops in Boston.

We had also gotten to ordering and evaluating the ploughman’s here and there. That would be a slab of cheese or pate, a wee bit of salad, an even smaller bit of chutney, and maybe a few tart pickles. Typically we picked a Stilton or cheddar version.  Brits do cheeses right.

I am not a total Anglophile though. I admit that I was disappointed on the trip from the lack of IPAs and other pale ales. I am an IBU lover. I don’t drink ales to get high, so I don’t mind that typical English brews are 4% alcohol or less. However, in contrast to my regular fare here, theirs seem sweet. Even their bitter does not reflect its name.

I ordered IPAs at several pubs in and near London. The Smugglers Inne version was unquestionably the best. It was a Dark Star Brewing Hophead.

It would seem Brits prefer a maltier, sweeter brew. That’s odd in that pubs are wonderful in not rushing patrons. You can sit with a pint for an hour or even two if you can make it last that long. To my taste, that would work best with something sharp, with a bit of bite, like my beloved IPAs.

By the bye, we did not tour the whole inn. It turns out that it has three rooms to let, serves breakfast, has a bike shed in the back for cycling tourists, and has had links to bicycling since it was a mere 520 years old in 1878.

There is more to the village as well. Among its super-quaint aspect is the retention of the original artisan names. For example, a high-end gift shop remains the Apiary on its signs, despite not having a beekeeper there for many centuries. There’s also the first property the National Trust purchased, the clergy house, of the same 14th century vintage as the inn.

There’s much to see, delightful shops, and even a crowded medium-sized book store run by a fussy couple who check visitors’ shoes and insist they don blue cloth covers if they are suspected of having any mud anywhere on their treads.

Finally, if you go and come from the east be sure to have a camera ready. I did not and missed the wonderful warning sign on the highway a couple of miles out that had the warning triangle with an exclamation point. Underneath was the single word BADGERS.

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One Response

  1. Robin Edgar says:

    Maybe I should put one of those warning signs on The Emerson Avenger blog. 🙂

    I will try to visit Ye Olde Smugglers Inne and picturesque Alfriston the next time I am in England which will hopefully be later this year.

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