beer and food bottled beer

Restaurant with almost good beer


Once again, last week we found ourselves in a restaurant which had made a bit of an effort with the beer, but not quite enough.

On the up side, there was one of each colour — Hoegaarden (yellow), Guinness (black) and Innis and Gunn (brown).

Sadly, the Guinness was the widgetised draught bottle (fairly bland) and Innis and Gunn’s beer is nowhere near as good as their marketing.

It wouldn’t take much to improve the beer offer here, without getting too geeky. Non-widgety Guinness Original isn’t bad; Hook Norton bottled Double Stout or Fuller’s London Porter would be even better.

And why not replace Innis and Gunn with… well, almost any bottled ale?

We guess the owners are buying what they can get at their cash-and-carry of choice, or through their wine supplier. We’d be interested to hear from anyone who knows how this works, and what would need to change to improve things.

The restaurant was the otherwise very good Eat 17 in Walthamstow, London.

American beers buying beer london

American beer in East London


The mystery of the two Brooklyn India Ale bottles in an alley near our house has been solved.

It seems that Paul’s Wines — an ancient and tatty off-license on Orford Road in Walthamstow, East London — has upped its game on the beer front. It’s been decent for a while (lots of bottled ale, the occasional sighting of Brooklyn Lager) but now it’s probably one of the best specialist beer shops in London. The manager says it’s a permanent arrangement as long as they can keep hold of the supplier.

Don’t get over-excited: there isn’t that much competition when it comes to beer shops in London, and it’s no Utobeer. But it’s better than the Army and Navy beer section these days, and really, really convenient for us!

In stock now, on top of the usual suspects from Young’s, Shepherd Neame, Badger and Fuller’s (partial list):

  • Anchor Steam
  • Goose Island Honkers Ale
  • Flying Dog Hefe Weizen
  • Brooklyn Brown Ale; East India Ale; and Lager
  • Bernard Dark
  • RCH Pitchfork
  • Morrissey Fox
  • some ales from breweries I didn’t recognise
  • some weird looking beers from Russia, Mongolia, Corsica…
  • And the full range of Sam Smith’s.

I got a 10 per cent discount for buying (ahem) a few bottles.

beer reviews london pubs

Brewed on the premises – William IV, Leyton, London

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.