beer reviews london pubs

Secret Bars of Westminster

largeblm.gifI recently spent a night in a bar in Central London where you can always get a seat, which always has at least three real ales on tap (one of which is always a mild) and where a round of two drinks costs much less than a fiver. Sadly, it’s not somewhere I can recommend to everybody — it was one of the several members-only Civil Service social clubs hidden around Westminster.

These are some of the few surviving working men’s clubs in London, and that is exactly what this one felt like. I was reminded of Peter Kay’s Phoenix Nights; of the railwaymen’s club my Mum and Dad joined a few years ago because the beer was a pound a pint; and perhaps a little of the club that Mr Mackay opens in the basement of HM Prison Slade in Porridge the Movie. In other words, it was rough around the edges, and maybe a little bleak, despite being a stone’s throw from both Buckingham Palace and the Houses of Parliament. But, for all that, the beer was half the price it is in the Rake, and just as good.

I drank Crouch Vale Blackwater Mild, which was in perfect condition, delicious, and reminded me of Anchor Porter (more hop aroma than is usual in a mild, perhaps?). But is it named after the sinister American “security” company…? They also had Crouch Vale Brewer’s Gold, and a couple of other beers whose names I didn’t write down.

If you know any civil servants, ask them if they can get you into their “social”. You’ll either love it or hate it, but either way it will be an experience.

2 replies on “Secret Bars of Westminster”

Brilliant stuff. I have a few mates who work for the civil service, but they’re doing Foreign Office fast track and the like. Somehow I doubt they’ll be members of this place – it will probably remain a mystery to me!

[…] The social club we’re occasionally lucky enough to be invited to has gone up in our estimation: Brew Dog Trashy Blonde was available on tap this week in cask-conditioned form. Although they’re on the cusp of becoming irritatingly ubiquitous, we couldn’t help but be delighted by the sight of the bold purple pump clip which promised something out of the ordinary. It was great — very much alive and super juicy-tasting, and stronger than the bottled version at 4.8%. […]

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