Islington to Hoxton

19/08/2012 at 11:09 | Posted in Crawls | 1 Comment
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During the break between the Olympic and Paralympic games in August 2012, Dimo took us on a crawl from Islington to Hoxton.

The meeting point this month was the Prince of Wales, close to Angel tube station. It’s a very unpretentious pub for the area; it sits alongside the canal in a lovely part of Islington, and just a stone’s throw from the home of one Boris Johnson, but managed to be compared to the Queen Vic by Rich! It’s a perfectly decent pub with Doom Bar amongst the ale options, but it remains largely unadulterated and has not (yet at least) succumbed to a radical refurbishment.

It was a hot evening so we stood outside, and watched as Radio 1’s Chris Moyles arrived and stood outside chatting to the other guys also outside. By chance one of my wife’s friends happened to be at the pub, and identified Moyles’s companions as 1990s Britpop group Shed Seven.

Once Phil arrived we headed just round the corner to pub no. 2, the Earl of Essex. This is a lovely traditional pub building from the outside, but with a clean, bright, modern gastro-style interior. However, a glance at the bar shows that the focus is on quality beer, with several interesting ales on the handpumps, and an even larger range if craft beers on tap. I went for a Harbour Brewing Amber ale, which was very nice, although I think I preferred Phil’s Merlin’s Magic from Moor, which were enjoyed out back in the sizeable (for inner London) beer garden.

We made another very short hop to the next pub, the Island Queen. This is a well known pub which I’d not made it to before, so I was pleaed to give it a go. Plenty of other people had had the same idea, with quite a large crowd out the front of the pub, almost hiding the lovely pub architecture on display, including large curved panes of glass. There were fewer beers on the bar than at the last pub, but that’s hardly surprising given the Essex’s range; and what they did have was fairly good, with a nice guest ale in the form of Sunny Republic’s Beach Blonde. We took a table inside, as most of the punters were enjoying the warm weather outside, which allowed us to marvel in the interior design, a great piece of Victorian pub heritage.

Another very short walk brought us back to the canal we started on, only this time the pub was right on the canal, and aptly called The Narrow Boat. Alongside the Pride and Doom Bar were two London brews, Wandle from Sambrooks, and East London Brewery’s Nightwatchman. With some of the latter pair in hand we joined the people enjoying the canal, and dodging the occasional speeding cyclist!

From here we headed east along the canal, part of the Regent’s Canal, which provided a route around London between the Thames at Limehouse and the Grand Union Canal, the M1 of the canal era. I feel I should say that while this is a nice walk by day, the canal is not well lit and should probably be avoided after dark, especially if you’re not familiar with the area.

The next pub, slightly north of the canal, was the Baring. This feels much more like a community pub than the last couple, with adverts for the pub cricket team etc., but it’s a nice little corner pub with a friendly landlady and some nice ales on, including Harvey’s Best, Tim Taylor’s Landlord, and Brains SA.

Still heading eastwards, we came next to the Rosemary Branch, a large corner pub with a theatre upstairs. There were no shows on when we visited, but the pub itself is nice, with some decent ales on, and some bizarre nick knacks, including quite large German and British model planes hanging from the ceiling!

We headed east once more, along a less than glamourous route as the charming townhouses which have been such a featured to date are replaced by a large housing estate. We eventually came to the Stag’s Head, once a Truman’s pub, as evidenced by the original (if now painted) exterior. Sadly while real ales were advertised none were on offer, and even half the lagers weren’t available – so it was Becks all round, surely a first for us! Even the glasses weren’t sure about their contents, as Artie’s somehow managed to slip off the table and onto the floor without being touched. Fair play to the barmaid, who offered and gave a fresh pint without us even asking for it.

We would have ended it there, and we would have been within a short walk of Hoxton station (on the very edge of zone 1), but we fancied ending the night on a high, or at least on a higher quality beer than Becks, so we turned north along Kingsland Road and headed for the Fox, close to Haggerston station. Although this took us into zone 2, we knew that the Fox would be a reliable source of good beers; and I’m sure it didn’t escape Dimo’s attention that he would be home within a few seconds of leaving, while some others had a rather longer journey back home to south and west London! Anyway it was a fine pub to end on, and I’m pleased to say that we managed to make the last southbound Overground train and make our connections to get home without resort to the night bus!

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  1. […] April 2015, we revisited Islington at the hands […]


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