Tuesday, 4 September 2012

The Bear Inn - Oxford

I once ordered a pint of Fuller's London Pride (4.1%) in a New York bar. When presented with some 50 different beers to choose from, and suffering from mild jet-lag, I stuck to what I knew.

Bland brand beer owes it's existence to this phenomenon. People stick to what they know in unfamiliar situations, but also to remove the danger of the unknown - the disappointment of a bad taste or the social stigma from ordering something different. On the same visit to New York, I avoided the Guinness in an Irish bar, only to be served a pint of Blue Moon (5.4%) complete with orange segment. Not the done thing.

When it comes to the post-work drink the same theory applies. There are pubs galore in Oxford: riverside pubs (The Head of the River), suburban pubs (The Victoria), small cosy pubs (The White Horse), and even a vegetarian pub (The Gardners Arm). Over a year's worth of Fridays I could visit every pub in Oxford. But I don't. For the sake of proximity, I choose The Bear Inn - every time.

It's a charming pub. One of Oxford's oldest, it sits aside the historic Christ Church College, just off the High Street. Adorned with cuts from old college ties (a form of payment many years ago, apparently) and featuring an extremely low ceilings, this place attracts the tourists during the day and the office workers in the evening. Consequently, a seat is rare, and when I recently stepped in to find Bill Clinton and his entourage in residence, they were even rarer. The beer on tap is limited to Fuller's, plus one seasonal ale. Of course, I stick to what I know - Fuller's London Pride (4.1%) .

If you're crawling the streets of Oxford, this pub should be in the top 10. If it's raining, don't expect a seat.

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