A bubbly barmaid at the Maxwell’s Plum, Halifax, Nova Scotia asked me what I wanted to drink.
I don’t normally have a problem answering such a question, but then I don’t normally have to choose one of 60 beers on tap.
So, I did what any Englishman would do when faced with making such a hugely important decision, I turned into a blithering idiot – or to be more precise, a poor woman’s Hugh Grant – and stuttered my way through my answer.
Her question was simple, my answer was inaudible.
Well, it’s hardly surprising I had so much trouble. My local London boozer has just three beers on tap. The Maxwell’s Plum gave me 57 other options to consider.
To be fair, I wasn’t in the best condition when I made it to the bar.
I was flustered, hot and sweaty having negotiated the steep paths of Sackville Street – which is no mean feat for an out-of-shape walrus like myself. I felt like the Englishman Who Went Up A Hill But Came Down In The Maxwell’s Plum.
Having gained my composure I opted for a pint of the full-bodied and locally-brewed Propeller IPA (6.5%), but no sooner had I finished my beer than the barmaid raced over to my table faster than Halifax hockey hero Sidney Crosby on his ice skates.
Once again, I was asked the question, but this time I managed to order a pint of Pump House Fire Chief Red (5.5%) without stumbling through my sentence.
Seconds later my beer arrived in a frosted glass. Now that’s what I call service.
Brewed in Moncton, New Brunswick, Fire Chief Red has a toffee, slightly nutty taste to it and, for a heavier beer, was surprisingly easy to drink on such a hot day.
The Plum looked magnificent from the outside with diners being fed and watered underneath the golden awnings which glowed brightly in the summer sunshine.
Inside, the bar juts out as if to come and personally greet punters, while the many stools stood next to it extend the invitation to relax and chat to the friendly staff.
Being an unsociable sort of chap, I chose to sit elsewhere, alone.
The atmosphere was relaxed as the fine folk of Halifax turned up for a bite to eat from the extensive menu while others sat and gawped at the sport on one of the many TVs.
I’m a gawper. I sat through coverage of Aston Villa versus Blackburn Rovers in the English Premier League, the highlight of which was the final whistle.
I gawped in envy at some tables where groups of regulars had ordered large brewtenders – big beer dispensers- which allow punters to refill their glasses without beckoning the bar staff over all the time.
Cabinets brimming with bottled beers on the walls and above the bar remind you – as if you needed it – that you’re in a beer drinkers’ paradise.
Towards the rear of this bustling boozer a small staircase leading to a seating area in front of a big screen which will please the gawpers among you.
Here, there are big wooden benches making this the perfect spot for getting blind drunk with family, friends or co-workers. Yes, that’s right, there was never a better time or place to tell Brenda from accounts that you want to run your fingers through her thinning grey hair.
I don’t want to appear to be too gushing about this place though.
I suggest that anyone making their way down the stairs after a visit to the loo do so with caution – lose your step and you could go crashing into innocent bystanders like a speeding bowling ball.
This could be a priceless piece of information as, with all those beers to sample, you could be heading up and down those stairs more often than you think.
THE INNSPECTRE’S SUMMARY…
ADDRESS: THE MAXWELL’S PLUM, 1600 Grafton Street, Halifax, Nova Scotia,
B3J 2C2 www.themaxwellsplum.com
ATMOSPHERE: **** Friendly and relaxed. Music came courtesy of The Killers, Queen, Gary Newman and The Go Gos. After all these years, I still love Belinda Carlisle.
DECOR: **** Warm and welcoming. Loved the tartan.
SERVICE: **** Friendly and tolerant of my inability to answer a very simple question.
SELECTION: ********** Ten out of five seems like the right mark to give a pub serving 60 beers on draught. Let me see, there was Sleemans, Moosehead,Pump House, Propeller, Rickards, Garrison (I love the Irish Red), Stella, Miller, Cracked Canoe, Hoegaarden,Leffe, Kilkenny, Molson… do you really want me to go on?
PRICE: **** $5.46 for my pint of Propeller is very good, but it was happy hour.
ANY OTHER BUSINESS: The Plum is just a minute’s walk away from the city’s lively Argyle Street, perfect for a pub crawl.