All over Battersea, some hope and some despair

The weekend before last, we needed to get out and about and stretch our legs, and what better way to do it than a pub crawl in South London?

Walking from Pimlico and through Battersea Park, the first pub on our hit list was the Merchant, a sister pub to the Florence. It has a similar range of bottled beer and, on tap, their own brew and two from Sambrooks. What we said about the Florence applies pretty much word for word here, although it was a bit cosier.

The Goat on Battersea Rise wasn’t on our list but we were intrigued by the building (see picture above) — what exactly is a Temperance Billiard Hall? Inside, it reminded us of a German bierkeller, with low lighting and cosy spaces. Unfortunately, the ale was absolutely appalling. Brains Party Popper and Ryedale Winter’s Tale both tasted like buttery popcorn with a hint of cardboard. A bottle of Sierra Nevada Pale Ale rescued the day. The staff could not have been friendlier and with such a great building, it’s a shame no-one was actually tasting or looking after the beer. Nonetheless, we bet it’s heaving on a Saturday night.

Then on to Northcote Road, famously home to dozens of dull bars, and into Clapham. We popped into the Holy Drinker which boasts a large range of beers but were baffled to find that they were all in bottles. That and the fact that the bloke on the bar didn’t bother looking up to say hello made it very easy to turn round and walk out. It’s odd — we’re always banging on about how pubs should have more bottles, but if all they have is bottles, we can’t really see the point.

Finally, to the Eagle Ale House on Chatham Road, which we loved, mostly because we got to sit next to and play with the open fire. Meantime Cask London Pale Ale was also a bit of a draw (“we’re the only place they sell it to as a regular”) and was fabulous. The barman absolutely insisted on serving it with a sparkler even though we told him not to go to the trouble of attaching it (“it needs it for the body”). None of the other beers (Loddon Hoppit, Downton Quadhop, Ringwood Best Bitter) were really very interesting but all were in very good condition.

10 thoughts on “All over Battersea, some hope and some despair”

  1. The Goat is one of the M&B castle brand(at least it was last time I was in there) it used to be a Firkin with a micro brewery, then they turned it into a Castle Gastro or as I call it, a Castro.
    Where abouts is the Merchant? I’m intrigued, I quite like the Florence.
    The Eagle – Good pub, haven’t been there for years though, must make the time now.

  2. nice post, like the little round-up. A Temperance Billiards Hall was the Temperance Movement (which advocates abstinence from alcohol) trying to keep the working classes out of the pub.

    It’s not the only one in SW London, the Temperance on Putney Bridge was a former Temperance pool hall as well, if you look above the door closest to the bridge then you’ll see it’s a very pretty stained glass window above it that shows what it used to be.

    Ironic huh?!

    Will we see you at the Harviestoun meet the brewer on 23rd?

  3. RBF — the Goat had that M&B feel about it (i.e. more thought had gone into choosing the chairs than the beer). The Merchant’s about three minute’s walk away.

    Melissa — the Temperance is an excellent name for a pub. As Boak pointed out, the problem with the temperance billiard hall is that, if you like billiards, why not just play it in a proper pub with beer? It’s not like they’re mutually exclusive.

    We won’t be around for the Harviestoun meet the brewer event as we’re off on our travels.

  4. The Eagle is very nice, although they didn’t have the Meantime on when I was there in the summer. I hope they haven’t got rid of Harvey’s Best as a regular though.

  5. There was no Harvey’s Best on when we were there, but there were a couple of clips turned round so maybe it was one of those.

  6. Quite a few places sell Meantime LPA regularly. I would have done so myself but we noticed a distinct drop in quality after the first few casks we got, and decided to knock it on the head.

  7. We weren’t entirely convinced by his claim, to be honest. His argument for the sparkler was that, because it’s brewed for keg and bottle, it’s not really suitable for cask conditioning and needs a bit of help. As someone who knows his way round a cellar, what do you reckon to that?

  8. My colleague at the Eagle was I suspect picking up on the point that Jeff has made. The beer is quite complex with a blend of 6 hop varieties, but it does have a propensity to come up a little flat hence the sparkler. With our constantly changing number of ales I haven’t got round to taking this up with the brewer. We don’t stock it that often but I suspect Dans reference was to the fact that we were one of the first to stock it upon release. The cask filling is contracted out to Adnams as Meantime bottle for them. Perhaps this has something to do with the issue.

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