Beer Guide London Visits 11 – Weekday Openers
One of the more annoying aspects of visiting the Guide entries is the fact that a number of them only open during the week, understandably as the areas they tend to be in have very little, or no, residential presence. For those of us who also work Monday to Friday it makes visiting a bit trickier. However, this year, my birthday fell on a Friday so I took the day off work and made the effort to tick them all off. Happy Birthday to me!
The plan was to start at the two towards the north and west of the centre before heading towards Farringdon and on to the City. I actually arrived at my first stop, The Jackalope, ten minutes before it’s scheduled noon opening, but the doors were open and I was warmly welcomed inside. This is a very pleasant pub in a quiet mews that is now one of the extended Euston Tap “family.” By the official opening time there were three of us already drinking, and in my case the Redemption cask ale was going down very nicely. The footnote to this visit is that whilst checking their website to write this post I spotted that they are now open on Saturdays! D’Oh!
One of the joys of doing pub crawls, in any city, is wandering around random streets and seeing what you find and even after years of wandering around London I still take great pleasure in stumbling across new streets or hidden squares, and emerging somewhere to realise how it connects with other areas you knew. A bit like doing “the knowledge” but for pedestrians. After a 15 minute wander I made it to stop two, the Resting Hare. It’s related to the Jackalope and is set back a couple of streets from Euston Road, but hidden away around a corner. It’s a nice, airy bar with a similar list to it’s “sister” locations served from a horseshoe bar at the far end. Given it’s proximity to many University buildings it often has quite a large student clientele as well as workers from the surrounding offices, which is why it doesn’t open at weekends as, like with the establishments in the City, there are not many people around then. Another great bar to consider if you are looking to pass some time before a train departure during the week.
With the two northern outliers done it was time to jump on to the tube to Farringdon and start my journey through the City. From the very impressive new station it is just a short walk to the Jerusalem Tavern. Although it is dated 1720 on the exterior this is related only to the building, it has only actually been a pub since the late 90’s. However, once inside you could easily believe that it has been a pub for 200+ years. It’s gloriously gloomy, wood panelled and full of small nooks and crannies. It’s always a great place to visit, especially as it is the one place in London that you are guaranteed to find beers from St Peter’s Brewery in Suffolk.
Now I know I am a bit behind with my posting but between my visit and now the Jerusalem Tavern closed at very short notice. And then re-opened under the name of the Holy Tavern! It is back in the Guide as initial reports suggest nothing much has changed, but to satisfy my OCD I will need to revisit it under the new name. My list, my rules!
My next stop was a short walk to the south, but, and it’s a very valid but, just a short walk to the north is the superb Sutton Arms. So guess what I did? Yep. And after that enjoyable diversion I retraced my steps and got back on track with Ye Olde Mitre. Tucked down a narrow alley this pub really is historic, having been built in 1546, with several small rooms inside and a courtyard outside, it is not difficult to imagine what has happened here over the centuries. Although it is a Fuller’s pub you always find a good range of guest beers on both cask and keg, and on this occasion my cask Mallinson’s was in excellent condition.
Another of the good things about doing a crawl in the more central areas of London is the fact that distances between stops, on the whole, are not great. It was therefore just a stroll along Farringdon Street to stop 6, Farringdon Tap, one of the most recent additions to the Bloomsbury Leisure family of pubs and one of the four siblings that I visited today. This is quite a cosy space, not dissimilar to the Euston Tap, but it also has a basement and and a first floor. The beer menu is exactly what you expect to find in these establishments and I went with a German schwarzbier, not a style you see that often.
Turn left out of here, walk for c1 minute and you are at my next stop, Harrild & Sons. I told you the distances weren’t great! This is a large bar, but today I was pretty much the only customer, most companies have still not got back to normal post lock down. On my previous visits the beer range has been much better, today it was fairly average. It’s possible that it is another consequence of recent events, and things may improve again, but the Guide has received reports that the range has dropped off in all of the ex Barworks group bars. Reluctantly they have all been dropped from the Guide for now, but we will keep monitoring them to see if they pick up again.
It was time to head down in to the City proper now for my last three bars. The first of which was the fourth sibling bar, Pelt Trader. Located on a side street next to Cannon Street station it is actually located in the arches under the station concourse and as such has a bit more of modern brewery tap vibe to it, which is not a bad thing. Again there is plenty of space, but sad to report again that in the middle of a Friday afternoon I was pretty much the only customer. I’m hoping that it is just a sign that a lot of companies are allowing staff to work from home some of the time, and for me it would be logical to make Friday a working from home day, rather than commute in. It would be interesting to see if they are any busier in the middle of the week.
My penultimate stop is the St Mary Axe branch of Craft Beer Co. The upstairs bar area is quite small, and I was pleased to see that it was quite packed, but there is also a spacious basement seating area. The available beer range is of the quality you expect from this group of pubs, with breweries you don’t often see anywhere else. For the more obscure stuff the prices can be quite high, but upon ordering I have found that in all branches they warn you of the price before pouring, an example that should be followed by all establishments with premium priced products. Despite it’s limited opening times this is one of my favourite branches of Craft Beer Co. and I will always make a point of visiting when I can.
And so it was on to my final stop of the day, Arbitrager. This is a great little bar that specialises in serving beers from London breweries. I’d left it until last as it didn’t open until 17:00, or at least that was what the Guide said, at some point it had changed to 14:00, highlighting the value of these research visits. I picked up three beers here, purely to help with my parallel quest of trying to get a beer from every London brewery you understand. And that was it, a very pleasant birthday spent around the bars that are normally a bit more tricky to get to. Same time next year?