Hoxton

22/04/2017 at 11:56 | Posted in Crawls | Leave a comment
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In April 2017, Artie took us for a crawl around the Hoxton area.

We started out at the Electricity Showrooms near Hoxton Square, an attractive pub with some interesting beers on, though just a couple on cask; these were good though, we had both, Bread & Butter from Vocation Brewery in Hebden Bridge, and Pint from Marble in Manchester. What really let the place down though was some ridiculous doorstaff searching people on entry, asking people in their 40s for ID, and confiscating soft drinks being carried in bags. All this at 6:30 in the evening.

7seasons.jpgStill, that was just a rendezvous point, and the next venue was pretty special. 7 Seasons is one of the new generation of specialist craft beer bottle shops which also have space inside to drink on the premises, still pretty uncommon in London. The range is superb, over 400 beers from around the world. We had quite a variety of beers between us, but personally I had a delicious Mikkeller Session IPA, while Artie’s 1000th unique beer on Untappd was also a Mikkeller, a Citra IPA, and a fine way to mark a milestone.

A short walk along Hoxton Street – setting for Richard Ashcroft’s famous walk in the Verve’s Bittersweet Symphony video – brought us to Howl at the Moon, a smallish but busy corner pub with a reputation for interesting beers. On this occasion three of the six pumps were devoted to cider, and the beers were all quite strong for a session; we had a mix of Aurora from the pumps and Beavertown Gamma Ray from the taps.

We left shortly after the music volume was cranked up and headed for the George and Vulture, a Fuller’s pub and the tallest pub in London apparently, with a modern interior and tasty-looking pizzas being cooked at one end of the bar.

Next up, one of the legendary pubs of London, the Wenlock Arms. Its bar of 10 handpumps, and large number of ciders and keg beers, may be bettered in some of the newer and larger specialist craft beer joints, but this one is not only a humble local pub, but provided this sort of range long before it was fashionable, and had to fight for its very existence when a developer tried to replace the pub with flats. So it was great to be back, and we enjoyed a combination of Siren’s Sound Wave, Mariana Trench, and Oscar Wilde Mild. All were delicious.

Around the corner lies the William IV, where we called next. It’s an attractive pub and the staff were very friendly, but the range of interesdting pump clips behind the bar were sadly not representative of the offer this evening, which consisted only of GK IPA on the pumps.

Off now to the final pub, the Three Crowns, a nice revival for an attractively tiled pub that was closed down for quite a while but is back, looking good and serving some good beers under the new management which took over just this month, including on our visit Hackney Kapow and Brew House Small Batch.

We did head for another couple of pubs but they had stopped serving, so we had a quick debate on the Pub of the Crawl before heading to the tube. I’m pleased to say that an old favourite the Wenlock Arms was named Pub of the Crawl. Congratulations!

Bermondsey

18/03/2017 at 12:55 | Posted in Crawls | Leave a comment
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In March 2017 Paul took us back to Bermondsey, for a crawl taking advantage of the increasing opening hours of some of the brewery taprooms of the Bermondsey Beer Mile.

We started out at Southwark Brewing, who were, I think the first of the local breweries to start opening on Friday evenings, and at the time of writing they’re open several evenings a week. Unusually for the new generation of craft brewers, the focus of Southwark is on traditional cask ales, and several were on offer; we mostly went for the Session IPA as there would be quite a few more venues to follow, and it was in excellent condition as you would expect.

Southwark.jpg

Further down the railway arches lies Anspach & Hobday, another small craft brewer, this time more focussed on keg beers, generally stronger in content and consequently we downsized from pints for this venue. Some  interesting experimentation has been going on at A&H, with beers on offer including a smoked pale ale, sea salt and chilli stout (sounds interesting but didn’t try this one) and a Belgian bitter. There’s always something new to try here and keep you coming back.

BBNo.jpgHeading deeper into Bermondsey, we came to the next railway arch brewery, Brew by Numbers, which has enlarged its taproom somewhat since I was last here, and added some tasty-looking street food out front for the peckish.We stuck with the slightly smaller servings again, trying a variety of beers between us; I went for a dark beer this time, the coffee & milk stout, which was delicious and definitely left me wanting more.

