A quick visit to that strange city of Londinium, where even Tesco closes at 11pm, at the weekend gave me and Eddie, the eager legal beagle, the chance to check up on a few places that had been flagged up as bona fide craft gold. Some were completely new to me and some were the traditional London pub reinvented.
What do you do when Kernel offers you their old brewing kit? Start a brewery, naturally. Well, that’s what Andy Smith did when he was offered Kernel’s redundant 4BBL plant. Partizan is just down the road from Kernel in Bermondsey's Almond Road and I’ve been hearing good things about them since their launch last year. Not surprising really as Andy homed his beery skills whilst working for Redemption Brewery.
They’re not ready for casking or kegging yet, but you will come across their well-designed bottles in many of London’s craft outlets. And where better than to try them than at source: the brewery is open to the public on Saturdays until 5pm. And at £2.40-£2.60 a bottle, there’s no excuse not to tuck in. Especially when you have the mighty Tandleman and the even mightier Mrs T for company.
Best beer: there was nothing to choose between the Pales-Amarillo/ Pacific Jade, Wakatu and the Citra/Amarillo IPA. All were excellent.
Talking of Mr T, this one is on his patch, but I’ve only just got round to calling in. Tucked away on Gainsford St-Courage was founded round the corner; it’s modern, small-but in a very nice way and seems to be doing the business in terms of both beer and food. The cask Kirkstall Pale was very good, but I found the Kernel Chinook to have an unpleasant burnt edge.
Old Red Cow
Situated in the historic Smithfield area, this pub on Long Lane has, I’m glad to report, come back from the dead. They first tried killing it by removing all its charm and calling it the Long Lane (silly) and few gave it much chance when it closed after that. It’s now a smart, two-storey craft beer house selling an interesting mix of cask and keg. Just don’t mention the bottle prices.
Fun trivia: it was a favourite haunt of the great Sir Peter Ustinov, although he was never propping up the bar when I called in.
Situated at Exmouth market, this is another traditional boozer that has transformed itself into a craft outlet. It has beautiful green tiling inside, but the inside is harder to fathom as, being ultra-cool, it’s almost pitch black in there. A good selection of beers, though and, being ultra-cool, they serve mini-hamburgers but call them sliders.
Fox & Anchor
The owners have done a grand job in putting the polish back on this Dickensian local on Charterhouse St. Mahogany doors, the fantastic Fox’s Den snug at the back and some good beers on the pumps. Olde-world pub meets gastropub and is all the better for it. Well I never. Caveman Citra was the top choice in here.
I can’t remember much of my past visit to this place, but was told it was found to be unremarkable. Hence the amnesia, presumably. Nothing seems to have changed, despite its supposed conversion to the craft cause. Yes, it has 16 handpumps but the majority were not in use and the place was noticeably quieter than others visited. Shame as the place itself is quite nice.
Another interesting, if brief, venture into the capital's craft beer scene. And what better way to enjoy the the journey back to civilization than relax in First Class sipping a range of Kernel. Out of a proper glass, naturally.