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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Bethnal Green

30/05/2016 at 17:09 | Posted in Crawls | 1 Comment
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My turn to lead at the end of May, and I decided to push the boundaries, starting and ending in zone 1 but following a circular route through Bethnal Green.

We started at the Well and Bucket, a cracking pub near the top of Brick Lane. It has a distressed interior with exposed bricks and old pub tiling, and a huge array of beers, particularly bottle and keg, although we stuck with real ale and drank the Gorgons Alive, a nice golden ale, before moving east.

The walk east was a longish one but gave me a chance to fill people in on the history of the area and its links to gangland characters of old, most notably the Krays for whom this was a centre of their empire; we passed St Matthews Church where their funerals were held, St James’s where Reggie married, and Pellicci’s cafe, going strong since 1900, where the Krays used to hold court.

Bethnal Green crawl-001 Sun TavernThe next pub was the Sun Tavern, much smaller than the Well and Bucket but sharing its hipster bare brick interior style and also focussing on interesting beers, though served from an interesting back bar rather than handpumps. Nevertheless the range included some interesting beers including a couple from Five Points and Camden’s Inner City Green.

A short walk east took us past the Salmon & Ball, an old pub not yet gentrified, outside which two weavers were hung in 1769 for taking part in the Cutter’s Riots over the poor wages of the local weavers. The pub sits on the junction where Bethnal Green tube station lies below; this was the scene in 1943 of one of Britain’s worst civilian disasters when 173 people were crushed to death on a stairway as people were entering the station during an air raid.

Very close by and marked with a blue plaque is the former home of 18th century English boxing champion Daniel Mendoza, also known as’Mendoza the Jew’, whose 1789 book The Art of Boxing revolutionised boxing tactics.

A few metres on underneath the railway arches is a row of new bars and restaurants, amongst them Mother Kelly’s, a craft beer bar with an enormous range of bottled beers and 22 on draught. I had a lovely Kees Session IPA from the Netherlands, others had Left Handed Giant Kolsch from Bristol or Pressure Drop Pale Fire all the way from Hackney, a whole 20 minute walk away!

Bethnal Green crawl RedchurchA short walk past the Bethnal Green Museum of Childhood, part of the V&A Museum, and York Hall, a 1,200 capacity boxing venue with Turkish baths below, and down a frankly dodgy-looking alleyway, and we came to the Redchurch Brewery, another railway arch operation and very similar to the Bermondsey Beer Mile breweries. This one’s bar is open much later though and was doing a fairly brisk trade on a Friday evening. The beers are served in halves or two-thirds and between us we drank the locally themed Shoreditch Blonde, Bethnal Pale Ale, Paradise Pale Ale, and Hoxton Stout.

Bethnal Green crawl-009.jpgAnother slightly longer walk now as we head westwards, to the Bethnal Green Working Men’s Club, the first time we’ve called into a working men’s club  on our crawls. This one’s a bit special though, because its basement bar has been taken over by the Three Sods Brewery as their taproom, and they have created a very homely space to sample their cask ales.

A short walk brings us through the very nice area around Jesus Green, which gives a taste of how lovely the whole area could now look if most of the Victorian slums had been renovated rather than replaced with flats in the 1950s, and to Columbia Road. Being a Friday night the street was just a quiet residential street, but it really comes to life on Sunday mornings when the flower market is in full flow.The very nice Royal Oak pub is a favourite of film-makers, having stood in for the Blind Beggar in the Krays, as Samoan Joe’s in Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrels, and being the setting for 1990s sitcom Goodnight Sweetheart.

A short walk up towards Hackney Road now for the final stop, the Marksman. This is a smallish but lively pub, and another one with some interesting beers sourced locally, including Hackney Brewery itself.

Bethnal Green crawl Three Sods.jpgFinally, the Pub of the Crawl… after some debate, we decided that the interesting venue, warm welcome and tasty beers in the Three Sods taproom in the Bethnal Green Working Men’s Club made it a worthy winner.

The Beer of the Crawl was hotly debated, but the vote ended up going to Camden’s Inner City Green. Congratulations to both!

Spitalfields

07/10/2015 at 19:43 | Posted in Crawls | Leave a comment
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For August 2015, we took a tour of the Spitalfields/Shoreditch area with Rich.

We started out at the Culpeper, on Commercial Street within easy reach of Aldgate East station. This has been refurbished recently, and judging by the crowds when we visited it’s been successful. Some good beers were on draught, including offerings from Trumans, Purity and Tim Taylor’s Landlord, but we didn’t linger too long and headed next to a classic local pub.

The Pride of Spitalfields has been visited before on these crawls, but it’s a great survivor in the area, tucked just off the busy Brick Lane. The pub was busy too, but not busy to find some space inside.

Water PoetA few minutes’ walk through what was by now becoming quite heavy rain brought us to the Water Poet, a large and very busy corner pub in the atmospheric Folgate Street. We supped our Trumans beers at a table by the door, watching the rain sheet against the window and managing a couple of games of noughts and crosses in the window. Yes, this was the August crawl!

Back towards Spitalfields next and the Commercial Tavern, further north along Commercial Street form our starting point. This pub has a pretty quirky design and a hipster crowd, yet still has decent ales and a pool table in its back room.

Commercial TavernKeeping on east now, we crossed Brick Lane again and headed towards Bethnal Green for the Carpenters Arms, famously once owned by the Krays but now a great little pub, its only failing being that it is a victim of its own success and often crowded. Fortunately, once we’d got hold of some ales, we did find some space to drink them out the back, without having to brave the rain in the garden.

Kings ArmsNearby, the King’s Arms was a pleasant surprise, a speciality craft beer pub with a huge range of beers; being on a bit of a session, we went for the rather light Cloudwater, a pale ale at only 3.7%, but there was a whole host of other ales on offer, as well as a range of bottled and canned craft beers.

Another good beery pub nearby is the Well and Bucket, where we headed next. This is a large and busy pub close to Brick Lane, although we found space for ourselves towards the back; we haven’t yet ventured into the downstairs bar.

A very short walk back towards Shoreditch brought us to the BrewDog, where we switched cask fro keg for the final beer and our vote for pub of the crawl.

This month the Kings Arms was elected this month’s Pub of the Crawl. Congratulations!

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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