Camden

22/07/2017 at 14:49 | Posted in Crawls | Leave a comment
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In July 2017, Rich took us for a crawl from the Euston Road to Camden.

We met on Warren Street at the Smugglers Arms, which despite the name and range of rums is sadly bereft of crusty old men in waterproofs and sou’westers singing sea shanties, but does have a pretty good beer range for a place with such a small bar, with a small number of excellent beers on cask including Sail Pale Ale, and a good and wide range of interesting bottles. Despite the small bar, the pub was accommodating a large crowd outside in the street, and the staff were very efficient and friendly.

Once assembled, we headed next to the Queens Head & Artichoke, a fairly large pub for a surprisingly quiet district, just to the north of the busy Euston Road but feeling much further away. Between us we generally had the classic of 6X, or in a couple of cases Shedhead on keg.

The walk to the next pub took us through a council estate to the White Moustache, a surprisingly gentrified pub in a building which looks like it should be serving Fosters and John Smith’s. But no, this is aimed at the more affluent incomers, serving gastro food alongside a good range of beers, although sadly the Citra pale ale several of us opted for was on the turn at the time of our visit.

We kept on going north next, to the Edinboro Castle, a large pub with an even larger beer garden, which was pulling in the summer crowds when we called. There was an excellent range of beers inside, although because of the queue at the bar we headed instead to the small bar in the garden, with only a couple of keg beers available, but at least fairly good options such as Camden pale ale.

After soaking up a bit of the summer evening atmosphere in the garden, we turned towards Camden Town, and the local BrewDog, where the expected range of their beers was on offer, and we even managed to bag a table downstairs, which we didn’t expect in Camden on a Friday night.

From here we moved east, to the Prince Albert, which was surprisingly empty inside, but everyone was out in the garden enjoying the last of the summer evening.

We also got to drink outside the nearby Constitution, a very busy pub still at gone 11pm, with a good mix of customers and lovely position beside the Regent’s Canal, although sadly by the time we were there the back garden had closed, presumably due to its proximity to neighbours.

We did head back along the Regent’s Canal to head to a canalside pub at King’s Cross next and bring us safely back to zone 1, but it had closed by the time we got there, so we essentially called it a night there (although a couple of people may have sneaked off in hunt of a final pint!)

So, to the business of Pub of the Crawl. For its lively and mixed crowd, and location tucked away from the sometimes frenetic centre of Camden on the canal, the Pub of the Crawl is the Constitution. Congratulations!

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Bloomsbury

14/12/2014 at 21:47 | Posted in Crawls | 1 Comment
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At the end of November 2014, Tim took us back to Bloomsbury for a pub crawl towards King’s Cross.

For the first time (I think) we met not in a pub but in a hotel bar, Bloomsbury being the heart of London’s hotel district. But the Tav Bar was a decent meeting point, easy to find (on Tavistock Square) and not at all crowded in the peak Friday evening time slot, so handy to nip to the bar as people arrived. The bar – turn right on entering the Tavistock Hotel – was actually built around 1950, but is in the Art Deco style, feeling very 1930s, as if Poirot might walk in at any moment. If he did he’d probably find a better selection of beer than he would have in that era, with London Pride, Courage Best and Young’s Winter Warmer on offer when we were there.

The next pub of the evening was one I’ve been past many times and never been tempted into, the London Pub. As if the name wasn’t clue enough, it sits on a busy road beneath a mammoth hotel and looks for all the world like a tourist trap. But to be fair, once inside it really did feel like a normal central London pub – busy, and yes plenty of tourists in there, but a fair few local workers too. The beer selection was the same as at the Tav, as both premises are managed by the same company, and we went out the back to drink them, where the pub’s terrace sits within a surprisingly large courtyard belonging to the hotel, where you can watch the hotel’s comings and goings out of earshot of the traffic on the other side of the pub.

