London's After-work Pubs

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?

13 thoughts on “London's After-work Pubs”

  1. I was in the Blackfriar yesterday evening, didn’t fancy any of the cask beers (Doom Bar, Tribute, TT Landlord) but then I spotted a bottle of Meantime Chocolate in the fridge, so they’ve got that going for them as well.

    And as you say, it’s an absolutely lovely interior.

  2. On the subject of Nicholson’s, I have been VERY impressed with the cask selection at the Horniman at Hays (Hays Galleria) on the south bank next to London Bridge. Usually something from Thornbridge plus plenty of other top-end micros. Well kept too in my experience. Whoever is choosing and keeping the beer at that place is doing a good job!

    As a bonus they do a good selection of lagers, affordable food and have lots of seating right on the river with good views of Tower Bridge.

  3. HGF — the Chandos is special — always heaving, full of students and theatregoers, but, if you get there at the right time, you can have a booth to yourself and just watch the world go by through a stained glass window. Marvellous.

    Tandleman: more on salarymen here; and, no, although we often joked about writing to Christian Horton, we never actually got round to it.

    Darren — I’d take the latter two gladly. And had better get used to Doom Bar…

    Dubbel — that makes me think that we probably ought to do a round up of riverside pubs, too!

  4. The major benefit of SS London pubs is the presence of “upstairs”. Princess Louise, Blue Posts, Chandos, Lyceum are all fine downstairs if you can get in, but give an oasis for beer upstairs at other times. The Angel near TCR probably breaks all definitions of what a central London pub should be. The Fitzroy and the Bricklayers will always be special. Not been the same since they stopped doing ridiculously cheap Mild though.

    Fuller’s pubs are similarly exchangeable, and also pretty serviceable (not sure I’ve ever actually reached the Jugged Hare as it wasn’t a pub when I worked round there).

  5. The Sam Smith’s pubs in London seem to be revered but the ones oop here are reliably godawful sometimes.

    My local does’t let us in half the time on grounds that we’re not halfwits, and they don’t keep the beer particularly well anyway. And there’s a lovely report online somewhere about one of the establishments in Harrogate relating to a dog that eats children, comparing the car park (possibly unfairly) to The Bronx and (I paraphrase) a mushroom brained barman.

    Still, The Angel in Briggate is worth going to see for the man who dresses as Sherlock Holmes and if you have a particular penchant for watching people gradually slipping down the bar into their own piss.

  6. Sam Smith’s are nice in theory, but the Old Brewery Bitter is pretty horrible IMO (and many pubs don’t have any handpumps anyway), and the lovely bottled stouts are very expensive (4.50 i think?) which seems at odds with the budget prices on other items. do they have any other cask beers besides OBB?

  7. although on a more positive note, the one on Kingly St (Red Lion?) is nice, i like the little wood panelled room downstairs

  8. Michael — OBB isn’t all that exciting, although I quite like its tartness, when I’m in the mood. I don’t know about other cask beers, but I like their keg stout a lot (more sour and characterful than Guinness) and their Yorkshire Bitter reminds me distinctly of a Duesseldorf alt.

  9. Thanks for the mention! I was wondering where that traffic spike came from …

    As for Sam Smiths – i’m still doing a one-man boycott over their treatment of Cropton. That’ll learn ’em.

  10. The sign outside the Jugged Hare actually made me salivate – the thought of a steak and ale pie, washed down with a fresh pint of ESB from the cask.

    There’s something truly beautiful about the British tradition of pies and beer 😀

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