02/09/2017 at 16:48 | Posted in Crawls | 2 Comments
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At the start of September 2017, Dimo took us back to Islington for a walk between Angel and Highbury & Islington.

We met at the Alma in Chapel Market, which has been taken over and refurbished by One Mile End brewery, with a good vibe and an excellent range of beers including of course One Mile End’s own, including Bavarian Breakfast, which is probably not the sort of breakfast to consume on a weekday…

Once assembled, we headed to the nearby Islington Town House, another relatively recent recipient of a refurbishment, this time by Hippo Inns, including pump handles made of fork handles. The pub is comfy on all floors, service very efficient and friendly, and a good range of beers on offer, we all went for Orbit’s IVO which was very good.

Close by lies the similarly named Islington, which has less of a pub feel as it functions largely as a gig venue, but nevertheless it was a very pleasant spot to spend some time, and although the range of beers was smaller than in some of the larger and more specialist pubs this evening, they were interesting ones; we largely went for an Italian session IPA, which certainly made a change.

A slightly longer walk now up Liverpool Road, past the Business Design Centre which started life as the Royal Agricultural Hall; the high pavements on Liverpool Road are a legacy of the days when the street was full of cattle and pedestrians needed protection.

The next stop was the Regent, the busiest pub of the evening, possibly because they were showing the evening’s England match (although most weren’t watching it, so it may just be popular!). The beer range was decent (if not quite as exotic as some of the specialist venues on this crawl), and most went for Luppollo Pale Ale (from Hackney, not to be confused with its Canadian namesake).

TaproomWe headed next to Upper Street and the Taproom, which as the name suggests is a specialist beer pub with a brewery taproom feel and a range of interesting beers including up to eight casks served by gravity from a very unusual stillage behind the bar; the Hackney Kapow! which I had was excellent.

A slightly longer walk now, off the main roads to the Duchess of Kent, tucked away near Highbury Corner. This fairly large and bright pub was welcoming, and we enjoyed the Young’s ales or Camden Pale Ale before heading to the final call of the night.

So last up was the House of Hammerton, which as the name suggests is part of Hammerton Brewery’s empire, showcasing all their beers a few streets from the brewery. My cask N1 was in perfect order, while some went for more exotic offerings, either from Hammerton itself or guests such as Stone, Magic Rock, Spanish brewer Mala Gissona.

So as usual we voted on a Pub of the Crawl at the end. This was tricky, there was some very good competition, but in the end we agreed on the Taproom on Upper Street. Congratulations!



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!


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!



17/05/2015 at 16:06 | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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In April 2015, we revisited Islington at the hands of Dimo.

The meeting point close to Angel station was a place we’ve visited before when it was a Hobgoblin, but is now the Three Johns, named after some 18th century radicals. Now something of a craft beer pub, there were some interesting ales on including Arbor J Bomb, XT No.1 and the rather better known Dark Star’s lovely Hophead.

Just a short stroll along White Lion Street brought us to the Craft Beer Co‘s Islington outlet, which on the night we visited was hosting a vintage ales weekend, confusing those of us who live in hipster territory who thought the staff were wearing 1940s outfits ironically rather than as a contribution to the retro theme of the day. As ever there was a great range of beers on draught, with our party drinking the Thornbridge Wild Side, Franklin 1066, and East End IPA.

Be here nowJust around the corner next to the Joker, at the end of Chapel Market. A gastropub with a difference, this one has the archetypal kitchen behind the bar (in the mould of the first gastropub, the Eagle) but with a focus on burgers and hot dogs. We didn’t try the food (and nor did anyone else while we were there – a drawback to having such a visible kitchen), but the beers were decent, with Windsor & Eton’s Kohinoor IPA and Kings Evolution Northern Lights keeping everyone happy. The walls are bedecked with famous comedians, and we had some good pub trivia too… the oversized clock in the pub was a stage prop on Oasis’s Be Here Now tour.

