Mild (and more) at the Museum

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The Museum Tavern, opposite the British Museum, is one of those rare beasts – a decent pub in a tourist trap location. It’s always amusing to sit/stand at the bar and watch a succession of bewildered visitors cope with concepts like mushy peas (“They’re peas, but they’re mushy”, as the barmaid helpfully explained).

In fact, it’s often quite heartening. People usually want to try something British, and the bar staff are pretty friendly and willing to recommend one of the six ales on tap, which are kept in great condition.

We popped in specifically for some Old Peculier,  but were distracted by Cain’s dark mild.  This packs a huge amount of flavour for a beer that is barely alcoholic (3.2%).  Coffee and caramel, in an extremely potable form.

Another sub-4% cracker was on offer, “GMT” from Stockport’s 3 Rivers brewery. This was the first time we’ve tried any of their stuff, and we’ll be looking out for them in the future. GMT (which stands for the three rivers in question — Goyt, Mersey & Thame) is a lovely crisp session beer with hints of orange.

Finally, the Old Peculier.  This is such a marvellous beer from the cask — extremely fruity, a little sour, with a butterscotch aftertaste.  It’s almost Belgian in its richness. You could certainly serve it in a la-di-da chalice glass and fool a few people if you were so minded. The bottled version really doesn’t compete.

Jeff recommended this place months back when we were after Old Peculier on tap in London, so thanks to him for the tip.

Fresh as a daisy

Ah, the month of mild. Last night, we over-indulged, drinking an ill-advised six pints of Coach House Gunpowder Mild (3.8%) at the Speaker despite it being a school night. Today, we were as right as rain. That’s the wonder of the weak British session beer.

There will be more than 60 milds available at the speaker in the next month, with two available at any one time.

How we research pubs

We like to get out and about looking for new pubs (although the evil of work has prevented this a bit recently).

Sometimes, we just chance our luck and hope that we’ll stumble on somewhere good. We’ve got quite good at peering through pub windows to see what’s on offer and have become pretty adept at turning on our heels and walking out of pubs that turn out to be rotten once we”re inside.

More often, though, we do a bit of research beforehand, using various resources.

We do have a copy of the Good Beer Guide (2007 edition) which we refer to, but as we’ve mentioned before, its focus on consistently good cask ale, rather than on interesting beers across the board, sometimes leaves us uninspired.  Also, it could be better at clearly flagging pubs in a given area which stock locally brewed beers.

We like Beer in the Evening, but a number of our regular haunts don’t  score above average (usually because a few Internet trolls have dragged the rating down).  But the comments often give us a good idea of whether we’d enjoy the pub or not, regardless of overall rating.

These days, though, we’re most likely to survey our favourite blogs before visiting a new area.  If several bloggers like the same pub, it’s probably worth a look. Over time, we’ve also developed a sense of which bloggers like the same kinds of pubs we do, so we rate their opinions more highly. It’s the next best thing to a personal recommendation.

The Prince of Wales, Kennington

The view from inside the Prince of Wales pub

It’s a shame Shepherd Neame’s standard beers are so boring, because a lot of their London pubs are really nicely located and friendly.

The Prince of Wales in Kennington in south east London is hidden off the main road in a square which looks like it hasn’t been touched since early in the reign of Queen Victoria. There’s a chalky, sandy square surrounded by trees where people play boules on hot afternoons. The pub itself has lots of windows, a beautiful frontage and hanging baskets. As long as you can put up with posh people shouting about RADA and cricket, it’s absolutely charming.

We drank slightly tart Spitfire (it was in good condition — that’s just how it tastes) and grassy Master Brew and felt very happy to be alive.

Weirdly, on the table by the window was a middle class family we last saw in a beer garden in Wuerzburg last summer. Are we under surveillance?

The Betjeman Arms, at last

Almost a year after it opened, we finally made it to the Betjeman Arms at St Pancras station.  It’s run by the Geronimo Inns lot and, like the other Geronimo pubs we’ve visited, there are a lot of glossy but dull Euro-brands, together with some nice cask ale.  In this particular case, they have commissioned their own house brew from Sharps.  It’s called Betjeman Ale and is pleasant enough, but unchallenging.  They also run the odd beer festival now and then.

We gather it’s supposed to be a bit ‘gastro’, but we didn’t eat there.  It’s certainly very good by the standard of lots of station pubs and we loved the roof terrace — even though it overlooks the busy Euston Road, it felt very peaceful up there, and the view made us feel a bit in love with London.

Lots of other bloggers have reviewed this place; see Stonch, Pete Brown, London Randomness,  and Tandleman for more.