Craft beer in Athens

11/06/2016 at 16:30 | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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Visitors to Greece will appreciate that is a country whose drinking culture is based more around wine and ouzo, and while beer is plentiful, much of it seems to be fairly bland international brands such as Amstel.

However, as elsewhere, craft beer is emerging in Greece, and if you’re visiting there are quite a few interesting microbrews worth seeking out.

I was lucky enough to be in Athens this week, and here are some bars around the centre of the city that I recommend checking out.

Athens-026First up is Athens Beer, a bar/restaurant on Nikis, just a few minutes from the heart of the Plaka district and close to Syntagma metro, with a terrace on the street for warm days/nights. There are four beers on draught, which is better than the typical venue in Greece, although the only Greek beer on draught was Alfa (Άλφα), a standard pale pilsner, together with some imports from Belgium (Vivem Imperial IPA), Germany (Erdinger) and the Czech Republic (Krušovice Imperial).

Athens-027.jpgBut the bar specialises in bottled beers, which allows it to offer a huge range of beers, both Greek and foreign. The bar staff were very helpful and knowledgeable, able to describe the beers and their styles very well in English, and able to recommend some good beers to try.
They stock a range of beers from the Septem microbrewery, based on the island of Evia, including a delicious Pale Ale called Friday. Other Greek microbrews I sampled included Corfu Special Red Ale, and a Volcan Black, a dunkel brewed in Santorini.

Athens-063.jpgStill on the northern edge of the city centre, Beertime can be found in Iroon Square in Psiri, close to Monastiraki metro. There are several tables on the pavement and the whole façade opens up, to make the best of the warm weather.

Beertime has several draught beers, including at the time of my visit Greek microbrews such as Septem IPA, EZA Odyssey Red Rhapsody, and Siris Voreira Wit. The bottled range was extensive, and also focussed on Greek microbreweries,with a wide range of beers from across the country. My drinks came with some complementary mezé.

Another modern venue is Hops Beer and Burgers, on pedestrianised Drakou a stone’s throw from Syngrou-Fix metro station and a few minutes’ walk south of the Acropolis museum.

Athens-079.jpgAs the name suggests, this bar/restaurant focussed both on craft beer and on burgers, although other food is available! The venue is modern with a large number of tables out on the pavement.

The draught range is quite small and includes only one Greek beer, although this was my first beer from the city itself, a very tasty pale ale from Athineo (ΑΘΗΝΕΟ). The bottled range was large, extending to around 20 Greek microbreweries and a similar number of international beers.

I hope that gives you some options for tasting Greek beers on a visit to Athens, enjoy!

Information correct in June 2016.

Bethnal Green

30/05/2016 at 17:09 | Posted in Crawls | 1 Comment
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My turn to lead at the end of May, and I decided to push the boundaries, starting and ending in zone 1 but following a circular route through Bethnal Green.

We started at the Well and Bucket, a cracking pub near the top of Brick Lane. It has a distressed interior with exposed bricks and old pub tiling, and a huge array of beers, particularly bottle and keg, although we stuck with real ale and drank the Gorgons Alive, a nice golden ale, before moving east.

The walk east was a longish one but gave me a chance to fill people in on the history of the area and its links to gangland characters of old, most notably the Krays for whom this was a centre of their empire; we passed St Matthews Church where their funerals were held, St James’s where Reggie married, and Pellicci’s cafe, going strong since 1900, where the Krays used to hold court.

Bethnal Green crawl-001 Sun TavernThe next pub was the Sun Tavern, much smaller than the Well and Bucket but sharing its hipster bare brick interior style and also focussing on interesting beers, though served from an interesting back bar rather than handpumps. Nevertheless the range included some interesting beers including a couple from Five Points and Camden’s Inner City Green.

A short walk east took us past the Salmon & Ball, an old pub not yet gentrified, outside which two weavers were hung in 1769 for taking part in the Cutter’s Riots over the poor wages of the local weavers. The pub sits on the junction where Bethnal Green tube station lies below; this was the scene in 1943 of one of Britain’s worst civilian disasters when 173 people were crushed to death on a stairway as people were entering the station during an air raid.

Very close by and marked with a blue plaque is the former home of 18th century English boxing champion Daniel Mendoza, also known as’Mendoza the Jew’, whose 1789 book The Art of Boxing revolutionised boxing tactics.