A slightly longer walk now to the next venue, though with streets as beautiful as Cloudesley Road it’s hard to mind. Set in this gorgeous part of town is the Crown, a Fullers pub with a traditional layout of different spaces around a central bar. Ales were standard Fullers beers with the seasonal Spring Sprinter making a welcome reappearance.

A few minutes’ walk brought us close to Tony Blair’s former home and we arrived at the Hop & Berry, a pub specialising in London craft beers. It was certainly busier than the last time I was here when we were the only customers (though that was Christmas Eve to be fair!) and a fair number of people besides us were enjoying local beers. I couldn’t resist going slightly outside London for my beer though, Dark Star’s delicious American Pale Ale from Sussex.

jengaA first on the way to the next pub, as half the group managed to get lost after bizarrely declining to follow us down an alleyway en route to the Drapers Arms. This is a bright, spacious pub is located in a lovely residential street, which may explain its somewhat traditional opening hours – so beware on timing your visit, it closes at 10:30. But it’s well worth calling in, they have a range of beers including, on our visit, Truman’s Runner and Sambrook’s Wandle. We also discovered just how bad some of our members are at Jenga, though perhaps it would have been more successful a few pints earlier.

A longish walk to the next pub, though with the benefit of crossing over Lofting Road – named after a distant ancestor of mine who invented the beer engine/handpump (bloody immigrants, coming over here and inventing draught beer!), and who once had a factory nearby. A few minutes on is the Hemingford Arms, or the Hemmy, a traditional lively red-hued pub, with live music and a lively atmosphere. While we’d strayed into zone 2 by this point, it’s pretty close to stations for getting back into town afterwards. We largely drank the Purity Ubu while alternating between the quiz machine and voting on the Pub of the Crawl.

I’m sure the venue of the vote had no bearing on the result, but the final pub, the Hemingford Arms, was duly elected this month’s Pub of the Crawl. Congratulations!

King’s Cross Revisited

23/06/2014 at 21:57 | Posted in Crawls | Leave a comment
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On a sunny June evening during the World Cup 2014 Paul’s second crawl in as many months was a welcome reworking of his previous uncharted original crawl circa 2009-10, not previously recorded on our website and, according to Paul, a sort of reversal of the previous order.

We met in the Lincoln Lounge, formerly called the Lincoln Arms from its ironwork, and most, if not all of us, started off with Green King IPA. By the looks of it the building it had survived whilst the rest of York Way had been modernized but not without a name change. The pavement we chose to stand in close to the mainline station was crowded and in sunshine. By the time we left the pub England were out of the World Cup and out was time to forget the why and wherefore and negotiate the streets of this cluttered station hinterland.

image 3Next up the King Charles I was a small pub slightly hidden from the hustle-bustle on a side street and adorned with masks and deer parts. Paul recalls criticism of this boozer on the last tour but the feedback was much better this time, especially when our guide suddenly dropped four empties on the pavement and the bar manager seemed grateful that we had owned up to it and surprised that we hadn’t done a runner! The glasses had contained our choices of Clarence and Frederick s IPA and their rather interesting “strong mild”, again everyone was outside enjoying the summer weather albeit punctuated by the sound of breaking glass.

image 2And after that rather shattering experience the next choice – Millers on Caledonian Road – was more of a High Street affair serving a full range of trendy lagers and we had to settle for the nowadays-slightly-disappointing IPA/Doom Bar widely available standard. This a convenient pub very close to the entrance/exit of KX and the plethora of cheap eateries on a busy corner site.  Instant initial appeal but for sure aiming at the lower end of market. It was no surprise then that a cheap eatery was in fact the next, er, pit stop – a Burrito joint and a huge break with tradition, which when down exceptionally well, washed down with Coronas. Paul had dug deep into his pile of fantastic Groupon deals, and there was no need to late grab station food in a mad panic this time around!

On Leeke Street the next bar was a real (hard to) find classic – Smithy’s – technically a wine bar but serving a couple of real ales in an industrial-feeling setting. We stood outside, next to the railway bridge alongside the cut which forms the first ever section of the underground from Liverpool Street to Paddington. The Portobello Pale pump was hiding in the corner but not to be missed, beautifully sharp ale packed with flavour, some others were on the Caledonian Road to Rio a “seasonal” choice.

Wacky shop sign

Wall of fame at the Queen’s Head

We passed by the Water Rats and the Lucas Arms to find the Queen’s Head next – team choices were either the Arbor Triple Hop or the resident Trinity Redemption.  This is a classic pub with a classic pub interior; including an upright piano, hop flowers on the ceiling, beer badges on the wall etc. Our thoughts turned to Tony who had planned his own crawl on this night only to fail a late fitness test!

Final stop of the night was The Boot mentioned in Charles Dickens’ Barnaby Rudge, a well laid out pub with a pool table and locals singing along to rock classics, there were two football real ale choices, neither of them memorable, except for reminding us of the plight of the country’s soccer team.  Not a bad pub at all to end the night, hidden away from the main streets again yet precariously close to the station.

Dickens recalls (1840) “This Boot was a lone house of public entertainment, situated in the fields at the back of the Foundling Hospital; a very solitary spot at that period, and quite deserted after dark. The tavern stood at some distance from any high road, and was approachable only by a dark and narrow lane; so that Hugh was much surprised to find several people drinking there, and great merriment going on.”

Dimo recalls (2014) “a special mention should go to those 3 minutes of euphoria upon entering The Boot and hearing Bon Jovi’s Livin’ On A Prayer and then beltering out the chorus”

We walked back to the ever sprawling station which is becoming ever popular and well known internationally; so this crawl serves as a reminder that there is no need to stay in the terminal lounges if you want to sample proper ales in real local London.

The pub of the crawl was voted as The Queen’s Head.


18/02/2014 at 20:58 | Posted in Crawls | 1 Comment
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In the midst of 2014’s very wet winter, we braved the wind and rain on Valentine’s night for a walk around the Finsbury area of Islington, led by Phil.

Not for the first time we started near Angel, but this time at the Charles Lamb, a delightful and lively corner pub in Elia Street; the pub was named after the author in 2005, as he used to live around the corner in Colebrooke Row. It has a small but excellent range of beers, and we largely went for Windsor & Eton’s Knights of the Garter, with one or two Hopheads thrown in for good measure.

We then headed south and paused at Spa Green to get a glimpse of Saddlers Wells Theatre through the trees, founded by an artesian well in 1683 and a notorious place of “relaxation” soon afterwards.  A place to go if you didn’t have a valentine for the night, perhaps.  But not this particular night!  The curiously named Blacksmith and the Toffeemaker on St John St was next up. Approached from the north it appears to be a smallish corner pub, but in fact it extends along the side road and is very spacious towards the back. A house beer has been seen on the bar before apparently but wasn’t in evidence when we were in, but the Deuchars IPA, Flying Scotsman and Theakstons Black Bull were, and slipped down very nicely.

Continuing south we gazed upwards at the 1968 housing project – the brutalist styled Finsbury Estate – and the extremely high Michael Cliffe House, the site of many suicides in the 70s.  We came next to the Peasant, a large one-room gastropub (quite possibly the 2nd in the UK), with the foodie bit largely confined to an upstairs area, leaving the main bar feeling very much like a decent pub. I went for an American Pale Ale from the Hackney brewery (founded by a couple of guys who worked together at the Charles Lamb and the Eagle, which we come to later), others enjoyed the Bath Ales Barnsey and Two Cocks Roundhead bitter.

cheersThe walk was made a little longer by an explanation in the rain of the Spa Fields area, its role as a weekend “resort” for the less well-off and later where the influential  Spa Fields Riots took place in 1816.  There was also the “boneyard” – the Spa Fields burial ground – built to hold 1,316 but hosting around 80,000 burials curiously commemorated by the local council with a information board. We passed along Exmouth Market to the Wilmington. (We skipped the excellent Exmouth Arms as we’ve visited it on a previous crawl.) The Wilmington is a largish corner pub doing a good trade in Valentine’s meals when we popped in. Five interesting ales were on; I went for a lovely Twickenham Sundancer, while some others went for Trumans Blindside, all served in nice handled glasses.

