Bermondsey

18/03/2017 at 12:55 | Posted in Crawls | Leave a comment
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In March 2017 Paul took us back to Bermondsey, for a crawl taking advantage of the increasing opening hours of some of the brewery taprooms of the Bermondsey Beer Mile.

We started out at Southwark Brewing, who were, I think the first of the local breweries to start opening on Friday evenings, and at the time of writing they’re open several evenings a week. Unusually for the new generation of craft brewers, the focus of Southwark is on traditional cask ales, and several were on offer; we mostly went for the Session IPA as there would be quite a few more venues to follow, and it was in excellent condition as you would expect.

Southwark.jpg

Further down the railway arches lies Anspach & Hobday, another small craft brewer, this time more focussed on keg beers, generally stronger in content and consequently we downsized from pints for this venue. Some  interesting experimentation has been going on at A&H, with beers on offer including a smoked pale ale, sea salt and chilli stout (sounds interesting but didn’t try this one) and a Belgian bitter. There’s always something new to try here and keep you coming back.

BBNo.jpgHeading deeper into Bermondsey, we came to the next railway arch brewery, Brew by Numbers, which has enlarged its taproom somewhat since I was last here, and added some tasty-looking street food out front for the peckish.We stuck with the slightly smaller servings again, trying a variety of beers between us; I went for a dark beer this time, the coffee & milk stout, which was delicious and definitely left me wanting more.

But, on we go, this time to Ubrew, which is pretty much next door to the previous venue but accessed from the other side. This is a different type of brewery, in which anyone keen to brew can rent a brewing kit and brew their own beer, but with brewery-quality kit and ingredients. Brewing was under way from about three different groups when we visited the taproom, which sells a variety of beer, some brewed on site and some not. I tried a smoked pale ale for the first time (having only heard of such a thing an hour earlier) and it was very good.

I was also very pleased to find in the fridge a 0.5% chocolate stout from Big Drop Brewing;this was pretty good stuff, very tasty for something with such little alcohol. I firmly believe that very low alcohol beers should be widely available in pubs for those times when you want to socialise but can’t drink for whatever reason, or simply want to reduce your alcohol intake for the evening without going home early or switching to water or fizzy drinks. So well done to the guys at Big Drop, I look forward to seeing the Citrus Pale Ale I can spy on your website as being available soon!

We started heading back towards town now, and stopped this time at the Marquis of Wellington, opposite one of the earlier ports of call. For a long time this was a regular backstreet local, but has been renovated into the contemporary style, with a modern interior, good range of drinks, and some excellent-looking pizzas being prepared behind the bar. The beers were from London and included a cask from Southwark brewing and a seasonal beer from Anspach & Hobday, which must have been brewed about 50 metres away, but I was slightly surprised that the pub hasn’t gone even bigger on local provenance; they could probably sell 200 different beers, all brewed within walking distance. Still, pretty impressed with the place, will be back for pizza some time.

We headed next for an old favourite of mine, the Dean Swift in Shad Thames. I do love this place. The beer range is constantly changing, and they think it through; for example I’ve been there to watch Tottenham v Arsenal, and they’ve had Redemption Hopspur (brewed in Tottenham) and Hop Stuff APA (brewed on the Royal Arsenal) next to each other on the bar. Very good work!

Rose.jpgA slightly longer walk now as we began to head back towards London Bridge, and called at the Rose. This is a pleasant, upscale place, with a more limited beer range than the previous venues, and just the one handpump; however the beer on, Ringwood’s Mauler, was good. They also have an interesting floor downstairs made out of pennies; my shoes will appear in someone’s photos of the night, as I was asked to pause and pose my feet for a picture on my way to the loos!

More craft beer could be found at the final venue of the night, The Miller. While this may look like a dodgy 60s place from the outside, it’s actually a young and lively venue, and has a good range of ales and other craft beers, including a very long bottled list.

