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!

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City & Spitalfields

18/02/2017 at 12:36 | Posted in pub reviews | Leave a comment
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In February 2017, I took the crawlers on a short walk around the City, starting on its boundary with Spitalfields and ending up in its centre.

We met at the Williams Ale & Cider House, close to Liverpool Street station, which has a beer-led bar at the front and a cider-led bar further back. Service wasn’t great, but we did eventually manage to buy some Signature Roadies, which we took outside to enjoy in the February evening air. The pub is on Artillery Lane, the name betraying its origins as part of  the site of the artillery grounds which used to be found here, just outside the City, until 1682.

Around the corner in Sandy’s Row, where one side of the street is in the City and the other in Spitalfields, we passed the Sandy’s Row Synagogue, the last surviving Spitalfields synagogue. The building was originally built as a church in 1766 by the Huguenot community, and named L’Eglise de l’Artillerie. It later became a baptist chapel, before becoming a synagogue in 1854.

A few steps further on, next to the former Jewish bakery Levy Bros, which was established in 1710 and whose bakers can still be seen toiling away on the building’s exterior, we came to the King’s Stores. This has been modernised recently and has several decent ales on tap, and I had two Signature beers in a row, the cask Pale this time, while some went for the Dark Star Partridge. All were very nice, and we took them outside to enjoy in the attractive street outside.

We kept on following the City boundary along Middlesex Street, so named because the street was the first in Middlesex on leaving the City of London, whose boundary runs along the western kerb. It is better known though as Petticoat Lane, and has been home to a thriving Sunday market since the 17th century.

We took a very slight detour to see the site of the infamous Goulston Street Graffito, before heading into the Bell, a pleasingly traditional pub, with Landlord, Atlantic, TEA and Doom Bar on the bar.

We crossed back into the City on leaving, and came to Houndsditch, which was originally a defensive ditch outside the City walls, but became a popular dumping ground for dead dogs, amongst other refuse. In 1910 it was the scene of the Houndsditch Murders, in which three police officers were shot dead by a Latvian gang, and which subsequently ended a few weeks later in the famous Siege of Sidney Street.

We also crossed over Bevis Marks, home of the eponymous synagogue, which was built by London’s Spanish and Portuguese Jewish community in 1701 and is the only synagogue in Europe to have held services continuously for over 300 years, despite being damaged by bombing in the blitz, and again in 1992 and 1993.

craftbeercoWe passed through Mitre Square, where one of Jack the Ripper’s victims was found, to the Craft Beer Company. As usual for this chain, the pub is excellent, with some interesting ales on draught, keg and in the fridge; we went for Dark Star’s Art of Darkness, a lovely malty black beer, and Kernel’s light table beer. We had nice seats in the window, and watched the extraordinary number of walking groups passing by, drawn by the seemingly insatiable Ripper industry.

We next went just around the corner to the Old Tea Warehouse, but unfortunately all of their ales had finished, so we left without a drink and headed to Old Tom’s, the basement bar of the Lamb in the beautiful Leadenhall Market. This is a cosy space, where we enjoyed some Common Pale Ale from Wimbledon.

standrewgherkinOn the way we passed some of London’s most interesting architecture, where the ancient and modern rub shoulders; churches such as St Katharine Kree (founded 1280, with the present tower dating from 1504) and St Andrew Undershaft (dating from 1147, present building dating from 1532) sit alongside iconic modern towers such as the Gherkin, Leadenhall Building and the Lloyd’s Building.

Next up, we headed to the Counting House, which was built in 1893 as a banking hall, beautifully converted by Fullers, and serving their range of ales; the pub’s foundations rest on the wall of a 2,000 year old Roman basilica, according to the pub’s website.

map.jpgFor the final stop of the evening, we headed to the Arbitrager, a tiny craft beer place serving only beer, cider and spirits from London; we went for the excellent Neckstamper APA, from a new brewery in Leyton, while we admired the beautiful map on one wall, showing the location of London’s breweries overlayed on a mid-19th century map of the capital.

As to the Pub of the Crawl, we have to give it to the final place for breaking the mould with its London-only range and wonderful wall map. Congratulations The Arbitrager!

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.

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.

