Lambeth-Elephant & Castle

29/04/2018 at 15:42 | Posted in Crawls | Leave a comment
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In April 2018, Paul took us for a walk from Lambeth North to Elephant & Castle in south London.

We met at the Walrus (after some cheap Chinese food at the Olympic Cafe), on the corner of Lower Marsh, an interesting street of independent stores and a good weekday lunchtime streetfood market. The Walrus is also a hostel, but has a very decent pub downstairs with some decent ales on offer.

The next stop was just along the street at the Horse & Stables, but on entering we found that all the ales were unavailable, which is a pretty poor show for early on a Friday evening, so we headed off without pausing to the Steam Engine, which at the time of our visit had a Titanic tap take-over, with several ales and one keg from Titanic, and a good range of other beers on tap or in the fridge.

A short walk around the corner brought us to the Three Stags, a busy pub more or less opposite the Imperial War Museum, with some decent ales such

Crawl Albert Arms

A walk past the Bakerloo line depot brought us to the Albert Arms, which has been refurbished and brought upmarket since our last visit a few years ago, and it was offering some more interesting beers now too, including Melon Head from Shipyard, which managed to taste something like a Victoria Sponge cake!

Back past the other side of the tube depot and we came to the Flowers of the Forest, which had a good atmosphere and diverse crowd, but of the “craft ales” and “small brewery offerings” advertised on the website there was sadly no sign, with only keg Courage Best, Guinness or standard lagers. Hopefully soon they will match the promise on the website and raise their game on the beer selection.

 

Crawl Mercato (1)

Fortunately a gem was awaiting us next, as we headed to one of my favourite places in London, Mercato Metropolitano, a large former industrial premises which has been transformed into a massive street food centre, with a bit of an Italian bias but encompassing cuisine from all over the world (and even a cinema within). We started at the Italian craft beer bar, which is in fact half imported Italian craft beer, and half British, with some unusual keg offerings including from local brewers such as Kernel, and is run by the same people behind London’s Italian craft beer pubs The Italian Job.

 

Crawl Mercato (5).jpgA new addition to the Mercato is its own microbrewery, the German Kraft Brewery, which as the name suggests focusses on German styles; we ended the night with a round of Heidi Blondes, which we drank standing just a couple of metres from the kit it was brewed on.

So finally it was time to choose the Pub of the Crawl. In common with some recent crawls we’ve pushed the boundary again as to what a pub really is; on the basis that you can wander in and drink draught beer without any compulsion to be seated or order food, we decided that the very un-traditional Mercato Metropolitano did qualify, and as an amazingly lively venue containing several bars including an Italian craft beer bar and its own microbrewery, it was a worthy winner. Congratulations!

 

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City fringe pub crawl

02/04/2018 at 18:19 | Posted in Crawls | Leave a comment
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Dimo led the group East this time on a cold winter’s night (well, March) in 2018 and chose Kill the Cat as the starting point on Brick Lane, which is a funky bottle shop that also sells draft and does take-outs. Not sure if there was any HCl present and the only crackling was pig fat rather than a Geiger Counter. Artie had a Small Citra Ekuanot Pale from America to start the night.  In terms of further descriptions Schrodinger would argue, you have to see it to know what state it’s in. And not-so-curious latecomers Phil and Tim will have to go back one day….

Next up was the latest sensation, the Tank and Paddle, round the corner and along a bit from Liverpool Street station. It is a modern concept bar which focuses on real and craft ales plus pizza and is a winning formula, as our previous crawl will testify featuring tanks of Meantime ale. The session IPA we had was very tasty.  The place was busy early on a Friday night, but round the corner with the “Beast from the East” behind us suddenly we were on a street away from the crowds. It was like someone had switched off zone one and we were in some run-down industrial quarter.

