Sunday, 4 December 2022

What I noticed in London

I’m not going to give you a blow-by-blow account of my trip to London. I’ve written far too many of those recently. And this wasn’t a beer trip. A holiday with Dolores, for once.

Instead, just a few observations on London. As beer and pubs go, of course. Or maybe some other crap as well. If I can remember anything.

For the first time, we travelled to London by Eurostar. Which meant I could Take my own beer for the journey. Bluejacket Company porter, in case you’re wondering. An East India Porter brewed to a recipe of mine in DC. It’s one of the beers I brought back from my last US trip. Very nice it was, too.

We didn’t visit a huge number of pubs. Just six in total: The Euston Flyer, Friend at Hand, Brewhouse & Kitchen, Shakespeare’s Head, Marlborough Head and The Museum Tavern. Three of which are Greene King tied houses. As many of the pubs in central London seem to be.

We called in The Euston Flyer on the way in and way out. As it’s handily positioned directly opposite St. Pancras. Only one Fullers beer on draught – London Pride – and three bottled. Though there were two Dark Star beers. Slightly worrying, if typical.

I was concerned when Fullers left brewing. Such splits in the past have mostly led to both brewery and pub chain disappearing. How are sales of Fullers beers doing in their pubs? Have they boosted sales elsewhere?

The quality of cask we encountered was pretty good. Neither of us had a duff pint. Nothing even close to needing returning. The Brewhouse & Kitchen was the most disappointing, only have one cask beer on, a whisky Stout that tasted like it had been on for a while. Dolores had to resort to drinking keg Bitter.

Visiting several Greene King pubs, I ended up drinking quite a bit of Abbot. Nothing wrong with it at all. Full of malty goodness. Dolores reassures me that London Pride is still as good as ever.

Their pubs did have some interesting guest beers from small London breweries. Bermondsey Best in the Museum Tavern, for example. Bitters which were able to satisfy Dolores’s cask beer craving.

 Biggest disappointment – apart from the fucking prices – was the lack of Old Peculier at the Museum Tavern. I’d been looking forward to that. As for the prices, well, I’d sort of expected it. Everything well north of a fiver a pint, except in Spoons, where it was still over four quid.

Most pubs were pretty full. But we were in central London. The pubs are always busy. So very difficult to say anything sensible on how trade is holding up.

Most pubs were pretty full. But we were in central London. The pubs are always busy. So very difficult to say anything sensible on how trade is holding up.

In Waitrose, there was a sort of beer apartheid: shiny cans of craft on one side of the aisle, bottles of trad stuff on the other. Except for cans of Camden beers. It implies that there are two types of beer drinker. If so, my purchases made pretty clear which I was.

The Euston Flyer
83-87 Euston Rd,
London NW1 2RA.

Friend at Hand
2-4 Herbrand St,
London WC1N 1HX.

Brewhouse & Kitchen - Hoxton
397-400 Geffrye St,
London E2 8HZ.

Shakespeare's Head
Africa House,
64-68 Kingsway,
London WC2B 6BG.

Marlborough Head
24 N Audley St,
London W1K 6WD.

Museum Tavern
49 Great Russell St,
London WC1B 3BA.


Michael Foster said...

This is really quite bizarre because The Euston Flyer was the last pub I went to before I moved out of England about 15 years ago (omg I'm old). I distinctly remember it because it was a London Pride pub and they had tons of Fuller's on tap and in casks.

That was before the new generation of British craft brewers popped up and during the big GK takeover of smaller brewers and general British brewing consolidation, so I wonder if that has something to do with it.

InSearchOfKnowledge said...

Beginning of September we went to London (last time was 23 years before that), Shakespeare's Head was my first ever pub experience. Had to look up on my phone how to order things.

Then, in the five days we were there, we went to The Lamb, The Marquis Cornwallis and Callaghan's Bar (well, we stayed in the Holiday Inn at Bloomsbury).

I like the British pub experience better than the Belgian café experience.

Ron Pattinson said...

Michael Foster,

the Euston Flyer is still a Fullers tied house. It's just that Fullers doesn't own the brewery any more, having sold it to Asahi.

Daniel Boisvert said...

Do I understand correctly that you have to be 25 to buy beer at the store??

Rob Sterowski said...

Daniel: No. If the cashier thinks you look under 25, you get carded. Then you’re fine as long as you can prove you’re over 18.

Steve D. said...

In cool_beers.jpg, I espy Goose Island IPA on the third shelf on the right. Those ABiB people are certainly getting that beer out there.