Garlands of Hops

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Hop garlands at the Fat Pig Freehouse. The garlands were brought in to celebrate the brewery opening on Sept. 14, but will last several months, growing more golden as they age. Photo: PK Read

Hop garlands at the Fat Pig Freehouse. The garlands were brought in to celebrate the brewery opening on Sept. 14, but will last several months, growing more golden as they age.
Photo: PK Read

Over at the Fat Pig Freehouse in Exeter, UK, the place is draped in long garlands of fresh hops, green and fragrant. The Fat Pig is a homey pub, no televisions, no sports, all food locally sourced and freshly made in the kitchen. It claims to be Exeter’s first brewery pub, with a spanking new beer brewery on the premises. I can’t verify that as I don’t know Exeter all that well, but I can state that the Fat Pig India Pale Ale is light, herbal and very tasty.

Although I got quite lost trying to find the Fat Pig – it’s tucked down an ever-so-slightly dark and dodgy side street at the far end of a large shopping area – arriving there was a pleasure. Warmly lit, friendly crowd. I got pulled into a Big Life Questions kind of conversation by the neighboring table almost immediately, and that’s always a fun introduction to a place.

I was sent down to the Fat Pig by the Tiny, barkeep at its sister pub the Rusty Bike (more on that another day), mainly because the whisky collection at the Fat Pig was supposed to be quite extensive – and it didn’t disappoint.

Hop garlands. Photo: PK Read

Hop garlands.
Photo: PK Read

As to the whiskies, I tried out the Speyside Singleton of Dufftown 12-year-old first, and was pleasantly surprised by its sherried brown sugar and burnt apple smoothness, with a bit of oakiness at the end. This is such an easy whisky to like, I would almost recommend it for anyone wanting to try single malt whisky for the first time.singleton-of-dufftown-12-ans

It was so smooth I almost decided to stick with that, but fortunately I decided to try a Highland Island single malt instead, the limited bottling of the Arran 16-year-old.

The Arran was less sugary than the Singleton, a bit less smooth – but rich, creamy, honeyed and for my palate, more interesting. Notes of various spices, especially nutmeg, and citrus. 16yo-BottleTube-Single

That and a plate of house-smoked pork ribs – from pigs raised by the Fat Pig’s owner – completed a really good evening.

As it turned out, finding my way home was much easier than finding the pub in the first place. I know my way now, though, so I can find it again on my next visit.

And in honor of the mellow mood at the Fat Pig, here’s a smooth bit of mildly pork-related jazz by Charles Mingus for a lazy Sunday, Goodbye Pork Pie Hat.

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