London Bridge & Bermondsey

30/05/2015 at 12:12 | Posted in Crawls | Leave a comment
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Following this month’s update to the Bermondsey Beer Mile information, including the news that a couple of the breweries were now open on Friday evenings, Paul took us back to familiar territory around London Bridge and Bermondsey for the first Friday crawl to take in a brewery.

After some pre-crawl sustenance/stomach lining in the local late night kebabery of choice, the Cafe Rossi just by the Borough High St part of London Bridge tube, we started out at the Britannia, tucked away in the slightly strange environs of the estate behind Guy’s Hospital where flats, pubs, car parks and medical and educational institutions sit cheek by jowl in a surprisingly quiet area only a couple of minutes form the bustle around London Bridge. The Britannia, which we visited a while ago, specialises in whiskies, with a list of over 130 malt whiskies and a classic water tap built into the bar – a very rare feature these days. We skipped on the spirits though, opting instead for the cask beer fare of Ringwood’s Forty Niner or Fuller’s New World.

Having assembled here, convenient for the tube, we had a longish walk to the next venue – but it was important to get there before closing, as the Southwark Brewing taproom is only open until 8pm on Fridays. As part of the Bermondsey Beer Mile this place is thriving on a Saturday, but rather quieter on the Friday evening with just a few of us there, free to spread out, chat and try the ales brewed on site, including the London Pale Ale, Harvard, Gold and Best.

AHA bit further down Druid Street brought us to the other beer mile venue experimenting with longer taproom hours, Anspach and Hobday. Quite a few people had made it down this far, it was pretty busy inside and out, and again we had a range of their beers between us. A couple of people gambled on a new beer, launched that evening, based only on its intriguing name, The Arch-House. This turned out to be “a sour ale fermented with yeast and bacteria that inhabit our archway”; full marks for experimentation, but thinking about the bacteria didn’t help this slip down quite as easily as their other ales!

To Shad Thames now and an old favourite of mine, the Dean Swift. This smallish corner pub has been serving an excellent range of beers for several years now, and we had ELB’s Orchid, Otley’s Hop Angeles and various other beers while we watched Lancashire getting a tonking in the T20 cricket on the telly.

Next up, a slightly controversially long walk to the next venue, another beer specialist, the Rake. This very small pub – thankfully with plenty of spill-out space in the market – has a huge range of exotic bottled beers, and an interesting range of beers on draught. Although the small bar limits how many beers they can have on draught at any one time, the Oakham Citra and JHB were lovely.

MPNext up, the Wheatsheaf, a classic Borough Market pub once threatened with demolition for the new Thameslink railway viaduct which would have ploughed through the building. Thankfully it was saved, with only the top of the building being sliced open, and after a lengthy closure it has reopened, nicely refurbished indoors, but better yet, with a beautiful new beer garden out the side, underneath the new railway viaduct. A range of Youngs and Sambrooks ales were available indoors; an outside bar is also available but without cask ales (though some decent kegs including Meantime).

Back next to another old classic venue a few doors away, the Market Porter. This is another pub which has specialised in offering a very wide range of quality ales for a long time now, long before it became trendy to do so. Although Borough Market is known now as a major tourist attraction, which doubtless pulls in a good chunk of business today, it also keeps its traditional market hours, opening at 6am on weekdays to serve the overnight market workers coming off shift, who can enjoy its excellent range of real ales available on two sides of the bar, including a bitter brewed in Borough.

Finally, on account of its 1am licence, we decamped to the Southwark Tavern for the final beers of the evening, including Liberation Blonde from the Channel Islands and Andwell’s Five Little Fishes.

So in the Southwark Tavern’s cracking basement area we debated the critical vote of May 2015 – no not the election, the pub and beer of the evening.

After heated debate and a very wide spread of votes, the Britannia was named Pub of the Crawl, and Southwark Brewing’s London Pale Ale was crowned the Beer of the Crawl. Congratulations!