It’s hard to believe in today’s city hinterland there used to be Shakespeare’s theatre on Curtain Road and on Worship Street/ Hog Lane the Old Bard himself is reputed to have once lived here. It was the second crawl in a row to feature Shakespearean trivia. And not unlike most of our crawls an evening that had started out as A Winter’s Tale not surprisingly ended up with Much Ado About Nothing.

The pub chosen next was the Long Arm Pub and Brewery, it had neo-classic features, such as ceramic tiling on the walls, its own brewery to the side, high ceilings, pipework visible and a long bar capable of serving quite a few different beers. On this occasion, in the heart of London on a Friday night it was surprisingly only half empty. The beer was good, continuing the IPA run most of us had the Jucy Pale or the Lucky Penny  and we were in awe of the place.

The next bar we went to Finch’s (a Young’s pub) was already tarted up for St. Patrick’s day that weekend – and we ended up sitting outside under the heaters overlooking Finsbury Square, most notably an underground car park. The Chelsea Blonde was cloudy but in this new unfiltered age some tourists were happy to accept. Credit to them they changed it on request.

On the corner nearby was the Singer Tavern, with more tiling than a swimming pool but a name taken from a old sewing machine, one of the ale choices we made was in fact cider and the way the taps were displayed it was confusing.

We finished the evening by Old Street roundabout in the newly opened Craft Beer Company , a huge improvement on its predecessor establishment and a veritable heaven for beer lovers, and there was much to choose from. The conversation flowed, the pub of the crawl was given to the Long Arm Pub and Brewery and this was followed by a metaphorical battle between beer hunter and bar fly, won by the former, with so many beers to choose from, albeit controversially, we stayed for a second round of drinks. By that time we had forgotten what we were drinking, mine had a fashionable permahaze, probably the Styrian Dragon, we also tried the Werrd! and the Little Things That Kill by Weird Beard…..with so many to wacky names to choose from it’s very much As You Like It.

We discussed the evening’s choices and Dimo explained that he had gone for a sextet of nontraditional pubs/beer outlets – and it was true that was not any dark wood panelling, etched window or Doom Bar badge present at any stage tonight. In fact Dimo had perfectly addressed Tony’s existential question at the end of the last crawl, whether Schrodinger would agree is another matter.

Tanks, tiles, tattle, taps, tastes and trivia, what more was there to like?

Cheapside

03/02/2018 at 13:26 | Posted in Crawls | 3 Comments
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To kick off 2018, I led a walk around the Cheapside area of the City, taking in some old and new pubs, and eventually a philosophical discussion about what a pub actually is.

We met at the Ship, a small traditional Nicholson’s pub, tucked away down a small alley connecting Gracechurch Street with Cheapside. It sits on the site of an old coaching inn, the Talbot, which was destroyed in the Great Fire of London, but still gives its name to the alley; the pub itself was renamed the Ship after its 17th century reconstruction. It is small and cosy inside but there’s plenty of room to spill out into the alley outside, and they manage to pack several good ales onto the bar.

Leaving the 17th century, we headed east and past a symbol of the 21st century, the Walkie Talkie, which looms large over Cheapside, and along Plantation Place, which has a fascinating piece of art on the paving, commemorating 2,000 years of the City’s history. Across the road in the lower level arcade of Minster Court we came to the Tank & Paddle, a large and modern craft beer and pizza bar. There are no real ales here, but its key feature is that it sells Meantime Brewery beer fresh from tanks (as opposed to casks or kegs). Accordingly we went for a rare lager, to test their brewery fresh concept, and it was pretty good, certainly a big step up from one of the mainstream keg lagers.

The ShipThe third pub of the night was the second called the Ship, this time in a beautiful tall, narrow Grade II listed building. Inside you feel a long way from the City of London, the small bar serves a couple of ales and the atmosphere feels like a small local.

