St Paul’s to Cannon Street

02/12/2018 at 11:36 | Posted in Crawls | Leave a comment
Tags: , ,

In November 2018, Dave took us for a walk from St Paul’s to Cannon Street.

We met at The Paternoster, a modern Youngs pub close to St Paul’s with plenty of space, even managing to bag a table on a Friday evening.  It also offers a wider than average selection of ales.  The Truman Zephyr seemed a little below that brewery’s average but still a decent beer.

st pauls.jpgA stroll around St Paul’s cathedral and along a pleasantly illuminated Watling Street took us to Williamson’s Tavern, tucked away on Groveland Court.  This Nicholson’s pub has two bars and is laid out in a L-shape.  The first bar as we entered was the smaller of the two, with more space and seating available in the back.  The pub was rebuilt in the 1930s and certainly has the feel of that period.  Long before that it was originally the residence of the Lord Mayor of London.

We moved on to the Three Cranes, now accurately billed as a ‘cosy gastro pub’ and previously the Hatchet when we visited in July 2014.  It has two small rooms and a small but nice selection of keg beer.

A very short walk took us to another Nicholson’s pub, The Sugar Loaf, the name apparently referring to something which was used as currency in years gone by.  Inside the pub has dark wood panelling and ample space as well as Nicholson’s usual wide selection of real ales with a bias towards St Austell.

brigadiersOur next stop was not a pub in the traditional sense but the remarkable bar in the back of the Brigadiers Indian restaurant.  Quite unexpectedly (at least if you didn’t know) it offered 10 craft ales in opulent surroundings, and was welcoming of non-dining drinkers. We particularly enjoyed Magic Rock’s Revelstoke IPA, a lovely session ale.  Inspired by Indian army officers’ mess, the dark wood and red wallpaper create an intimate rather than overpowering atmosphere.  We didn’t eat though the restaurant was full and the food smelled good, albeit judging by the beer prices – around £5 to £6 for two-thirds of a pint – we assume it is not cheap.  Perhaps appropriately it is located in the new Bloomberg buildings which reportedly cost close to £1 billion.

canning tappsMoving on we passed a sculpture to mark the location of the Walbrook river, now underground, with water flowing over what look like tree roots.  A matching sculpture is located at the other end of Bloomberg Arcade which was the way we headed to our next pub, the Cannick Tapps.  This Cask Marque pub had several hand pumps as well as craft beers on tap.  Its location below street level almost underneath an All Bar One may have undeservedly starved it of customers, although on a visit earlier in the week it had been full for a lively pub quiz.

Our final stop was meant to be The Bell on Bush Lane, a small traditional pub, but we arrived just as it was closing up at 10pm.  A quick change of plan and we moved to the Pelt Trader a modern craft beer pub, and the starting point for our July 2014 crawl referred to above.  Still a favourite with the group it was a close second for pub of the crawl, with honours going to Brigadiers.

Advertisements

Tottenham Court Road (north)

29/09/2018 at 18:45 | Posted in Crawls | Leave a comment
Tags: , , ,

We returned to the Tottenham Court Road area for a crawl in September 2018, led by Phil.

We met up at the Northumberland Arms, on Tottenham Court Road itself but close to Warren Street station. This is a smallish pub with a small bar, but service was fast and friendly, with a small range of decent ales (e.g. Purity’s Mad Goose & Ubu). We were able to drink in the small outside drinking area, which was pretty pleasant despite the fairly close proximity of the evening traffic passing by.

Once assembled we headed all of 70 metres to the next pub down Tottenham Court Road, the Court. This had a much longer bar, on which were a slimmed down cask selection (seemingly normally a wider range, but reduced on our visit to Doom Bar and Pride), and behind which operated one of the slowest barmen in London. We stood inside (there is outside seating, but it was pretty full). The bar was pretty busy, with a rapid succession of people coming and going.

