31/12/2011 at 16:08 | Posted in Crawls | Leave a comment
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In the week between Christmas and New Year, Paul took us back to the familiar territory of London Bridge and Bermondsey, which we have visited before but which still includes much fertile pub territory.

We met at The Rake, a well known pub on the edge of Borough Market, selling a fantastic range of beers below the sign denoting ‘No crap on tap’, where I had a lovely Oakham Inferno, a nice start the night. From here we walked the short distance to the Mug House, which is a Davy’s located in the arches under London Bridge; they are now selling Meantime beers, and the London Pale Ale slipped down very nicely.

After this we headed south of the London Bridge railway tracks to the Whitesmiths Arms, a fairly old-fashioned place which probably hasn’t changed much since the 1970s. I have to confess that on my previous visit here I wasn’t enamoured of the place, it was deserted and not looking its best. Last night however it was pretty lively, the London Pride was well kept, the landlady was very friendly and what’s more there was a pub cat in residence. It also still sports a wonderful old Courage sign, a glowing orange beacon beckoning in thirsty punters.

From here we tried to head to the Rose (closed for major building works) and then the Leather Exchange in the old leather market (closed for Christmas), but fortunately we knew through the medium of twitter that the Simon the Tanner was open. This was closed for some time but was refurbished and reopened in 2011, and a lovely job they made too. A couple of interesting beers were on, including the Windsor & Eton Brewery’s Conqueror 1075. This is a Black IPA, which I would love, but at 7.4% it’s rather strong for a pub crawl and we all settled for the rather lighter Redemption Trinity. Lighter doesn’t mean poorer though, it was well kept and delicious, my favourite beer of the night – I could happily have drunk this all night.

But we have to keep moving, and we walked up Bermondsey Street to the Woolpack, a lovely large pub which was unfortunately just that little bit too busy to allow us a seat. There’s quite a large and delightful garden but with everyone sheltering under the cover to keep out of the heavy rain we nursed our Young’s at the bar.

Heading north again, past some interesting shops, we went back through the railway arches to Tooley Street and the busy Shipwrights Arms, where we caught the end of the football on their large but somewhat fuzzy screen. (Or was that just my eyesight?!)

We were foiled by festive opening hours again at our next planned stop, the Cooperage, but happily the Platform was rather better than we’d expected and had a couple of ales on tap (as well a a pretty good bottled beer selection). While here I did a quick Christmas pub quiz on London (having been asked to write one for our work Xmas do). Tim was victorious by just half a point and duly won the coveted copy of Pete Brown‘s excellent book Man Walks Into A Pub, duly inscribed by the author himself with an exhortation to ‘Keep on crawling’!

To the river now for a pint in the Horniman at Hay’s at the end of Hays Galleria, until hastily hustled from our table by the barstaff who were rather eager to usher us towards the exits at 11.

The final planned stop was the Barrowboy and Banker, but again the holiday season intervened and it was closed. We generally parted ways at this point; myself and Dimo though did nip to Borough High Street for a rather delicious kebab and then a final cheeky beer in the Southwark Tavern.


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