Next we turned the corner into Seething Lane at the church of St Olave’s, named after Norwegian King Olaf who fought alongside Ethelred the Unready against the Danes at the Battle of London Bridge in 1014; the church was built on the site of the battle. It was the church frequented by Samuel Pepys, who is buried here with his wife. Other interesting burials include Mother Goose, recorded in the burial register in 1586; and Mary Ramsay, who is believed to be the carrier of the plague to London in 1665; she was the first Londoner to die of the disease, and that year just this tiny church alone registered 365 plague victims. It is worth pausing to look at the graveyard’s gates, described as “ghastly grim” by Charles Dickens; the gates are inscribed with their date of erection (1658 – they survived the great fire) and contain a trio of skulls with cross bones.

Cheapside crawl (5)A few paces down we came to the Draft House Seething, a large modern square bar, and another to offer tank beer, this time Pilsner Urquell from the Czech Republic. There are just one or two cask ales, but a very wide range of keg and bottled beer.

At the other end of the street lies another historic church, All Hallows by the Tower. As the name suggests, it is just next to the Tower of London, but is in fact much older, having been founded in 675; the oldest part of the church today is a 7th century arch, which was partially built with recycled Roman tiles. The bodies of those executed at the Tower were brought to the church before burial. Happier moments include the baptism of William Penn, who went on to found Pennsylvania, in 1644, and the marriage of John Quincy Adams, 6th President of the United States, in 1797.

Across the road lies the next pub, the Hung Drawn and Quartered, named for the grisly end that came to some of those executed at the Tower. It is a fairly standard Fuller’s pub with the usual decent ales on the bar (and on Paul’s trousers on this occasion…)

Cheapside crawl (4)Back along Cheapside now, we paused to admire 33-35 Cheapside, now beautifully lit in the shadow of the Walkie Talkie behind. Back when Cheapside was London’s main meat market (cheap being the Old English for market), the main pub in the area was the Boar’s Head Inn, made famous by references in several of Shakespeare’s plays, and it was the base of Falstaff in Henry IV Part 1. The pub is sadly long lost to a road scheme, but this building commemorates it through the sign of a boar’s head poking through grass, and portraits of the heads of Henry IV and Henry V on the facade.  The original Boar’s Head Inn sign is now at Shakespeare’s Globe.

We walked down the beautiful Lovat Lane next; this used to be Love Lane, on account of the ladies of the night that used to frequent this alley, to the Walrus and Carpenter, another Nicholson’s pub with a pretty good range of ales on the bar. The pub is very close to Pudding Lane, where the Great Fire of London started in September 1666. It was not taken so seriously at first; the Lord Mayor of London, Sir Thomas Bloodworth, said “Pish! A woman might piss it out!”

Cheapside crawl Tony Paul Dimo Dave EdAs it was it destroyed most of London’s civic buildings, St Paul’s Cathedral, 87 churches, and around 13,000 homes; the death toll was reportedly as low as six, although it is believed now to have been much higher. The Monument itself stands sentry in the heart of this neighbourhood, a 62 metre high stone column with a viewing platform at the top. The inscription for many years falsely blamed Catholics for starting the fire; the words were only chiselled out in 1831.

Around the Monument lie three pubs; we chose the Hydrant, a modern Fuller’s format which sells their usual ales but also a large range of craft beers, mainly on keg. The Hydrant is attractively fitted out with a fire theme, including ceiling lights made of fire extinguishers and a nice room upstairs with fire station doors. A shame they didn’t commemorate my distant ancestor, John Lofting, who in the aftermath of the Great Fire registered patents for two of his inventions, the fire engine and its scaled-down cousin, the beer engine – giving the world draught beer!

Anyway, the Hydrant provoked an interesting discussion; is it a pub or a bar? And what’s the difference? Some are obviously one or the other, but some are harder to pin down. I’m not sure that we really resolved this, but I think most generally bought into a theory I passed on (can’t remember where I first read it); that a pub is purpose-built and a bar is not; if a pub closes and is converted into something else, you look at it and think straight away “that used to be a pub”. A bar is a retail unit that sells alcohol; if it turns into an estate agent, who would know it had ever been a bar? It’s not a perfect system, as some of the oldest pubs started out as houses, and many of the newest micropubs started out as shops, but I think it’s a fairly good rule of thumb for most, so I’m sticking with it!

