Today apparently was the hottest day of the year so far, but seeing as temperatures in this part of Kent only managed to reach 17º C, this isn’t really saying much. Still we must be grateful for small mercies, and even though we’re already a quarter of the way through 2018, it was nice to get out and enjoy the sunshine.
Seeing as it was Friday, and I’d had a productive morning at work, I decided to take a walk up to the Greyhound at Charcott; a pub I have written about at length these past few years. Fortunately the company I work for has a fairly relaxed policy towards the odd drink at lunchtime, and whilst I don’t make a habit of this, it’s good to know I won’t be looked down on if I do treat myself to the occasional pint.
I took the longer route up to Charcott, crossing the former Penshurst airfield, by means of the tarmac footpath which bisects it. This is part of my normal lunchtime walk, and today it was nice to walk across this exposed area without getting blown away, or chilled to the bone.
The Greyhound was busy when I arrived – always a good sign, with a mixed clientele of passing diners and casual walkers. There was a pile of very muddy boots stacked up by the door, and very few tables at which to sit, inside. After ordering my pint (Larkin’s Traditional), I decided to sit outside and take advantage of the warm weather.
It was whilst sitting there, nursing my pint that I began to notice a wonderfully hoppy aroma emanating from the beer, which brought back pleasant memories of outdoor drinking, on a warm summer’s day. It is said that the sense of smell, perhaps more than any other of our senses, can invoke memories which have lain hidden for years, or perhaps expunged from our consciousness altogether; and this was certainly the case today
The hoppy nose I experienced, is most noticeable when drinking outside on a hot summers day. The action of the sun's rays has an affect on some of the more volatile components present in the beer, which gives rise to the most wonderful aroma. The presence of the sun, rather than just high temperatures, appears to be required before this effect occurs, as the hoppy aroma is still noticeable even on sunny days in spring or autumn, when the thermometer can be struggling to register anything remotely respectable.
That hoppy aroma was certainly present today, and added that extra something which definitely enhanced my drinking experience as well as my pub visit. This is one of the many pleasures of beer drinking, and the sense of anticipation it gives to the enjoyment of a well-crafted pint, is one of the bonuses of outdoor drinking. Indeed, from early spring to late autumn, sitting outside in a pub garden, whenever the weather is kind, whilst enjoying a well-hopped pint of bitter is, for me, one of life's great pleasures. Even at either end of this extended period it can be worthwhile finding a sheltered spot, away from the wind, in order to add that extra enhancement to a pint.
Well I trust I’ve made you thirsty and you are now hankering after a beer, but I thought I’d share this little bit of spring magic with you. And as for the Greyhound, it good to see the pub thriving. It just goes to show that in the right hands, even pubs which have more or less been given up on, can have a bright future.