A few metres on underneath the railway arches is a row of new bars and restaurants, amongst them Mother Kelly’s, a craft beer bar with an enormous range of bottled beers and 22 on draught. I had a lovely Kees Session IPA from the Netherlands, others had Left Handed Giant Kolsch from Bristol or Pressure Drop Pale Fire all the way from Hackney, a whole 20 minute walk away!

Bethnal Green crawl RedchurchA short walk past the Bethnal Green Museum of Childhood, part of the V&A Museum, and York Hall, a 1,200 capacity boxing venue with Turkish baths below, and down a frankly dodgy-looking alleyway, and we came to the Redchurch Brewery, another railway arch operation and very similar to the Bermondsey Beer Mile breweries. This one’s bar is open much later though and was doing a fairly brisk trade on a Friday evening. The beers are served in halves or two-thirds and between us we drank the locally themed Shoreditch Blonde, Bethnal Pale Ale, Paradise Pale Ale, and Hoxton Stout.

Bethnal Green crawl-009.jpgAnother slightly longer walk now as we head westwards, to the Bethnal Green Working Men’s Club, the first time we’ve called into a working men’s club  on our crawls. This one’s a bit special though, because its basement bar has been taken over by the Three Sods Brewery as their taproom, and they have created a very homely space to sample their cask ales.

A short walk brings us through the very nice area around Jesus Green, which gives a taste of how lovely the whole area could now look if most of the Victorian slums had been renovated rather than replaced with flats in the 1950s, and to Columbia Road. Being a Friday night the street was just a quiet residential street, but it really comes to life on Sunday mornings when the flower market is in full flow.The very nice Royal Oak pub is a favourite of film-makers, having stood in for the Blind Beggar in the Krays, as Samoan Joe’s in Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrels, and being the setting for 1990s sitcom Goodnight Sweetheart.

A short walk up towards Hackney Road now for the final stop, the Marksman. This is a smallish but lively pub, and another one with some interesting beers sourced locally, including Hackney Brewery itself.

Bethnal Green crawl Three Sods.jpgFinally, the Pub of the Crawl… after some debate, we decided that the interesting venue, warm welcome and tasty beers in the Three Sods taproom in the Bethnal Green Working Men’s Club made it a worthy winner.

The Beer of the Crawl was hotly debated, but the vote ended up going to Camden’s Inner City Green. Congratulations to both!

Islington

21/05/2016 at 11:11 | Posted in Crawls | Leave a comment
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On a warm(ish) Spring evening in May 2016, Dimo took us back to Islington.

We started out at the Angelic on Liverpool Road, a bright and airy pub a few minutes from the hustle and bustle of Upper Street. As well as a couple of familiar ales, there was a house beer on cask, Angel’s Tears,  which we all went for which wasn’t bad, quite a dark malty ale.

Further along Liverpool Road we came to the Pig and Butcher, a smaller and more food orientated pub, with a large blackboard highlighting where in the UK the meat on the current menu came from. The very friendly bar staff served us all with the American Pale Ale from the Crate brewery in Hackney Wick. This was very light, very fruity and very drinkable.

Next we headed east and across Upper Street to Essex Road and the Old Queens Head. This is a large and busy pub, which was serving Truman’s Runner amongst other familiar ales.

New RoseJust a short walk north brought us to the New Rose – just another pub, as its sign and website describe it! Actually it’s a much better than average pub, with a nice range of ales including beers from Redemption, Five Points and Truman’s, and a nicely decorated interior. It was pretty quiet when we visited, though – which I only hope is down to lucky timing on our part.

We moved east again but ended up at North by North West – a Hitchcock-themed place on New North Road. This has many Hitchcockian bits and bobs, and appropriately enough N1 beer from Hammerton, which we consumed while playing a few cheeky games of Connect4.

N by NW connect4Nearby along the strangely wide Linton Street we reached the Hanbury Arms. This is a fairly large and high-ceilinged pub retaining some nice old features such as a Charrington back bar. It was a little empty though in comparison with some of the other pubs and could use a livelier atmosphere, but the beers were decent, including Purity’s Mad Goose.

