Fitzrovia to Euston

22/10/2017 at 14:18 | Posted in Crawls | Leave a 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!

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Chelsea

09/10/2017 at 19:56 | Posted in Crawls | Leave a 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, and 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, 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.

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 the famous 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!

Hoxton

22/04/2017 at 11:56 | Posted in Crawls | Leave a comment
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In April 2017, Artie took us for a crawl around the Hoxton area.

We started out at the Electricity Showrooms near Hoxton Square, an attractive pub with some interesting beers on, though just a couple on cask; these were good though, we had both, Bread & Butter from Vocation Brewery in Hebden Bridge, and Pint from Marble in Manchester. What really let the place down though was some ridiculous doorstaff searching people on entry, asking people in their 40s for ID, and confiscating soft drinks being carried in bags. All this at 6:30 in the evening.

7seasons.jpgStill, that was just a rendezvous point, and the next venue was pretty special. 7 Seasons is one of the new generation of specialist craft beer bottle shops which also have space inside to drink on the premises, still pretty uncommon in London. The range is superb, over 400 beers from around the world. We had quite a variety of beers between us, but personally I had a delicious Mikkeller Session IPA, while Artie’s 1000th unique beer on Untappd was also a Mikkeller, a Citra IPA, and a fine way to mark a milestone.

A short walk along Hoxton Street – setting for Richard Ashcroft’s famous walk in the Verve’s Bittersweet Symphony video – brought us to Howl at the Moon, a smallish but busy corner pub with a reputation for interesting beers. On this occasion three of the six pumps were devoted to cider, and the beers were all quite strong for a session; we had a mix of Aurora from the pumps and Beavertown Gamma Ray from the taps.

We left shortly after the music volume was cranked up and headed for the George and Vulture, a Fuller’s pub and the tallest pub in London apparently, with a modern interior and tasty-looking pizzas being cooked at one end of the bar.

Next up, one of the legendary pubs of London, the Wenlock Arms. Its bar of 10 handpumps, and large number of ciders and keg beers, may be bettered in some of the newer and larger specialist craft beer joints, but this one is not only a humble local pub, but provided this sort of range long before it was fashionable, and had to fight for its very existence when a developer tried to replace the pub with flats. So it was great to be back, and we enjoyed a combination of Siren’s Sound Wave, Mariana Trench, and Oscar Wilde Mild. All were delicious.

Around the corner lies the William IV, where we called next. It’s an attractive pub and the staff were very friendly, but the range of interesdting pump clips behind the bar were sadly not representative of the offer this evening, which consisted only of GK IPA on the pumps.

Off now to the final pub, the Three Crowns, a nice revival for an attractively tiled pub that was closed down for quite a while but is back, looking good and serving some good beers under the new management which took over just this month, including on our visit Hackney Kapow and Brew House Small Batch.

We did head for another couple of pubs but they had stopped serving, so we had a quick debate on the Pub of the Crawl before heading to the tube. I’m pleased to say that an old favourite the Wenlock Arms was named Pub of the Crawl. Congratulations!

Bermondsey

18/03/2017 at 12:55 | Posted in Crawls | Leave a comment
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In March 2017 Paul took us back to Bermondsey, for a crawl taking advantage of the increasing opening hours of some of the brewery taprooms of the Bermondsey Beer Mile.

We started out at Southwark Brewing, who were, I think the first of the local breweries to start opening on Friday evenings, and at the time of writing they’re open several evenings a week. Unusually for the new generation of craft brewers, the focus of Southwark is on traditional cask ales, and several were on offer; we mostly went for the Session IPA as there would be quite a few more venues to follow, and it was in excellent condition as you would expect.

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Further down the railway arches lies Anspach & Hobday, another small craft brewer, this time more focussed on keg beers, generally stronger in content and consequently we downsized from pints for this venue. Some  interesting experimentation has been going on at A&H, with beers on offer including a smoked pale ale, sea salt and chilli stout (sounds interesting but didn’t try this one) and a Belgian bitter. There’s always something new to try here and keep you coming back.

BBNo.jpgHeading deeper into Bermondsey, we came to the next railway arch brewery, Brew by Numbers, which has enlarged its taproom somewhat since I was last here, and added some tasty-looking street food out front for the peckish.We stuck with the slightly smaller servings again, trying a variety of beers between us; I went for a dark beer this time, the coffee & milk stout, which was delicious and definitely left me wanting more.

But, on we go, this time to Ubrew, which is pretty much next door to the previous venue but accessed from the other side. This is a different type of brewery, in which anyone keen to brew can rent a brewing kit and brew their own beer, but with brewery-quality kit and ingredients. Brewing was under way from about three different groups when we visited the taproom, which sells a variety of beer, some brewed on site and some not. I tried a smoked pale ale for the first time (having only heard of such a thing an hour earlier) and it was very good.