Bada Bing

Soon enough it was time for us to move on too, and we crossed into the environs of University College London, one of London’s largest universities, and the Jeremy Bentham, now branded a Simmons Bar. The old sign remains though, showing the famous philosopher and reformer after whom the pub was named, and whose body now lies in nearby UCL. Inside, the pub is aimed squarely at the affluent student, with loud DJ music and no cask ales (though the kegs were at least decent Meantime offerings). The interior though is nicely done, and we particularly liked the neon signs (Top of the Pops, and the Sopranos’ Bada Bing!), but it was definitely one to stand outside rather than in, being about double the age of everyone else in attendance!

We passed next the plaque marking the efforts of Richard Trevithick in developing the steam engine, and paused to look at the Eisenhower Centre. This rather brutal structure, defacing what is otherwise a lovely crescent, is a pillbox sitting atop the deep level shelter which was built during World War 2, which had been intended to form part of an express Northern line for London Underground, but was used as a shelter and headquarters for General Eisenhower, Commander of the US Army.

newman-passage-london-w1-13

Close by lies the College Arms, on Store Street. Last time I was here this was a fairly run of the mill place, fairly old fashioned, but it’s since been refurbished and opened up, with lots of fresh air and light from the street. The bar’s small but had a couple of ales on, one standard (Doom Bar) and a more interesting Ringwood Razor Back. They also get brownie points for having a couple of decent alcohol-free beers (Erdinger and Nanny State).

newman

For the final stop of the night we headed to a pub we’ve visited before, but knew had been refurbished since, the Newman Arms. This sits alongside a narrow passage, which older readers may remember for its bent lamppost, which Arthur and Terry pretended to hold up in the Minder titles, now sadly gone. The pub’s got a much more modern look, with Truman’s beers on the bar. The downstairs room looks particularly cosy, and the place was doing good business at the time of our visit.

Finally, the matter of Pub of the Crawl. After some protracted discussions on recent crawls, this evening we had a very fast unanimous decision (albeit reached as people were leaving, so perhaps weren’t in a mood to debate!)… congratulations to the College Arms!

Charing Cross Road

04/08/2018 at 15:24 | Posted in Crawls | Leave a comment
Tags: , , , , , ,

On a hot evening in August 2018, Tim took us back to Tottenham Court Road, only this time we headed south down Charing Cross Road.

We started out at the Royal George, conveniently close to Tottenham Court Road station, just just down a side street. I’ve seen it many times but never been in; it’s fair to say the building lacks kerb appeal and has in recent years borne the brunt of being next door to the extensive Crossrail construction site, but it was in fact pretty pleasant inside, plenty of light and fresh air coming in, and a small but decent range of beer on the bar. In the fridge they even had Big Drop Brewing’s Pale Ale and Stout; these are decent craft low alcohol beers, and went down well to start with on a hot evening – I must be getting responsible in my old age! Fear not, there is also a good range of cask, keg and bottled beers too, and sometimes a tap takeover.

Soho crawl (3).jpgSo, once assembled, we came back out past the construction site, where once the Astoria stood, and before that the Crosse & Blackwell building, and headed into Charing Cross Road proper. We paused at the entrance to the old St Martin’s College of Art, where Jarvis Cocker famously met a girl from Greece in the iconic Britpop anthem Common People, and continued into the Montagu Pike. Originally a Moon Under Water when I first frequented it in the 90s, this Wetherspoons was formerly a cinema, and then a home for the Marquee Club. The original Marquee a few streets away played host to a Who’s Who of late 20th Century music, and this venue was opened by Kiss.

After a quick round here we left the morning drinkers’ favourite and headed out the back exit to Greek Street, named after a 1677 Greek church (now long gone), and described by a police inspector in 1906 as “the worst street in the West End of London, some of the vilest reptiles in London live there or frequent it”. By the 60s it was at the heart of London’s creative quarter, and just next to the Montagu Pike was Peter Cook’s Establishment Club, a ground-breaking satirical comedy venue.