The second long debate was the Pub of the Crawl. There were wide views on this, proving that there’s no such thing as the perfect pub, everyone has different perspectives. But in the end there has to be a winner, and we voted for the first Ship (in Talbot Court); some of the newer pubs may have been more spacious and able to serve a wider range of beers, but for me, they can be replaced; if we were to lose a 17th century pub down an alley, a part of our history is lost. So congratulations to the Ship!

We also occasionally nominate a Beer of the Crawl; and being suckers for Citra, we (mostly) went for, and greatly enjoyed, Siren’s Suspended in Citra at the Hydrant. Congratulations to Siren!

Borough

03/12/2017 at 16:20 | Posted in Crawls | 1 Comment
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For December 2017, Ed took his first crawl, as we walked from Southwark to London Bridge via Borough.

As ever we met close to the tube for convenience, and you can’t get closer to Southwark station than The Ring, directly across the street, and named after a boxing arena of the same name, which was destroyed in the last war. It’s a fairly small corner pub, which was fairly busy but without any queue at the bar and space to stand. As it’s a small pub the beer range isn’t vast, but it is good, with several good casks and a range of craft beer on the keg lines.

Boundary.jpgWe headed east from here, past the Dog & Pot sculpture recalling Charles Dickens’s memories of this corner, to a very newly reopened pub, Mc & Sons, which prior to its refurbishment had been the Charles Dickens, and is owned by the same company as The Ring. This has a different vibe, though, with an Irish theme, but tastefully done, with weathered wood all around and a gorgeous snug at the front of the pub. The beer range included some excellent beers sourced from Irish breweries including Boundary Brewing of Belfast and Kinnegar of Donegal, alongside a good range of more local casks.

King AlfredOn leaving we called at the Crossbones graveyard before heading to the Gladstone, or the Glad; sadly on this occasion it was closed for a private party so we had to continue, pausing in the beautiful Trinity Church Square. As well as a beautiful church-turned-orchestral rehearsal/recording space, the Henry Wood Hall, the centre of the square hosts a statue of King Alfred, believed by many to be London’s oldest statue, having been ordered by Richard II as one of a set of eight for Westminster Hall in 1395.

A few more steps and we reached the Roebuck, a good pub on a prominent corner site, with a smallish but good range of cask and craft beers. Interestingly this sits across the street from the site where building work in the 1990s turned up a Roman grave, which experts at the Museum of London believe is the only known grave ever found of a female gladiator.

theotherroomWe came next into Tower Bridge Road, and the first micropub we’ve ever called at one one of our zone 1 crawls, The Other Room. In common with the typical micropub formula this is a small former shop, kitted out with wooden seating and a small bar, though unusually the focus is on craft keg beer rather than cask ale, and prices were higher than you may expect at a cask micropub. Nevertheless it was a very homely find, and the beers were all local Bermondsey/Rotherhithe beers.

A few minutes to the north we came to the Simon the Tanner, a good pub which is larger than it looks, extending some way to the back. There is a range of good cask and craft keg beers, with the local theme continuing here with several of us going for the Zeus Pale Ale from Kernel, who kick-started the Bermondsey brewing scene a few minutes’ walk to the east.

Next up we headed close to London Bridge station for the Rose, which had once been in the crawl itinerary but was, when we arrived, in an advanced state of demolition; someone hadn’t done their homework! Fortunately they completed their refurbishment and reopened the pub a few months later, and it remains a lovely interior, though sadly with just a solitary handpump, which on this particular evening was dry; they had a couple of decent kegs though including Shipyard Rye Pale Ale, which we went for.

A very short hop away lies the Horseshoe, the last stop of the evening. This is quite a large pub, which feels like it could support a larger range of interesting beers being on the cusp of where London’s brewing centre of Bermondsey rubs up against central London, but the ales were fairly standard (Hobgoblin, Brakspear).