I was also very pleased to find in the fridge a 0.5% chocolate stout from Big Drop Brewing;this was pretty good stuff, very tasty for something with such little alcohol. I firmly believe that very low alcohol beers should be widely available in pubs for those times when you want to socialise but can’t drink for whatever reason, or simply want to reduce your alcohol intake for the evening without going home early or switching to water or fizzy drinks. So well done to the guys at Big Drop, I look forward to seeing the Citrus Pale Ale I can spy on your website as being available soon!

We started heading back towards town now, and stopped this time at the Marquis of Wellington, opposite one of the earlier ports of call. For a long time this was a regular backstreet local, but has been renovated into the contemporary style, with a modern interior, good range of drinks, and some excellent-looking pizzas being prepared behind the bar. The beers were from London and included a cask from Southwark brewing and a seasonal beer from Anspach & Hobday, which must have been brewed about 50 metres away, but I was slightly surprised that the pub hasn’t gone even bigger on local provenance; they could probably sell 200 different beers, all brewed within walking distance. Still, pretty impressed with the place, will be back for pizza some time.

We headed next for an old favourite of mine, the Dean Swift in Shad Thames. I do love this place. The beer range is constantly changing, and they think it through; for example I’ve been there to watch Tottenham v Arsenal, and they’ve had Redemption Hopspur (brewed in Tottenham) and Hop Stuff APA (brewed on the Royal Arsenal) next to each other on the bar. Very good work!

Rose.jpgA slightly longer walk now as we began to head back towards London Bridge, and called at the Rose. This is a pleasant, upscale place, with a more limited beer range than the previous venues, and just the one handpump; however the beer on, Ringwood’s Mauler, was good. They also have an interesting floor downstairs made out of pennies; my shoes will appear in someone’s photos of the night, as I was asked to pause and pose my feet for a picture on my way to the loos!

More craft beer could be found at the final venue of the night, The Miller. While this may look like a dodgy 60s place from the outside, it’s actually a young and lively venue, and has a good range of ales and other craft beers, including a very long bottled list.

All in all an excellent evening, and time only to agree on the Pub of the Crawl. Unusually we also visited several breweries on this walk, which were all excellent but the award is ‘Pub of the Crawl’ rather than ‘brewery of the crawl’ – frankly all the breweries are excellent. Although we called at my favourite pub, they have been visited and awarded the title previously, so the Marquis of Wellington was voted Pub of the Crawl for breathing new life into this pub in Bermondsey. Congratulations!

City & Spitalfields

18/02/2017 at 12:36 | Posted in pub reviews | Leave a comment
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In February 2017, I took the crawlers on a short walk around the City, starting on its boundary with Spitalfields and ending up in its centre.

We met at the Williams Ale & Cider House, close to Liverpool Street station, which has a beer-led bar at the front and a cider-led bar further back. Service wasn’t great, but we did eventually manage to buy some Signature Roadies, which we took outside to enjoy in the February evening air. The pub is on Artillery Lane, the name betraying its origins as part of  the site of the artillery grounds which used to be found here, just outside the City, until 1682.

Around the corner in Sandy’s Row, where one side of the street is in the City and the other in Spitalfields, we passed the Sandy’s Row Synagogue, the last surviving Spitalfields synagogue. The building was originally built as a church in 1766 by the Huguenot community, and named L’Eglise de l’Artillerie. It later became a baptist chapel, before becoming a synagogue in 1854.

A few steps further on, next to the former Jewish bakery Levy Bros, which was established in 1710 and whose bakers can still be seen toiling away on the building’s exterior, we came to the King’s Stores. This has been modernised recently and has several decent ales on tap, and I had two Signature beers in a row, the cask Pale this time, while some went for the Dark Star Partridge. All were very nice, and we took them outside to enjoy in the attractive street outside.

We kept on following the City boundary along Middlesex Street, so named because the street was the first in Middlesex on leaving the City of London, whose boundary runs along the western kerb. It is better known though as Petticoat Lane, and has been home to a thriving Sunday market since the 17th century.

We took a very slight detour to see the site of the infamous Goulston Street Graffito, before heading into the Bell, a pleasingly traditional pub, with Landlord, Atlantic, TEA and Doom Bar on the bar.

We crossed back into the City on leaving, and came to Houndsditch, which was originally a defensive ditch outside the City walls, but became a popular dumping ground for dead dogs, amongst other refuse. In 1910 it was the scene of the Houndsditch Murders, in which three police officers were shot dead by a Latvian gang, and which subsequently ended a few weeks later in the famous Siege of Sidney Street.

