Strand to Holborn

24/01/2016 at 20:53 | Posted in Crawls | Leave a comment
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New year, new pub crawl, and for January 2016 Dave took us on a walk from the Strand to Holborn.

We started out at the George on the Strand. From the outside this doesn’t look that promising, though I can’t put my finger on why. However, the range of beers on tap was great, with about 10 handpumps offering a good range of beers. We went for a combination of Hop Stuff Fusilier, Portobello Star, and the more commonly found (but still lovely and sessionable) Dark Star Hophead. Fortunately the pub is deep and although it was fairly busy near the front, we were able to find space and even a table towards the rear.

A short stroll around the corner brought us to one of the area’s newest pubs, and only brewpub, the Temple Brew House. I’d been in once when it was very new and it was absolutely packed; this time it was still busy but not overly so, and we even got lucky with a table when some people left. The range of beers is fantastic, though we mainly went for a house brew, the Tempale.

Next stop was the Knights Templar, a former bank beautifully converted by Wetherspoon. Nice range of ales on, 12 handpumps; as a bit of a baseball fan I had to try the Roosters Yankees (though I’m not a Yankee fan, but still you don’t often get a British ale with a baseball theme!) and some others went for the Revisionist South Pacific Red.

Leaving the Knights Templar, we passed by the Seven Stars – we didn’t stop because we’re on a mission to try new places and the Seven Stars has been visited a few times already. But if you’re following in our footsteps, do drop in!

We however continued through Lincoln’s Inn Fields, once a gruesome execution site, and past Sir John Soane’s museum, to the Hercules Pillars. This had a slightly dated feel, but had some decent if common ales such as Sambrook’s Wandle. Opposite this pub a plaque marks the birthplace of the Football Association, where the rules of the game were first codified. Those clubs that wanted to be allowed to run with the ball walked out, however, breaking away to form the game of rugby.

whippetThe next stop was the Holborn Whippet, in Sicilian Avenue. This pub has a very large range of craft beers, both cask and keg, in an unusual layout with a square central servery and gravity dispense of ales, without handpumps on the bar. We had a variety of beers but mostly Moor Nor’Hop and Adnams Mosaic, both excellent.

Next up, the opposite end of the ale (and price) spectrum… the Princess Louise. Like all Sam Smiths places, the stunning venue – in this case beautifully restored to its late 1890s state including partitions all around the central bar. The beer however was not up to the high standards so far on this crawl, though the bitter here is at least in cask rather than keg form.

The next pub, the White Hart, has the title of ‘oldest licenced premises in London’ over the door, allegedly dating to 1216. Either way, it was quite fun, with an 80s/90s disco going on when we visited, and a couple of decent if common ales; Tribute and Sambrook’s Junction, both fine.

Rather prematurely as it turns out, we held the Pub of the Crawl vote here before some of our members dashed off to catch a train. After a couple of rounds of voting and some debate, the Pub of the Crawl was the Holborn Whippet – and I don’t think that this was influenced by the Yorkshire contingent amongst us voting for the whippet, so congratulations! We also voted on the Beer of the Crawl, which was deemed Moor’s Nor’Hop. Congratulations, a worthy winner!

Finally, as we left we found that the nearby Craft Beer Company‘s local establishment just along the road stays open until 1am, so we headed there for a final one for the road. As ever, the range was superb; I had Weird Beard’s wonderfully named Little Things That Kill, others enjoyed Dark Star’s Anteres Red Ale and Redemption Fellowship Stout. Cracking end to an evening!

 

Crowns and Chairmen

10/01/2016 at 09:27 | Posted in Crawls | Leave a comment
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For the end of 2015, Tim planned a pub name-themed walk rather than our usual neighbourhood themes, in a walk stretching from St James’s Park to Soho.

The evening started out, as it often does, with some stomach-lining at the excellent Regency Café, scene of many a film and TV moment, and incredibly for a greasy spoon café, voted London’s 5th best restaurant. The first official stop was the Two Chairmen, on Dartmouth Street, a pub I walk past virtually every morning but rarely visit. It’s a small and busy pub, at least it is busy during the post-work rush, tucked away on a lovely quiet backstreet in the heart of Westminster. Although it was the end of November it was mild enough that we were able to escape the crowds and drink outside in the street.

Just a few metres from the pub lie the Cockpit Steps, bringing us down to Birdcage Walk and into the gaslit St James’s Park. We crossed the park and its lake and got a brief history of the park, including the bizarre coterie of animals that were kept here under James I, including crocodiles! Heading out of the park we crossed the Mall, passed St James’s Palace and Marlborough House, and into St James proper, and on to the next pub, the Blue Posts. This is another Taylor Walker pub, but unlike the previous venue, this one is almost brand new, the block it sits on having been recently rebuilt, but fortunately with the pub reinstated on this corner. This new version is smarter than the old incarnation of the pub, and is bright, airy and busy.

Next, we followed London’s traditional centre of gentlemen’s shirts and other high-end tailoring Jermyn Street, to the Three Crowns. This was pretty busy, though fortunately much deeper than it is wide, and we found some space to stand down the side of the pub, though it was too busy to linger in comfort.

xmas lightsSo we fairly quickly drank up and left, heading via Vine Street, of Monopoly fame, and across Regent Street, into Soho for the Crown, on the appropriately named Brewer Street. Like the previous pub, this was very busy indeed in the bar area and wouldn’t have been much fun, if it hadn’t been for some very fortuitous timing which allowed us a whole table towards the rear, next to the bookshelf with some interesting beer tomes on it.

Heading north across Golden Square, we came to Kingly Street, visited previously, and headed for the Blue Posts. This is a busy (again!) corner pub in the Greene King family, but again we were lucky and managed to grab a table upstairs.

billabongBack across Soho now and past some lovely Christmas lights and the huge murals on Broadwick Street, to The Blue Posts. Yes, it’s another Blue Posts, complete with a ‘The’ this time, and for a change for the West End it has avoided becoming branded by a brewery/chain/pubco and still has a very traditional feel, complete with sticky carpets and small (but perfectly fine) choice of ales.

A short walk further east, including passage along Meard Street with its unusual sign on the door formerly belonging to Sebastian Horsley, brought us to the final stop of the night. If the theme of the walk hadn’t been clear enough already, The Crown and Two Chairmen perfectly ended the crawl, bringing together the clutch of Crown and Chairmen-themed pubs.

So, to the pub of the crawl, and the beer of the crawl…

Not influenced by the venue of the vote I’m sure, as it stood out as a great, lively place with good beers on, The Crown and Two Chairmen was voted the Pub of the Crawl – congratulations! They also supplied the Beer of the CrawlBillabong, a lovely Aussie Pale Ale from Tiny Rebel!

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