For those who’ve bagged Senate House Hill and Market Hill, it’s always a relief to reach the summit of Peas Hill and find the Pint Shop open for refreshment. On this occasion we timed our assault on the peak perfectly and walked in to find a mythical empty table, something the elders speak of but which is rarely encountered these days. This saves us the effort of partaking in the traditional Pint Shop pub game of circling the bar area looking for the table with the emptiest glasses and assuming tactical positions. Instead we get to sit back and observe the phenomenon of the bar being empty one second – blink – then 6 people wide and 3 deep the next, timing our trips to the bar in the gaps between swarming. First beer is of course Kernel’s aptly named Table Beer, a trophy to having found one vacant.
The beer board here is like one of those puzzles that only Japanese school children can solve, where the aim is to anticipate the total cost of 1 pint of the beer that’s priced by 2/3 of a pint, plus a half of the beer priced in thirds, plus a gin-and-does-that-price-include-the-tonic… then find you can’t have a half of a beer priced in thirds so you have 2/3, oh and some nuts, and… just hand your wallet over. I did take a photo of last night’s beer board but my camera misplaced it, so this is one I prepared earlier, from February 14th, which happens to be the day retiredmartin succinctly captured the pros and cons of the Pint Shop – “Some excellent beers at scary prices”. Still, it offers one of the most pleasurable paths to penury, the keg range consistently providing the best choice in Cambridge, even if it sometimes swaps places on the podiums with the Maypole and the Blue Moon.
Some people eye our glasses and stand tactically nearby, prompting me to return to the bar for more drinks, much to their disappointment, ascending the ABVs through Wild Beer Fresh, Northern Monk/Wylam Bróðirblóð (try texting those accents on a phone) to Northern Monk IPA, via a couple of G&Ts and a side order of Corkers crisps replacing dinner. It’s hard to have to leave a bar that pipes a blues-based playlist, dotted with the likes of Dusty and Dylan, but eventually we ran out of money and they wouldn’t accept the ‘Spoons vouchers.