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!

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