Bermondsey revisited

02/06/2014 at 20:54 | Posted in Crawls | Leave a comment
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We recently toured Bermondsey’s fine collection of craft breweries on the Bermondsey Beer Mile, and in May 2014 Paul took us back to some of the local pubs we haven’t been to in previous trips.

We started, though, by revisiting the Lord Clyde pub, just off Southwark Bridge Road and close to Borough station. This time we stood outside, enjoying the long Spring evening, the beautiful old Truman’s tiled exterior, and pints of TEA (the traditional English ale, that is).

The next stop was another familiar venue, Harvey’s London outpost the Royal Oak, still in Borough. The last couple of arrivals met up with us in the back room of this very well preserved two-bar Victorian corner local, and we struck out for Bermondsey.

The walk is not, in all honesty, a very glamorous one compared with posher parts of zone 1, with a lot of post-war council housing in this area, but interesting to see the old Hartley’s jam factory shortly before arriving at Tower Bridge Road for the next stop, the George. This is an old-school locals pub, not gentrified or gastro’d, but offering a friendly welcome and a nicely preserved (or just left-alone) Truman’s interior. No trendy ales here, just Courage Best and Greene King IPA, but they were decent enough and served with a smile. Sadly no £2.50 toasties available in the evenings though!

Pub of the YearAnother short walk through an estate brought us to the next pub, the Victoria. I was very pleased to try this place, I’d chatted to the very friendly landlord once when I’d admired the beautiful exterior on my way to the Mandela Way sorting office early one morning but hadn’t been back for a beer.  It was very quiet inside when we were there, though evidently the Evening Standard’s journos have made the trip in the past, as the pub is still proudly displaying its 1972 Pub of the Year plaque. I didn’t realise the competition went back that far, nor that it had now been discontinued, but through the magic of Wikipedia a full list exists for anyone keen to visit them all! (I think we’ve done seven of these winners, most of which lie outside zone 1 – it’s certainly giving me an idea of a some themed trips to see how they are all faring today!) We all went for the Ubu Mad Goose, which was delicious, and sat outside.

MarigoldAfter the Victoria we moved back towards central London, crossing Tower Bridge Road again to visit the Marigold, at the bottom end of Bermondsey Street. This was somewhat short of beer choice (just Doom Bar), but was a nice place, fairly cosy and lively enough without being too busy. And I imagine a lovely place to while away an afternoon, judging by the huge array of board games available (though not, as far as I could see, our favourite – late 1980s Trivial Pursuit…)

Next up, the Rose, close to London Bridge station. We tried to go here once before and found that most of it had been demolished, but it reopened last year under the same management as the Simon the Tanner nearby (and which we just passed). This is a lot larger than its sibling though, and more upmarket, with lots of large tables for dining. The beer choice was surprisingly small, just a couple of ales, though interesting in the shape of Mister Squirrel and Signature Dark Heart, and there was some interesting craft beer among the keg offer.

MillerOur final stop was one that I passed on when plotting my own crawl around these parts. The Miller doesn’t look all that inspiring from the outside, and the bouncers on the door and loud music meant things weren’t looking too promising. But Paul always does his research thoroughly (!) so what could go wrong? Besides it was past closing time for many pubs, so in we went. Looked like the beer choice was going to be slim pickings on first glance, just Otter ale on the bar; not that there’s anything wrong with Otter, but we’re getting spoilt for choice these days and getting used to a row of shiny pumps offering a range of ales. But on close inspection, there was a long beer list on a blackboard behind the bar, and some very tempting looking bottles in the fridges from a host of London craft breweries, including local favourites Kernel, Brew By Numbers, Partizan, and FourPure. The excellent range of beers made for a later night than was sensible!

Fortunately we did remember to vote for the Pub of the Crawl, with the backstreet local the Victoria winning tonight, congratulations!

