london pubs

Pubs We Can’t Walk Past

We’re just back from a few days in London and, though we were mostly busy seeing family and friends, did find time for a couple of beers in pubs that we now realise we simply cannot resist.

First, passing through Angel, Islington, even though we didn’t especially want a lunchtime drink, we had to stop at the Craft Beer Co for a couple of halves. There’s something about this particular branch of the chain that we especially like. It’s partly the guaranteed availability of at least one or two interesting beers among the vast range, but perhaps more so the combination of daylight, darkness, and a general sense of tranquillity. (Perhaps the management would like it to be less tranquil?) The beer was expensive but nice glassware, friendly staff, tasters all round, proper beer mats, and other perks made it seem decent value. We confirmed that Magic Rock Salty Kiss (Gooseberry) is still a wonderful beer, and also that we still don’t quite get what others see in The Kernel, though a half of pale ale with Mosaic and Zeus was perfectly decent.

In Walthamstow the pub that pulled us in, even though we really ought to have been doing something else with that precious hour and a half, was the Nag’s Head. It’s not the best pub in London, and perhaps these days not even the best in E17, but it’s our old local, where we first drank Kriek and sank endless pints of mild and Timothy Taylor Landlord. Since the last time we visited, the range of beers on offer has improved again — fewer Caledonian seasonals, more from Essex — while the cats-and-kitsch décor has intensified in strangeness. We sat in our old corner and drank Mighty Oak Marmalade Skies, a Beatles-themed pale ale at 4.7% which somehow reminded us of Batham’s Bitter — sweet but not sugary, and balanced as in balanced, rather than as a synonym for bland.

We’ll no doubt drift into the Nags next time we’re in town, too because, let’s face it, we’re not under any pressure to be on top of the latest thing in London: there are plenty of others on that beat.

Are there pubs you can’t walk past? If so, what gives them that quality?

Main image taken at the Craft Beer Co, Islington, in June 2014.

13 replies on “Pubs We Can’t Walk Past”

Different perspectives … I would consider Walthamstow to very much be out of “town”! I have good pals who moved there recently so been to Nag’s Head a few times, lovely pint of Landlord as you say.

N1 Craft Beer Co is as you suggest invariably quiet. Same goes for the Bar Works site, the Three Johns, just down the road. I don’t see how two pubs with such a modish offer that are so close to Angel don’t attract more trade.

It’s always going to the places you drank in when you first became enthusiastic about beer, isn’t it? For me Á La Bécasse in Brussels, The Frog & Rosbif in Paris and 7 Stern in Vienna figure highly. I don’t think I have a London equivalent. The Museum Tavern, maybe.

I always used to seek out the Lyceum on trips to London, because Sam Smith’s bitter was one of the best things you could reliably get – and I loved the pub (still do). I don’t make a detour now, but I think I would find it very hard to walk past. The Quadrant in Brighton similarly has some very happy memories, although it’s a bit of a dive these days.

I can’t think of anywhere I’d always go into for the beer – apart from the Blue Anchor, obvs. But I pass six pubs/bars where I’ve had truly excellent beer every time I go to the shops, so I’ve had to get used to steeling myself on that front. (Four of the six opened within the last ten years, and the other two within the last twenty.)

The Quadrant was my haunt for many years. Helped that I worked less than a 30 second walk away. It’s always been a bit of a dive truth be told, but it’s great for people watching.

The Plasterers in Norwich. Lovely atmosphere and great beer range, always puts me in a good mood to be inside the friendly confines. Although it’s rare that I would have an opportunity to walk past as it’s 30 minutes from my house so I normally go on purpose 🙂

Euston Tap. Something about the oddness of the building and the lack of space inside seems to draw me in.

De Hems in Soho.
I’ve lived,loved and lost in the pub that sold craft beer before anyone had even thought of the term.
And more often than not followed by a bottle of bubbly in Kettners.
And then some late night fumblings in Jimmy the Greek’s.
Took my oldest kid there for his first legal drink seeing as he was very nearly conceived in there.
Wahaay !

The Victoria at Beeston. Superb pub generally, but the killer was that it was next to the station, and hence a temptation for a quick pint before going home and getting the dinner on. And then another quick pint. And then some food, and a few more pints. And then rolling home at closing time.

The Brunswick in Derby has caused me to “miss” a few connections and be obliged to head over there to wait for the next train with a book and a beer. I once ran into a Nottingham friend there who was doing exactly the same thing.

And these days, the Pint Shop in Cambridge, for the reliably excellent scotch eggs and the less reliable off-chance that they’ve got something really interesting on…

The key thing about Craft N1 (as I may have mentioned before) is the carpet! Unlike pretty much every other interesting beer establishment, it has sufficient soft furnishings to stop it getting stupidly loud when it is busy (and it does get busy sometimes!)

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: