New Pubs and Old Favourites #3: The Bricklayers Arms, Putney

Beer pumps at the Bricklayers.

We can’t quite call the Bricklayers in Putney an old favourite because we only made it there once, about a decade ago.

On that occa­sion, we were delight­ed to find a pub in Lon­don with beer from Tim­o­thy Tay­lor. Not just the then ubiq­ui­tous Land­lord but the full range – Gold­en Best, Ram Tam, dark mild, and more.

But then we moved to Corn­wall, and while we were away, the pub changed, los­ing its unique sell­ing point and becom­ing just anoth­er Lon­don pub with a ‘great range of real ale’. Peo­ple stopped talk­ing about the Brick­lay­ers, and we for­got it exist­ed.

Then before Christ­mas, the buzz began again: Taylor’s was back at the Brick­ie.

We went out of our way to vis­it in the week between Christ­mas and the new year, despite Google’s insis­tence that the pub was closed on Fri­days. As we approached along the qui­et back­street we felt reas­sured: the lights were on, fig­ures were mov­ing behind the frost­ed glass.

Bricklayers pub exterior.

Not many fig­ures, though: we walked into an almost emp­ty pub, and the peo­ple at the bar were into the last inch­es of their pints, mak­ing their long good­byes.

It’s an excit­ing sight, a line of pumps with Taylor’s clips, espe­cial­ly when rar­i­ties such as the porter are there along­side the big names.

There’s been a lit­tle con­tro­ver­sy about this brew­ery late­ly. Depend­ing who you lis­ten to, it’s either over­looked and under­ap­pre­ci­at­ed, or over-hyped and new­ly trendy, but we like the beer and have liked it for almost as long as we’ve been pay­ing atten­tion.

This time, there were some hits and miss­es. Land­lord was off – a trib­ute to the pow­er of the brand, we sup­pose – and the dark mild was sim­ply mud­dy. Knowle Spring was sad­ly bland. The porter we’d been so keen to try seemed like a squirt of cheap cola.

But Ram Tam! Oh, Ram Tam. Anoth­er best mild, we think, and though peo­ple keep telling us it’s just Land­lord with caramel… It doesn’t taste like Land­lord with caramel. Per­haps we’re mugs being fooled by the optics, per­ceiv­ing flavours that aren’t there, but we are per­ceiv­ing them, so who cares.

A moth­er and father with moody teenage son arrived, made small talk, and agreed to try a mix of Gold­en Best and dark mild that the local CAMRA crawl had appar­ent­ly enjoyed on its sweep through.

A reg­u­lar arrived, con­ceal­ing his drunk­en­ness expert­ly until he’d been served, and then star­ing dumb­found­ed at a pint he didn’t real­ly want. “I tell you what, I’ll have a whisky,” he said, but did­n’t get one.

The fire flick­ered.

The boards creaked.

Faces appeared against the frost­ed glass, scat­tered into pink points, fea­tures scrunched in con­sid­er­a­tion. To come in from the cold, or walk on? They walked on.

13 thoughts on “New Pubs and Old Favourites #3: The Bricklayers Arms, Putney”

  1. It’s not just my ancient taste buds that find Tim­o­thy Tay­lor’s beers dis­ap­point­ing nowa­days then. The only beer you liked was the one with added caramel…

  2. I have to give this anoth­er try. I heard so much great about this place, and when I first vis­it­ed 4 or 5 years ago, it was dis­mal. Emp­ty, with only two casks on tap, and a selec­tion of Con­ti­nen­tal lagers. I like lager, but I had specif­i­cal­ly come for the cask ales, and to find a poor selec­tion of what­ev­er (can’t remem­ber, but noth­ing I could­n’t get at my local so say Lon­don Pride and Doom­bar), it was a sad affair.

    But if things have turned around, maybe worth anoth­er trip.

  3. I went in the Fri­day before Christ­mas, they had all 7 on – the land­lord was out of this world.

  4. A full range of Tay­lors Beers in Lon­don does sound good. It’s even unusu­al where I live which is just 5 miles from the brew­ery. In fact I can only think of the Wool­ly Sheep in Skip­ton that has their whole range.

    I had the Porter last year at the Fal­con in Lit­ton­dale and thought it was a good addi­tion to their range.

    I was told the Ram Tam is Land­lord with molasses added (as opposed to caramel), but I guess that’s much the same thing.

    1. Sure I’ve seen the full range in the Town Hall Tav­ern in the cen­tre of Leeds?
      Or is my mem­o­ry play­ing tricks?

      1. I think you might be right Fred. No doubt the Bolt­mak­ers in Keigh­ley also has a full range. Just mak­ing the point that whilst many pubs take one or two Tay­lors beers, its a lot more unusu­al to see the com­plete gamut.

    1. We also tried that very unsci­en­tif­ic test, and it tast­ed ‘dark’. And there’s two of us, so we win.

  5. Ram Tam is Land­lord with some caramel and block invert sug­ar but both are added pri­or to fer­men­ta­tion so still impart addi­tion­al flavours and resid­ual sweet­ness that’s not lost in what used to be a very enthu­si­as­tic sec­ondary fer­men­ta­tion.

  6. Haven’t had the porter, but I have found the craft‑y(?) sub-range (with the dia­mond-shaped clips) to be rather unim­pres­sive gen­er­al­ly. I’m a big fan of Land­lord, Gold­en Best and Ram Tam, though, and Bolt­mak­er is one of my favourite ses­sion beers any­where. God knows when (if) I’ll be in Put­ney, but if the oppor­tu­ni­ty aris­es I’ll seek this place out!

  7. When I first moved to the Mid­lands and encoun­tered Marston’s Mer­ry Monk, I thought it was the clos­est thing I had drunk to Ram Tam. I always imag­ined it as Pedi­gree hav­ing caramel added…

    Actu­al­ly been drink­ing some rather sim­i­lar dark ales in Latvia this week­end – rather sur­pris­ing, actu­al­ly.

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