Soho crawl Old Compton St (2)Where Greek Street meets Old Compton Street sits the Three Greyhounds, its name harking back to the days when Soho was a rural hunting ground. This is a fairly small Nicholson’s pub, but has plenty of room for al-fresco drinking outside, where you can watch the crowds wandering past, together with the traffic that the City of Westminster inexplicably insists on allowing to dominate the thronged streets of Soho.

Soho crawl Spice of Life (4)A few doors down the street lies the Spice of Life, Hertfordshire brewer McMullans’s London outlet, which has been very nicely modernised and has a wide range of their ales on the bar, and a large area of street outside to stand and drink while the sun goes down. The pub was originally called the George, first opening in 1686, though the current building is late Victorian.

Directly across from the Spice of Life lies another venerable pub, the Cambridge, first opened as the King’s Arms in 1744, but was again last rebuilt by the Victorians. This is another Nicholson’s pub, pretty small inside but retaining a lot of character, not least with its highly decorative ceiling. Some good ales on, and as all Nicholsons pubs, St Peter’s Without in the fridge for those looking to pace themselves – particularly handy during this heatwave, it was hot out there!

Across the street we paused outside 84 Charing Cross Road, site of the famous bookshop recalled in Helene Hanff’s wonderful book chronicling her correspondence with shop worker Frank Doel, now part of McDonald’s. Well worth picking up the book if you haven’t read it – used copies are available from just 1p on Amazon, or better still pick one up from a real book shop, ideally one of the few remaining ones on Charing Cross Road!

Brewdog (1).jpgAfter a few minutes admiring the architecture of Cambridge Circus, especially the lovely facade of the Palace Theatre, which is easy to miss if rushing through as I normally am, we headed to the newest pub in the area (at the time of writing!), a new branch of the BrewDog empire. Although it was inevitably pretty busy with tourists, and may therefore not be the fastest place to get served if the people in front of you have no idea what to order, the range of beers was extensive (over 20 on draft), and the live version of Dead Pony Club, which I hadn’t had before, was excellent. While BrewDog focusses on keg beers, the live Dead Pony is very close to a real ale and well worth trying. It’s a big venue and there was plenty of room even late on on a Friday despite its central location.

And so to the final business of the evening; after a short vote, the BrewDog Seven Dials was voted the Pub of the Crawl. Congratulations!

Lambeth-Elephant & Castle

29/04/2018 at 15:42 | Posted in Crawls | Leave a comment
Tags: , , , ,

In April 2018, Paul took us for a walk from Lambeth North to Elephant & Castle in south London.

We met at the Walrus (after some cheap Chinese food at the Olympic Cafe), on the corner of Lower Marsh, an interesting street of independent stores and a good weekday lunchtime streetfood market. The Walrus is also a hostel, but has a very decent pub downstairs with some decent ales on offer.

The next stop was just along the street at the Horse & Stables, but on entering we found that all the ales were unavailable, which is a pretty poor show for early on a Friday evening, so we headed off without pausing to the Steam Engine, which at the time of our visit had a Titanic tap take-over, with several ales and one keg from Titanic, and a good range of other beers on tap or in the fridge.

A short walk around the corner brought us to the Three Stags, a busy pub more or less opposite the Imperial War Museum, with some decent ales such

Crawl Albert Arms

A walk past the Bakerloo line depot brought us to the Albert Arms, which has been refurbished and brought upmarket since our last visit a few years ago, and it was offering some more interesting beers now too, including Melon Head from Shipyard, which managed to taste something like a Victoria Sponge cake!

Back past the other side of the tube depot and we came to the Flowers of the Forest, which had a good atmosphere and diverse crowd, but of the “craft ales” and “small brewery offerings” advertised on the website there was sadly no sign, with only keg Courage Best, Guinness or standard lagers. Hopefully soon they will match the promise on the website and raise their game on the beer selection.

 

Crawl Mercato (1)

Fortunately a gem was awaiting us next, as we headed to one of my favourite places in London, Mercato Metropolitano, a large former industrial premises which has been transformed into a massive street food centre, with a bit of an Italian bias but encompassing cuisine from all over the world (and even a cinema within). We started at the Italian craft beer bar, which is in fact half imported Italian craft beer, and half British, with some unusual keg offerings including from local brewers such as Kernel, and is run by the same people behind London’s Italian craft beer pubs The Italian Job.

 

Crawl Mercato (5).jpgA new addition to the Mercato is its own microbrewery, the German Kraft Brewery, which as the name suggests focusses on German styles; we ended the night with a round of Heidi Blondes, which we drank standing just a couple of metres from the kit it was brewed on.

So finally it was time to choose the Pub of the Crawl. In common with some recent crawls we’ve pushed the boundary again as to what a pub really is; on the basis that you can wander in and drink draught beer without any compulsion to be seated or order food, we decided that the very un-traditional Mercato Metropolitano did qualify, and as an amazingly lively venue containing several bars including an Italian craft beer bar and its own microbrewery, it was a worthy winner. Congratulations!

 

City fringe pub crawl

02/04/2018 at 18:19 | Posted in Crawls | Leave a comment
Tags: , , , ,

Dimo led the group East this time on a cold winter’s night (well, March) in 2018 and chose Kill the Cat as the starting point on Brick Lane, which is a funky bottle shop that also sells draft and does take-outs. Not sure if there was any HCl present and the only crackling was pig fat rather than a Geiger Counter. Artie had a Small Citra Ekuanot Pale from America to start the night.  In terms of further descriptions Schrodinger would argue, you have to see it to know what state it’s in. And not-so-curious latecomers Phil and Tim will have to go back one day….

Next up was the latest sensation, the Tank and Paddle, round the corner and along a bit from Liverpool Street station. It is a modern concept bar which focuses on real and craft ales plus pizza and is a winning formula, as our previous crawl will testify featuring tanks of Meantime ale. The session IPA we had was very tasty.  The place was busy early on a Friday night, but round the corner with the “Beast from the East” behind us suddenly we were on a street away from the crowds. It was like someone had switched off zone one and we were in some run-down industrial quarter.

It’s hard to believe in today’s city hinterland there used to be Shakespeare’s theatre on Curtain Road and on Worship Street/ Hog Lane the Old Bard himself is reputed to have once lived here. It was the second crawl in a row to feature Shakespearean trivia. And not unlike most of our crawls an evening that had started out as A Winter’s Tale not surprisingly ended up with Much Ado About Nothing.

The pub chosen next was the Long Arm Pub and Brewery, it had neo-classic features, such as ceramic tiling on the walls, its own brewery to the side, high ceilings, pipework visible and a long bar capable of serving quite a few different beers. On this occasion, in the heart of London on a Friday night it was surprisingly only half empty. The beer was good, continuing the IPA run most of us had the Jucy Pale or the Lucky Penny  and we were in awe of the place.

The next bar we went to Finch’s (a Young’s pub) was already tarted up for St. Patrick’s day that weekend – and we ended up sitting outside under the heaters overlooking Finsbury Square, most notably an underground car park. The Chelsea Blonde was cloudy but in this new unfiltered age some tourists were happy to accept. Credit to them they changed it on request.

On the corner nearby was the Singer Tavern, with more tiling than a swimming pool but a name taken from a old sewing machine, one of the ale choices we made was in fact cider and the way the taps were displayed it was confusing.

We finished the evening by Old Street roundabout in the newly opened Craft Beer Company , a huge improvement on its predecessor establishment and a veritable heaven for beer lovers, and there was much to choose from. The conversation flowed, the pub of the crawl was given to the Long Arm Pub and Brewery and this was followed by a metaphorical battle between beer hunter and bar fly, won by the former, with so many beers to choose from, albeit controversially, we stayed for a second round of drinks. By that time we had forgotten what we were drinking, mine had a fashionable permahaze, probably the Styrian Dragon, we also tried the Werrd! and the Little Things That Kill by Weird Beard…..with so many to wacky names to choose from it’s very much As You Like It.

We discussed the evening’s choices and Dimo explained that he had gone for a sextet of nontraditional pubs/beer outlets – and it was true that was not any dark wood panelling, etched window or Doom Bar badge present at any stage tonight. In fact Dimo had perfectly addressed Tony’s existential question at the end of the last crawl, whether Schrodinger would agree is another matter.

Tanks, tiles, tattle, taps, tastes and trivia, what more was there to like?

Cheapside

03/02/2018 at 13:26 | Posted in Crawls | 3 Comments
Tags: , , , ,

To kick off 2018, I led a walk around the Cheapside area of the City, taking in some old and new pubs, and eventually a philosophical discussion about what a pub actually is.

We met at the Ship, a small traditional Nicholson’s pub, tucked away down a small alley connecting Gracechurch Street with Cheapside. It sits on the site of an old coaching inn, the Talbot, which was destroyed in the Great Fire of London, but still gives its name to the alley; the pub itself was renamed the Ship after its 17th century reconstruction. It is small and cosy inside but there’s plenty of room to spill out into the alley outside, and they manage to pack several good ales onto the bar.

Leaving the 17th century, we headed east and past a symbol of the 21st century, the Walkie Talkie, which looms large over Cheapside, and along Plantation Place, which has a fascinating piece of art on the paving, commemorating 2,000 years of the City’s history. Across the road in the lower level arcade of Minster Court we came to the Tank & Paddle, a large and modern craft beer and pizza bar. There are no real ales here, but its key feature is that it sells Meantime Brewery beer fresh from tanks (as opposed to casks or kegs). Accordingly we went for a rare lager, to test their brewery fresh concept, and it was pretty good, certainly a big step up from one of the mainstream keg lagers.

The ShipThe third pub of the night was the second called the Ship, this time in a beautiful tall, narrow Grade II listed building. Inside you feel a long way from the City of London, the small bar serves a couple of ales and the atmosphere feels like a small local.

Next we turned the corner into Seething Lane at the church of St Olave’s, named after Norwegian King Olaf who fought alongside Ethelred the Unready against the Danes at the Battle of London Bridge in 1014; the church was built on the site of the battle. It was the church frequented by Samuel Pepys, who is buried here with his wife. Other interesting burials include Mother Goose, recorded in the burial register in 1586; and Mary Ramsay, who is believed to be the carrier of the plague to London in 1665; she was the first Londoner to die of the disease, and that year just this tiny church alone registered 365 plague victims. It is worth pausing to look at the graveyard’s gates, described as “ghastly grim” by Charles Dickens; the gates are inscribed with their date of erection (1658 – they survived the great fire) and contain a trio of skulls with cross bones.

Cheapside crawl (5)A few paces down we came to the Draft House Seething, a large modern square bar, and another to offer tank beer, this time Pilsner Urquell from the Czech Republic. There are just one or two cask ales, but a very wide range of keg and bottled beer.

At the other end of the street lies another historic church, All Hallows by the Tower. As the name suggests, it is just next to the Tower of London, but is in fact much older, having been founded in 675; the oldest part of the church today is a 7th century arch, which was partially built with recycled Roman tiles. The bodies of those executed at the Tower were brought to the church before burial. Happier moments include the baptism of William Penn, who went on to found Pennsylvania, in 1644, and the marriage of John Quincy Adams, 6th President of the United States, in 1797.

Across the road lies the next pub, the Hung Drawn and Quartered, named for the grisly end that came to some of those executed at the Tower. It is a fairly standard Fuller’s pub with the usual decent ales on the bar (and on Paul’s trousers on this occasion…)

Cheapside crawl (4)Back along Cheapside now, we paused to admire 33-35 Cheapside, now beautifully lit in the shadow of the Walkie Talkie behind. Back when Cheapside was London’s main meat market (cheap being the Old English for market), the main pub in the area was the Boar’s Head Inn, made famous by references in several of Shakespeare’s plays, and it was the base of Falstaff in Henry IV Part 1. The pub is sadly long lost to a road scheme, but this building commemorates it through the sign of a boar’s head poking through grass, and portraits of the heads of Henry IV and Henry V on the facade.  The original Boar’s Head Inn sign is now at Shakespeare’s Globe.

We walked down the beautiful Lovat Lane next; this used to be Love Lane, on account of the ladies of the night that used to frequent this alley, to the Walrus and Carpenter, another Nicholson’s pub with a pretty good range of ales on the bar. The pub is very close to Pudding Lane, where the Great Fire of London started in September 1666. It was not taken so seriously at first; the Lord Mayor of London, Sir Thomas Bloodworth, said “Pish! A woman might piss it out!”

Cheapside crawl Tony Paul Dimo Dave EdAs it was it destroyed most of London’s civic buildings, St Paul’s Cathedral, 87 churches, and around 13,000 homes; the death toll was reportedly as low as six, although it is believed now to have been much higher. The Monument itself stands sentry in the heart of this neighbourhood, a 62 metre high stone column with a viewing platform at the top. The inscription for many years falsely blamed Catholics for starting the fire; the words were only chiselled out in 1831.

Around the Monument lie three pubs; we chose the Hydrant, a modern Fuller’s format which sells their usual ales but also a large range of craft beers, mainly on keg. The Hydrant is attractively fitted out with a fire theme, including ceiling lights made of fire extinguishers and a nice room upstairs with fire station doors. A shame they didn’t commemorate my distant ancestor, John Lofting, who in the aftermath of the Great Fire registered patents for two of his inventions, the fire engine and its scaled-down cousin, the beer engine – giving the world draught beer!

Anyway, the Hydrant provoked an interesting discussion; is it a pub or a bar? And what’s the difference? Some are obviously one or the other, but some are harder to pin down. I’m not sure that we really resolved this, but I think most generally bought into a theory I passed on (can’t remember where I first read it); that a pub is purpose-built and a bar is not; if a pub closes and is converted into something else, you look at it and think straight away “that used to be a pub”. A bar is a retail unit that sells alcohol; if it turns into an estate agent, who would know it had ever been a bar? It’s not a perfect system, as some of the oldest pubs started out as houses, and many of the newest micropubs started out as shops, but I think it’s a fairly good rule of thumb for most, so I’m sticking with it!

The second long debate was the Pub of the Crawl. There were wide views on this, proving that there’s no such thing as the perfect pub, everyone has different perspectives. But in the end there has to be a winner, and we voted for the first Ship (in Talbot Court); some of the newer pubs may have been more spacious and able to serve a wider range of beers, but for me, they can be replaced; if we were to lose a 17th century pub down an alley, a part of our history is lost. So congratulations to the Ship!

We also occasionally nominate a Beer of the Crawl; and being suckers for Citra, we (mostly) went for, and greatly enjoyed, Siren’s Suspended in Citra at the Hydrant. Congratulations to Siren!

Borough

03/12/2017 at 16:20 | Posted in Crawls | 1 Comment
Tags: , , ,

For December 2017, Ed took his first crawl, as we walked from Southwark to London Bridge via Borough.

As ever we met close to the tube for convenience, and you can’t get closer to Southwark station than The Ring, directly across the street, and named after a boxing arena of the same name, which was destroyed in the last war. It’s a fairly small corner pub, which was fairly busy but without any queue at the bar and space to stand. As it’s a small pub the beer range isn’t vast, but it is good, with several good casks and a range of craft beer on the keg lines.

