Beer Guide London Visits 19 – East London
London is big, really big, as I’m sure you are all aware. As a consequence some parts can be a real pain to get to, but everywhere has to be visited and so bullets have to be bitten and tortuous journeys endured. Today my main focus was the Leytonstone area as there were a number of possible new entries to check out as well as a couple of existing places to revisit. As I was heading out this way I decided to start in Wanstead which is one of the really annoying places to reach from home, but where we have a couple of really good venues listed.
After what seemed like a lifetime of travelling I arrived at my first port of call, the Wanstead Tap, but unfortunately it had yet to open, not the first time I have encountered this here. All is not lost though as it is only a couple of minutes walk to Pretty Decent Tap Room. This is your typical London brewery in a railway arch, done very well in a small space and with excellent beers. The welcome is always friendly and on this visit I was lucky to be able to try the stout they had brewed to raise funds for Ukraine.
I retraced my steps but the Wanstead Tap was still very much closed. I have to admit that I, again not for the first time, took to Twitter to voice my annoyance. More of that later… Instead I moved on to Leytonstone where my second stop of the day was another tap room, Solvay Society Tap Room, situated, unsurprisingly, in a railway arch. Again the space is used well and their range of, mostly, Belgian inspired, beers is always consistently good. For once I exercised some restraint and avoided the higher ABV beers, but it is difficult here as they are always good.
A walk through the town centre took me to the first of the three research visit bars of the day, The Birds. This is a large corner pub which has been taken under the wing, (see what I did there?) of Laines Brew Co. It has the signature shabby chic interior that you would expect and the usual good mix of Laines and guest beers. It’s corner location on the High Road means that it has plenty of custom from those wanting a break from their shopping. It has a nice community feel to it and is worth a visit if you are in the area.
A short walk from here and down a side road took me to not only my next stop but a different world. A stones throw from the bustling High Road and I found myself in what can only be described as a rural idyll! A row of cottages complete with gardens and a fantastic locals pub that should be overlooking a village green, North Star. Friends who live in the area tried to dissuade us from putting this in the Guide, desperate to keep this undiscovered gem as exactly that. But it is precisely these qualities we look for, sorry! This is just a fantastic, peaceful, back street pub in an obscure part of town with a much better than average beer range, definitely one to visit. Sorry again!
I left here and headed back along the High Road to the other side of the Tube station and the third of the days new visits, Filly Brook. This is a very smart contemporary Asian restaurant housed in what used to be a scout hut but what makes it of interest to us is the fact that it also carries 18 lines of top notch draft beers. London breweries are well represented but it is pretty much a who’s who of the best UK breweries, not only the core range beers you might expect but seasonals and specials too. The staff were really friendly and had no problem at all with me just visiting to try the drinks, but I don’t know what the situation may be like in an evening if it is full of diners. This place is yet another reason why Leytonstone went from being somewhere to visit if you were in the area to being a decent beer destination.
The Twitter exchange with the Wanstead Tap had continued and I knew that it was now open, and the reasons for the delayed opening, so I made my back there. Despite the issues I have had with finding it closed on a couple of occasions I really enjoy my visits here, it really is a shining example of how a bar place itself centrally in the community with numerous art and music events being held here. Unfortunately that is also the reason behind delayed openings as, like most hospitality businesses, staffing is an issue and it is left to the owner to do pretty much everything. This means late nights after an event and a subsequent struggle to be fully ready the next day. I had a really good chat with the owner, apologising profusely for my earlier outburst, and got a much better understanding of things work. We should really stop taking so much for granted when we go out for a beer! I will be visiting again in the future, but I may not plan to arrive exactly on opening time.
Leaving here the plan was to head home, but en route I decided I still had time to make another visit to one of my favourite places, Proeflokaal Rembrandt at The Bolton, hoping it would be open this time! It was and I had a great time working my way through a couple of flights from the excellent Dutch draft range. Unfortunately this would prove to be one of my last visits as it suddenly and unexpectedly closed down in September. A real loss to the London beer scene, and hopefull Eric’s future plans will come to pass and we’ll be able to enjoy a great Dutch beer range again somewere.