PKS Architects

Image: PKS Architects

On the way to the next venue we paused to admire the former Daimler Hire garage in Herbrand Street, a classic Art Deco building from 1931. This was used as a base for Daimlers for hire, a business later bought out by Hertz, and included a ramp within the building to get cars up to its upper levels; urban legend has it that it is the inspiration for the Fisher Price car park! It has now been tastefully converted to offices, but with the ramp still clearly visible to the right.

Soon we came to the Marquis Cornwallis, a large and rather lovely corner pub on Marchmont Street with a gastro vibe. Some more interesting ales were on offer here, and we mainly went for the Exmoor Ale and Sharp’s Atlantic.

Passing by the blue plaque marking an early home of Kenneth Williams a few doors along, we headed next for the Lord John Russell, a smallish and busy pub with a few good ales on, the pick of which was Truman’s Gold. We sat at a table outside the pub in the small alleyway to the side, where a surprisingly vociferous debate raged as to whether this counts as a mews pub. For the sake of the peace I’ll sit on the fence on this one!

Next up, we headed past Kenneth Williams’s childhood home to McGlynn’s, a backstreet pub close to King’s Cross we’ve called at before, where the usual Courage Best was joined by New World from Fuller’s, which I’d seen in keg form before but not cask; very nice it was too.

Skinners ArmsThe penultimate stop was the Skinners Arms, a bustling corner pub close to the Euston Road. A very good range of ales was on offer here, with us mainly going for the Moor So’Hop and King’s Brewery’s seasonal Red River, which washed down a large pile of crisps, nuts and pork scratchings.

The final stop was a surprise, being the O’Neill’s opposite St Pancras station. It was a bit too rammed but was open suitably late (last orders being called elsewhere by now) and actually had some proper ales on in the form of Rev James, London Pride and Doom Bar.

Once we could hear ourselves think, it was time for the Pub of the Crawl vote. After last month’s three-way tie, there was a clear winner tonight by 7 votes to 1; the Skinners Arms. Congratulations!

 

Great Portland Street to Euston

05/04/2014 at 18:32 | Posted in Crawls | 2 Comments
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Dimo was back in the lead for April 2014, with a crawl along the northern edge of central London from Great Portland Street to Euston.

We met at the Green Man opposite Great Portland Street tube station, a pub I haven’t been in since 1994, and now a Taylor Walker branded venue. It is fairly large and had a few ales on offer, a couple of standards and a couple of interesting guest ales. Very tempted to try the Shoreditch Triangle IPA but at 6% that was a bit much to start a long session with so we largely went for the rugby themed Old Hooker (cue lots of hooker double entendres). It is a handy meeting point but nothing special, and was rather too full of loud people knocking back some post-work beers. The large but fairly dark interior (only the front has any windows) would be difficult to imbue with much character.

Almost next door though, the Albany – which rather modestly describes itself as ‘one of the best pubs in Great Portland Street’ – was much more bright and open, with large windows on two sides and a gastropub feel. Quite a different crowd in here too, much younger, trendy beards pretty much compulsory. Good rotating selection of ales, of which we mainly went for Windsor & Eton’s Knights of the Garter, with a couple of Doom Bars thrown in.

artichokeCrossing north now and heading away from the busy Euston Road, the next pitstop was the Queens Head & Artichoke, a smallish wood-panelled Victorian corner pub. Its pedigree is much older though, originally being a ‘ramshackle old tavern’ which was one of a number of old pubs pulled down when Regent’s Park was built, and relocated onto this site in 1811 (and later rebuilt again). Though it was small and quite busy inside, we were able to enjoy the beginning of spring at an outside table.

A few minutes walk to the east and down an unpromising-looking alley we found the Square Tavern, a Young’s pub tucked away on the ground floor of a 1970/1980s development. Although they handily stocked London Drinker magazine, the ale range was poor when we visited, there were a couple of ales off and only Eagle IPA on offer. The clientele seemed to consist largely of local office workers celebrating the end of the working week. It wasn’t too busy when we visited, but there was a large courtyard/square outside to spill into if it is busy.