All in all an excellent evening, and time only to agree on the Pub of the Crawl. Unusually we also visited several breweries on this walk, which were all excellent but the award is ‘Pub of the Crawl’ rather than ‘brewery of the crawl’ – frankly all the breweries are excellent. Although we called at my favourite pub, they have been visited and awarded the title previously, so the Marquis of Wellington was voted Pub of the Crawl for breathing new life into this pub in Bermondsey. Congratulations!

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 beer mile update

17/05/2015 at 18:08 | Posted in Articles, Crawls | 2 Comments
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Things are moving very fast in the world of London Breweries, so it is time to update our earlier post on the Bermondsey Beer Mile with news on the breweries which have opened since the original post was penned in 2014.

swk1First up, the Southwark Brewery opened its doors not long after our last visit, and a welcome addition it is too. Occupying a spot at the westernmost end of the collection of breweries, the Southwark Brewery is the only one to focus on cask rather than bottled or keg beers, and on entering the spacious bar the sight of a line of handpumps comes as a pleasant surprise. My favourite is the London Pale Ale, a light and hoppy ale of the modern style, a very refreshing pint at 4%, but the brewery has a range extending through a golden ale, a traditional best bitter, and a Russian Imperial Stout.

swk2aThey also do other beers outside of the house range; when we visited they had Harvard American Pale Ale, named after the Southwark boy-done-good who headed to America and founded the prestigious University, and Bankside Blonde, a blond/golden ale.

The drinking area is generous, and is a great space to spend some time trying the range of beers on offer. It’s open 11am-5pm on Saturdays, and at the time of writing is also open Friday evenings until 8pm, although that is not listed on the website so I would suggest phoning / emailing / tweeting etc. ahead of visiting on a Friday to double check if they’re open.

ubrewAnother new entrant since the last write-up is Ubrew. Another quite different prospect from the first breweries, Ubrew is an “open brewery”, where individuals join as members to have access to Ubrew’s professional kit and ingredients, and brew their own beer on 50 or 100 litre kit. As per the usual drill for Bermondsey, they have a taproom open on Saturdays, with several craft beers on draught (keg) and a very large selection of bottles from around the world; having just returned from Spain I was keen to see their Spanish offerings and found about a dozen different Spanish craft beers, to give an indication of their range!

ubrew2The bar is in the heart of the brewery and a couple of teams of self-brewers were busy on their brewing kit while we watched, one of them even having a dog in tow! A number of the members are selling their beer, through the taproom or elsewhere, so in fact this brewery is the home of many microbreweries – I wonder how many full scale breweries will be born here? Pop along to try some brews and spot a future winner.

The taproom is open Saturdays 11am to 7pm.

Don’t forget to visit the main Bermondsey Beer Mile post with details of:

Anspach & Hobday (now also open Sunday 12:00 to 17:00)

Bullfinch Brewery (now also open Sunday 12:00 to 17:00)

Brew By Numbers

Kernel Brewery

Partizan Brewing

Fourpure Brewing

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!

Bermondsey beer mile

20/04/2014 at 15:00 | Posted in Articles, Crawls | 10 Comments
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NOTE: this crawl was in 2014; since then there have been some changes, including that Kernel is now open only for off-sales, and several now open for longer hours including midweek evenings; see each brewery’s website for the latest information on opening hours

UPDATE, MAY 2015: new info added here, including 2 new breweries joining the scene

At Easter 2014, we decided to dispense with the Friday night zone 1 pub crawl formula and visit the Bermondsey Beer Mile for a Saturday afternoon brewery crawl instead.

Most people start at one end and walk towards the other, stopping off at all the breweries en route; my cunning plan to miss the busiest crowds was to start in the middle, taking a bus from one end to restart at the other.

We met at Bermondsey tube station at 11am in order to get to the Kernel brewery (open Sat 9am-3pm) before it got too busy; last time I was there in mid afternoon it took a while to get served, such is the popularity of the Bermondsey beer revolution which started here. Well, not quite here, but it started nearby; Kernel’s initial brewery was a little further up the train line, but they soon outgrew their first premises and moved into their current site in 2012.

As you enter the Kernel arch, there is a counter directly ahead piled high with the beers currently on offer. Most are relatively high strength but for a while now Kernel have also offered a lower strength “table beer”, typically around 3-3.3%, depending on the particular recipe on offer at any given time, but they still manage to pack in a lot of flavour even at such low strengths.

