Posted by: The Prince of Whales | February 24, 2011

New Cocktail no. 3

 

Camilla meets the Archers

Another of Conor’s magic creations … Duchess of Cornwall Apple Pie.

Here we have Finlandia vodka, apple schnapps and cranberry juice, topped with a layer of cream and dusted with cinnamon. Smooth, cool and with a kick. Momma never baked anything like this!

Posted by: The Prince of Whales | February 22, 2011

A surprisingly good cigar

 

The Perfect Afternoon Smoke?

 

 

The H. Upmann Magnum 46 … I have smoked this cigar’s”Big Brother”, the Magnum 50 in the past and to be honest I wasn’t that impressed.  This was perhaps unfair as for the first 25 years of my cigar smoking I wasn’t very adventurous. When I started back in the 1980′s, I tried all sorts.  Then I pretty quickly settled down into a routine with Partagas Luistanias and Monte No 2′s  when I had money. For the really big occasions Cohiba Esplendidos. When money was tight, which was often with 4 kids and a big mortgage, a begruding selection of non Cubans had to do.

I worked in New York for a time about 10 years ago and even then, I followed a similar pattern – experimented for a while then settled down with El Rey del Mondo Flor del Llaneza Maduro. Good value at about $170 for a box of 35.

About 5 years ago, I considered selling cigars in a bar I was running and met up with Patrick from H&F. I wasn’t that experienced and he introduced me to Cohiba Siglo VI and that became my favourite. My non Cuban choice became Rocky Patels Vintage Sixty.

 

Rocky Patel ... an unlikely name for a very good cigar

 

 

My cigar journey continued when a couple of years ago I went to Cuba for the first time and experimented with a few other brands in different shapes and sizes. I went again last year.

The single thing that encouraged me to try an increasingly wide variety of cigars was the UK Cigar Forum as the hundreds of Brothers of the Leaf on-line all love to experiment and swap cigar stories.

So I come back to the H. Upmann Magnum 46. Perhaps a bit lighter in flavour than many of the cigars mentioned above but I really enjoyed the smoke. The cigar looked good, had an excellent draw and smoked really well. The flavours are  quite rich and complex but not in your face. Sweet with perhaps a bit of vanilla spice. Unfortunately the last third was a tad harsh but a very good cigar. Maybe it will become a favourite for an afternoon or early evening smoke.

 

 

Posted by: The Prince of Whales | February 21, 2011

New Cocktail No. 2 … Moseley Minty Saphire

 

Absolutely Delicious

 

Our revamp of the Cocktail Menu continues with this beauty created by Conor. Its a wonderful mix of Edelflower Cordial, Cassis, fresh mint and Bombay Saphire Gin, topped up with Doom Bar Ale and Soda. So, so good its almost beyond words. You will be able to enjoy one of these when we re-launch our menu next weekend.

Posted by: The Prince of Whales | February 19, 2011

The best kept beer in Birmingham?

The Best Beer in Brum ... probably

The results from customers at the Prince using Camra’s Beer Score Card System to rate the quality of the cask beer continues to deliver outstanding results.

With over 300 Score Cards returned, customers have scored the 10 cask beers on the bar at an average of 3.85, an astonishingly good result. What is even more impressive is that over 40 customers scored their pints at a perfect 5, with another 187 customers rating their beers as 4  which is “Very good. An excellent beer in excellent condition”.

Although we do not have access to the latest figures on the Camra database, these must be the highest figures in Birmingham.  So well done Ross the Cellarman, Leigh who religiously cleans the beer lines and every member on the team on the bar. And a big thank you to all our cask customers.

 

Posted by: The Prince of Whales | February 17, 2011

New Cocktail No. 1 – The Dark n Stormy

 

The Dark n Stormy

 

 

Well its coming up to six months since we launched our Cocktail Lounge at the Prince and things are going really well. In fact so well we are thinking of re-opening the upstairs of the Prince as a Lounge. The other thing we are doing is launching a new Cocktail Menu ready for Spring.

So I am going to publish a series of short blogs featuring each of our new Cocktails. Some are classics, some we created ourselves and some have been suggested by our customers. We are looking for around a dozen new drinks so if you have a good idea, simply let us know your Cocktail suggestion. If we put yours on our list, we will treat you and a friend to a night in our Cocktail Lounge on us. Simply post your ideas on our Facebook page.

Here’s our first Newbie … The Dark n Stormy. Now the classic version uses Goslings Black Seal rum topped up with Ginger Beer, but we prefer our’s with Pusser’s Navy Rum for that extra kick. It’s a lovely long drink that will come into its own as the weather warms up for Spring.

Chin Chin.

