Camden

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Marylebone revisited

23/08/2014 at 12:05 | Posted in Crawls | 1 Comment
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It was time for Alan to take the lead in August 2014, with a return visit to the Marylebone area.

We gathered outside the front of the Beehive, a mid-terrace pub tucked just off Baker Street. There was a smallish-range of beers, with Loddon’s Gravesend Shrimper the only ale on offer; I enjoyed it but without a paler ale on offer some took advantage of the Meantime beers on tap, including their tasty London Pale Ale.

Next up, the Barley Mow, a cracking heritage pub, which I think has somehow managed to fall between the cracks of previous local crawls.  It is famous – and indeed listed on CAMRA‘s National Inventory of Pub Interiors – on account of its unique drinking boxes, small compartments adjacent to the bar allowing for very discreet liaisons while still being alongside the bar to order fresh drinks. On this occasion, arriving as we were on a Friday evening, the boxes were unsurprisingly already taken, but we took our delicious beers – all Dark Star Golden Gate – to the back room, where Dimo proceeded to reveal a surprising talent for hustling people at chess.

A short walk down Manchester Street brought us to the Tudor Rose, a fairly old-school pub which has so far definitely escaped the gastropub trend, still offering such 1970s delights as spam fritter burgers! The ale was good enough if a bit unadventurous, with Pride, Rev James and Adnams on cask.

gunmakersWe called next at the Gunmakers, overlooking the car park-cum-farmers market behind Marylebone High Street. This is an attractive pub, with some interesting ales on offer, including a couple of offerings from London Fields brewery, their IPA, and Love Not War, which seemed appropriate given the current strife in the Middle East.

Continuing east, we skipped a possible venue on the High Street as it seemed pretty rammed, and arrived at a pub with the opposite problem, the Dover Castle, which was pretty deserted by the time we arrived. As with most Sam Smiths pubs, it’s a great place, in this case a little mews pub which was frequented by the Who ‘back in the day’ when they used a recording studio opposite.

Not far away lies the Stag’s Head, a nice little corner pub below an art deco building, which we sat outside while we enjoyed some Tring Side Pocket.

albany

From here, we headed back towards the tube, and the Albany, opposite Great Portland Street. We visited this recently and it’s still a lovely pub, and I love it’s modest self-declared as ‘one of the best pubs in Great Portland Street’!

But which pub deserves to be the Pub of the Crawl this time?

As ever a lively debate was had to pick the winner, but in the end the wonderful unique interior won it for the Barley Mow, congratulations!

Great Portland Street to Euston

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Marylebone and Maida Vale

17/08/2013 at 13:46 | Posted in Crawls | Leave a comment
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We returned to the Marylebone area in August 2013, for a crawl by Rich along the north-western periphery of zone 1.

Close to Baker Street station, we assembled at the Volunteer, a few doors up from the Sherlock Holmes museum and within sight of Regent’s Park. The pub has been refurbished and now sells itself as a speciality beer pub, although of the promised four cask ales, only two were on offer. Although a black IPA was unusual and tempting, for the start of a long evening we plumped for the slightly lower strength Doom Bar. Not sure whether the beer has changed or it’s something about this pub, but it felt quite heavy and I wasn’t overly impressed with it.

Anyway, moving on now to the Swan & Edgar, a very small backstreet pub towards Marylebone station. Although small, it has huge potential to be a wonderful little pub, but sadly it was let down by its beer range, if you can call it that, of just Becks Vier or Asahi. Seriously, that was it, without even any bottled beers. What a shame, give me the keys to the place and I’d turn it into London’s finest micropub.

Leaving the Swan & Edgar, we walked down Balcombe Street, scene of the famous 1975 siege, and through Dorset Square, site of the original Lord’s cricket ground, built in the rural fields of Marylebone by Thomas Lord for Islington’s White Conduit cricket club, which became the Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC). The first match played here was White Conduit v Middlesex in May 1787, with Middlesex playing Essex a few days later for a prize of 200 guineas.