BBNTurn right into the next arch and you enter the brewery’s tap area, with lots of long tables packed full every Saturday with beer fans supping Kernel’s draught beers. Today we were ahead of the pack and bagged a table where we drank some delicious draughts, including two types of Pale Ale (Simcoe and Mosaic), and one glass of the London Sour, which was a very interesting beer – sour, as the name implies, but very tasty; not sure I could drink too many in one sitting though.

Leaving the Kernel, we turned right and through a gate into Spa Road and headed to the next stop, Brew by Numbers  (open Sat 11am-6pm) on Enid Street. Of all the breweries, this was the only one I hadn’t visited before, but it conforms to the general pattern; a bright railway arch with a small bar serving some interesting beers on draught or in bottles to take away, and a bunch of people sitting and standing around the entrance enjoying them in the sunshine. Some of our number went for the session IPA (or 11|02 in Brew by Numbers parlance), but a couple of us tried the Saison (or brew 01|02), brewed with Amarillo hops and orange peel; apparently, anyway, though my palette perhaps isn’t refined enough to pick out the orange. All were very good though, and we ended up with one and a half rounds here with the IPAs slipping down that little bit quicker than the stronger Saisons.
AH hop rocket

Moving on, we headed to Druid Street and the shared premises of two breweries, Anspach & Hobday and Bullfinch (open Sat 11am-5pm). These guys had an interesting contraption on the bar, the Hop Rocket, a device holding fresh hops through which the A&H IPA was pulled to add a very late hop finish. You could certainly taste the hops, which added a very floral flavour reminiscent of perfume, though we didn’t feel it was really needed.

Indeed we stayed for a second round to try some different drinks and generally we preferred the bottled IPA which hadn’t had the benefit of the hop rocket. Still, we’re all for experimentation, and I’d certainly try it again with another ale. As well as the IPA we also tried the A&H brown ale, which was very smooth and had a lovely smoky flavour, almost like bacon.

I got my only take-out from here; being a great fan of beers using Citra hops, I couldn’t walk away without a bottle of Citrageddon, a black ale with “a devastating amount of Citra hops”; this is currently sitting in my fridge though, so I can’t say how it tastes!

dirtylittlesecretBy now we were in the Maltby Street area, and wandered along the Ropewalk, a bustling path lined with different stalls selling all sorts of food and drinks (including bottled craft beers) (generally open Sat 9am-4pm, Sun 11am-4pm). The salvage specialists Lassco are now open at weekends too, for an interesting wander around their wares if you have a penchant for vintage stuff.

Phil thought it would be a good idea to get some monster burgers for lunch, and we all tucked into some enormous “dirty little secret” burgers topped with African Volcano, apparently a Mozambique-style peri peri sauce. They looked a little like like a heart attack on a plate, and I felt some trepidation tucking in – there was rather more grease than I would like! – but I have to say it tasted fantastic, and I’m sure was very good stomach lining for the second part of the walk.

Having reached one end of the run of breweries, we walked a few minutes walk south to be chauffeured by the big red taxi right to the other end of the beer mile – take the no. 1 bus towards Canada Water and it will drop you at Beamish House, opposite the Bermondsey Trading Estate, within which resides the Fourpure Brewery (open Sat 11am-5pm).

PingpongAlthough the estate sits under the railway lines and you pass under the railway to reach the brewery, this is the only one of the day not within a railway arch, and the premises feel a lot more spacious than the others. The first thing that greets you is the ping-pong at the entrance and the brewery opens out into a large space, with a well appointed bar on the left serving a selection of very fine ales. We had a mixture of pale ale and amber ale, both of which were very smooth and good refreshment while playing table tennis!

For the final brewery of the day we headed back towards the Blue (or Southwark Park Road to non-locals) and the inauspicious-looking Almond Road, down which is hiding the Partizan Brewery (open Sat 11am-5pm). Like the first few, this one is tucked under the railway arches, and is a rather more confined than the previous stop, but that hasn’t stopped them turning out some very fine beers to put into their beautifully designed bottles (well, the labels that is, the bottles are quite normal!).