Tower Gateway-Aldgate

10/08/2013 at 13:49 | Posted in Crawls | 2 Comments
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For July 2013, it was my turn to lead, and as with Dimo last month, I targetted the City Fringe, this time around Tower Gateway / Aldgate.

The meeting point was virtually underneath Fenchurch Street station at the Crutched Friar, on the street of the same name, itself named after a 12th century Catholic order which settled in the street in 1249. The pub has a surprising entrance, enclosed but with the feel of entering a yard, with comfortable areas off to each side.  Despite its central location, it wasn’t too busy, with quick service and several ales on offer, although one of the milds wasn’t to anyone’s taste.

Heading east, we began our movement away from the City, stopping first at the Three Lords. This has recently been pleasantly modernised by Youngs and has the look of the new generation of craft ale pubs, but without the large range of beers, and also, surprisingly for its location, without very many customers. The beers we did have were perfectly respectable if not from a stellar range (standard Youngs / Wells range).

Heading south along the Minories now, we came to to Ibex House, built in the late 1930s in the modernist Art Deco style, it was rumoured to have been earmarked by the Gestapo as a London headquarters in the event of an occupation of the UK. Tucked in its corner is the Peacock, a comfortable split-level pub, with the feel of a normal neighbourhood pub rather than a City watering hole. Limited selection of ales but what they had (Hackney Best) was good.

From the Peacock we headed east and across the City boundary to Tower Hamlets and the East End. Along Prescot Street we soon came to the Princess of Prussia, a Shepherd Neame pub with a very narrow frontage but which is quite deep and surprisingly houses a beer garden to the rear. The standard Sheps beers were available, the staff were friendly and there was plenty of room inside to sit down. For future reference the food appears to be very good value for so central a location but we didn’t stop to sample it.

Eastward again after this to the site of the famous Battle of Cable Street in 1936, where a planned march by the British Union of Fascists was prevented from entering the East End and forced back down Royal Mint Street.

Very close by lies Wilton’s Music Hall and its Mahogany Bar. This wonderful Grade II* listed building was built as a pub around 1743 but since underwent several transformations, most famously to a music hall in the mid-19th century, when it played host to famous music hall names including the original Champagne Charlie. After a long period as a church and then lying derelict, it was slated for demolition but was saved this fate by a campaign including figures such as Sir John Betjeman, Peter Sellars and Spike Milligan. In recent years the building has been undergoing structural repairs which have saved the fabric of the building while retaining its ‘shabby chic’ appearance. Although the main auditorium is generaly closed (except for perfomances), you may recognise the interior from one of its many appearances on screen, in films including Sherlock Holmes, Interview with a Vampire, Dorian Gray, Chaplin, and music videos including Annie Lennox’s No More I Love Yous, and the original banned videos for Duran Duran’s Girls on Film, and Relax by Frankie Goes to Hollywood (neither of those are safe for work!).

Getting back onto the subject of beer, its Mahogany Bar is a wonderful addition to the music hall which has been doing great business of late. While they have some good bottles (including Kernel) its draught offer is a little short, but there’s always a couple on. Well, except sadly on this occasion, when the Trumans Runner ran out after a single pint, and most of us had to settle for a keg beer (which admittedly was Meantime so pretty good, but we do always try for real ales when we can). But despite this small disappointment, I still love the place!

Wilton's

Beginning to move back towards the tube now, we headed up Leman Street to the Oliver Conquest. This was very nice and wasn’t too busy, and we were able to bag a couple of sofas to enjoy a few quickfire rounds with the pub’s box of Trivial Pursuit!

We would have gone to the White Swan next but it was already closed, although this may have been a blessing in disguise going by the experiences of a couple of our number. Instead we went to the late-closing Duke of Somerset for a final one. This is rather large and barn-like, and at this stage of the evening was home to the last hangers-on from an office party, trying to dance to the very loud music on the small dance floor. Luckily we could escape to the beer garden and enjoy our final pints in relative peace!

