Last year, a friend sighed and rolled his eyes when we suggested Cask for an after-work pint: “Is this another one of your bizarre real ale pubs?” The pubs listed below all have good beer but are also (a) conveniently located for most London-based salarymen and (b) won’t freak out a Foster’s drinker.
After all, usually the point of a mid-week pint is to spend time with friends or colleagues. Good beer is just a bonus.
The Jugged Hare, Vauxhall Bridge Road
It’s an identikit Fuller’s pub in an old bank; it’s a bit corporate and plasticky. And yet, it’s got a certain charm. Very friendly, European bar staff compensate for the chain pub feel, and the beer is impeccably kept. In fact, the Jugged Hare has won Fuller’s in-house pub of the year competition more than once. The pies aren’t bad, either, not just pots of goop with pastry lids.
The Edgar Wallace, Essex Street, Aldwych
Very handy for buses, tubes and trains to all corners of London, this pub is also a CAMRA favourite, with between six and eight real ales on offer at any one time. Usually crawling with lawyers but we always seem to get a seat, too.
Ye Old Mitre, Hatton Garden
A Fuller’s pub these days, but with guest ales, usually including more than one from Adnams. It’s also cosy and extremely charming. The only downside to this as an after work venue is how hard it is to find. Expect to spend some time on your mobile phone giving directions. With thanks to Ten Inch Wheeler for the tip a couple of years back.
The Black Friar at, erm, Blackfriars
Part of the Nicholson’s chain which, as Steve has pointed out, is trying very hard to get its beer right. Handily located for chums who work in the City of London, it also happens to be one of the most unusual and impressive pub buildings in London, bedecked with mosaics and with the atmosphere of Baskerville Hall. There are usually one or two genuinely exciting beers on offer (i.e. Thornbridge specials).
Occasionally, none of those hit the spot, and that’s when we rely on Sam Smith’s. There are millions of their pubs in London and they are all reliably good, if you buy into the SS schtick and like their beer, which we do. Coming away from buying a round with change from a tenner is a bonus, too.
Holy shit! Sam Smith’s have a website? What will Christian Horton do with the time he no longer has to waste answering our letters?