PartizanWe mainly went with a recommendation for the bottled Saison, the 6.2% Falconer’s Flight, which was so good we bought a second round of them as last orders were called. I have to wonder whether they should be closing at 5pm when the demand was evidently there to carry on a bit longer, but nevertheless we had a small table outside and enjoyed our ales together with some lovely homemade Brazilian cheese sticks.

With a whole Saturday evening left in front of us, we headed to the local craft beer pub the Dean Swift, where some more fine ales were consumed before topping the day off with a curry.

All in all a highly recommended day out in Bermondsey.

Notting Hill

12/05/2012 at 19:29 | Posted in Crawls | 1 Comment
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It was Artie’s turn to lead us again at the start of May, and we headed west to Notting Hill, and it was great for me to revisit an old stomping ground of mine, having worked there for several years. Fortunately, as usual, there was some new pub territory for me mixed in with some old favourites.

The meeting point was the Churchill Arms on Kensington Church Street, a great little pub chock full of knick-knacks, and indeed of punters too, a short stroll from Notting Hill Gate station. This is a very popular Fuller’s pub, with a Thai restaurant at the back.

Once we were all assembled, we made the very short walk  to the Hillgate (although far enough for three of our number to lose us en route). This place brings back happy memories for me of many a Friday team lunch here, although things have somewhat changed since then. Not only has our team dispersed and moved on, so has the pub, with the old landlord long gone, and the pub moving upmarket in the meantime. The old internal walls, carpet and furniture have all gone, and it’s all large bare wood tables now in place of the cosier feel of the place a few years ago. A couple of people opted for the Sambrooks Junction but found it was off, though the barman happily replaced the pints with the Wandle.

From we made the very short walk through the pastel “Hillgate Village” to the Uxbridge Arms. Unlike the Hillgate, this one hasn’t changed a bit, and still serves a great pint (and stocks the London Drinker).

From here we headed uphill to the Windsor Castle, a classic pub with both a lovely interior and large garden, where we were fortunate to bag a large table. This must be one of the largest beer gardens in zone 1, and is highly sought after in the summer months.

The longest walk of the night followed this, taking us north to the Cock & Bottle, where everyone else promptly disappeared ito the gents after an increasingly uncomfortable walk, as the three preceding pints began to work their way through the plumbing! This is a lovely traditional late Victorian pub, with beautiful etched windows, as can be seen in the slightly Hopper-esque view on the left. In here Rich whipped out a cryptic tube station quiz for us, which we all enjoyed despite one or two dubious answers! (I’m looking at you, Finchley Central)

The Prince Edward was the next port of call, another late Victorian pub in a quiet corner of Bayswater, this one a bit larger and busier, and part of the Hall & Woodhouse estate.

Back toward Notting Hill now and the Champion, which is quite a lively and modern pub with good draft beers. I had some lovely Sumerland Gold from Moor and others went for the Copper Dragon Black Gold, both well kept.

From here it’s just a short stroll back to Notting Hill Gate tube for the last trains (beware, the Champion is open later than the tube!)

Lambeth to Borough

03/04/2012 at 21:24 | Posted in Crawls | 3 Comments
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In March 2012, I led the crawlers back to south London for a walk from Lambeth North to Borough.

As ever, we met up at a pub handy for a zone 1 station, or in this case at least a couple. The Crown & Cushion doesn’t look or feel like it’s in central London, but not only is it about 100 metres from Lambeth North, it’s also a short hop from Waterloo, and not far from Westminster. It’s something of an Irish pub, with old signs on the walls, but serves ales and is a perfect meeting point, lively but without the crowds usually found at 6pm on a Friday.

The pub’s almost next door to the former London Necropolis Railway station, and its first class entrance on Westminster Bridge Road. A short walk east brings us to Hercules Road – where Passport to Pimlico was filmed in 1949, and the former Century House, home to MI6 during the Cold War.

The Three Stags formed the next stop, which has been nicely renovated and sits just across the road from the Imperial War Museum, once the Bethlehem insane asylum, first founded in the City in 1247 and origin of the word Bedlam.

Heading east again, we came to the Albert Arms, a Brakspear pub tucked away in a lovely knot of Victorian houses behind the Bakerloo line depot. This is a lovely little two-bar corner pub, smartly kept and with several interesting and well-kept ales on the bar.

Onward again, via St George’s Circus – where the roads to Lambeth, Westminster, Waterloo and Blackfriars bridges meet – to the Duke of York. In 1979 this was the birthplace of the Firkin chain of pubs, when it became the Goose & Firkin microbrewery. The Firkin empire grew rapidly until the 1990s and has since been broken up, with this one now part of the Shepherd Neame’s growing London pub estate. We bagged a comfy corner for ourselves here, but there was no danger of us flouting the “No petting” rule!

A very short hop now to The Ship, on the corner of Borough High Street, a friendly local where I spent New Year’s Eve a couple of years ago.

East again, through the gorgeous Trinity Square conservation area to the Roebuck. This is a cracking pub serving good ales, and probably my pick of the crawl. With the clock past 11 by this time, we headed back towards Borough tube station for the final call of the evening, the Trinity next to the station, a very convenient pub if perhaps lacking some of the killer charm of some of the area’s other cracking drinking options.

Bermondsey

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.

The Dean Swift, SE1

07/08/2011 at 17:51 | Posted in pub reviews | Leave a comment
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I first tried out the Dean Swift, in Shad Thames, about 3 years ago. It was a smallish corner pub, with a young crowd, and I thought the odds on finding a good beer were fairly low, but I was surprised to find some good beers on, including a tasty Landlord. We went back a couple of times and started to really like this pub, so I was slightly disappointed when we tried to go one time and found the place closed and builders moving in.

I was fearful that a decent pub had been lost, but in fact it was not only being refurbished rather than converted to some other use, but being turned into something of a local beer nirvana. It still has four fine ales on handpump, some of very exciting provenance – there was a draft cask IPA from New Zealand last week. But they have also made an effort with both bottles and keg.

Lots of bottled beers are available – perhaps not quite on the same scale as some of the much larger craft beer pubs beginning to pop up around London, but they do have some great ones including from Bermondsey’s own Kernel brewery.

And the keg offer is pretty fine too. We’re not talking John Smiths extra smooth here but craft brews from around the world. Last week there was an IPA Day and Stone IPA, all the way from San Diego, California, sat alongside the Black IPA from Kernel, just 500 metres from the pub, along with several other interesting brews and the house pilsner. Their Twitter feed has updates of the latest beers on offer.

So if you’re in the Shad Thames area, near the southern end of Tower Bridge, you could certainly do worse than drop by the Dean Swift for a swift pint (or three).

Borough pub crawl

04/06/2011 at 16:53 | Posted in Crawls, Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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A recent Friday evening crawl led by yours truly took us around the Borough area. Borough High Street is well-trodden and has been covered before, so I took the opportunity to go around some of the more hidden gems. We met at the Libertine, which was a good level of busy when I did a dry run a couple of weeks earlier but was rammed on this occasion; couldn’t work out what had brought everyone here, but I think it’s not normally quite that busy!

From here to the Lord Clyde, a marvellous old tiles Trumans pub  and still performing its role admirably, very nice local. Then to the Gladstone, an unusual pub, quite small but with regular live music downstairs. We headed upstairs and took the last remaining table – a Moroccan-style low table which required us to sit around it on rugs. Very good fun at first, but I think we’d have struggled to stay in that position for more than one round!

Then off round the corner to the Royal Oak, a well-known Harvey’s pub, with a deservedly good reputation. Next stop was the Britannia, home to over 100 whiskies but also some decent beers, and then on to the Horseshoe, and specifically to its roof terrace to admire the rising Shard of Glass, London’s 310m tower now under construction at London Bridge.

A dingy walk through the railway arches brought us out to Tooley Street and the Kings Arms, with a quick late one after they closed in the Pommelers Rest Wetherspoon.

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