But, on we go, this time to Ubrew, which is pretty much next door to the previous venue but accessed from the other side. This is a different type of brewery, in which anyone keen to brew can rent a brewing kit and brew their own beer, but with brewery-quality kit and ingredients. Brewing was under way from about three different groups when we visited the taproom, which sells a variety of beer, some brewed on site and some not. I tried a smoked pale ale for the first time (having only heard of such a thing an hour earlier) and it was very good.

I was also very pleased to find in the fridge a 0.5% chocolate stout from Big Drop Brewing;this was pretty good stuff, very tasty for something with such little alcohol. I firmly believe that very low alcohol beers should be widely available in pubs for those times when you want to socialise but can’t drink for whatever reason, or simply want to reduce your alcohol intake for the evening without going home early or switching to water or fizzy drinks. So well done to the guys at Big Drop, I look forward to seeing the Citrus Pale Ale I can spy on your website as being available soon!

We started heading back towards town now, and stopped this time at the Marquis of Wellington, opposite one of the earlier ports of call. For a long time this was a regular backstreet local, but has been renovated into the contemporary style, with a modern interior, good range of drinks, and some excellent-looking pizzas being prepared behind the bar. The beers were from London and included a cask from Southwark brewing and a seasonal beer from Anspach & Hobday, which must have been brewed about 50 metres away, but I was slightly surprised that the pub hasn’t gone even bigger on local provenance; they could probably sell 200 different beers, all brewed within walking distance. Still, pretty impressed with the place, will be back for pizza some time.

We headed next for an old favourite of mine, the Dean Swift in Shad Thames. I do love this place. The beer range is constantly changing, and they think it through; for example I’ve been there to watch Tottenham v Arsenal, and they’ve had Redemption Hopspur (brewed in Tottenham) and Hop Stuff APA (brewed on the Royal Arsenal) next to each other on the bar. Very good work!

Rose.jpgA slightly longer walk now as we began to head back towards London Bridge, and called at the Rose. This is a pleasant, upscale place, with a more limited beer range than the previous venues, and just the one handpump; however the beer on, Ringwood’s Mauler, was good. They also have an interesting floor downstairs made out of pennies; my shoes will appear in someone’s photos of the night, as I was asked to pause and pose my feet for a picture on my way to the loos!

More craft beer could be found at the final venue of the night, The Miller. While this may look like a dodgy 60s place from the outside, it’s actually a young and lively venue, and has a good range of ales and other craft beers, including a very long bottled list.

All in all an excellent evening, and time only to agree on the Pub of the Crawl. Unusually we also visited several breweries on this walk, which were all excellent but the award is ‘Pub of the Crawl’ rather than ‘brewery of the crawl’ – frankly all the breweries are excellent. Although we called at my favourite pub, they have been visited and awarded the title previously, so the Marquis of Wellington was voted Pub of the Crawl for breathing new life into this pub in Bermondsey. Congratulations!

Vauxhall revisited

22/10/2016 at 13:08 | Posted in Crawls | Leave a comment
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In September 2016, Rich took us back to Vauxhall, which we last visited in March.

We met at the Riverside, a smart newish Young’s pub on the riverside (unsurprisingly), very close to Vauxhall. This is a large modern place with a large and attractive outside seating area, with all the usual brands you’d expect at a Young’s.

Once we were all together we headed south, to the Cavendish Arms. Last time we were here the beer was off and there was a burnt curtain; this time the curtain had gone, but the beer was still poor, one of the two being off (Hullabaloo) and had to be returned and replaced with passable Black Sheep.

As we were leaving the heavens opened, and a last minute change of plans took us to the Priory Arms, a superb little pub which was Pub of the Crawl in March. The beer range is still very impressive for such a small pub, and we dried out in here for a while with some superb beer, including Siren Under Current,  Thornbridge Lord Marples and Brightside Best.

Once we were dry, and the shower had passed, we headed to the Surprise, fairly aptly named as it’s quite well hidden down a dead-end backstreet. It is a pretty small pub, and we sat in the small front bar with our Young’s pints before retracing our steps back towards Vaxuhall.