Back towards Angel a bit and we came to the gastro Duke of Cambridge, much livelier and with some drinking space outside. The beers were good, including, the very local Pitfield and unusually St Peter’s beers on draught, which you don’t often see in pubs other than their own, but nice to see given the location of the pub in St Peter’s Street – not sure whether or not that’s a coincidence! We were pleased to discover the Countdown game, although the carefully laid trap we’d laid on for the guys we dragged back in from outside failed when they stood too close together so you could only see the letters ANKERS carefully arranged behind them…

Finally we headed back towards the tube and Angel town centre with a late call at the Brewhouse and Kitchen. This is a nice little chain of quite large American style bars with a great range of beers, including cask ales brewed on site.

At the Brewhouse we got down to the final business of the night, and voted the New Rose the pub of the crawl. Congratulations!

 

Vauxhall & Stockwell

05/04/2016 at 20:10 | Posted in Uncategorized | 4 Comments

For March 2016, Paul took us back to Vauxhall area for a walk via Stockwell.

We met at the Black Dog, a busy gastropub close to the edge of Vauxhall Gardens with some interesting ales on. After some confusion on the part of the bar staff we think we ended up with some Wimbledon Pale Ale and Spring Top from Old Dairy brewery.

A typical Paul pub interiorA short walk brought us to the Pilgrim on Kennington Lane. Sadly, this being Paul’s crawl, the place was closed, seemingly for refurbishment – allegedly it had been open and very nice just a couple of weeks earlier! It has probably reopened before you read this.

So a longer than planned walk to pub 2, which took us past a worksite for the new Northern Line Extension to Battersea, and the famous listed 1853 gasholder behind the Oval Cricket Ground.

The Oval is one of the most historic sports grounds in the world; it is the home of Surrey County Cricket Club and regular host of England matches, and hosted the famous 1882 test match between England and Australia which gave birth to the Ashes contest.

However it’s not just cricket; it hosted the world first international football match in 1870 between representative sides of England and Scotland, the first FA Cup Final in 1872, England home rugby internationals in 1872, and in more recent times exhibition matches of baseball, Aussie Rules football and has served as a training base for an NFL team.

Just to the south of the Oval lies the Fentiman Arms, a well regarded gastropub which was serving some very good beers from small London breweries; we had a combnination of London Beer Factory’s Chelsea Blonde, Truman’s Blindside, and Sambrook’s Pumphouse.

We headed south from here, and in the finest Paul tradition found the next pub, the Canton Arms, closed for Good Friday… so onward into Stockwell, new territory for the crawls, and through Landsdowne Gardens, a conservation area containing some surprisingly beautiful 1840s houses.

We also passed Stockwell bus garage – an unusual point of interest, but it is in fact an impressive piece of architecture, a listed building which in 1952 was Europe’s largest unsupported structure, its concrete roof spanning a width of 59 m over a length of 120 m.

Nearby lies the Priory Arms, a superb corner local with a focus on craft beer. A wide range of interesting beers on handpump included ales from Brightside, Thornbridge, Dark Star, Kent, Great Heck and Crouch Vale, as well as interesting beers on tap and in bottles. The food looks to be good value, and there’s a good range of pub games on offer to keep us occupied; I’ll skate quickly over my Jenga defeat…

Cavendish Arms candleThe shortest walk of the night next, to the very nearby Cavendish Arms. Sadly the only ale on was past its best, with quite a vinegary flavour. With no other options we tried to drink them but largely gave up, and moved on fairly quickly after admiring their lax attitude to candle placement.

The next stop was the Mawbey Arms, very much an old-school backstreet local with sports on TV. No huge range of unusual beers here, but the solid offering of well-kept Young’s.

A short walk past the construction site for the future Nine Elms tube station brought us to the Vauxhall Griffin, a good pub with some interesting ales on, including West Berkshire Skiff and Kent KGB. It takes its name from the Vauxhall Iron Works, which used to be at the end of the road where the new tube station is taking shape; it used a Griffin and its logo and later became Vauxhall Motors, moving to Luton where it became one of the UK’s largest car manufacturers.

The final stop of the night was the late-to-close Royal Oak, another old-school pub on Kennington Lane close to the starting point, serving Cornish Coaster and Doom Bar.

As ever, we debated the merits of the evening’s establishments, or at least, being Paul’s crawl the open ones.. and the Pub of the Crawl was the Priory Arms. Congratulations!

Bloomsbury to Clerkenwell

14/02/2016 at 12:20 | Posted in Crawls | Leave a comment
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On a chilly night in February 2016, Phil took us on a walk from Bloomsbury to Clerkenwell.