Sloane Square

16/08/2012 at 15:42 | Posted in Crawls | 1 Comment
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For Sloane Square (17 April 2009):

The Duke of Wellington

Fox and Hounds

The Antelope

The Star Tavern

The Talbot

Horse and Groom

Artie was in the chair for this one as we navigated some of the finest streets in the capital.  A small group headed towards Belgravia and stumbled accross a few favourites that would appear on later crawls.  The cool Young’s pub “The Antelope”‘s wooden appeal so different to the white mansions and the sequestered Star Tavern in its mews setting are both hidden gems, dwarfed by the edifices around these parts.  These pubs criss-cross a later crawl – see Belgravia to Chelsea

As Artie would contend, only six boozers in one night was a bit paltry, given recent escapades.  Back in those days we started a bit later and hung around for more than 1 beer at some pubs…. but nevertheless, one of the finest mews pubs in deepest London, the Horse and Groom, allegedly an old Beatles hang out, was a great way to round off the night.   He does like his hard to find mews pubs and the cobbled street and olde worlde frontage gives this pub a real “local” feel. 

In fact, well done for finding both mews pubs first time around with no doubling back – not easy

 

Spitalfields

16/08/2012 at 14:24 | Posted in Crawls | Leave a comment
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Archie admits his memory is very hazy now but the pubs as best he could remember for Liverpool street/Spitalfields (3 August 2007) were as follows:

Shooting Star

The Gun

Ten Bells

Pride of Spitalfields

The Archers

White Hart

It was hot that day and first time it didn’t rain. In fact the Pride of Spitalfields was the stand out pub – er, especially because we stood outside – where there is always to pleasant smell of the tandoori ovens at the back of Brick Lane on a summer’s evening.

By the end of the evening we had walked outside of zone 1 to find a pub, and who’s to say we wouldn’t do that again in the future. There was one more pub/bar that we went to on Whitechapel Road, but by then the short term memory had gone as well as our collective long term ones, so I’m afraid we can’t confirm which pub this was!

Fitzrovia South

27/02/2012 at 13:54 | Posted in Crawls | Leave a comment
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In 2008 Phil took a small party around media-land taking in some old favourites, including the classic Newman Arms, which features on the St Giles pub crawl.  One of our “unwritten” rules is that there has to be a minimum of 4 persons to make it an official crawl (otherwise we’d all be lonely legends at this), hence this is one of our lesser known routes.

We began in The Jack Horner, a fantastic corner pub true to its Young’s tradition of real ales.  If you end up around Centre Point and can’t find a pub this is the easiest to find on Tottenham Court Road on the right going north.  From here it was a short walk to The Rising Sun (in the setting sun – as this was a sunny June evening!), followed by The Fitzroy Tavern (drinking outside) and then through an alleyway to the Newman Arms.

From her we strolled to another nearby hidden pub, The Duke of York, where Rod Stewart is known to have sunk one or two.  Onto Goodge Street for the One Tun, our second Young’s Pub of the evening.  We had made little progress westward at this point and the final two pubs became more of a punt as time was moving on.  We ended up in the Green Man, which was packed with students and finally The Cock Tavern, on Great Portland Street, well after 11pm.  We missed last orders at The Yorkshire Grey, and there was not time to do the majestic Crown and Sceptre, or even the King’s Arms but there’s always another time!

Bond Street

12/06/2011 at 20:17 | Posted in Crawls | 2 Comments
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The very first crawl of this group was led by Phil, back in November 2006, and took in the Bond Street / Marylebone area. The meeting point was the Woodstock, near Bond Street station.  The idea was that we would head up Marylebone lane, which is an old right of way in a slightly different direction to the grid.   Having done the pub walk a couple of times the main targets were always the classic O’Conor Don , which sadly closed in 2007 (although it has been replaced, at least, with another pub -the Coach Maker – rather than housing); and the timeless Golden Eagle.   It was suggested that people should bring their singing voices and thinking it meant karaoke they were surprised to see a piano playing songs from the early 20th century and even earlier!

This approach allowed us to take in unplanned pubs along the way, however the quality of these two meant staying a bit longer in each – O’Conor Don , two drinks the pub was so great, and of course two in the “roll out the barrel” pub.

After the Cock and Lion, Phil led the crawlers to the O’Conor Don, on Marylebone Lane, The Golden Eagle (and its Cockney sing-a-long!) and Gunmakers finished off the inaugural pub crawl.

The Golden Eagle is a classic find being off the beaten track yet so close to the london being – and something worth even coming back for again and again.  And so you have it, every crawl since that point has allowed us to indulge in real London back-waters the more secluded and “lost”  the better!  With our crawls every now and again your forget where your are…..

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