Bridge End Road
SEVENTH VISIT: WEDNESDAY 5 NOVEMBER 2014
We needed to go food shopping but I knew if I didn’t eat beforehand I would end up stabbing someone to death with a baguette while in the supermarket. To the Dockle!
The carpark was rammed. I’d never seen it so busy. I was concerned that the pub was having some sort of Bonfire themed family fun night and little darlings would be running amok but indoors it was all relatively sedate. It would later transpire that the pub next door was having a fireworks display and people who couldn’t be arsed walking there had commandeered a rival pub’s parking facilities.
As seems to be the norm these days in Spoons the cask selection was pretty uninspiring. In the end I settled on a pint of Edinburgh Pale Ale from a brewery called the Edinburgh Brewing Company. Of course, I didn’t realise until I searched on Untappd that the Edinburgh Brewing Company is actually Innis & Gunn. Oh the horror! The beer was shit. We made our food choices and I returned to the bar. The guy before me spoke with a Scottish accent (so I presume he is Scottish). He ordered food and a coffee (as a gnarly old trucker once told ‘Tea’s an Englishman’s drink’) and half of the Whisky cask Thistly Cross Cider). I liked him even though he looked like he was a bit of a psychotic nob. I ordered the food and my now usual food drinks: a pint of Devils Backbone IPA and a can of Bengali Tiger. I’ve tried the DBIPA in all four of Swindon’s Spoons and the Dockle’s is by far the tastiest. Thankfully it was on form. The Bengali Tiger tasted a bit old but was venturing into Barley Wine territory so I was happy enough.
Outside the next door fireworks display was into its grand finale. I noticed some spent fireworks lying on the ground. Then one attached to a metal pole clattered down beside me. Phew! That was a close one. Thankfully, the walk to the car didn’t bring an further near misses.
* * *
SIXTH VISIT: THURSDAY 23 OCTOBER 2014
A quick lunchtime visit. I started with a pint of the Spoons Fest special from Two Birds. It wasn’t unpleasant but it wasn’t very good. Food wise I settled on the Flaming Dragon, which was a lot tastier and hotter than I was expecting. I liked it. To accompany my curry I had a pint of Devil’s Backbone IPA and a can of Bengali Tiger. The Bengali Tiger did a far better job of cutting through the chili heat.
* * *
FIFTH VISIT: SUNDAY 5 OCTOBER 2014
I needed food. But I couldn’t be arsed making any. I fancied a beer. But there was nothing in the house that wasn’t being saved for another day. To the Dockle!
I kicked off with a pint of Devils Backbone. It tasted better than it did at the Groves the day before but perhaps not quite as good as it did here at the Dockle on Wednesday. I’m enjoying my research. Lunch was a large beef roast couple with another pint of DBIPA and a can of Bengali Tiger – you can’t forget your old buddies just because there’s a new kid on tap. I fancied a bottle of Lagunitas IPA and a Rogue Amber but decided to be a good boy and go home.
* * *
FOURTH VISIT: WEDNESDAY 1 OCTOBER
This week’s Wednesday movie was What We Did On Our Holiday. It wasn’t a film a particularly wanted to see but sometimes you’ve got to do things you don’t want to do. It was a beautiful little movie. One that made my eyes wet quite a few times. A very pleasant surprise.
Today saw the launch of the new Spoons food and beer menu, which meant that BrewDog and Devil’s Backbone were now on (keg) draught and Lagunitas and Rogue were in the bottle fridges. Crazy Craft Times! I had a cursory glance at the cask offerings – they were all dull and uninspiring. I had a look at the keg line-up – the Devil’s Backbone was on but no BrewDog. I ordered a pint of the Devil’s Backbone IPA and pointed at the tap. The bartender looked a tad confused and then went and looked at the clips on the cask beers. I told him it was a keg beer and once again pointed at the tap. He turned round and started looking in the fridges. Once again I informed him that it was a keg beer but the perplexed look upon his face suggested he didn’t know what keg meant. Oh dear. I know someone who works in a different Swindon Spoons and he’s told me that the get quite extensive training (and tastings) when new products are launched – I can only assume that the chap before me had been sick on the day of his training session. I was close to giving in and shouting ‘Just give me a can of fucking Bengali Tiger’ but another member of staff arrived and intervened and I was served a pint of Devil’s Backbone. Phew! Thankfully, it’s a pretty damn tasty beer. It was served way too cold – so cold that I initially felt that I could’ve done with a glove to pick up the glass – but after a couple of minutes sat on the table it was at a perfect temperature and it slipped down beautifully. I won’t bother mentioning that it’s brewed at Bank’s.