We started out at the Queen’s Larder, a nice little corner pub tucked away behind the main roads in Queen’s Square, a Greene King pub serving the standard ales as well as GK’s more recent Yardbird, which was very good. The pub’s curious name comes from Queen Charlotte, who rented its cellar to store food and drink for her husband, ‘Mad’ King George III, who was being treated for his ‘madness’ by doctors in this square.

perseverance.jpgA walk along Great Ormond Street – home of the famous children’s hospital, which still benefits from the royalties of Peter Pan, bequeathed to them by author JM Barrie, and which cared for a childhood friend of mine as best they could – brought us to the Perseverance. We’ve visited this previously, but since then they’ve installed a brewing kit and brew their own beers, of which we mainly went for the Hoppy Ale, alongside a good selection of other craft beers.

Moving on, we headed next for the Blue Lion, not visited before on a crawl (though I have been here before, when cousin Russel hired it with Phil for their “leaving London” do!)  This is a busy pub with a large central servery, with some interesting beers on draught; I went with the majority and had the Penpont Cornish Coast, though the Moorhouse Blind Witch was also good.

Just across the road lies the Calthorpe Arms, a Good Beer Guide regular and three times winner of the local CAMRA branch’s Pub of the Year. Very popular by its reputation no doubt, it was standing room only.  The beers are well kept, with a couple of guests including Truman’s Blindside as well as Young’s standard beers, although we couldn’t help thinking that adding beers from another micro or two would be welcome to keep up the pace with the newest generation of pubs offering a wider range of beers.

From there the walk took us past the archaeological site where a 350,000 year old hand axe was found next to elephant bones, the “second” furthest point from a tube in zone 1 and the site of former public house Merlin’s Cave, the high point from which the crowd was addressed in the Spa Fields Riots almost 200 years ago.  Spa Fields was covered by Phil in an adjacent crawl a few years back.  The area was rapidly developed soon after and the views have gone in an attempt to stop such congregations and, as we walked down Merlin Street adjacent to Wilmington Square, our next pub was on the left.

Our next stop, the Old China Hand, was one of of the newer generation of pubs. While they have only a small bar, they have some interesting ales on draught, including Vale’s Lock Prop & Barrel (the second rugby-themed ale of the night, presumably as the Six Nations – or the World Cup Fifth Place Play-off as some antipodeans are calling it – has just started) and local brewery Hammerton’s N1. In fact, they make a point of selling only British beers, wines and spirits. But their bottled range also deserves a special mention, with a very large variety of beers; I went for a Citra Pale Ale from the London Beer Lab in Brixton, where I’ve brewed some very similar stuff myself, and it was excellent.

The next stop was the Easton, at the other end of the beer range spectrum. Well not quite, as they did at least have one ale on, Truman’s Runner (and on rare occasion we have been to places with no ales!), but this is a fairly large gastropub with a young crowd, rather like a sixth form common room.  The lack of a wider range of ales is surprising and we wouldn’t particularly rush back until they’ve upped the effort on sourcing beers.

brewdogHeading down towards Clerkenwell now, we stopped at the Bowler, also a gastropub but with a bit more of a choice of drinks. This also felt a bit cosier, as rather than a large single room it has a slightly more interesting layout.

Sadly the next pub on the list had closed by the time we got there, as had the next one, but fortunately the relatively recent addition to the BrewDog empire was still open, and while we got in a round of 5am Saint, I’m pleased to report that we did get out of there long before then!

And we even remembered to debate and vote for the pub and beer of the crawl…

So, the Pub of the Crawl for February was the Old China Hand, which also served up the Beer of the Crawl, Hammerton’s N1  – congratulations!

 

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!

Fitzrovia revisited

07/10/2015 at 19:47 | Posted in Crawls | Leave a comment
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In September 2015, Artie took us back to Fitzrovia for a tour of some pubs largely missed on previous excursions in the area.

Several people were missing or running late tonight so just three of us met at the Smugglers Tavern on Warren Street for the first drink. I’ve been past this place a few times but this was my first visit inside, and I was pleasantly surprised; despite the narrow frontage, the pub is larger inside than I expected. The bar is small and only had a couple of ales on, but they were good Cornish ales from Tribute – wonder if that’s a deliberate link to the smuggling reference in the pub’s name? Either way, they were good and we were lucky to nab a table outside despite the large number of people enjoying a sunny evening in the street outside.