The next stop was the Canton Arms, one of Paul’s legendary closed pubs which we had tried to visit in March. This time it was certainly open and doing a thriving trade from its central servery, with some interesting beers on, and all in good condition.

brown-derbyWe headed towards the Oval now via Albert Square (not the one on EastEnders, but the rather posher one that’s home to Joanna Lumley and was the childhood home of Roger Moore) to the Brown Derby. I’ve been here before after a match a the Oval; it’s a pretty good pub now and although I avoided the call of ‘Tony’s Cocktails’ the beers went down very well.

We continued north, retracing Paul’s steps from March again, to the Pilgrim. This was closed when we tried to visit in March but has since re-opened following that refurbishment, and was very comfortable.

The final stop stop of the crawl was the Rose, on the Embankment near the old London Fire Brigade headquarters , a fairly large and bright Victorian corner pub facing the Thames.

We managed to forget to agree on a Pub of the Crawl on the night, but afterwards agreed that the Brown Derby was a deserved winner – congratulations!

Excursion to Chorleywood

22/10/2016 at 13:06 | Posted in Crawls | Leave a comment
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As a regular reader of Pints of View, CAMRA’s Hertfordshire newsletter (which I regularly receive via Stevenage’s Our Mutual Friend, my father-in-law’s local), I’ve long fancied visiting the Land of Liberty, Peace and Plenty, which appears in it regularly. Although it’s a Hertfordshire country pub, it’s tantalisingly located within walking distance of a London Underground station, which means it’s just asking for a special trip to check it out.

So, for August bank holiday weekend, some of us had a little excursion to the village of Chorleywood.

I opted for a circular walk, and from past experience it’s always best to get the longest walks out of the way early before bladders are full, so from Chorleywood station we headed south, with a longish uphill walk to the Stag.

This is a bright, airy and pleasant pub, part of the McMullen empire. Quite a few tables were full of people enjoying upscale pub food, but we stuck to the front bar and nursed some decent ales, either part of their regular range or the Olympic-themed seasonal Hop, Skip & Jump.

Chorleywood-001.jpgThe shortest walk of the day next brought us to the inspiration for the walk, the Land of Liberty, Peace and Plenty. This country pub has featured in every Good Beer Guide since the current owners took the business on in 2005, since when it has been the local CAMRA branch’s Pub of the Year eight times, and it certainly lived up to expectations.

Chorleywood-003

It’s a fairly small pub inside, but with a very impressive run of 10 handpumps on the bar offering a range of excellent ales; we tried Summer Lovin, Tring Ridgeway, Mighty Oak Toe Wrestler, Revolutions Club Tropicana, Vale Moon and others, all were tip top. The bar snacks were also superb, and included fantastic sausage rolls, scotch eggs, and toasties – perfect if you need some sustenance to go with your drink but don’t need a full blown meal.

We walked next to the Old Shepherd, beautifully located on the edge of the common. However this was a little disappointing; after a huge range of interesting well kept ales at the previous pub, the Old Shepherd had only Ruddles and Golden Hen.  We all went for the former and it was pretty uninspiring, as were the surroundings, with few other customers and very little atmosphere.

A short walk across the common now to the very attractive 18th century Black Horse, a popular break for dog-walkers by the looks of things, and some better beers including Southwald and 6X. We stopped for Sunday lunch here, which was pretty good and good value, nice meat and plenty of veg and gravy, the only complaint being that the potato ration was pretty tight, and some of them were rock hard.

Chorleywood-006Heading north now we came to the White Horse, which  is a very attractive old pub which describes itself on the sign outside as a ‘Beer House’ and promises a ‘fine selection’ of cask ales.

Sadly this fine selection comprised a single cask ale, White Horse Ale, which we’re pretty sure was re-badged Greene King IPA, and it was pretty uninspiring.

Chorleywood-005a.jpgAnd that wasn’t the only problem they had with signs. They have their own version of the keep calm poster, advertising that “its steak night”. We helped them out by adding the missing apostrophe with a blue biro.

When we left we saw an extra apostrophe on a sign in the car park; it’s surely an odd pub that can’t spell “breweries”. What’s more, on close inspection, someone had presumably dictated wording of the sign over the sign, because the word “comer” was written where a comma should have been!