Finally we had quite a long debate on the Pub of the Crawl, with various different opinions; but eventually we settled on Mc & Sons, in recognition of the amazing job they’ve done in refurbishing the pub such that you would be hard-pressed to notice that the building it sits in was pretty much gutted and rebuilt over the last couple of years.

And we also nominated a Beer of the Crawl this month; Kernel’s Zeus Pale Ale, as drunk in the Simon the Tanner. Congratulations!

Where are all the pubs in Chelsea?

30/10/2017 at 14:14 | Posted in Articles, pub reviews | Leave a comment
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There has been an alarming trend over the last 20 years which has left some “wealthy” communities without a local pub.  Not every pub in Chelsea that has been lost gets a mention here but there have been enough recently to be a cause for concern.

The frontage of The Markham Arms – now a bank struggling for business was once a thriving pub on the King’s Road.  It’s one of many pub sites that have claimed in the Chelsea past to have had celebrity drinkers – The Rolling Stones, Eric Clapton etc.

Continue Reading Where are all the pubs in Chelsea?…

Fitzrovia to Euston

22/10/2017 at 14:18 | Posted in Crawls | 1 Comment
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On a mild November evening Dave led us around some lesser visited pubs in Fitzrovia and a final farewell to an old favourite.

We assembled in The Hope, next to Pollock’s Toy Museum.  For a busy Friday night we didn’t have to wait too long to be served.  It is a smallish pub – or ale and pie house according to signage.  We can’t vouch for the pies, but the Adnams Mosaic Pale Ale was very nice.  There was space inside but we opted to stand outside as the weather wasn’t too chilly and none of us were particularly interested in the American football game being shown.


It was a short walk to our next stop, the appropriately named Fitzrovia, a Greene King establishment.   We managed to get a table in this cosy pub.  The ale selection was limited, the usual Greene King IPA and London Glory was on offer though pleasingly there was also Starry Night which most of us went for.  As we walked out on to Goodge Street we paused to note a minor piece of trivia: that the tube station of the same name was not in fact on Goodge Street itself.  More interesting was the street’s reputation in the 1960s for illicit substances.

A few minutes to the west we found ourselves in The King & Queen on Foley Street, a lovely corner pub with a real old fashioned feel – wood panelling, thick carpets and plenty of pictures of kings and queen (unsurprisingly) – though not so old fashioned as to actually still serve Watney’s Red Barrel.  They had a good selection of beers on five hand pumps, Marston’s 61 Deep Pale Ale being a nice session ale.  We again chose to stand outside and enjoy the weather.

Heading along Howland Street we stopped outside the Sainsbury Wellcome Centre to appreciate the overhead décor and the window displays about the workings of the brain (not impaired by our visit to three pubs, of course) before reaching The Carpenter’s Arms which has a small room downstairs and an upstairs terrace.

The latter was full so we again took our drinks – the very sessionable Yulu Loose Leaf Pale Ale was a popular choice – out on to the quiet street corner to learn some hotly debated (and badly guessed) trivia about the nearby BT Tower.  Most memorable amongst the facts was that the circular design was intended to withstand a nuclear attack and that for decades the building was covered by the Official Secrets Act, meaning it was technically an offence to reveal the location of this 191 metre high tower…

We then moved on to The Marlborough Arms, another corner pub and another Greene King pub though with a wider beer selection than usual.  We settled around a table towards one corner of this spacious pub, concluding that despite its size it still felt cosy and traditional.

Our next stop came after a 10 minute stroll towards Euston to the much loved Bree Louise on Coburg Street.  This visit was tinged with sadness as it will shortly be demolished to make way for the HS2 rail link.  The good news is that the landlord is
looking to relocate so hopefully we can return to its new premises soon.  Amongst the large range on offer, the Bree Louise 4.2% session pale ale was a good choice.

