On Saturday me and the lovely Lisa went to the Old Man of Coniston. That's a hill not the some old codger by the way. The last time I'd been near there was to climb the classic route 'Eliminate A' on Dow crag. It was a glorious sunny day but I spent it all in the shade working my way up a rock face. This may strike some as being slightly odd. Cracking route though, and it was Keswick beer festival that evening so a good day all round.
This time it was lovely and sunny again but we had more modest ambitions: maybe a bit of scrambling and then a trip to the Black Bull. We didn't manage to get the scrambling in but we certainly earned our beer out on the hill and didn't miss out on the pub trip.
The Black Bull is the home of Coniston Brewery, where the award winning Coniston Blue Bird was originally brewed. This won the Champion Beer of Britain in 1998. Due to demand production of the bottled version was contracted out. Despite this the blurb on the bottle label about what temperature and glass to use has always said: "best drunk in the Black Bull in Coniston".
Having had a few pints it Bluebird in my time both on draught and from the bottle I was interested in testing this claim. Sadly the claim didn't really stand up. The pint was clear and with no obvious faults, apart from the big Northern head, but it didn't taste anything special, and I've certainly had better pints of Bluebird before. I was tempted to try Old Man ale next as we'd just been up there, but I decided to give the Bluebird another go, this time without the sparkler.
Despite Northerners having some misplaced pride in their thick Northern heads I've never had any bother getting bar staff to take off the evil invention and serve a pint as it should be. The beer was much better without having air forced into it and was flavoursome throughout the pint, without the depressing blandness that using sparklers gives to beer. So there you have it:
Coniston Bluebird - best drunk without a load of air forced into it.