Saturday dawned bright and sunny. Well, overcast and a little drizzly, but in our hearts it was sunny. A trip on the river, a trip on the cable car, a little culture amongst the beer, but, as Groucho Marx said:”You can lead a whore to culture, but you can’t make her think.” So with some CAMRA members getting the shakes and needing a drink, we headed off for our first stop: Kernel brewery.
Nestled in the heart of Bermondsey, they have a smart setup which has had a small change since my last visit. Sensibly they have split the bar area into on-sales and off-sales to try and minimise queuing. Lovely portions of Table Beer, Sour and Pale Ale were consumed here. Luckily it wasn’t far to Partizan which is easily reached by following the contour of the railway arches. Here the sun peaked through and allowed al fresco tastings of both their Saison beers and their Citra offering.
The enticing environs of Craft Islington beckoned next before a diversion to the Union Tavern on Woodfield Road. This is a new convert to the craft beer scene and was met with mixed results. The cask choice was atypical London, i.e. unbalanced with nothing pale in sight. The reports from people who did try it weren’t favourable. The keg range (which I stuck to) was much better in terms of choice and, it appears, quality.
It was a parting of the ways for some here, but the official tour continued with a tour of the posh area around Belgravia. First stop was the Grenadier on Wilton Row. Built in 1720 as the Officers Mess for the First Royal Regiment of Foot Guards, this beautiful little boozer was first licensed in 1818 as the Guardsman Public House. It’s had its fair share of celebrity clientele over the years: the Duke of Wellington, King George IV. And it’s where Madonna developed her liking for Taylor Landlord.
There’s a good crawl to be had amongst the mews as you admire the Bentleys and Jensen Interceptors along the way. The Nags Head on Kinnerton St is another well-known London landmark. Sprawled over three small floors, its eclectic nature perfectly mirrors its famously eccentric landlord. The use of mobile phones is strictly forbidden and should you forget to hang your coat up, you will be politely asked to do so. The lowest bar-with suitably cut down bar stools-you’ll ever see is worth the visit alone.
Our last official stop was the Grade 11-listed Star Tavern. Built in 1848, this Fullers single-room pub has featured in the Good Beer Guide since the first edition and was sensitively refurbished in 2008. It now offers guest beers, JHB in this case. It was pleasingly busy in the way most pubs were on a Saturday night, once upon a time. Not wishing to miss the last tube, it was time for a last hurrah in the Queens where Portobello American Pale proved a tasty nightcap.
Sunday dawned and there were a few jaded palates waiting to be refreshed. Luckily, although London doesn’t excel at late drinking, pre-noon drinking (sans Wetherspoon) can be had courtesy of the market pub. Hence we found ourselves in the Exmouth Arms or rather sat outside for a taste of Outlaw Low Life. This 2.8% golden (not really) ale was theoretically a good pick-me-up, but the dry-hopping didn’t really come through and it was a no-contest in voting the powerfully hopped Rogue Yellow Snow the winner.
It’s a tradition to finish Sunday drinking in Craft in Leather Lane and so with Mr & Mrs T joining us once more, we started work on demolishing the like of Crouch Vale Citra and Magic Rock High Wire. A dash to St Pancras brought us to Sourced Kitchen. This high quality deli specialises in all things local, including the London beers we supped on the way home.
Pressure Drop is a brand spanking new nanobrewery based in the flourishing outreaches of Hackney. I tried their Amarillo & Topaz which at 3.8% was light and refreshing and didn’t suffer from the common problems with low-strength bottle-conditioned beers. One to watch.
So ended another foray into the strange land that is called London. No doubt we will be back soon.