UPDATE: The White Horse closed in October 2016 and has re-opened under new management

Chorleywood-007.jpg

Another short walk next to the Gate, a modern upmarket gastropub. It’s large with a very nice beer garden, and a few standard beers on the bar (e.g. Doom Bar, Meantime Pale Ale)  and friendly service.

As the evening was drawing in, we set off for the Rose & Crown, which involved a walk across the common and along a golf fairway. This pub sits in a lovely position overlooking the common, and the small bar offers some decent ales; we all went with the Animal Brewing’s Mad Cow. It is also just a 5 minute walk from the station for trains or tubes back into town.

We had a discussion on the Pub of the Crawl but it wasn’t really in doubt; congratulations Land of Liberty!

Leicester Square

27/08/2016 at 20:55 | Posted in Crawls | Leave a comment
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On a very warm evening in August, Tim took us on a short crawl around Leicester Square, in the heart of London’s tourist West End.

We started out at the London Beer House, a fairly new craft beer joint at the top of the Royal Opera Arcade, off Haymarket. The pub is the beer outlet of Pall Mall Fine Wine, a little further down the arcade, which opened in 1818 and is the world’s oldest enclosed shopping arcade. It’s also home to the Stephen Wiltshire Gallery, an incredibly talented autistic artist who came to fame as a child.

The pub itself is small, but benefits from plenty of room to sit or stand in the arcade or street. As for the beers, there were 9 craft beers on keg, and a wide selection of bottles and cans in the fridge. We had a mixture of beers from Time & Tide and Two Tribes breweries, which were all very tasty, although I should note that prices are above average (a two-thirds glass goes for about the going rate for a pint in an average pub) – although the quality is very high.

We walked next via Haymarket – once a hay market for the village of Charing before London extended this far – to the Tom Cribb, a small corner Shepherd Neame pub offering standard Shep ales and strangely incongruous music. Tom was a boxer, and the pub retains some interesting boxing artefacts on its walls.

A short walk via the Swiss Glockenspiel, just in time to catch the hourly chimes, took us to the Imperial, a pretty standard central London Taylor Walker pub. Fortunately we were able to bag a table out front to enjoy the summer’s evening before retracing our last steps to Leicester Square, and past the site of Thurston’s Hall, an early snooker and billiards venue, to the Moon Under Water.

This large Wetherspoon has been a West End feature since the 1990s, and although it was busy there was  room inside, we were able to find a table near the bar, where we had a George Orwell-themed quiz about the attributes of his favourite pub, the mythical Moon Under Water, after which this pub is named.

Another short walk – the pubs come thick and fast around here! – and we came to the Brewmaster, sitting atop Leicester Square tube station. This was the first time I’d been in here, though I’d admired the refit from the outside and wanted to check it out. Greene King have done a very nice job refurbishing this and turning it into something which looks a lot like a modern craft beer bar, which is obviously the market they’re trying to tap into.

Sadly they haven’t followed through with the beer or staffing; there were only four handpumps, two of them GK standards IPA and and Abbott. The only slightly interesting one was from Brentwood Brewery, which we all ordered. These were all poured one-handed by someone who’s clearly never been taught how to pull a pint of beer properly. Worse still, as soon as we tasted it, it was very apparent that the beer was on the turn, with a distinct vinegar taste.

Very poor Greene King, very poor indeed – and this is how you serve our national drink to visitors??

wisdenWe left soon for the final stop, the Porcupine, pausing on the way to admire the Wisden tiling in the terracotta tiles above the tube station, marking their former offices. The Porcupine is a Nicholson’s pub, where we mainly went for the ever reliable Tim Taylor’s Landlord.

Finally we got to discussing the Pub of the Crawl, which is often quite a lengthy process, but not tonight; the London Beer House won unanimously. Congratulations!

 

 

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.

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!

 

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!

 

Madrid

18/04/2015 at 13:39 | Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment
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Madrid’s famous bar scene centres around tapas, and no visit to Madrid is complete without spending some time drinking a few cañas and eating some tapas in the late night bars along La Latina’s Calle Cava Baja or in Huertas.