BanksyNext we headed south towards the BT Tower and the Tower Tavern, presumably named after is skyscraping near neighbour. This 60s pub doesn’t have the kerb appeal of an older pub, but I was again pleasantly surprised inside; the pub was spacious, had efficient staff, and several good beers on; we tried the My Generation and Sadlers One Stop Hop, both were good. On leaving we saw a Banksy on the wall opposite, protected now by a perspex sheet to hopefully keep it there for some time.

Next stop, we were welcomed aboard The Ship, which was yet another surprise, as it seems not  to have changed in 30 years (in a good way – if it ain’t broke, etc.). There was a Cornish slant to the beers here too, with some distinctly average Doom Bar but some delicious Atlantic.

The next stop, the Crown and Sceptre, was a more modern gastropub, very large and very busy, though with enough room at the back to find a table to drink our very decent ales including Ilkely’s Rosa Ostara made with rose petals, and Wood’s rugby world cup special Tight Head.

Like the Ship, the next stop, the King’s Arms, is another traditional non-gastroed pub, part of the McMullan empire and a refreshingly normal pub just a few minutes from Oxford Street.

A few short steps away lies the next stop, the Green Man, another smallish corner pub, a little more in the modern gastro style, which is evidently working for it, because it was rather too busy when we arrived, and a bit of a struggle to find space to stand without being bumped into the whole time by people passing (and all the more difficult for those amongst us clinging onto a 1 kg tin of Milo for dear life…).  I’d certainly go back to the Green Man, but hopefully when it’s not quite so busy.

A slightly longer walk now to the Newman Arms, an older pub than most on this walk, dating from 1730 and rumoured to be the model for the “prole’s pub” in George Orwell’s 1984. There is a Cornish theme to the food and drinks, with some nice beers fro the Tintagel brewery.

We were thwarted in our final target for the evening, which was already closing by the time we arrived, so we headed instead for the still-serving One Tun, a part of the Young’s empire and serving its usual beers.

As ever, the last job of the evening is to choose a Pub of the Crawl. This month we thought that the Crown and Sceptre deserved the honour; congratulations!

Spitalfields

07/10/2015 at 19:43 | Posted in Crawls | Leave a comment
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For August 2015, we took a tour of the Spitalfields/Shoreditch area with Rich.

We started out at the Culpeper, on Commercial Street within easy reach of Aldgate East station. This has been refurbished recently, and judging by the crowds when we visited it’s been successful. Some good beers were on draught, including offerings from Trumans, Purity and Tim Taylor’s Landlord, but we didn’t linger too long and headed next to a classic local pub.

The Pride of Spitalfields has been visited before on these crawls, but it’s a great survivor in the area, tucked just off the busy Brick Lane. The pub was busy too, but not busy to find some space inside.

Water PoetA few minutes’ walk through what was by now becoming quite heavy rain brought us to the Water Poet, a large and very busy corner pub in the atmospheric Folgate Street. We supped our Trumans beers at a table by the door, watching the rain sheet against the window and managing a couple of games of noughts and crosses in the window. Yes, this was the August crawl!

Back towards Spitalfields next and the Commercial Tavern, further north along Commercial Street form our starting point. This pub has a pretty quirky design and a hipster crowd, yet still has decent ales and a pool table in its back room.

Commercial TavernKeeping on east now, we crossed Brick Lane again and headed towards Bethnal Green for the Carpenters Arms, famously once owned by the Krays but now a great little pub, its only failing being that it is a victim of its own success and often crowded. Fortunately, once we’d got hold of some ales, we did find some space to drink them out the back, without having to brave the rain in the garden.

Kings ArmsNearby, the King’s Arms was a pleasant surprise, a speciality craft beer pub with a huge range of beers; being on a bit of a session, we went for the rather light Cloudwater, a pale ale at only 3.7%, but there was a whole host of other ales on offer, as well as a range of bottled and canned craft beers.

Another good beery pub nearby is the Well and Bucket, where we headed next. This is a large and busy pub close to Brick Lane, although we found space for ourselves towards the back; we haven’t yet ventured into the downstairs bar.

A very short walk back towards Shoreditch brought us to the BrewDog, where we switched cask fro keg for the final beer and our vote for pub of the crawl.

