Candidate #20- The Mermaid Inn, Rye, England

Rebuilt in 1420 with later Tudor additions, some of the cellars at The Mermaid Inn survived from 1156 and contribute to its Grade II listed status; and the ghosts- if we knock it down, where will they live?

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But Ozzy-cyp is outraged that elevators weren’t invented and properly installed into building codes 600 years ago:

“…end room with lots of steps up and down which is not suitable to have a stroller so had to carry our daughter all the time”

and thus promptly gave them a ‘terrible’ rating on Tripadvisor. One can only imagine her indignation upon discovering that no actual mermaids have stayed here.

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The Giants Fireplace Bar is dominated by a hearth the size of a spacious Upper East Side studio apartment. It’s beautiful. You can find this room via a secret passage too- so secret I never noticed it.

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Some of the medieval artwork comes from the renowned Slade School of Fine Art, Bloomsbury. Maybe even this one:

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The Mermaid Inn was a notable alehouse in medieval times and served beer brewed on site to sailors, Rye being a member of the Confederation of Cinque Ports. Catholic Priests fleeing the Reformation in Continental Europe stayed in the 1500s; Elizabeth I was a guest and a group of notorious smugglers known as the Hawkhurst Gang called The Mermaid Inn their local in the 1700s. In the 1800s it was privately owned (selfish bastard), functioned as a club for artists in the early 20th century (including Oscar Wildes’ “Bosie”), and during the Second World War it was commandeered as a garrison for Canadian soldiers. So, some history.

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One more of that fireplace:

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Venue: 9.5/10

So many beams.

Beer: 6/10

Small range with a few bottles, but well kept and where else can you drink with the ghosts of the Hawkhurst Gang?

Worthy? Yes.

Just look at that fireplace.

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85. Delerium Café, Brussels, Belgium

There’s a place in Belgium that thought, back in 2004, that stocking a different beer for every year since Jesus was born would be a cracking idea. It was. But it quickly became passé. So now there’s 3,162.

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Breaking the record back in 2004 helped to put Delerium Café on the map. The secret is certainly out. So I feared a venue overrun by tourists or packed like a London pub at 5pm on a Friday (a quick one at The Harp, anyone?) or, worse, a business now hollowly profiteering off its fabled reputation, turning the prices up to 11 and stripping out the ancient furniture in favour of standing areas and tables with shiny lacquer surfaces for easy wiping down (I’m looking at you, Früh am Dom, Cologne).

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For just over €2, I had a freshly poured glass of some wheat beer I’ve forgotten the name of. I can’t even get a schooner of Heineken for that price in Amsterdam. It was lovely too, of course.

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Bent on world domination, Delerium World, as I’m calling it, has taken over the whole street and offers an absinth bar with over 400 varieties, a tequila and mezcal bar with over 500 types (because 12% beer just isn’t enough) and Little Delirium Café at the start of the street to confuse tourists. You can enjoy this alley until 4am most nights.

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The entire venue, spread over three floors, is vast, so here’s a bunch of photos:

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Go on, step right in:

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Venue: 9/10

A benchmark in beer bar design. That it can absorb so many people and still feel intimate and cosy is praiseworthy.

Beer: 10/10

Giving a perfect score is a nervy thing- it implies perfection*. If there exists a better selection in depth, quality of choices and housekeeping, I’d happily be proved wrong. Seems unlikely any other pretender could possibly be as cheap though.

*There has to be a ten, or why not score the beer selection out of 9?

Worthy? Yes

Quite simply a beer nirvana. Spread over three floors (with satellite bars along the street), it has absorbed the tourists and thrown them in to a crucible of camaraderie.