My Dad drank a lot of mild as a young man, in all kinds of pubs and social clubs, and misses it a lot. So, I looked forward to taking him to the Nags Head in Walthamstow for a pint of Mighty Oak Oscar Wilde, which is on of my favourite beers.
It wouldn’t be an exagerration to say he turned his nose up: “It’s alright,” he said, “but it’s not really mild — not like you used to get.”
Brodie’s mild, on the other hand, he absolutely loved. It’s nice enough, but fairly unexciting — softer and browner — compared to Oscar Wilde, but is apparently more like the real thing.
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.
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.
Last night, I had a pint of Fuller’s Hock in the Red Lion on Duke of York street in central London. Hock is the seasonal special, apparently, and very nice indeed. It’s great to see a 3.5% dark mild in a normal pub — and selling like hotcakes, too.
Not a bad pub, either.
The William IV is about 15 minutes walk from our house. We used to go there quite a lot. It was friendly and pioneered poncy beer like Leffe and Hoegaarden before they became ubiquitous. It also had its own beer, which was tasty and cheap. We stopped going around five years ago when (a) the microbrewery stopped producing (b) we were made to feel distinctly unwelcome by some aggressive locals and an indifferent barman. Its fall from grace corresponded with the opening of the Nags Head [sic], and we never went back.
When we were tipped off that the place had started brewing again, we should have been over there like a shot. The fact that it’s taken us a couple of months is testament to the fact that a bad customer experience can really put you off a pub.
Still, we finally got round to it this evening, and we’re dead pleased we did. There are three local brews on tap: an IPA, a mild and a ‘red’. The standout brew is the red. It’s intensely fruity and bitter — think burnt redcurrant crumble, in a good way. We could drink pints and pints of the stuff, and almost did (but got all grown-up and responsible and started thinking about work tomorrow). The mild has nice sour notes, and at 3.6% is a good session beer. The IPA is definitely on the hoppy side, but at 4% is also quite sessionable.
Can we wholeheartedley recommend it? Well, it’s a great Victorian interior, with some fabulous Truman, Taylor Walker and Ind Coope memorabilia inside. There’s a fire, and a cat. But they’d do themselves more favours if the barman was a bit friendlier, and the clientele is currently mostly single men watching the football or reading the paper. It’s definitely a typical white working class East London boozer, albeit one that happens to brew its own beer.
We’ll be going back, though, and bringing our friends.
The William IV is at 916, HIgh Road Leyton, E10 6AE (Beer in the Evening review here). It’s a 15-20 minute walk from both Walthamstow Central (Victoria line) and Leyton (Central Line) tube stations, and there are frequent buses from both. If you’re going to the Pig’s Ear beer festival in December, it’s about a ten minute bus ride on the 48 and probably worth the trip.