Beer history london

The best glass of lager in London

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As Alan ‘Good Beer Blog’ McLeod reports, there was a bit of collective nosying about the internets last week researching the German-owned Spaten Beer Buffet/Cafe/Restaurant which was in the basement of the London Pavilion, Piccadilly Circus, from c.1895. Here’s yet another little nugget from Goodbye Piccadilly by theatrical type Walter Macqueen-Pope (1960), recalling the period before World War I:

Underneath the London Pavilion [music hall] was a beer cellar which announced its presence by a large shining red spade trade mark — Spatenbrau. There you could get the best glass of lager in London, there you could get the dunkel lager — the München-Löwenbräu — just as one drank it in Germany. There is a good bar there still. But it is no longer the Spaten.

He goes on to mention another business which we guess was also German-owned and which also sold lager:

Across the road, at the top of the Haymarket, was another landmark. Here you could get a light meal and a drink free from any annoyance or the importunity of the prostitutes, who thronged the Circus. It was called Appenrodt’s and was a famous delicatessen shop. It was cheap and it was superlatively good…. There were Continental delicacies of all kinds, sausges in bewildering variety, wonderful salami, splendid lager and coffee it was a privilege to drink…. When the first war came and English firm took over and of course it was never the same.

Lager everywhere. If it hadn’t been for those pesky world wars, would the lager boom have happened fifty years earlier?

Our next mission: find a photograph of the interior of the Spaten Restaurant.

7 replies on “The best glass of lager in London”

Prior to the WW1, Bavaria was a popular holiday destination for the British upper classes. However WW2 was a significant event in breaking down class barriers in later 20th Century Britain, so it is difficult to say. All a bunch of what ifs.

And if the ‘lager boom’ had happened fifty years earlier, would everything that followed it have been similarly put back? Would I have been born too late to witness the ‘craft beer revolution’? Presumably it would have been old news by the 1970’s…

I’ve was going to say that I’d posted about the Spaten beer hall, but I now realise I haven’t. It was in the talk I gave on the hhistory of Lager.

I’ve found a few references to it. One about an Italian restaurant owner convicted of receiving a whole stack of tableware knicked from them. And the bankruptcy notice.

I used to think that it had been confiscated at the outbreak of WW I, but I’m not so sure now.

Considering how well-known it was and relatively widely-available, sales of Lafer were pathetically low before the 1960’s. Loads of people lost their shirts by anticipating a Lager boom and building an expensive Lager brewery. Almost all of them soon went bust. It was only export-orientated brewers like Tennent or the Wrexham Lager Brewery that could make money out of it. EVen Allsopp couldn’t.

The history of Lager in Britiain is fascinating and the resistance of the mass of drinkers to its charms.

We’ve seen postcards showing the site of the Spaten place in (according the whoever put it online) 1919 when it’s got a sign saying “IRISH BAR”, which suggests that (if nothing else) it rebranded between 1914 and then.

Disgraceful stereotyping there by the owners, suggesting that the Irish are all navvies and gravediggers … Spaten, geddit? … I’ll get me coat.

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