Posted by: The Prince of Whales | February 17, 2011

Beer Scoring – Initial Results are in …

 

Keeping filling in your Beer Score cards

Following my blog a couple of days ago,  where I put forward the argument that some Camra members had a bias against the Prince of Wales, initial results from our Beer Score Cards would seem to support this. Basically we believe Camra members who do fill in Beer Score Cards on visiting pubs, are inclined to give “popular/mainstream cask beers” like Abbot and Tribute, a lower score than beers from smaller breweries. As we sell these beers, The Prince of Wales gets marked down on Camra’s National Beer Score card database.

This is important because at a Branch level, this data is used to select pubs for the Good Beer Guide.

The fact that we sell beers like Jaipur, Harvest Pale, Purity Gold and UBU does not compensate for this bias.

Having run our own Beer Score Card System for two days now we have the following results

Estimated number of pints of cask sold   380

Number of scorecards returned                 168

Number of cards scoring 0                               0

Number of cards scoring 1                                0

Number of cards scoring 2                                3

Number of Cards scoring 3                             37

Number of cards scoring 4                             92

Number of cards scoring 5                             23

Average score                                                     3.9

Number of spoiled cards                                13

This average of 3.9 is considerably higher than the score awarded to the Prince by Camra members. Obviously one could argue our regulars are bias in favour of the Prince, but with plenty of cask beer on offer in Moseley and given we charge a premium for our cask, I would question this. Our regulars come here because the beer is, on average, very good and is excellent beer in excellent condition (scoring a 4 on the Camra system).

Now this is very early days and obviously based on a sample of only 155 cards so a more robust analysis will be possible once say we have 500 or 1000 cards returned.

We will display our performance for the prior week in the bar so that everyone can see how well we do at maintaining  beer quality. We can set a goal of achieving a rating of 4 consistently.

Posted by: The Prince of Whales | February 13, 2011

Challenging Camra’s Beer Anoraks

 

Does that score a 2 or a 3 Philip?

We have been in The Good Beer Guide every year since we arrived at The Prince. Indeed we put a good deal of effort into keeping our beer in the best possible condition. We even throw away almost 10,000 pints a year making sure our beer lines are cleaned, our beer is fresh and leaving the last few pints in the bottom of the barrel. Believe me keeping 10 cask ales on tap is not easy!

Despite these difficulties,  in 4 years I don’t remember a single customer bringing a pint of badly kept beer back to the bar. OK one or two near the bottom of the barrel did slip through and occasionally a new member of staff missed a little haze. That’s all. In fact many customers tell us that we keep a fantastic pint of ale. Thank you to all our customers for spreading our reputation for keeping good beer.

Last week I learned the good news from my local Camra branch that  The Prince “had just scraped in” to next year’s good beer guide.  I was angry but not surprised. Just scraped in indeed!

It was explained what I already know (I am a Camra member myself) ie that Camra now use a beer scoring system: each time a member visits a pub, he/she fills out a score for each pint they drink. On this system 5 is the highest and is hardly ever awarded and 0 is undrinkable.  The data are collated by the local Camra branch.

The Prince scored the minimum 3 out of 5 to qualify for the Guide (the Old Mo didn’t even make it).  In some ways this is OK as this mark means “Good beer in good form; worth another pint.” We believe our beer is often better than this. We believe our beer often merits a mark of 4. Not always but often. Do you agree?

We think that many of Camra’s beer anoraks mark the Prince down.  You see the Prince isn’t their sort of pub … its too popular, too mainstream and our beer list simply isn’t weird enough to keep the tickers (drinkers who collect new beers and tick them off a list) happy. Instead of stocking the latest indulgence of some new microbrewery, we sell the best cask beers in the land. The Beer Anoraks don’t like this.

Take tonight’s cask beers and what we had on offer:

Timothy Taylor Landlord: now this is a great pint and it’s won Camra’s own Champion Beer award more times than any other beer. But no interest to anyone who wants the latest micro brew. Castle Rock Harvest Pale is this year’s Champion Beer of Great Britain. Yes its been around for a few years but that doesn’t detract from its brilliance. Thornbridge Jaipur is simply an amazing beer that’s won many awards, as has Purity Gold and UBU.

Now we come to the nub of the problem … many of our beers are too commercial for Beer Snobs.  St Austell Tribute and Greene King Abbot are great examples of their particular beer styles but I bet there’s not many Camra committee members who can get excited about a pint of Tribute that’s on great form. Yet the God of Beer himself (and editor of the Good Beer Guide) Roger Protz clearly loves a pint of Tribute as he said “Tribute is a magnificent example of a bronze coloured English bitter”.

Now the two other beers on our list, Sharp’s Doom Bar and Charles Wells Bombardier, are not my personal favourites but our customers love them and we sell almost 100 brewers barrels of Bombardier a year. That’s over 28,000 pints!