This month the Kings Arms was elected this month’s Pub of the Crawl. Congratulations!

Smithfield-Clerkenwell

12/07/2015 at 18:39 | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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In June 2015, it was my turn to take the crawl, and we headed for the northern edge of the City for a walk around Smithfield and Clerkenwell.

After a bit of stomach lining in the Piccolo Bar cafe, we started at the Lord Raglan. From the outside this looks like a typical small City pub with as many people drinking on the pavement outside as inside the pub. But in fact it’s far larger than it looks, extending a long way back and with a large upstairs bar, which even has room for pool tables. The beers were fine if standard fare, most of us settling for the Taylor Walker house beer 1730.

We left fairly sharpish, as the first point of interest, Postman’s Park, closes at 7pm. But it’s well worth the visit, as it contains a fabulous monument to ordinary people who lost their lives trying to save others, the Watts Memorial to Heroic Self Sacrifice. The park is named after the many postal workers who used the park, given its location adjacent to the former General Post Office, on the southern side of the park, from where Marconi sent the world’s first public radio signal.

We passed now through St Bartholomew’s Hospital, London’s oldest, dating from 1123, and the place where Sherlock Holmes first meets Doctor Watson in the novels, exiting onto West Smithfield. Long the home of London’s meat markets, Smithfield has a long history which is well worth reading more about, including jousting tournaments, many executions (including Sir William Wallace of Braveheart fame), the annual Bartholomew’s Fair, and the murder of Wat Tyler, leader of the Peasant’s Revolt, in 1381. According to English Heritage’s excellent Played in London book, it was also the site of the first recorded football match, on Shrove Tuesday 1174.

Passing through the medieval St Bartholomew the Great church, scene of the Hugh Grant wedding in Four Weddings, and where Benjamin Frankin once worked as a printer, we headed to the Hand and Shears. This pub was traditionally the venue for the opening ceremony of the Bartholomew’s Fair, a cloth fair, and for which a sample of cloth was cut to open the fair, a tradition lasting to this day in the form of cutting a ribbon. The pub is not resting on its historical laurels, offering some very good beers, and on our visit we drank a combination of Old Hooky, Landlord and Cocky Blonde.

Just across the street (and just behind where the Dick Whittington once stood) we found the Old Red Cow, a slightly smaller sister pub to one of my favourites the Dean Swift. This has a good selection of beers, and we had a mixture of Siren Oatmeal X, Liverpool IPA and Firebrand Pacific.

Fox and AnchorNext we took a walk around Charterhouse Square, past the site of the famous school founded in 1611 and Hercule Poirot’s fictional home, to the Fox & Anchor. As per the local tradition, this is a market pub, opening early in the morning to service the market’s night-time workforce, but it has been sensitively refurbished recently and has a lovely interior, narrow but deep. However given the warm weather, we stood outside in the street with our Young’s and Truman’s beers, looking at some fascinating old photos and maps of the area and pub.

Leaving the Fox we turned into St John Street, formerly a key entry to the City of London from the north, and accordingly for many years it comprised a great many pubs and inns, serving effectively as a medieval coach station for the Midlands and counties to the north of England. The inns are now long gone, although the architecture gives away the location of many, including the Cross Keys. The traffic island in the middle marks the previous site of Hicks’s Hall, once the Middlesex Sessions House. Much more information here and on associated pages.

Having previously visited the White Bear, we continued north through St John’s Arch and St John’s Square to the Sekforde Arms. This nice wedge-shaped early 19th century pub is larger than it looks, although given the weather we found a table outside to enjoy our Youngs beers. Disturbingly, as we left we saw a sign that the pub would shortly be closing – we sincerely hope that this is only temporary.

Slaughtered LambNearby we passed along Brewery Square, through what was once the Cannon Brewery, signs of which remain including the old Brewery Yard Office with its hop-topped columns, to the Slaughtered Lamb, a large corner modern pub. There were some interesting beers on, including Yorkshire Pale Ale, Great Heck Navigator and Windsor & Eton Conqueror, which again we consumed out in the street.

The final stop was just across the road, the Sutton Arms. This is a smallish traditional corner pub, offering some decent well known ales including Landlord and London Pride. The landlord was a bit over keen to usher us out, and here ended the crawl.

We did, though, first vote for the Pub of the Crawl, which was the Fox & Anchor. Congratulations!

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