We paused in Coldbath Square – another site of a well – before making our way to Greene King pub opposite the Royal Mail’s Mount Pleasant sorting office (on the site of Coldbath Prison), the Apple Tree, which was surprisingly quiet with just a few regulars in when we called in, though it’s likely to be much busier after shift changes. Sadly there was no mention of the 18th century strongman Thomas Topham, who was a legendary landlord entertaining his guests with outrageous acts including raising three hogsheads of water using his neck and shoulders.  The beers were decent enough but from the standard GK range, so nothing revolutionary on the taste front. They were very good about the glass I accidentally broke to my horror, when my jacket caught as I squeezed out of the table when we were leaving.

A short stumble through the increasingly menacing winds brought us downhill to the Coach & Horses, a small corner pub, which like the previous stop was fairly empty by the time we arrived, as we were getting close to last orders. I went for a Brentwood BBC2, which at 2.5% was a very good way to slow the pace after five pints, with Doom Bar being the main beer on offer.

Another pause, this time at the site of where Charles I supposedly tasted the latest food craze – a pickled egg – preceded the final stop of the night – the Eagle on Farringdon Road, credited with (or blamed for, depending on your view) starting the gastropub revolution when it was opened in this form in 1991. It was too late in the evening to see it operating in its full glory with the chefs cooking gourmet food behind the bar, but we at least had plenty of room to sit and sup our Hackney Brewery Golden Ales in comfort before heading out into the stormy night for home.

With that, onto the Pub of the Crawl. As I spotted a number 63 approaching as we stood outside we voted for this one by email afterwards rather than reaching a consensus on the night; the vote was split among four of the pubs showing the good range of hostelries visited tonight, but the winner was our meeting point, the Charles Lamb. Congratulations! 

Islington to Hoxton

19/08/2012 at 11:09 | Posted in Crawls | 1 Comment
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During the break between the Olympic and Paralympic games in August 2012, Dimo took us on a crawl from Islington to Hoxton.

The meeting point this month was the Prince of Wales, close to Angel tube station. It’s a very unpretentious pub for the area; it sits alongside the canal in a lovely part of Islington, and just a stone’s throw from the home of one Boris Johnson, but managed to be compared to the Queen Vic by Rich! It’s a perfectly decent pub with Doom Bar amongst the ale options, but it remains largely unadulterated and has not (yet at least) succumbed to a radical refurbishment.

It was a hot evening so we stood outside, and watched as Radio 1’s Chris Moyles arrived and stood outside chatting to the other guys also outside. By chance one of my wife’s friends happened to be at the pub, and identified Moyles’s companions as 1990s Britpop group Shed Seven.

Once Phil arrived we headed just round the corner to pub no. 2, the Earl of Essex. This is a lovely traditional pub building from the outside, but with a clean, bright, modern gastro-style interior. However, a glance at the bar shows that the focus is on quality beer, with several interesting ales on the handpumps, and an even larger range if craft beers on tap. I went for a Harbour Brewing Amber ale, which was very nice, although I think I preferred Phil’s Merlin’s Magic from Moor, which were enjoyed out back in the sizeable (for inner London) beer garden.

We made another very short hop to the next pub, the Island Queen. This is a well known pub which I’d not made it to before, so I was pleaed to give it a go. Plenty of other people had had the same idea, with quite a large crowd out the front of the pub, almost hiding the lovely pub architecture on display, including large curved panes of glass. There were fewer beers on the bar than at the last pub, but that’s hardly surprising given the Essex’s range; and what they did have was fairly good, with a nice guest ale in the form of Sunny Republic’s Beach Blonde. We took a table inside, as most of the punters were enjoying the warm weather outside, which allowed us to marvel in the interior design, a great piece of Victorian pub heritage.