Boundary.jpgWe headed east from here, past the Dog & Pot sculpture recalling Charles Dickens’s memories of this corner, to a very newly reopened pub, Mc & Sons, which prior to its refurbishment had been the Charles Dickens, and is owned by the same company as The Ring. This has a different vibe, though, with an Irish theme, but tastefully done, with weathered wood all around and a gorgeous snug at the front of the pub. The beer range included some excellent beers sourced from Irish breweries including Boundary Brewing of Belfast and Kinnegar of Donegal, alongside a good range of more local casks.

King AlfredOn leaving we called at the Crossbones graveyard before heading to the Gladstone, or the Glad; sadly on this occasion it was closed for a private party so we had to continue, pausing in the beautiful Trinity Church Square. As well as a beautiful church-turned-orchestral rehearsal/recording space, the Henry Wood Hall, the centre of the square hosts a statue of King Alfred, believed by many to be London’s oldest statue, having been ordered by Richard II as one of a set of eight for Westminster Hall in 1395.

A few more steps and we reached the Roebuck, a good pub on a prominent corner site, with a smallish but good range of cask and craft beers. Interestingly this sits across the street from the site where building work in the 1990s turned up a Roman grave, which experts at the Museum of London believe is the only known grave ever found of a female gladiator.

theotherroomWe came next into Tower Bridge Road, and the first micropub we’ve ever called at one one of our zone 1 crawls, The Other Room. In common with the typical micropub formula this is a small former shop, kitted out with wooden seating and a small bar, though unusually the focus is on craft keg beer rather than cask ale, and prices were higher than you may expect at a cask micropub. Nevertheless it was a very homely find, and the beers were all local Bermondsey/Rotherhithe beers.

A few minutes to the north we came to the Simon the Tanner, a good pub which is larger than it looks, extending some way to the back. There is a range of good cask and craft keg beers, with the local theme continuing here with several of us going for the Zeus Pale Ale from Kernel, who kick-started the Bermondsey brewing scene a few minutes’ walk to the east.

Next up we headed close to London Bridge station for the Rose, which had once been in the crawl itinerary but was, when we arrived, in an advanced state of demolition; someone hadn’t done their homework! Fortunately they completed their refurbishment and reopened the pub a few months later, and it remains a lovely interior, though sadly with just a solitary handpump, which on this particular evening was dry; they had a couple of decent kegs though including Shipyard Rye Pale Ale, which we went for.

A very short hop away lies the Horseshoe, the last stop of the evening. This is quite a large pub, which feels like it could support a larger range of interesting beers being on the cusp of where London’s brewing centre of Bermondsey rubs up against central London, but the ales were fairly standard (Hobgoblin, Brakspear).

Finally we had quite a long debate on the Pub of the Crawl, with various different opinions; but eventually we settled on Mc & Sons, in recognition of the amazing job they’ve done in refurbishing the pub such that you would be hard-pressed to notice that the building it sits in was pretty much gutted and rebuilt over the last couple of years.

And we also nominated a Beer of the Crawl this month; Kernel’s Zeus Pale Ale, as drunk in the Simon the Tanner. Congratulations!

Fitzrovia to Euston

22/10/2017 at 14:18 | Posted in Crawls | 1 Comment
Tags: , , , ,

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!

Chelsea

09/10/2017 at 19:56 | Posted in Crawls | 1 Comment
Tags: , , , , ,

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, including the famous Chelsea Drugstore (Now a McDonalds) which featured in a Rolling Stones song, and The Pheasantry with its chequered history, including a narrow escape from the law for Eric Clapton and where a new band Queen played one of it’s first gigs in 1972.  After a few stops 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, which sold recently for over £700k, 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.  On Sydney Street we walked past the incredibly large St Luke’s church with it’s flying buttresses and neo-gothic exterior.  When it was built in the 1820s it marked the expansion of Chelsea; away from its origin on the sunny Thames bank; to the north of the King’s Road, which was opened to the public at around that time.

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 one of the few surviving hostelries, the 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
Tags: , , ,

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!

Next Page »

Blog at WordPress.com.
Entries and comments feeds.