March 9th, 2010

The Stag’s Head Pub: London Upon Portsmouth Street

In 7 Words: Waratahs, Bombardier, Steins, Dark, Scuffed, Bountiful, Pub

After a night teeming with crowds, cookers and everything endearing and annoying about Texas – the World Championship Barbeque Contest – my batteries were in need of recharging. The idea of some good, old fashioned pub therapy sounded like the perfect jolt. So, Paul and I decide to head for a pint or four at the cozy confines of the Stag’s Head Pub. We quickly pull into our parking space after turning into the lot off Portsmouth Street. The slight chill in the air that was comforting among the deep crowds of the rodeo is keeping the bar’s patrons from using of the large patio making the pub seem misleadingly desolate.

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As we enter Stag’s Head through the heavy double doors, our eyes adjust to surroundings that are only slightly lighter than their exterior counter part. The faint smells of beer, old wood and fried fish immediately turn my brain’s filing system back a few months to my honeymoon in England. The dim lights and dark wood paneling accompanied with tacky carpet and severely scuffed hard wood serve to further cement this initial impression.

We grab two bar stools, one broken and perilous, with a decent view of the Waratahs / Bulls  Super 14 match and relax after a long afternoon of walking and people-watching. We hold off on ordering as Hougaard of the Bulls dives over the try line in fine form. Bulls take the lead 28-26. My celebration and Paul’s confusion alert the nearest server to our presence between the intimate frosted glass partitions.

Our server, Yvette, is quick to take our order for two pints – a Bombardier and a Dale’s Pale Ale – to kick off our night of sweet libation imbibing. With beers in front of us, the conversation drifts beyond the rodeo cook-off just witnessed and into the intricacies of photography as Paul captures images with the help of a pint glass monopod. While we are looking around for what we think should be included in our mini photo-essay, we form the theory that a good pub has an abundance of random things on its walls; the more eclectic, the better.

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From beer steins and old rifles to framed photos and beer labels long ago pitched to the branding dumpster, it’s these adornments that can often stimulate and further a good conversation. Running out of topics? Take the Warsteiner bumper sticker slapped on the wall: “Life is too short to drink cheap beer.” As the term pub originally came from Public, as in Public House for all townspeople to meet and converse, it’s precisely talking that gives a pub like this credibility.

As if taking a cue from my thoughts, the bartender begins her own dialogue. She labels Paul “weird” for having brought his camera; those of us that know him can agree this is the last thing that makes him weird. Our common acquaintance, Lynzy arrives to further instigate our discussion of The Loop Scoop and the brutal rugby match that dominates our television.

The music is a slight disconnect from the pubs I traveled to on my honeymoon. Though the tunes are frequently from bands that call the British Isles home, Sirius Radio’s Alt Nation isn’t exactly what I would have expected. Neutral Milk Hotel playing over the sound system, snaps my ears and attention from the conversation, at which point I notice my glass is empty. It’s time for another round.

I order a beer, only to find it’s of the skunky variety. Upon informing Yvette of this little snag, she promptly replaces it with no hassle and, most generously, free of charge. Paul decides upon a Gordon Biersh Marzen, a change up from this evening’s Pale Ale journey (inspired by the First Sip). Mispronouncing the beers name while trying to pinpoint it’s place of origin proves to be just as entertaining as anything on the TV.

Paul makes his way to the bathroom, which is around the left side of the bar and past the plush booths with low hanging lamps. Surprisingly he has left his camera for unattended and vulnerable. After night of being chided by the photographer for walking through his shots, Yvette takes notice and begins snapping pictures of anything and everything. Giving photo assignments of “emo,” “pissed,” “happy” and finally “confused,” she uses every last second of Paul’s bathroom voyage as her own photo journalism time.

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Paul returns, catching Yvette red handed. On another continent the Bulls continue driving at the Waratahs, grinding down any remaining fight they had, to seal the victory at 48-38. Rejoice! The next round, a Magic Hat #9 and a Mirror Pond Pale Ale, is on me. With the match now over, our attention is focused on a different sort of competition, “The Indie Band Name Game.” The rules are simple, pick out four random objects located on the walls of the pub, string them together and “Presto,” you’ve got an indie band name. With many of the names suggested being complete rubbish, there was a standout winner in “Ten Point Rifle Stein.”

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I admit my lack of talent in crafting decent band names and crown Lynzy as the champion as the clock strikes 1:45. Yvette tells us our time at the Pub is coming to an end. Closing our tabs and gathering our things, I give the Stag’s Head Pub one last survey. The other patrons, mostly middle-aged regulars, have warm smiles on their faces as they prepare to leave. They are the kind of contented smiles which only occur after a night of good conversation, kind service, and some damn good beers.

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Where – 2128 Portsmouth Street, Houston, TX 77098 (View Map)
What
– The British Isles, Drinking, Current Affairs, Nonsense
Wear
– Affliction T-Shirts are Forbidden, anything else goes. No Passport Required.
How Much
– Reasonable, Cheaper Than Pounds to Dollars.
When
– Serving Alcohol All Week 11PM – 2AM, Serving Food 11 AM – 10 PM Sunday through Thursday,11 AM – 11 PM Friday through Saturday
Web
Website; Facebook


— Richard

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