Another very short walk brought us back to the canal we started on, only this time the pub was right on the canal, and aptly called The Narrow Boat. Alongside the Pride and Doom Bar were two London brews, Wandle from Sambrooks, and East London Brewery’s Nightwatchman. With some of the latter pair in hand we joined the people enjoying the canal, and dodging the occasional speeding cyclist!

From here we headed east along the canal, part of the Regent’s Canal, which provided a route around London between the Thames at Limehouse and the Grand Union Canal, the M1 of the canal era. I feel I should say that while this is a nice walk by day, the canal is not well lit and should probably be avoided after dark, especially if you’re not familiar with the area.

The next pub, slightly north of the canal, was the Baring. This feels much more like a community pub than the last couple, with adverts for the pub cricket team etc., but it’s a nice little corner pub with a friendly landlady and some nice ales on, including Harvey’s Best, Tim Taylor’s Landlord, and Brains SA.

Still heading eastwards, we came next to the Rosemary Branch, a large corner pub with a theatre upstairs. There were no shows on when we visited, but the pub itself is nice, with some decent ales on, and some bizarre nick knacks, including quite large German and British model planes hanging from the ceiling!

We headed east once more, along a less than glamourous route as the charming townhouses which have been such a featured to date are replaced by a large housing estate. We eventually came to the Stag’s Head, once a Truman’s pub, as evidenced by the original (if now painted) exterior. Sadly while real ales were advertised none were on offer, and even half the lagers weren’t available – so it was Becks all round, surely a first for us! Even the glasses weren’t sure about their contents, as Artie’s somehow managed to slip off the table and onto the floor without being touched. Fair play to the barmaid, who offered and gave a fresh pint without us even asking for it.

We would have ended it there, and we would have been within a short walk of Hoxton station (on the very edge of zone 1), but we fancied ending the night on a high, or at least on a higher quality beer than Becks, so we turned north along Kingsland Road and headed for the Fox, close to Haggerston station. Although this took us into zone 2, we knew that the Fox would be a reliable source of good beers; and I’m sure it didn’t escape Dimo’s attention that he would be home within a few seconds of leaving, while some others had a rather longer journey back home to south and west London! Anyway it was a fine pub to end on, and I’m pleased to say that we managed to make the last southbound Overground train and make our connections to get home without resort to the night bus!

Shoreditch pub crawl

26/06/2011 at 13:02 | Posted in Crawls | 1 Comment
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For June 2011, Tony took the lead for a wander around Shoreditch, with a couple of atypical bars thrown in for luck.

The crawl started off in traditional fashion, with rain and traditional pub near a station – in this case, the Old Fountain, close to Old Street station, which has 7 real ales on and also has lots of London brewers’ beers in bottles, which helped it to the title of CAMRA City Pub of the Year 2011. From British to Bavarian as we called in at the Bavarian Beerhouse for a half-litre of Bavarian beers – something of a first for our crawls which normally stick to more traditional pubs!

After this slight foray, we headed up to the Wenlock Arms, which is an absolutely classic pub with a very large range of ales on, and which used to be the brewery tap for the Wenlock Brewery.

We tore ourselves away from the Wenlock Arms and headed back towards the City Road to call in at the Eagle, which features in the nursery rhyme Pop Goes The Weasel!

Another backstreet local next, this time Shepherd Neame’s Prince Arthur in Brunswick Place, although sadly its ex-professional boxer landlord Dixie Dean wasn’t in evidence on this visit.

From here we headed into the livelier area of Shoreditch, with The Reliance swiftly followed by another unusual one for us, the Strongroom Bar. The Strongroom is attached to the Strongroom recording studios, which is used by many big names.

Finally, from here we headed across Shoreditch, past the site of The Theatre, built by James Burgage in 1576, and on to Mason & Taylor, a modern craft beer bar with a huge range of beers on tap and in bottles. This was largely the end of the crawl, except for a trip to one of the beigel shops in Brick Lane for a post-midnight snack, and then (at least for Dimo and me!) a final quick beer in one of the bars in Brick Lane, whose name escapes me now!

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