A couple of minutes away on Drummond Street (north London’s best street for a curry) we came to the Crown & Anchor, very nice and well decorated with subtle pop art, and a great selection of ales on the bar;  we had a mixture of Ilkley’s Mary Jane, Woodforde’s Flagondry, George Gale’s Spring Sprinter, and Adnams’ new Mosaic Pale Ale. All of these were good but the Mosaic Pale Ale was the best beer of the night, with a beautiful aroma.

Around the corner lies the Exmouth Arms; it broke poor Dimo’s heart when he learnt that we had been here once before, on a crawl which predates this website and isn’t fully recorded! This is a traditional pub with friendly bar staff, fairly quiet by the time we arrived, and we whiled away our time losing money on the quiz machine.

breeThe final (and longest) stop of the evening was the Bree Louise, a well known and well respected pub which not only has several good ales on draught, but also several racked in casks for ultimate quality. The wooden cask 6X wasn’t a hit, but the others were great, and the landlord (ex Harlequins player Craig Douglas) was very chatty and joined us for a pint. We stayed here for a second final round, and before we left were kindly given some free beer to take away from Brains’s experimental craft brewery.

The final business of the evening (apart from grabbing a burger in the station and catching the last tube!) was voting for the Pub of the Crawl. There was a close vote but in the end the wonderful Bree Louise took the honour, congratulations!

Euston to King’s Cross

28/04/2013 at 11:41 | Posted in Crawls | Leave a comment
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It was Tim’s turn to take the lead for the April 2013 crawl, heading back to the railway terminal-dominated areas of Euston, Somers Town, St Pancras and King’s Cross areas.

As ever, we met at a station-handy first pub (although all pubs in this area are pretty station-handy) in the form of the Euston Tap, which is housed within a Grade II listed Portland stone lodge at the entrance to the station from Euston Road, a rare surviving relic of the original Euston station. It is a small, square building, most of the ground floor of which is taken up with the bar and its incredible range of craft beers. There’s a huge selection of craft keg beers, many imported from America, but also about eight cask ale taps offering an interesting selection of ales. We stuck with the session beers given the long night ahead, with most going for the Burton SPA, while I plumped for Fyne Jarl. None of us were disappointed with the beers, they were in tip-top condition, as you’d expect here, and we joined the crowds standing outside while we enjoyed this first drink.

Next up, the Royal George, just across from the station’s eastern entrance on Eversholt Street. It is a fairly standard pub now operating under the Taylor Walker brand; pretty decent and there were some interesting ales on when we were there, we had a mixture of Brit Hop and Spring Sprinter, the current seasonal offerings from Fuller’s.

An interesting walk north now along Eversholt Street to the Prince Arthur, taking care not to head into the wrong premises by mistake along the way. It’s a largish locals’ pub and was doing a fair trade without being too busy on a Friday night. My Landlord was fine although one or two others weren’t so keen on their guest ale.

Leaving the Prince Arthur we turned east into the heart of Somers Town and to the Somers Town Coffee House, which as you can probably guess is rather less a coffee house and more a pub.  And a very nice one it seems to be, too. It’s surprisingly large, and was lively without being too busy, and a decent selection of ales, although I can’t remember what any of them were at this point!

Back down to the Euston Road after this, and across to the Euston Flyer. It’s OK on paper, decent selection of beers to be had, but the premises entail a large modern rectangular box, so there’s not much character to the place, and by the time we were there it was somewhat bereft of atmosphere.

IMG_6529Never mind, onward an upward, and back across the Euston Road and into St Pancras, by way of the new hotel entrance (which the Spice Girls famously danced through in the video of their breakthrough single Wannabe). We passed through the beautiful lobby area of the hotel and turned right, through the lovely bar which was doing a lively trade. We carried on out to the station concourse, past John Betjeman’s statue, to the Betjeman Arms, tucked into the corner of the station. Excellent ales as ever, I went for the Redemption Trinity, a fantastic session beer at 3%, and we sat outside admiring the station’s vast train shed and watched a Eurostar arrive from the continent.