But having done that, is there more interesting beer to be found in the city? Well yes, there is, if you look carefully. In a break from tradition of sticking rigidly to London’s zone 1 (central area), here’s a report on a crawl around some of the best craft beer bars in Madrid, undertaken in April 2015.

Note: if you’re in Madrid this week, 20 to 26 April 2015, don’t miss ArtesanaWeek, a craft beer festival around Lavapiés!

Fábrica Maravillas. We started in Malasaña, a slightly scruffy but definitely fun district just on the northern side of the city centre and close to the Gran Via, where the Fábrica Maravillas brewpub opened its doors late in 2012. This small bar, at 29 Calle Valverde, is quite easy to miss if you’re not careful, but well worth seeking out. They brew a range of beer styles on site; we tried the West Coast IPA and the Red Ale (neither on the website but definitely on draught in the pub) and both were lovely, and available by the pint if desired rather than a more local smaller serving. As with the other bars listed (except Ardosa) drinks are accompanied by small snacks such as olives, nuts or crisps.

Fábrica Maravillas is open Mon – Fri 6pm – Midnight, weekends 1pm to Midnight

ArdosaBogoda de la Ardosa. From here, a very short walk to 13 Calle Colón brings us to the Bogeda de la Ardosa. A local institution since 1892, this cerveceria has a beautiful interior, seemingly only a single small bar. However stand to the right of the bar and you’ll soon realise you’re in the way of people passing under the fixed bar to access the small back room, not to mention the loo and staff scurrying back and forth with drinks and food.

A striking feature on the outside of the bar was advertising for two of Britain’s great craft breweries of today, Kernel (of Bermondsey, London) and Brew Dog (Aberdeenshire, Scotland), and the bar featured the only handpumps we saw in Madrid, four of them no less, although sadly they were not in use. While some interesting bottles, including the aforementioned Kernel, were available, the draught range was slightly disappointing, with Brewdog Punk IPA fortunately on offer but otherwise led by international stalwarts Pilsner Urquell and Guinness. Which is a shame, as this place clearly has huge potential to combine its historic pub setting with the new craft beers becoming available locally. Nevertheless, well worth a stop.

Bogeda de la Ardosa is open 8:30am to 2am every day

Irreale. A few minutes walk now across Malasaña to Irreale, at 20 Calle de Manuela Malasaña. This pub serves an excellent rotating range of local and imported craft beers, changing very regularly; while Pilsner Urquell was on offer here too, here it was the limited edition (outside the Czech Republic) unfiltered cask version, which illustrates their passion for quality beer. We tried another brewed a few streets away by the Fábrica Maravillas, the Malasaña Ale, and Jack’s Abby Leisure Time Lager, all the way from Massachussetts. Both were excellent, but by the time you’re reading this (indeed by the time I’m writing it) they’ll probably have been changed for some other equally excellent beers.

Irreale is open Tues – Fri 12pm to 2am, Sat 6pm to 12am, Mon closed

La TapeLa Tape. Just 100 metres down the road at 88 Calle San Bernardo lies La Tape. This corner bar is a little more upmarket and modern than the preceding venues, and a little more restauranty. Drinkers are clearly welcome, though at the time we visited most people were eating, as did we. But not before getting the beers in; and La Tape’s speciality is locally brewed beers, with a choice of beers from around Spain. We tried the Sevebraue Castua pale ale from Badajoz, and the La Virgen lager from Madrid; both were excellent, and accompanied by delicious tapas, all served by very friendly staff. An excellent find.

La Tape is open every day 9am to 2am.

El PedalEl Pedal. The final stop involved a short hop on Line 1 of the Madrid Metro from Bilbao to Atocha, to reach El Pedal, tucked away close to the Museo Reina Sofia. El Pedal has a very small interior with something of a punky feel, in keeping with the slightly bohemian nature of its Lavapiés neighbourhood, but does most of its business from its outside tables on the wide pavement. While we were there, the crowd constantly shifted as different people came and went. El Pedal has a wide range of beers, and we tried the Jahonera pale ale from Madrid and a Citra/Mosaic IPA from Toledo, which was predictably delicious.

El Pedal is open Tues – Fri 6pm to 2am, Sat 12pm – 2am, Sun 12pm – 1am, Mon closed.

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