We also crossed over Bevis Marks, home of the eponymous synagogue, which was built by London’s Spanish and Portuguese Jewish community in 1701 and is the only synagogue in Europe to have held services continuously for over 300 years, despite being damaged by bombing in the blitz, and again in 1992 and 1993.

craftbeercoWe passed through Mitre Square, where one of Jack the Ripper’s victims was found, to the Craft Beer Company. As usual for this chain, the pub is excellent, with some interesting ales on draught, keg and in the fridge; we went for Dark Star’s Art of Darkness, a lovely malty black beer, and Kernel’s light table beer. We had nice seats in the window, and watched the extraordinary number of walking groups passing by, drawn by the seemingly insatiable Ripper industry.

We next went just around the corner to the Old Tea Warehouse, but unfortunately all of their ales had finished, so we left without a drink and headed to Old Tom’s, the basement bar of the Lamb in the beautiful Leadenhall Market. This is a cosy space, where we enjoyed some Common Pale Ale from Wimbledon.

standrewgherkinOn the way we passed some of London’s most interesting architecture, where the ancient and modern rub shoulders; churches such as St Katharine Kree (founded 1280, with the present tower dating from 1504) and St Andrew Undershaft (dating from 1147, present building dating from 1532) sit alongside iconic modern towers such as the Gherkin, Leadenhall Building and the Lloyd’s Building.

Next up, we headed to the Counting House, which was built in 1893 as a banking hall, beautifully converted by Fullers, and serving their range of ales; the pub’s foundations rest on the wall of a 2,000 year old Roman basilica, according to the pub’s website.

map.jpgFor the final stop of the evening, we headed to the Arbitrager, a tiny craft beer place serving only beer, cider and spirits from London; we went for the excellent Neckstamper APA, from a new brewery in Leyton, while we admired the beautiful map on one wall, showing the location of London’s breweries overlayed on a mid-19th century map of the capital.

As to the Pub of the Crawl, we have to give it to the final place for breaking the mould with its London-only range and wonderful wall map. Congratulations The Arbitrager!

Paddington & Edgware Road

29/01/2017 at 10:42 | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Dave led our first crawl of 2017 (and of the eleventh year of the crawl!) from Paddington to Edgware Road on a chilly Friday evening.

Our meeting point was The Victoria, a corner pub built in the 1830s with a very traditional feel to it thanks to the dark wood, wallpaper and ample supply of books.  This wasn’t the first time the group had visited, it previously featured on a crawl in 2010, (the pub website has more trivia about an alleged visit by Queen Vic herself!)though it seems little has changed.  It wasn’t too busy for a Friday evening.  We stood along the narrow bar which can feel like you are in the way at times but a minor point.  The beers on offer were the usual Fullers plus one guest ale, the very session-able Windsor Knot from Windsor & Eton Brewery, which most of us went for.

We looped around Gloucester Square towards the next pub, past the former homes of Violet Bonham Carter, perhaps now a name more recognisable for her acting granddaughter Helena, and also given our proximity to Paddington Station, Robert Stephenson, the railway engineer responsible for the ‘Rocket’ locomotive.  Sidestepping the really dodgy-looking Sussex Arms, we ended up in The Sawyers Arms on London Street, a pleasant and roomy Greene King pub split over two levels.  In what was to become a theme for the evening, the pub had its own ale, which several of us chose and turned out to be quite drinkable.  Old Speckled Hen and Belhaven’s Robert Burns Brown Ale were the other choices.   Although this is a mainline station terminus hinterland, the area has a mix of tourist pubs with classic features and more modern styled pubs aimed at a contemporary crowd.  In the Sawyers Arms we encountered a tidy, smartly decorated interior over split levels, well worth another visit.

Our next stop The Pride of Paddington had a more modern feel to it, lots of lighter wood and flags on the ceiling catering for longer distance commuters perhaps, there was a smell of hot food throughout, The beer choice was good, with five hand pumps including again the pub’s own ale!  The Caledonian Golden XPA it served had a bitter taste, with slight fruit afters.

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We then made the short walk across Praed Street into Paddington Station itself.  Tucked away on the second level above the shops is The Mad Bishop & Bear, the name referring to a former land owner and a legendary resident from Darkest Peru.  The interior feels like many a nice Fuller’s pub though with the less common option of being able to sit outside just above a station concourse.  Although it is like a fake pub in the roof rather like a film set, it really is a surreal sanctimonious addition to a station forecourt with a full range of Fullers beers from Pride, HSB to Oliver Island.  Here the designers had the roof space to work with and have done a superb job; the interior is smart with high ceilings and every inch the replica of a early 20th century pub.  Outside, the terrace, still on the mezzanine level, had chairs and tables laid out until gradually the station building took over with its grid like vista and vanishing points; we drank our beer in the setting of a surrealist painting.