Our final pub of the evening was The Resting Hare, which in contrast to the other places we’d drunk in this evening was very modern.  The range of beer was good, including some less commonly seen on tap such as Kernel’s Table Beer (very tasty yet light in alcohol) and Beavertown Neck Oil (though in fairness we’d also seen that at the Marlborough Arms).

And after some discussion we also decided that it was pub of the crawl.  Congratulations to The Resting Hare!

Chelsea

09/10/2017 at 19:56 | Posted in Crawls | 1 Comment
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At the end of September 2017, Phil took us on a walk around Chelsea.

We met up at the Fox & Hounds close to Sloane Square, a surprisingly small traditional corner local which feels a long way from zone 1. It’s a Young’s pub, and was selling just Young’s Bitter and a guest on the evening we visited, but given how cramped the bar area is, they don’t have the capacity of a large specialist bar, but what it had in spades was character and a friendly welcome from the staff. Very nice start, and we were grateful that it was still warm enough (just about!) to stand outside, as it would probably have been rather cosy had everyone been indoors.

Fox and HoundsAround the corner next to another surprising find, the Rose & Crown. This was larger than the Fox & Hounds and was also traditional in its own way, but with more of a 1980s feel, being a friendly neighbourhood pub, probably one of the last unmodernised pubs in Chelsea, with a couple of real ales on offer including London Pride.

We walked to the King’s Road now, where Phil gave us a potted history of the street, and particularly its lost pubs and its trendy heyday of the 60s and 70s, including the famous Chelsea Drugstore (Now a McDonalds) which featured in a Rolling Stones song, and The Pheasantry with its chequered history, including a narrow escape from the law for Eric Clapton and where a new band Queen played one of it’s first gigs in 1972.  After a few stops we arrived, appropriately enough, at the Chelsea Potter. We’d visited here once before, a few years ago now, but then it was the last call of the evening, and my memory is fairly hazy, so it was good to see it in all its glory! It was a pretty large and modern pub, with a few interesting ales on, and space to bag a table even on a Friday night.

Just behind the King’s Road we came to the Builders Arms, a self-proclaimed ‘trendy gastro pub’, but one which has revived a very pleasant drinking bar on one side, with a good range of beers as you’d expect from Geronimo.

After pausing to admire one of London’s smallest houses across the street, which sold recently for over £700k, we went into the Sydney Arms, at the end of the street. This was pleasantly lively, and we were lucky to bag a table under a TV showing the Friday night football.  On Sydney Street we walked past the incredibly large St Luke’s church with it’s flying buttresses and neo-gothic exterior.  When it was built in the 1820s it marked the expansion of Chelsea; away from its origin on the sunny Thames bank; to the north of the King’s Road, which was opened to the public at around that time.

Phil gave us a rundown of the sad tale of the many lost pubs of Chelsea we passed on the walk to the next pub, until we arrived at one of the few surviving hostelries, the Admiral Codrington, where apparently Fergie was amongst the famous faces that used to be spotted here. We didn’t clock any celebrities, but had an enjoyable pint in pleasant surroundings, and they even stocked our favourite crisps (OK I can’t speak for everyone on that point, but at least some of us!), though it was surprising that it wasn’t busier, especially given the number of closures nearby.

Our next target had already closed its doors by this time, so we ended up at the Hoop & Toy, a busy Taylor Walker branded pub in South Kensington, still busy with a mix of tourists and locals enjoying the ales (such as Sambrook’s, which we went for) and some other craft beers. The pub has roots going back to 1760, and its name relates to the clobber associated with stabling customers’ horses on site, but sadly the area was badly bombed during the last war, and the current building feels somewhat lacking in character to me.

And so to the Pub of the Crawl. After some debate, the Sydney Arms was voted pub of the crawl, helped I’m sure by the warm feelings that seeing Fulham’s win engendered amongst certain voters… Congratulations!

Islington

02/09/2017 at 16:48 | Posted in Crawls | 2 Comments
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At the start of September 2017, Dimo took us back to Islington for a walk between Angel and Highbury & Islington.

