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

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.