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We left the station though an option to stay would have been The Beer House, a smallish place on the station concourse itself.  Turning left we soon reached the Alexander Fleming Laboratory and the site of the discovery of penicillin in 1928.  For our purposes, even more significant was the discovery of  Fountains Abbey opposite!  I counted nine hand pumps in this Taylor Walker pub, of course one of which was the obligatory house beer ‘Fountains Abbey Ale’!  (had the Cistercian monks approved it by any chance?)  It wasn’t crowded at around 9.30pm but all the tables were taken so it was doing good business, perhaps because of its location near the station, it was well laid out with a spacious area for standing, decking and seating near the windows, and the customary mix of chalk and dark wood so typical of pub interiors these days

Heading next towards Edgware Road station after a five minute walk we reached The Green Man.  This place has a large ‘burger craft’ sign outside which initially made me think it was mainly a restaurant but fear not it is still a pub.  The beers on offer had not travelled too far: Sambrook’s, Twickenham Fine Ales and Hogs Back.  The Winter Star, a rich old ale, from TFA was good.

Our final stop of the evening was The Chapel a very nice pub which felt more of a local place than the others we visited during the evening.  Alan was looking to jump on the tube early but he would be thankful that we persuaded him to come t o the Chapel, a slightly more off-the-beaten-track pub and well worth a detour. Most of us opted for Black Sheep, though one person made the mistake of ordering Tetley’s Christmas Cracker!  It had been a night where most of the pubs had been trying to get rid of their Xmas stock/winter ale and The Christmas Cracker received the unofficial award of the worst beer of the night – a real sweet and sour fruit blend, almost liquefied Christmas pudding, surely not even meeting the definition of beer, unable to be drunk by any of our number and quite rightly poured away.

The vote for Pub of the Crawl was hotly debated with our first venue, The Victoria, being the winner.  Congratulations!

10th Anniversary crawl around Marylebone

18/12/2016 at 10:54 | Posted in Crawls | Leave a comment
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In November 2016 the crawl celebrated its 10th anniversary, and Phil marked the occasion by retracing (almost) the route of the very first crawl back in 2006.

We met at the Masons Arms, close to Regent Street, which was pretty busy with the whole ‘Black Friday’ thing in full swing in the West End. The pub was busy too, and very warm, and perhaps would be better visited at a time other than 6 in the evening on Black Friday! It’s a fairly small and cosy Greene King pub with the familiar GK ales on tap (including one badged for this establishment).

After a little background info on the history of Mayfair, we headed next to the Iron Duke, a Fullers pub selling their standard beers plus the odd guest, with a nice Cascadian pale ale on offer when we visited.

As we left we heard a brief history of the River Tyburn, one of London’s lost rivers, which flows beneath the street and whose course we would roughly follow for the evening.

We continued past the neighbouring former homes of Jimi Hendrix and George Handel, marked by blue plaques and now subject of a small museum, to the Spread Eagle. This is a fairly standard West End Taylor Walker pub, busy with some decent ales (such as Old Hooky) but nothing too exciting.

We crossed a very busy Oxford Street and past the showroom of Steinway pianos, to the Cock & Lion, visited on the first crawl a decade ago, where we found a very handy table in the nicely appointed upstairs room, with some interesting old cricket and football pictures on the walls.

A short stroll up Marylebone Lane brought us to the Coach Makers, which was also visited on the first crawl but which was then called the O’Conor Don, and has since been nicely refurbished, and upped its beer range to include more interesting ales such as Canberra, Lubricant and Truman’s Zephyr.

Outside the pub, Phil surprised us all with a set of T-shirts commemorating the 1o years of these crawls, which was a lovely gesture.

10 year crawl

We next moved onto the inspiration for the crawls, the Golden Eagle. When Phil first found the Golden Eagle, and its piano singalongs, he thought he should bring people here, and find new pubs – and so the crawls were born. The singalong is still going strong, although is perhaps a victim of its own success – it was rammed when we called in, although perhaps that was the ‘Black Friday’ effect. It’s certainly worth visiting, but perhaps try the Tuesday or Thursday if you want to be able to enjoy it without the crowds.

A few minutes north and we reached the King’s Head, where a lovely ‘then and now’ map on the wall highlighted our route along the River Tyburn, both as it would have looked about three centuries ago when the area was still rural, and how it looks today; pretty different, to be sure, but with a few constants, including the path of Marylebone Lane which still follows the river.

The Pub of the Crawl has to be the one which inspired 10 years of crawling… the home of the piano singalong, the Golden Eagle. Congratulations!

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