Thursday, November 1, 2007

The Session Beer and Music – Craic at the Fiddler

At the start of 2006 myself and 2 of my best friends embarked on a 14 day dream trip around the South Island of New Zealand. The trip was fantastic and featured all the usual eccentric elements of a ‘lads’ road trip (you know, not washing, not shaving, not eating, counting pints, the first night we surpassed 52!!) it also brought me into contact with the best Irish pub in the country and confirmed my love for Irish folk music.

On the first day of the trip we drove from Picton where the ferry dropped us to Nelson the hop growing region of NZ, here we stumbled upon an interesting looking Irish pub called the Maen Fiddler. Inside the bar there was an area set up for a band to play, the bar was adorned in hop bines and while the tap selection was the standard lion range in the cabinet sat a wide and tempting range of south island micro brewed beer. Out the back was an extensive garden bar perfect for the hot Nelson summers. Above the bar was a blackboard with two columns one stating what the Maen Fiddler did do (good beer, good food, good music, good service), and one stating what they didn’t(Pokies, TV, pool ). This pub had attitude and it was a good one. We settled in and drank our way through some fantastic beers from Pink Elephant of Marlborough and Nelson’s Lighthouse brewery, with the odd Founders beer thrown in for good measure.

As afternoon turned to evening we retired to the deck immediately behind the bar and sat next to a bunch of gentlemen who all spoke with Irish accents and who made us most welcome. By this point we knew there was definitely something special about this pub, not only were these regulars making us feel welcome but every time we visited the bar the landlord fell over her self to be friendly and accommodating, not something that always happens in south island pubs.

It soon became clear that these regulars were in fact, resident band, ”The Busman’s Handbag” (the name being Dublin slang for female genitalia stemming from the belt bag that bus conductors held their change in). After conversations with them about just how special this pub was, the recent Hamas election victory in Palestine and related issues in between, it was time for them to go on and we followed them in. The night continued as a constant banter between us and the band fuelled by pints of Guinness with the entire bar toasting us on our trip more than once. The music was fantastic, there is simply no better sound track to a session than a talented Irish band in full swing.

The night has left an enduring influence not only on my musical tastes but in what I think makes a pub great, if you ever get the chance to visit the Maen Fiddler DO SO!, and stay for ‘The Handbag” you’ll love it. You can check out The Handbag’s music here or the Maen Fiddler here. Cheers.

For the record in fourteen days we drove 2820 kilometres, drank 348 pints, visited 24 breweries, and pushed our luck a little far 3 times.

7 comments:

John said...

¨and pushed our luck a little far 3 times." - I'm intrigued now, do tell.

Kieran Haslett-Moore said...

Refunds.

winterchild said...
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winterchild said...
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winterchild said...
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Anonymous said...

The Maen Fiddler so rocks... the only pub to go in Nelson.... nice review...

Kieran Haslett-Moore said...

Cask Ale at The Prince Albert is worth a visit to.