Passing by the front of Marylebone station, possibly London’s most charming terminus, we crossed over to the Perseverance in Shroton Street. Just a couple of beers on offer, Doom Bar (again) and Harvey’s Best, which most of us opted for. And what a good choice, whether it was the disappointment of the previous drinks or whether it was genuinely well kept, the Best slipped down very nicely indeed. And top marks to the friendly barman and his home-cooked crisps, which were made on the premises and were excellent.

LordsFrom here we had a longish walk north along Lisson Grove, where there is a temporary departure from the genteel affluence of Marylebone. We paused to take pictures of the plaque marking the second, short-lived Lord’s cricket ground; as we did so some youths emerging from the estate behind suddenly scarpered back into the estate as a police van arrived, so we moved swiftly on, and were very soon  back in plush surroundings, dipping our toes slightly into St John’s Wood. This brought us, not coincidentally, to the Lord’s Tavern, famous pub in the corner of the “new” (since 1814) Lord’s cricket ground. It’s a nice pub, recently refurbished, and is accessible from the street as well as from inside the ground on matchdays. Its outside terrace to the front was quite busy, although it was surprisingly quiet inside, and we had the interior terrace (overlooking the back of the ground) pretty much to ourselves. Nice ales were on offer, most of us going for Thrashers’s. Cricket was showing on TV, and cricket fans would appreciate the wallpaper inside the pub, which comprises copies of numerous interesting historical objects from the Lord’s collection.

There followed another slightly longish walk west to the next pub, taking us from St Johns Wood into Maida Vale, but the destination was well worth it. The Warrington was originally built in 1857 as a plush hotel, and remains stunning, with many beautiful Victorian features preserved today. It lies on the corner of Randolph Crescent, a haunt in Victorian times of high-class ladies of the night, and apparently the origin of the word “randy”. Importantly the beer was good too, including Westerham’s Summer Perle, which was top notch.

A pleasant (if slightly roundabout) walk brought us next to the Truscott Arms. The Truscott was fairly busy but we still got a table, from which to enjoy some interesting beer; I had the local Moncada brewery’s Notting Hill Summer, which seemed appropriate and was very nice, while others enjoyed a summer seasonal beer from Truman’s.

We were thwarted at the next target, the Warwick Castle, as last orders had been called before we arrived. No matter, we were just a couple of minutes from Little Venice’s Bridge House, a very pleasant pub just across the Regent’s Canal, serving well kept ales including Landlord and Windsor & Eton’s Knights of the Garter. After much debate about whether we were still in zone 1 (no) and the names of Australian cheeses, we got down to the serious business of voting for the Pub of the Crawl.

There were some strong candidates tonight but prestigious Pub of the Crawl prize was eventually awarded to the Warrington. Congratulations!

Euston to King’s Cross

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

New pub review: the Euston Tap

18/06/2011 at 14:57 | Posted in pub reviews | Leave a comment
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Close to the long-standing and excellent Bree Louise (which is also highly recommended), the Euston Tap opened in 2011 in one of the listed gatehouses of Euston station, one of the very last remnants of the old station which was shamefully demolished in the 1960s.

So what about the pub? Well it is pretty small, as you can imagine, but not quite as small as you might expect, with an upstairs room inside and a seating area outside, fortunately on the other side of the building from the busy Euston Road.

The beer selection is outstanding. It is the only pub I know of in London with a huge American craft pub-style tap wall, serving 20 keg beers. Don’t let the keg reference put you off though, as they are all craft beers of great diversity. But there are also eight real ales on at any time, despite the lack of handpumps visible on the bar; they are served by taps at the bottom of the main bar.
The beer range doesn’t stop there though, as either side of the bar are large drudges containing an array of bottled beers from all over the world, including small local London brewers.

All in all, highly recommended.

To see what’s going on at the pub and what beers are on, you can check their Twitter feed: http://www.twitter.com/#!/eustontap
For more reviews of new pubs, see my New Pubs page

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