I gave the landlord of the Goat Inn, St Albans £5 for a pint of St Austell’s Tribute (4.2%) and licked my lips at the prospect of a decent ale while awaiting the traditional giving of change.
I looked on aghast as he handed my money to someone else.
I could have understood it had the bar been packed with punters, but there was only me, a rather glum-looking, red-faced, portly, individual to my left and a small podgy dog to my right.
Imagine that, being glum-looking, red-faced and portly. Poor bloke.
Any rate, I think I must be losing my natural good looks because the glum guy’s miserable mug lingered longer in the landlord’s fish-like memory than I did, and, to top it all off, the guy accepted my change.
To get it back I had to deploy a tactic called ‘the look’. I raised one eyebrow, stood with my usual change-recieving hand out, then simply stared at him until he realised the error of his ways.
The change was soon back in my pocket along with a sticky boiled sweet.
The dog waddled off, disgusted by the whole sorry episode, seemingly in need of a bowl of water as much as I was my pint of ale. Thankfully the pub itself proved much more to my liking.
Wedged amongst the terraced houses of Sopwell Lane, this 15th century coaching inn is just a short walk from St Albans’ shopping area, so bear this in mind the next time the missus mentions dragging you to H&M, Top Shop or New Look, or worst case scenario, all three.
My advice to you would be to get your excuses in early and head to this boozer, pronto.
And what a boozer it is. The Goat’s decor, fixtures, fittings and low ceiling all give it a cosy, oldy worldy feel.
It’s a traditional English pub with a lovely, almost circular bar as its central feature, complimented by a supporting cast of sofas, high-backed wooden chairs, large oak tables with a decent-sized beer garden and smoking area.
It’s the kind of pub you might pop in for a pint but then decide to stay a bit longer. Before you know it, you’re legless and buying drinks for the glum guy as if you’ve been best buddies for years.
Despite showing live football, the pub was reasonably quiet with the punters content with their pints and packets of pork scratchings. They certainly didn’t strike me as your typical loud football-following crowd, although that might have had something to do with Arsenal’s 2-1 defeat to bitter London rivals Chelsea.
Having watched the Blues sink their teeth into the Gunners on the box, the remaining punters – me, glum guy and the dog – were treated to National Geographic Channel’s big scrap of the day – wildebeest versus lions, highlights of which came from the banks of an African swamp.
Rather like Arsenal, the wildebeest didn’t come out of it too well.
In the background the commentary of the early stages of the Ryder Cup on the radio was drowned out by overwhelming sound of flesh being ripped off bone.
I ordered another pint of Tribute and kept one eye on my glum chum. One false move for my change and he’d suffer the same fate as Arsenal and that poor wildebeest.
THE INNSPECTRE’S SUMMARY
ADDRESS: THE GOAT INN, 37 Sopwell Lane, St Albans, Hertfordshire, AL1 1RN.
01727 833934 www.goatinn.co.uk
ATMOSPHERE: *** Quiet in the early afternoon as you’d expect, but lively at night with a mixed bag of punters.
DECOR: **** White washed walls with pictures of historic figures and scenes. Just a few too many tacky signs around perhaps, they lower the tone a tad.
SELECTION: **** Titanic Anchor (£3.50), Bombardier, Wells IPA and St Austell’s Tribute, to name a few.
PRICE: *** £3.40 for my pint of Tribute is par for the course.
SERVICE: *** Having ranted about my lack of change earlier, I’ll let the landlord off the hook. We’ve all made silly mistakes like that. Hang on, I left some InnSpectre business cards in the gents loos and within two minutes the landlord confiscated them and threw them in the bin. Poor show. He’s back on the hook.
ANY OTHER BUSINESS: Talking of ranting, the pub hosts regular evenings of music, comedy and poetry called Rantin at The Goat. And, if that wasn’t good in itself there’s also Dr Ika’s funky jazz sessions, the quiz on a Sunday night and a large selection of board games to stop you getting bored. Oh, and there is accomodation available if you’re unable to tear yourself away from the place.