Beer Guide London Visits 16 – North London
Today started with a visit to The London Festival of Railway Modelling held annually at Alexandra Palace. After a very enjoyable morning looking at the various layouts and wandering around the numerous trade stalls I was well placed for a very pleasant stroll through the park and down the hill, enjoying the unseasonably warm sunshine, and in to Muswell Hill. I made way to the back streets where I arrived at my first stop of the day, Hillbilly Tap Room, home of Muswell Hillbilly Brewers, just as it was opening. This is a small, ramshackle taproom and full of character for it. Seating is limited, but on a glorious day like today it is possible to utilise the outdoor seating they put out. They have 5 of their own beers on tap pus a fridge of packaged beers. I had their porter which has a slight smokiness and is very good indeed.
I took the bus from here to Hornsey for my second stop. The Great Northern Railway Tavern is one of the great pubs in London and remains one of my favourites. The only possible flaw that I can find with it is that it is in Hornsey! It may take a bit of getting to, but the effort is always worth it. A Fuller’s pub with a fantastic range of guest beers. Luckily they do flights, and this time I managed to limit myself to just one, albeit with an average ABV of 7.8%.
A short bus ride followed by a walk in the sun brought me to my third stop of the day, and first new visit, The Palm. This is an historic old pub, formerly called the Lord Palmerston, which has been sympathetically treated and is now a vibrant community pub on in the back streets. There is an island bar, make sure you check both sides as the excellent beer choice is different on both sides. On my visit, in the early afternoon, it was a popular spot for families to meet up. An excellent example of what can be done to retain a pub at the heart of the local community.
One of the things that I most enjoy about these days is the chance to explore and see parts of London you wouldn’t normally visit. I get more excited than I probably should when I pop out of a side road and recognise where I am from a previous visit, the chance to slowly connect all the parts of London in my own mental map. It was, therefore, a very enjoyable stroll through the back streets of North London to my fourth stop of the day, True Craft. As well as serving a good range of beer they also serve pizza, and on all of my visits here the smell has been incredible as you walk through the door. I had a beer from Floc, my first from this highly rated brewery, and it didn’t disappoint. But one of these days I really must make the effort to spend some time here and see if the pizzas taste as good as they smell!
A short walk brought me to the heart of Tottenham and one of the more bizarre bar locations in the Guide, High Cross. This is a small, cozy, bar in a converted public toilet block. Yes, you read that right. They have done a really good with the space available, and also manage to serve up a great range of beer too. The welcome is always friendly, and the novelty of the venue just adds to the experience. It has a great location on the High Road and on days like today you can sit outside with your beer and watch the world go by.
A walk up the High Road brought me to Bluecoats, an imposing stone built pub. Visits in the past have always been rewarded with some interesting beers on tap, alas no more. The list now is very ‘safe’ and it has now fallen below the high standard that we try to keep in the Guide. Make no mistake, it is not a bad pub, just not as good as it was, and has just been overtaken by many others in the city.
It was now time to head off in the direction of Tottenham Hale and a small cluster of brewery taps. First of these, about fifteen minutes away, was ORA Brewing Tap Room. This brewery is run by some of the nicest guys you could wish to meet and their Italian heritage influences the beers they brew. Those involving balsamic vinegar have been particularly good. It is a typical tap room in an industrial estate setup. Seating inside and out and a food truck set up to provide sustenance. This time I did stay long enough to sample the garlic pizza bread that was on offer.
From here it is a pleasant walk through Tottenham Marshes, a refreshingly rural area, to Lockwood Industrial Park, home to two more breweries. I headed to the rear of the industrial estate first to pay a visit to Pressure Drop Tap Room. This is a brewery tap on a much larger scale to ORA, but it is still seating in an industrial unit housing the brewery. Just bigger. They always have a good selection of their beers on tap and I went with a couple of their new releases. The Alsatian Pils, in particular, was a great beer.
And so it was time to head around the corner to my final stop of the day, the recently re-opened Beavertown Brewery Tap. Except that they have moved the tap room to a unit on the opposite side of the yard in the barrel aging unit. What I can say, it’s Beavertown. Still divisive in ‘craft beer’ circles, but they are still popular, indeed they are many people’s gateway in to the world of ‘craft beer,’ and they do still make some good beers. I sampled one of their newest beers before calling time on my day’s wanderings. Another good chunk of London visited with a few hidden gems along the way. What will the next trip bring…?