My London reports have been a resounding success, with an enormous number of comments, for which I am grateful. Well not exactly, though readership of the articles has been high. More comments please. Really they are the life blood of blogs. Not numbers, but opinions. Still, I'll plough on, this time returning to pubs and three and a half bits of really good news. Well news to me at the time anyway.
Where was I? Oh yes, at the closed Tower Hill tube station, but undaunted, we nipped up the Minories and hopped on a tube at Aldgate, destination, the Old Red Cow of which I'd heard good things. Heard from Tyson that is. It is a neat little pub, just outside a gigantic hole which is part of Crossrail and just along from Smithfield Meat Market. Two bars here, the downstairs one with handpumps and some keg and the upstairs one with a keg only bar, but possibly with a touch more room. Beer choice was good, with a very knowledgeable and chatty barmaid downstairs and the more usual, tactiturn beardy manning the CO2 upstairs. Why are these beardies always so bloody dour? I am going to make a study of this. I would tell you all about the beer, but that's boring, except to say it closely resembled the Dean Swift in its foreign range and unlike the Dean Swift, is sparkled as God intended. Well my pint of something black and tasty was. It was at the correct temperature too. Upstairs, we bumped into Tyson and Eddie, still on the prowl and giving up, we threw our lot in with them for the duration. We certainly couldn't beat them, so we joined them.
I liked the Old Red Cow enormously. A lovely little boozer with good beer, all served properly. Only black mark was the ludicrously overpriced Brick Lane Lager at £5.10 a 33cl bottle. Nearly £10 a pint for a locally brewed beer. Taking the piss. Nonetheless I'll be back, made all the more likely by our next port of call, the Fox and Anchor, a couple of hundred yards away.
The Fox and Anchor is a long, elegant, dark wooded, feast of Victorian pub architectural splendour. It reminded me of the Beehive in Liverpool before some arseholes (Punch Taverns) ruined that. Lots of trendy snacks were on offer, good looking meals and a decent range of beer in top condition too. I enjoyed (again) Citra from Caveman. It was very busy indeed and we were all impressed and again, combining it with the Old Red Cow, we'll be back. Me when it is quieter for a proper look round.
Next up, a decent walk away was Exmouth Market and the luscious looking Exmouth Arms, which I haven't been in for years. It has been opened out, is all bare boards and is very dark inside, but somehow cosy and pleasant. Or was that just because the drink was getting to me? I don't know. It might be as I have no recollection of the cask beers at all. My drink of choice was kegged Camden Pale, served in the proper glass and rather good. Again, we'll be back.
All good things must come to an end though. Eddie and Tyson were looking at their watches anxiously. Of course that merely meant we had time for one more pub. Again one I'd heard of, but this time, one I haven't been in. The Pakenham Arms, right by Mount Pleasant Sorting Office, has large picture windows and a sort of gentleman's club atmosphere. Again very likeable, but the veritable forest of handpumps (was it 16?) had only three or four on. There is also a small selection of craft beer in bottles. The beer was good though and again, I'll be back, as the pub itself is very attractive. Have a look at their website to see what I mean.
With the addition of the Well and Bucket, I have, in one weekend, found (or rediscovered) five pubs I'm keen to go back to because they are good places and importantly have good cask beer being looked after properly. London certainly is picking up a bit.
It is particularly gratifying that some pubs at least have installed (or are starting to use) cellar cooling. Summer though is a big test for London. I'll let you know.
A bit of a CV. Tandleman is a veteran beer lover, CAMRA Chairman and (local) activist, beer author, beer reviewer and pursuer of all things good in beer. He lives in the North West of England and London. Despite his CAMRA membership, he does not limit himself to cask conditioned beer, though he believes that cask conditioning, when done correctly and appropriately, brings a quality to beer that is hard to equal by any other kind of presentation. He is a strong supporter of Northern methods of beer dispense and avidly detests poorly presented beer and dislikes pasteurisation. He regularly visits Germany, has conducted corporate British and German beer tastings for CAMRA at the Great British Beer Festival where he has worked for years on Biere Sans Frontieres and was Deputy Organiser at CAMRA's very successful National Winter Ales Festival in 2009, 2010 and 2011. He admires good brewers wherever they are and has travelled extensively in pursuit of good beer to drink.
This blog mentions specifics; pubs and beer, good and bad. The opinions will be forthright, but you can always disagree, just don't be offended. Comments from those mentioned are particularly welcome and a right of reply is hereby offered.
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