We met at the Alma in Chapel Market, which has been taken over and refurbished by One Mile End brewery, with a good vibe and an excellent range of beers including of course One Mile End’s own, including Bavarian Breakfast, which is probably not the sort of breakfast to consume on a weekday…

Once assembled, we headed to the nearby Islington Town House, another relatively recent recipient of a refurbishment, this time by Hippo Inns, including pump handles made of fork handles. The pub is comfy on all floors, service very efficient and friendly, and a good range of beers on offer, we all went for Orbit’s IVO which was very good.

Close by lies the similarly named Islington, which has less of a pub feel as it functions largely as a gig venue, but nevertheless it was a very pleasant spot to spend some time, and although the range of beers was smaller than in some of the larger and more specialist pubs this evening, they were interesting ones; we largely went for an Italian session IPA, which certainly made a change.

A slightly longer walk now up Liverpool Road, past the Business Design Centre which started life as the Royal Agricultural Hall; the high pavements on Liverpool Road are a legacy of the days when the street was full of cattle and pedestrians needed protection.

The next stop was the Regent, the busiest pub of the evening, possibly because they were showing the evening’s England match (although most weren’t watching it, so it may just be popular!). The beer range was decent (if not quite as exotic as some of the specialist venues on this crawl), and most went for Luppollo Pale Ale (from Hackney, not to be confused with its Canadian namesake).

TaproomWe headed next to Upper Street and the Taproom, which as the name suggests is a specialist beer pub with a brewery taproom feel and a range of interesting beers including up to eight casks served by gravity from a very unusual stillage behind the bar; the Hackney Kapow! which I had was excellent.

A slightly longer walk now, off the main roads to the Duchess of Kent, tucked away near Highbury Corner. This fairly large and bright pub was welcoming, and we enjoyed the Young’s ales or Camden Pale Ale before heading to the final call of the night.

So last up was the House of Hammerton, which as the name suggests is part of Hammerton Brewery’s empire, showcasing all their beers a few streets from the brewery. My cask N1 was in perfect order, while some went for more exotic offerings, either from Hammerton itself or guests such as Stone, Magic Rock, Spanish brewer Mala Gissona.

So as usual we voted on a Pub of the Crawl at the end. This was tricky, there was some very good competition, but in the end we agreed on the Taproom on Upper Street. Congratulations!

Camden

22/07/2017 at 14:49 | Posted in Crawls | Leave a comment
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In July 2017, Rich took us for a crawl from the Euston Road to Camden.

We met on Warren Street at the Smugglers Arms, which despite the name and range of rums is sadly bereft of crusty old men in waterproofs and sou’westers singing sea shanties, but does have a pretty good beer range for a place with such a small bar, with a small number of excellent beers on cask including Sail Pale Ale, and a good and wide range of interesting bottles. Despite the small bar, the pub was accommodating a large crowd outside in the street, and the staff were very efficient and friendly.

Once assembled, we headed next to the Queens Head & Artichoke, a fairly large pub for a surprisingly quiet district, just to the north of the busy Euston Road but feeling much further away. Between us we generally had the classic of 6X, or in a couple of cases Shedhead on keg.

The walk to the next pub took us through a council estate to the White Moustache, a surprisingly gentrified pub in a building which looks like it should be serving Fosters and John Smith’s. But no, this is aimed at the more affluent incomers, serving gastro food alongside a good range of beers, although sadly the Citra pale ale several of us opted for was on the turn at the time of our visit.

We kept on going north next, to the Edinboro Castle, a large pub with an even larger beer garden, which was pulling in the summer crowds when we called. There was an excellent range of beers inside, although because of the queue at the bar we headed instead to the small bar in the garden, with only a couple of keg beers available, but at least fairly good options such as Camden pale ale.

After soaking up a bit of the summer evening atmosphere in the garden, we turned towards Camden Town, and the local BrewDog, where the expected range of their beers was on offer, and we even managed to bag a table downstairs, which we didn’t expect in Camden on a Friday night.