But it’s not all about new beer at Spoons today. There’s also some new food on the menu. I had a quick look and decided on the Philly Cheese Steak. I had a happy little moment when I discovered that Devil’s Backbone (and BrewDog) are part of the free drink meal deal. Nice. Sadly, the Philly Cheese Steak was off the menu. Apparently, it had been so popular that the pub’s initial stock had gone by 7pm – a new delivery was arriving at 11pm. We couldn’t be arsed looking at the menu again so opted for the good old Spoons staple that is a Gourmet Beef Burger. The second pint of DB IPA slipped down as deliciously as the first, perhaps even more so – I can see me drinking quite a lot of this in the coming months. Once the food had been despatched I was tempted to go for another pint but decided instead to go for a bottle of Lagunitas IPA. The bartender who had intervened earlier served me. This time it was his turn to look confused. I made it easier for him and said ‘the bottle that has IPA written on it big letters.’ ‘Ah, so that how you pronounce it – La-gun-ee-tas.’ I decided it wasn’t wise to tell him that it’s Spanish for Big Fucking Dog. He asked if I’d like a glass – ‘Of course’. He picked up a half pint tumbler but must have read the look on my face and swiftly replaced it with one of the ‘craft’ glasses. It seems the Dockle isn’t as hot on staff training as the Savoy is. Hey ho!
* * *
THIRD VISIT: WEDNESDAY 2 APRIL 2014
Wednesday night is (usually) movie night. This week’s choice was Captain America: The Winter Soldier. It was great fun. But some of the fight scenes move so fast that it’s almost impossible to make out what it happening. I guess it saves the studios forking out loads of dosh on top class choreography as if it’s all moving superfast any imperfections will go unnoticed. And it assume it reduces the time the fight training ties up an actor’s schedule. Or perhaps I’ve just so old that my eyes and brain can’t keep up with the action. But, yeah, I loved the film.
With the movie done our attention turned to food (and mine to beer). I fancied some of the Yeastie Boys’ Gunnamatta. Sadly, it wasn’t on. But the Nøgne Ø Brown Ale (brewed at Bateman’s) was on. I love Nøgne Ø. I’ve had quite a few of their beers and never had a bad one. Thankfully, the Brown Ale, despite the fact that I’m not a fan of browns, was another winner. Time to order food: veggie burger with bacon and cheese accompanied by a can of Bengali Tiger. I think I’m starting to enjoy Bengali Tiger far more than I will ever be prepared to admit – much like the debut album by the Strokes. Burger and beer dispatched I returned to the bar to get one of the ‘festival specials’ – six beers served from gravity and sold for only £1.49 a pint. When I arrived at the bar there was one member of staff serving and a three people waiting to be served. A manager tried to pretend he was busy by moving bits of paper around, occasionally he’d glance at his customer’s with thinly veiled contempt. As a rule I find managers in Wetherspoons to be excellent and always happy to serve and clear tables and generally work hard. Not this chap. I decided to go for Fermin brewed by Mateo & Bernabe at Shepherd Neame. I also ordered a J2O for my special lady friend and a can of Bengali Tiger. I asked if the can could be left unopened as it would easier to carry it back to my seat. The server’s eyes darted towards the idle manager and she remarked that she wasn’t allowed to sell the cans unopened. Fair enough. The Fermin was mistake. It was grosso. I left half of it on the table as I departed with a cunningly concealed open can of Bengali Tiger.
* * *
SECOND VISIT: FRIDAY 21 FEBRUARY 2014
I’d only popped in for some breakfast and wasn’t intending on having a beer but I made the mistake of perusing the pump clips and when I noticed they had The Bruery’s Oatmeal Stout (brewed exclusively for Spoons at Caledonia) my fate was sealed. It’s a good stout. Perhaps too rich and sweet for everyday consumption but as an occasional pre-noon treat it works quite well. If you are a fan of bakewell tart smothered in chocolate sauce this could be the beer you’ve been looking for.
* * *
FIRST VISIT: WEDNESDAY 22 JANUARY 2014
Wetherspoons operates four pubs in Swindon. The Dockle Farmhouse is the only one that’s not in the town centre. And it’s the biggest. As the name suggests, it’s an old farmhouse. The original building was constructed way back in the 1800s. These days it is flanked by two sizeable extensions that were added sometime during the 1980s. The Dockle is effectively two pubs under one roof. The right side, as you look at the pub from the road, is affectionately known as the Butlins End, allows children whereas is the left side is adults only. As I never rock up at the pub with children in tow I always choose the left hand side. I have wandered into the Butlins End just to see if there’s anything different on the bar but each time I’ve had a look it’s always been stocked with just GK beers.
This purpose of this visit was to score some cheap food. Actually, I’ve never been to the Dockle for just a drink. Burns Night was just a few days away so things were getting a bit Scottish. Whisky was on special offer and the food specials were Scottish themed. But there was no Scottish beer. The Stone/Adnams DIPA was on the bar but sitting on top of the pump clip was an ‘Available Soon’ ticket. While I awaited the arrival of the DIPA I ordered a pint of Infusion from Bragdy Conwy – it wasn’t astounding but it was pleasant enough to slake my thirst. For food I ordered a Highland burger, which was a burger that had haggis where you usually find the cheese and bacon. The DIPA still hadn’t arrived so I got a pint of Loddon’s Hullabalo. In June 1993 I was in a band called Hullabaloo. We recorded an album called 25 Years of Avant-Garde Viola Music. The only people who heard the album were the four of us in the band. And my neighbours as we recorded it.
The DIPA didn’t arrive before I departed.