When in Rome, they say you should do as the Romans do, so I must give Cask Ale another try when the editor and I arrive at The Inklings' old hangout in Oxford, England. Great stories have come to life in this place, so it is only natural to write about our visit here.
I've never quite understood my own fondness of the British accent. It might be underexposure, since most of the TV and movies in my youth have been American. Nonetheless, I adore it when English people speak. The bartenders here at "The Bird and Baby" are no exception to this rule although they don't seem to know too much about beer.
Clearly, beer is not the main focus here, even though there's a wide selection of Cask Ales and regular bottled beer. I order [a beer] while we wait for the chefs to arrive. They've apparently overslept, which gives me plenty of time to understand why Cask Ale seems to be all the rage here. I fail with my first attempt, but admire the beautiful circles lacing down the inside of my glass.
As the chefs arrive, soon our food follows. Keeping it British we are sharing fish 'n' chips. It works extremely well with my beer, as it doesn't have much intensity to offer. As with my beer it's just kind of stale, but the British kitchen is not known for spices and intensity! It's an easy meal and it might bring me closer to an appreciation of Cask Ales.
The beer is not why I would come back to the Eagle and the Child, but the friendly staff and creativity oozing from the atmosphere could easily draw me back.
I never found out whether the rest of the guests were Oxfordians or tourists, but I know that the place was almost empty when we arrived and packed when we left. Either way, they all seemed to enjoy refreshing Real Ale - and even I found myself a little closer to understanding what the buzz is all about.