To round off the evening, a final station pub, the Parcel Yard, a new Fullers pub which opened with the new King’s Cross station concourse in 2012. It is fairly well concealed, accessed from the northern end of the concourse by way of an escalator, and looks small. But walking through it is amazing how far the place goes on, with a narrowish but very long interior split into many smaller spaces, and an upstairs area too. There was a range of ales on offer, with some seasonal offerings available alongside the regular Fullers fare. All in all a very good new station pub, and worth missing your train for!

Bloomsbury

27/01/2013 at 19:14 | Posted in Crawls | Leave a comment
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The first crawl of 2013 fell to Newty, who took us to Bloomsbury on a cold but dry night in January.

Old Red LionWe started out at the Old Red Lion, a Greene King on High Holborn about midway between Holborn and Chancery Lane station. The pub is fairly small and not surprisingly busy on a Friday after work, but there is a (fairly small) bar upstairs, and we were able to hold a table there while we assembled and supped the first pints, most of us on the Bath Ales Gem. The pub’s main claim to fame dates back to 1661, when the newly exhumed body of Oliver Cromwell was taken to the pub and held overnight before being taken down to Tyburn before being symbolically hanged.

We set out for the second pub via a corner of Gray’s Inn, one of the ancient Inns of Court, ending up at The Fulwood. Eight of us headed in and made for the bar only to find there was no ale on offer, and in a ‘zone 1 pub crawl’ first, we turned around and headed back out in search of some proper beer in the next pub!

enterpriseAnd what a lovely pub it was, the Enterprise, a new one on me and it was universally praised. It’s a pretty large pub not far from the Old Red Lion, with an attractive facade and interior decor with a somewhat arty and nautical theme with the original Victorian and the modern features working well together. The beer was good too, I went for the Ubu which was in fine form, and the Tribute and Doom Bar were both good too according to the others. Unlike the Fulwood, which was fairly quiet, the Enterprise was packed with a fairly young crowd, and we were lucky to find a perch near the bar when another group fortuitously left soon after our arrival.  Definitely one to come back to if I’m in the area again.

To a Shepherd Neame house now, in the form of the Rugby Tavern. Not surprisingly, there is a slight rugby flavour to the nick-knacks in the pub, despite the name deriving from the former landowner, the founder of Rugby School, rather than the sport. The corner pub, sitting in a very residential part of Bloomsbury on a section of pedestrianised street, feels very much like a local pub rather than a central London pub.

A couple of streets east now to a member of our favourite type of watering hole, the mews pub. “The Duke” (or more formally the Duke of York) is in Johns Mews, just behind John St and Doughty Street, beautiful Georgian streets, the latter of which was once home to Charles Dickens and still houses his museum. The Duke is slightly newer, being a rare Art Deco pub dating from 1938. It is Grade II listed and on CAMRA’s National Inventory of Historic Pub Interiors and serves a decent pint of Harvey’s (among other ales). So quite how this place has remained entirely off my radar until this evening remains a mystery!

Next up was a pub on the corner of the lovely John St itself, the Lady Ottoline. This fairly small pub reopened in this guise fairly recently and has a gastropub feel, but drinkers obviously welcome as well as those dining, and they had some decent ales on offer. One of my favourite session ales was on, Trinity by Redemption – I wish more pubs sold Trinity, especially when it’s a long night, as they somehow make a low strength ale pack in more flavour than the average pint.

To Gray’s Inn Road now, and a short walk uphill to the Calthorpe Arms. This Young’s pub is more traditional in style and atmosphere than most of the pubs we’d been in so far, and having come from work in a suit I felt a bit overdressed. A bonus of this pub was the sizeable room upstairs where we got a large table despite it being Friday evening.

The LambFor a final pint we headed westwards for the familiar surroundings of the Lamb, the famous Georgian pub on Lamb’s Conduit Street. This is another Grade II listed pub, and another on the National Inventory of Historic Pub Interiors. The inventory lists numerous features of interest, but among the best-known elements are its surviving “snob screens” above the bar, originally intended to provide privacy for customers who didn’t want to advertise their presence.

All in all a very good pub to top off a good evening’s crawling. Cheers!

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