Pint Sized Review - The Old Windmill, Spon Street, Coventry
Lunchtime drinking is a sadly lost art. Even in journalism, formerly the last resort of a feckless ne'er-do-well looking to combine full-time employment with a raging drink habit.
No more the 'swift half' turning into a pint, then two pints, and so on in a self-propagating Fibonacci sequence of drinks leaving you at best hung over, or at worst asleep, at your desk come 4pm.
We're all professionals now - or at least we have to pretend to be. So it was a treat to be out on a training course earlier this week when suddenly a window off opportunity presented itself. A reasonable lunch break, the sun was shining, the hint of summer was in the air. Where to go? Why a darkened pub and a pint of warm beer please!
I've been lambasted in the comments section for being too Birmingham-city-centre-centric in what I've claimed was a West Midlands-wide search for pubs, so luckily for me, today I've been sent to Coventry.
It's jsut a few short miles away, but I know very little about Coventry, so here's a fact taken straight from the top of the Wikipedia article: It was the first ever twinned city in the world, being linked with Stalingrad during the Second World War. So now you know. You probably knew already.
Of course I knew it was smashed in the war, and then finished off by the usual second wave of 60s-70s urban planners. But something I didn't know was that there's a tiny little old-fashioned but still remaining, right in the city centre, around Spon Street. And on that street is a pub, the Old Windmill.
Inside it's a maze of low beams (watch your head if you're not a shortarse like me), pillars, snugs and various rooms. You could almost imagine you're in Shakespearian times or something similar. Oh except for the pile of DJ equipment in the corner. And the heavy metal on the jukebox. Don't get me wrong, I bow to no one in my appreciation of Iron Maiden, Slayer, Judas Priest et al (no really), but even I can't really claim it's lunchtime music.
Whether it's professionalism or the loud music, the pub is completely empty at about 1pm on the Thursday we visit. Which is a crying shame, given the fantastic beer list.
The choice of seven includes Hobgoblin, Old Speckled Hen, Theakston's Old Peculier, Timothy Taylor Landlord, Everards Sunchaser and Cottage Flying Scotsman. Not the most obscure list, but something to suit pretty much every taste I reckon.
I go for a pint of Caledonian Deuchars IPA, a former Champion Beer of Britain. Incidentally the future of the fine beers at the Caledonian brewery is uncertain after it was sold to Scottish & Newcastle, soon to become part of Continental giants Heineken and Carlsberg. S&N have promised the beer brand will stay intact, but whether the same applies to the Caledonian brewery - the last Scottish-owned one in Edinburgh - remains to be seen.
But that day at least, it was lovely. Not many bitter hop flavours for an IPA, but letting the malt come through in a classic Scottish ale fashion. And it's surprisingly refreshing for such a dark pale ale, which is fully welcome on a warm lunchtime. For two pints, the bill of ÃÂ£4.45 puts a smile on my face. And the reasonable prices run through to the food as well. Paul's competent club sandwich is just ÃÂ£3.25, and is simply enormous, with enough chips to stuff an oxen.
So why the Windmill Inn was deserted I have no idea. Maybe it gets more crowded in the evening (although ominously, a sign outside the front door promises that Thursday night is 'schoolgirls' night). But come along here, lunchtime or any time, if you're looking for an attractive old-fashioned pub in the heart of the city, or a great selection of ale.