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!



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!

Fleet Valley

06/11/2012 at 20:59 | Posted in Crawls | 1 Comment
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For November 2012, Rich took us back to the City, for a walk up the Fleet Valley through Hatton Garden and Clerkenwell to Islington.

We met up at the Cockpit, a small corner pub in the back alleys of the City, between Blackfriars and St Paul’s. It is a traditional pub, popular with local office workers and we enjoyed the Timothy Taylor’s Landlord.

Once assembled we head through the alleys to the west and down the the Blackfriar, opposite the newly re-opened Blackfriars station. This pub appears to occupy a small site from the outside, but cunningly stretches under the adjacent railway arches to add space for quite  few more tables. This could have been a dingy alcove, but the interior was decorated in a glorious arts and crafts style, particularly under the arches, and when it was (unbelievably) threatened with demolition, Sir John Betjeman helped to campaign to save it. Well worth a visit, and my pint from the Liverpool Organic Brewery wasn’t bad either.

Quite a walk from here, as we started north along New Bridge Street and Farringdon Street towards Holborn Viaduct, following the route of the River Fleet, which once flowed along the surface here and now runs in a tunnel below the road. Eventually we ended up at the wonderful Ye Old Mitre, tucked away in the alleys off Hatton Garden (and previously visited on Dimo’s crawl). The pub sits on land once occupied by the Bishop of Ely and as such used to be officially a part of Ely rather than London, although this is no longer the case today. The pub has a good range of ales, as well as good honest pub fare – such as toasties for just £1.99.

The next pub is another of my favourites but not yet visited on one of these crawls – the Craft Beer Company, just the other side of Hatton Garden on Leather Lane. This high-ceilinged corner pub is a sister of the lovely Cask in Pimlico (and a couple of newer pubs in their growing chain), and packs an astounding range of both ales and keg/bottled beers. I had a gorgeous pint from Magic Rock but was spoilt for choice; we each had something different and all were superb.

We could have happily lingered longer but that would be against the rules, there were other good pubs to find! Heading north again, we crossed over Clerkenwell Road to the Gunmakers on Eyre Street Hill. Although the observant will have noticed how partial I am to the lighter ales, I went for the Exmoor Dark here, which slipped down very nicely; others enjoyed their Landlord, Nightwatchman and Harveys. The pub looks small at the front but is quite deep, with a room which appears once to have been the back yard. One curiosity is that the home seems to be something of a home of Ben Sherman, sitting as it does opposite their HQ.

Onward again, and Rich teased us by passing the Coach and Horses and making a beeline for Shepherd Neame’s Betsey Trotwood. One of the great things about these crawls is going into pubs you’ve always meant to try; the Betsey is one of those for me, I’ve been past many times on work business but had never set foot in side before. I’m glad to have done so now, the Betsey was a lively place, and though I’m not always a fan of Shep’s staple ales, the Kent’s Best was rather good. The pub sits virtually on top of both the River Fleet as it flows underfoot down Farringdon Road.

Heading north again, and this time heading to a pub just on the eastern side of the old river, the Exmouth Arms, sitting on the corner of Exmouth Market. It’s a traditional looking pub with lovely old Courage tiling, but inside sports the decor of the new breed of beery-not-quite-gastro-pub. The beer list is pretty outstanding, with a huge bottled list and craft beers on tap (including the local Camden Town brewery), but we settled for the ales, and loved both the Aussie Blonde and Joshua Jane.

Finally, we headed north east from here along Rosebery Avenue to another great pub which Dimo first took us to before, the Harlequin. We couldn’t resist getting stuck into the old box of Trivial Pursuit as we did before; although with incredible timing given the news of the past week, two questions on the very first page related to Jimmy Savile! On that bombshell we suddenly found that it was about 10 minutes to the last Northern line train, so made a hasty exit for Angel tube and a date with a slightly fuzzy Saturday morning.

St Giles

24/01/2012 at 00:23 | Posted in Crawls | 1 Comment
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Gerald led a crawl in the historic area of St Giles with pubs stretching from Holborn to Soho.  It wasn’t the first one where Jez had smuggled in a softback book with pub crawls listed out (see St James – Westminster) .  It included the vast Princess Louise (as it had re-opened by then – on previous Holborn crawls it was closed and not included).  The mirrors and period features were so memorable (before they closed it).  Also included was the Bloomsbury Tavern, a great looking pub on a corner site overlooking the busy streets around Centre Point; The Angel, an absolute gem with three separate bars, if you like period deco, next to St Giles Church; the pub near Soho Square where Guy Ritchie used to take Madonna (I think) who’s name escapes the memory and The Newman Arms on Rathbone Street (the pie shoppe – serving only pies at lunchtimes).  The stone floor and the well kept Fullers London Pride is worth a detour for.  This pub featured on the Fitzfovia crawl.  For a better description of the rest you need to find the book he was using because a great time was had by all !!

Holborn Pub Crawls

24/01/2012 at 00:13 | Posted in Crawls | Leave a comment
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The first person to tap the rich Holborn area was Gerald.  There were some memorable moments on this one, we met at The Ship Tavern and then walked past the soup kitchen to the classic The Seven Stars.  It was there where we had a massive debate about Prncess Diana and Captain Cook.  Some local had claimed that Captain Cook was born in Essex, or something mad like that.  Gez recalled the story from his Australian days and remembered he was from the North East.  The pub itself is said to date back to before the Great Fire of London and the bar has a “front room”. Following this we went to (tucked away) The Blue Anchor and after that up to The Cittie of York (more on that later), The Enterprise, The Rugby Tavern and finished up in the sublime Lamb on Lamb’s Conduit Street.  This victorian-style Youngs pub still has snob screens that move and etched glass everywhere, a real pleasure I recall.

Holborn was visit again about a year later – Jimbo did this one – he was over from Australia on a six month trip but had participated in a few and deserved a turn.  He took us around this well-trodden area but some different pubs.  We went back to the huge the Cittie of York, not a problem, its medieval style room at the the rear of the pub is huge and it’s hard not to be impressed, even if the beer is the restrictive Samuel Smith.   Some of the other ones I remember were The Bountiful Cow (really did smell of cooked beef this one) and the Old Nick – we are still trying to remember the rest, perhaps another visit to the area will help jog the memory.

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