Lets put the beer to one side for a moment; after all The Good Beer Guide is really about finding a good pub. So now that Camra use this system, our outstanding staff, friendly atmosphere, community events, massive beer garden, the biggest heated smoking area in Chrisendom, real fires, cocktail lounge, our range of 30 Belgian Beers, 40 premium rums and 40 malts are all irrelevant.

So we intend to take Camra on over this and introduce our own Beer Score Cards. Could we ask that whenever you come in the Prince and drink a pint of cask, you fill in a card and place it in the box on the bar. Every Monday night we will draw out a card and the winner will receive The Gaffer’s Gallon – 8 pints of  his/her favourite beer on the house.

We already know our beer’s good; together you can help us make sure its always great.

 

The Prince Beer Score Card

Posted by: The Prince of Whales | February 12, 2011

New York, New York … so bad I smoked it twice

A great looking but poor smoking cigar

On my recent trip across the pond, I bought a small selection of non Cuban cigars. The cigar culture in the States is very different to here and the embargo on Cuban products has lead to massive selection of cigars from Honduras, Nicaragua and the Dominican Republic. The choice of brands, fuelled by a cigar boom a few years back,  has expanded even more since I worked there almost a decade ago.

One cigar that looked really good and came well recommended was the Alec Bradley New York. Only on sale in New York State, there are several cigars in the range but I bought a couple of the Gothams – at 6 inches long and 54 ring guage, these really looked the business. not so much my kind town as my kind cigar. The torpedo shape I love with a dark oily wrapper and Habana seed Honduran tobacco.

The cigars are extremely well presented as you can see from the photo above and the one of the exact cigar below.

Unfortunately not as good as it looks

The first one I smoked a couple of weeks ago was a real disappointment. It wasn’t so much the taste, which was full flavoured and spicy but it was the construction. The cigar was just too loose. The draw was way too easy and the damn thing almost fell to bits on the last third.

So tonight I lit up another and to my disappointment it was exactly the same. I had to abandon the smoke at the start of the last third as it kept going out because the tobacco was expanding like a toilet roll dropped down the pan!

I gave up and lit up another Don Pepin Black Label. Now that’s a great cigar.

Posted by: The Prince of Whales | February 11, 2011

Radar magazine now free

 

Now available free at The Prince and other outlets across the city

 

 

Last year a couple of Prince regulars, Pete and Paul, launched a new magazine covering the Birmingham cultural scene. Beautifully designed and produced, with a selection of well written features, quirky stuff about Brum that we had all forgotten, plus some great photography, the mag was well worth its cover price. Blimey it even had a regular column from yours truly.

So if you fancy a free copy this weekend, just pop in the Prince and pick one up. It goes well with a pint or even a martini.

Posted by: The Prince of Whales | February 7, 2011

Bilbao, Margate & Moseley

 

Forget the Selfridge Blancmange - this is the real daddy

Bilbao, a provincial city on Spain’s North Atlantic coast is famous for what? That’s right, almost every one will say the Guggenheim Museum.  Opened in 1997, housed in one of the most extraordinary buildings of our time, the museum showcases a wide selection of modern European and American art.

This definitely put Bilbao on the map, not just in Spain but on an international basis.

Now a little closer to home sees me thinking about Margate. A grand old resort that was once the height of fashion.  The visitors have moved on and Margate has been out of favour for the past 30 years or more. The town has struggled to reinvent itself and several hopeful attempts at “re-branding” have failed.  As a marketing guy myself, its clear Margate needs a bit more than the make-over new websites, brochures and PR can provide. It needs real reasons to visit, compelling enough to attract today’s selective consumers.

So this April, Margate will open the Margate Turner Gallery.

If Margate can, why not Moseley?

The new gallery, designed by award winning architects David Chipperfield Associates, is the showpiece in a major drive to position Margate as the hub of a South Coast Cultural revival. Its ambitious and no doubt a real challenge to pull off.  If successful it will really put Margate on the map.

So why can’t we think this big in Moseley?

Yes of course The Moseley Exchange is a good thing and The Farmers’ Market is excellent. No doubt the move to establish a Business Improvement District (BID) will lead to great brochures and Moseley’s 15th website promoting our “pleasant, cosmopolitan residential area”.

Let’s up our game. If we truly want a vibrant day-time economy, we need to think bigger, aim higher. Let’s think like Bilbao, lets out Margate Margate. Lets put Moseley on the map.

Lets put together a taskforce, drawn from the gifted, talented folks of Moseley and lets get out there and bring home a big civic project.  Ideally a project that fits with our creative, cultural, media savvy strengths and one that can benefit from our obvious skills as a centre of excellence for the leisure/hsopitality industry.

Come on Councillors, Moseley Society, Moseley Business Association and others, its time to take up the challenge.

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