From here we moved east, to the Prince Albert, which was surprisingly empty inside, but everyone was out in the garden enjoying the last of the summer evening.

We also got to drink outside the nearby Constitution, a very busy pub still at gone 11pm, with a good mix of customers and lovely position beside the Regent’s Canal, although sadly by the time we were there the back garden had closed, presumably due to its proximity to neighbours.

We did head back along the Regent’s Canal to head to a canalside pub at King’s Cross next and bring us safely back to zone 1, but it had closed by the time we got there, so we essentially called it a night there (although a couple of people may have sneaked off in hunt of a final pint!)

So, to the business of Pub of the Crawl. For its lively and mixed crowd, and location tucked away from the sometimes frenetic centre of Camden on the canal, the Pub of the Crawl is the Constitution. Congratulations!

Barbican

29/05/2017 at 17:43 | Posted in Crawls | Leave a comment
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In May 2017 Tim took us on a short but very interesting walk around the Barbican area, on the fringe of the City of London.

We met up at the Shakespeare, a stone’s throw from Barbican station. This busy pub is on the ground floor of a 1960s building but is surprisingly traditionally furnished inside, and offers a fairly decent range of beer and good value Italian food.

From the Shakespeare we headed through the Golden Lane estate, a prestigious 1950s housing scheme which laid the template for many council estates which followed it, but in this example retains some of the social aspects missing from many later estates built more cheaply, and a short walk through the estate takes us past the tennis courts, swimming pool and sports centre.

ArtilleryArms.jpgOut the other side of the estate we reached the Two Brewers just in time for the cask of Purity Mad Goose to run out. There were some decent alternatives on offer but we were patient, and were rewarded with some delicious pints of Mad Goose fresh from the new cask, which we supped out in the street, across from the site of the 1600 Fortune Playhouse.

We moved on now, via a rare section of wooden road, to the Artillery Arms, a small, friendly Fuller’s pub opposite the Bunhill Fields burial ground, where prominent people including William Blake, Daniel Defoe, John Bunyan and Susannah Wesley are buried. We managed to order a beer which needed changing again, but all the Fuller’s beers were in good condition and served with a smile.

HAC.jpgWe popped into the lobby of a university further down Bunhill Row for a sneaky peek at the Artillery Ground, a cricket pitch owned by the Honourable Artillery Company which used to be London’s premier cricket ground, in use since at least 1730, when London beat Surrey on 31 August. It also hosted the first manned flight in England when Italian Vincent Lunardi undertook the first balloon flight from this spot.

We called next at the old Whitbread brewery, which in 1750 was the UK’s first purpose-built mass production brewery, but sadly is not only no longer brewing on this site, but Whitbread have divested themselves of their brewing operations altogether.

The next actual pub was just along the block, the Jugged Hare, an upmarket gastropub serving fancy food and small selection of ales including Thornbridge Lord Marple.

Barbican.jpgJust around the back of the Jugged Hare lies the Barbican centre, an arts and cultural centre opened in 1982 and home, so we found, of a bar selling craft beers, in the shape of Bonfire, up on the first floor. No cask ales here, but a few interesting bottled beers, from Redchurch, Thwaites, and more.

A short walk through the unusual Barbican estate and across a footbridge and we came to the local pub, the Wood Street Bar, quite well hidden on the ground floor of the estate. Despite the name, it is a ‘real’ pub rather than a bar, and from the inside you wouldn’t know that you were in the Barbican, until you get to the back of the pub, as we did, and take a window seat looking out onto a lake.

From here we headed for one last drink in the Globe, a large Nicholson’s pub on a prominent position right by Moorgate station. There is a wide range of beers here, including unfiltered Pilsner Urquell from tanks in the pub, which was very nice.

There was just time before closing to agree on a Pub of the Crawl, and we voted for the Artillery Arms, the small friendly Fuller’s local. Congratulations!

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