Malta: Browns, Bells, Birds and Beer

Malta is a densely populated island with a charming capital, hospitable people, much quirkiness and the peal of church bells in every town and village.

It was British until 1964 and they drive on the left, or more usually in the centre, as comic Mark Steel recently pointed out.

The warm brown limestone (“industrial Cotswold” according to Madame Luna) looks great at sunset, especially when depicting long defunct Reading breweries.

I tried a bottle of Simonds’ Hop Leaf but it was unpleasantly metallic. The company survives as part of Simonds Farsons Cisk, the latter being the name of Malta’s best selling beer. Also file under metallic.

Real Ale Street

Neighbouring Gozo was more intimate. These salt pans were still being worked by a local family.

Gozo also has the Lord Chambray brewery and it was their beers that dominated the taps at 67 Kapitali in Valletta, named (possibly) after the Lisbon Lions.

We tried several of these and they were generally pretty good.

If you really want to know about the pubs and beer of Malta then Richard Coldwell is your man

Our excellent bed and breakfast was in Zebbug, a short bus ride from Valletta. The pub there had no draught beer of any description but enough bottles to keep us going and an inexhaustible supply of free snacks. As you can see the Golden Lion had pumps but no beer.

No longer the Golden Lion

it’s not all about Tony Drago

Empty vodka bottle not for sale

I didn’t get to see the local team but did polish off the Maltese Premier League in the space of 24 hours (they only use 3 stadiums). At Hamrun Spartans I was one of the very few without a musical instrument but did my best to improvise. Hibernians Stadium had a somewhat treacherous descent from the dressing rooms.

Birdlife Malta do a terrific job running some small reserves that have to be gated and secured to stop shooters. Following a referendum it’s now only legal to shoot Quail during a short season but sadly many other birds such as Turtle Doves seem to be regarded as fair game. We had great views of birds like Black-winged Stilt and Wood Sandpiper.

We had a great time but weren’t tempted by the Rabbit Nights at the Brown Jug.

Malta has its knockers. But we had a rare old time. Cheers.

11 thoughts on “Malta: Browns, Bells, Birds and Beer

  1. “and the peal of church bells in every town and village.”

    Could be worse. 😉
    (says the man who spent two months working in Turkey and never got used to the call to prayer)

    “Also file under metallic.”


    “Real Ale Street”

    (slow golf clap) Well done!

    “These salt pans were still being worked by a local family.”

    Saw salt pans in the Yucatan on my holiday. Surprisingly much more industrialised.

    “named (possibly) after the Lisbon Lions.”

    Love the sign in the photo below. That describes me to a ‘t’!
    (former big league Guinness drinker)

    “As you can see the Golden Lion had pumps but no beer.”

    You sir, are on a roll. 🙂

    “it’s not all about Tony Drago”

    That name Mifsud is a bit in the bad books currently.

    “Empty vodka bottle not for sale”

    It’s just to make passers-by jealous?

    “Hibernians Stadium had a somewhat treacherous descent from the dressing rooms.”

    Crikey. That could be mistaken for a Mayan ruin. 😉

    “but weren’t tempted by the Rabbit Nights at the Brown Jug.”

    I’m trying to come up with a joke regarding the ‘nights Templar’ but failing.

    “Malta has its knockers. ”

    Three for three! (doffs hat)


    PS – Suffering into the sixth day of a bloody sinus cold that started the morning of the day I left Mexico. Considering the first two days consisted of a four hour flight and a five hour flight it will be some time before I’m back to my old self. 😉

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Lovely photos Pubmeister.

    Good to see the old Simonds signwriting and whilst it’s good that the name tenuously survives, it’s a shame about the metallic beer.

    Funnily enough I homebrewed some Simonds Hopleaf using Ron Pattison’s Home Brewing Vintage Beers. It was very strong but not metallic!

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Thanks Pubmeister – no idea what the problem with comments on Google Blogger is. I’m sure I’ve changed my settings to allow all comments.

        I had a similar problem this morning when I carefully crafted a comment on Retired Martin on his latest post only to find that WordPress wanted my Google email password before publishing it. When I put the password in WordPress said it wasn’t valid and my comment disappeared – oh well….


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