London Bridge / Borough

24/01/2012 at 00:18 | Posted in Crawls | Leave a comment
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Dimo’s first ever pub crawl in the series went down the Borough High Street and back again.  The following list of pubs featured but the order is fairly uncertain

  • the bunch of grapes
  • the globe
  • the wheatsheaf (old one underneath the bridge, before it moved)
  • the market porter
  • southwark tavern
  • Old King’s Head
  • the george inn
  • southwark tavern (ended here as it was opposite a tube entrance)


31/12/2011 at 16:08 | Posted in Crawls | Leave a comment
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In the week between Christmas and New Year, Paul took us back to the familiar territory of London Bridge and Bermondsey, which we have visited before but which still includes much fertile pub territory.

We met at The Rake, a well known pub on the edge of Borough Market, selling a fantastic range of beers below the sign denoting ‘No crap on tap’, where I had a lovely Oakham Inferno, a nice start the night. From here we walked the short distance to the Mug House, which is a Davy’s located in the arches under London Bridge; they are now selling Meantime beers, and the London Pale Ale slipped down very nicely.

After this we headed south of the London Bridge railway tracks to the Whitesmiths Arms, a fairly old-fashioned place which probably hasn’t changed much since the 1970s. I have to confess that on my previous visit here I wasn’t enamoured of the place, it was deserted and not looking its best. Last night however it was pretty lively, the London Pride was well kept, the landlady was very friendly and what’s more there was a pub cat in residence. It also still sports a wonderful old Courage sign, a glowing orange beacon beckoning in thirsty punters.

From here we tried to head to the Rose (closed for major building works) and then the Leather Exchange in the old leather market (closed for Christmas), but fortunately we knew through the medium of twitter that the Simon the Tanner was open. This was closed for some time but was refurbished and reopened in 2011, and a lovely job they made too. A couple of interesting beers were on, including the Windsor & Eton Brewery’s Conqueror 1075. This is a Black IPA, which I would love, but at 7.4% it’s rather strong for a pub crawl and we all settled for the rather lighter Redemption Trinity. Lighter doesn’t mean poorer though, it was well kept and delicious, my favourite beer of the night – I could happily have drunk this all night.

But we have to keep moving, and we walked up Bermondsey Street to the Woolpack, a lovely large pub which was unfortunately just that little bit too busy to allow us a seat. There’s quite a large and delightful garden but with everyone sheltering under the cover to keep out of the heavy rain we nursed our Young’s at the bar.

Heading north again, past some interesting shops, we went back through the railway arches to Tooley Street and the busy Shipwrights Arms, where we caught the end of the football on their large but somewhat fuzzy screen. (Or was that just my eyesight?!)

We were foiled by festive opening hours again at our next planned stop, the Cooperage, but happily the Platform was rather better than we’d expected and had a couple of ales on tap (as well a a pretty good bottled beer selection). While here I did a quick Christmas pub quiz on London (having been asked to write one for our work Xmas do). Tim was victorious by just half a point and duly won the coveted copy of Pete Brown‘s excellent book Man Walks Into A Pub, duly inscribed by the author himself with an exhortation to ‘Keep on crawling’!

To the river now for a pint in the Horniman at Hay’s at the end of Hays Galleria, until hastily hustled from our table by the barstaff who were rather eager to usher us towards the exits at 11.

The final planned stop was the Barrowboy and Banker, but again the holiday season intervened and it was closed. We generally parted ways at this point; myself and Dimo though did nip to Borough High Street for a rather delicious kebab and then a final cheeky beer in the Southwark Tavern.

South Bank pub crawl

04/06/2011 at 16:41 | Posted in Crawls, Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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In May 2011 we crawled around the SE1 area, from London Bridge to Waterloo via the South Bank, organised by Paul.
We started at the Wheatsheaf in Southwark Street – all of us unfortunately arriving slightly late and almost making Paul give up!
We moved on the the wonderful Rake, and on to the river at the Anchor. From here we got a riverside table at the Founders Arms and had a lovely view of the City at dusk.
Inland from here, we headed to the TalkSport Radio’s local the Rose & Crown. Finally we went to the famous Kings Arms in Roupell Street, ending at the White Hart, where some lovely Camden Brewery Innercity Green was had by most!

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