Beating Around the Bush and Cheers to Chiswick

Having gone east, now west, to Westfield Stratford’s eviler twin, Westfield London in White City/Shepherd’s Bush. We’ll skip over Manet exhibition as irrelevant (absinthe?), and the walk via the Haunch of Venison to Bond Street underground and the Central line. Indeed we’ll skip over the greasy spoon breakfast I’d been aching for for a couple of weeks.

The main thing is a long walk in dusk through to Goldhawk Road – which enduring Googlemap and iMap fail as I could quite orientate the map with the territory and went three quarters of the way around a major roundabout. I’d planned to walk to Notting Hill and Chiswick, clearly not smart to do from Shepherd’s Bush, so settled for an off-license that sold Mocada (Notting Hil) and the long walk to Chiswick. I have a vague memory that I would be paying homage to The Falls. So be it.

The Duchess of Cambridge appears to be always on the point of becoming a brewpub – the opposite of always already – and have still not reached it, but have a number of handpumps and a CAMRA discount. Whilst Sambrook’s is local, and Marlow Rebellion is tasty, I ended up with a Shardlow England, marking some sporting event. Okay, but not great. Quite a large pub, I suspect several rooms knocked through.

Darkness settled as I left Goldhawk Road for Stambrook Road, and the left turn at Turnham Green, that revealed, as I feared, that the District Line was out of action, but at least gave me the opportunity to check out an Oxfam Bookshop. The offle, an Oddbins, had a range of Moncada, so I settled for a Notting Hill Golden Blonde. I need to return here in daylight, to check out the Hogarth and his Dog statue, and perhaps another look at the Lamb, hidden away down Barlew Mow Passage. This is an L-shaped bar, part devoted to food, and the brewery at the end closest to Chiswick High Street. A row of empty pumps didn’t inspire confidence, nor did two or three Shepherd Neame brews, but there was a Lamb Dark Ale. I wasn’t impressed, I have to say.

I worked out that I was two hours’ walk from Victoria, and whilst I could walk back to Shepherd’s Bush, it made more sense to walk to West Kensington for the District Line. I had an increasingly insistent bladder, but the toilets were closed in the shopping centre I found. It was a relief, as it were to find Hammersmith was open for the Picadilly Line, and I got back to Victoria, missing a train by a minute.

Time, then, for the Cask Pub and Kitchen, a pint of Redemption Urban Dusk – dark, smoky – and Redwillow Faithless XVII – a beetroot stout, of all things. Still, I’m no stout fan. Plenty of time for a stroll back to the station, and a bottle on the train. Next up either north or south – Highgate or Herne Hill… Although Haggerston is tempting.

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Hack to Tap

On Friday I set out to Stratford as a means of tracking down some of the East London beers – and it made sense to get the Overground from Stratford So-Called International. (It would make sense to walk, but the Olympic legacy means you need to circumambulate the Olympic Village, tripling the distance.) Having by instinct sat at the front of the HS1, I exited the station by a difference escalator than usual and, in search of Caffe Nerd, realised I had found Tap East. I’ve been here twice before, but both times had taken rather longer routes back to the station. This may not be a useful recovery.

Hackney Central is convenient for the Cock Tavern, Mare Street, a single square room on a corner, entry through the corner. I’m guessing the space was subdivided at some point, but it’s a cavernous space dominated by dark wood. I didn’t count the hand pumps, but there were four Howling Hops, two Redemption, a Brodies, and something from the west country, along with five cider pumps. Tempting though the Redemption was, I decided to focus on two of the onsite beers – the Session Wit, which was delicious and it hardly felt like 3% and the Chocolate Stout 5.2%, which tasted okay, but I’m no stout fan. Rather than continuing with the Mild or the other stout, I decided to risk a Brodies Mocha, ticking off a second new-to-me brewery, but weighing in at a hefty 9% and tasting like MDF in a glass. Smoky, coffee, chocolatey, but dusty and not entirely pleasant.

I hit Mare Street and headed south – walking past London Fields where there is another brewery and buying a couple of their bottles for the train. I began to recognise where I was, having stayed in the area for a couple of nights, and cut left toward Victoria Park and the Britannia, where I was hoping for something from the Hackney Brewery. It’s a wide, shallow pub, with an area curtained off but clearly knocked through into a single room. It was one of those pubs that doesn’t seem to have enough tables for its size, but there was friendly dog visiting. The empty beer pumps were unpromising, but at opposite ends there was Laines Best and Hackney American Pale Ale. I risked something from Sussex – it’s Brighton – having had a poor Laines before. This, alas, ran to form – if this is Best, I don’t want second best – but the Hackney American Pale Ale at 4.5% was also poor. The Laines had a flavour of pear drops, and there was something off (sour) about the Hackney, making me wonder if this was a cellaring issue. I must try one elsewhere, but I’m in no mood to retry Laines.

Heading further east, into industrial decline, I located the Crate on the edge of the Olympic Park and next to what I take to be the river Lea. This has a post-industrial vibe, but of a 1980s municipal leisure centre feel, large white bricks, improvised seating in an l-shape around a slanting bar in front of the pizzeria cookery area. I think this place would be fun to come to; at least four beer pumps, with chalked pump faces. I went for the Golden Ale, which, although not unpleasant, had a bit of a generic craft beer taste at 3.8%, and their IPA at 5.4%, which was much more pleasant. I would definitely come back.

I walked to Hackney Wick station, noting a more direct route, and dropped some money drunkenly, and watched a train go by with an open door. Another arrived ten minutes later, packed, and I caught this back to Stratford. After some calories and a coffee, I found the Tap East and had a Tonic Ale 3% and had an IPA of some description. Whilst I like their three stouts, there’s something I don’t like about their ales. There’s a certain… soapiness… about them which doesn’t work for me.

And then, back to the train, and a bottle of London Fields, a Marynka IPA which was very tasty. (I understand marynka is a Polish variety of hops.)

So, four new breweries tried, but in retrospect staying in the Cock Tavern would have been smarter.

London’s Barrelling

Of course, defining London gets difficult – including Croydon may well be stretching a point, but one of them call themselves South London. A lot of these I know from bottles at St Pancras. It’s likely to be out of date almost immediately – I found it hard to track down start dates for some of these and webpages for others. Tracking down the actual beer will be a helluva day out – a trip to Hackney seems in order.

  • Beavertown, London, N1 5AA. (2011). Associated with brewpub, Duke’s Brew and Que. Had a couple of nice bottles; love their design.
  • The Botanist, Kew Gardens, Richmond, London Brewpub.
  • Brew By Numbers, 66 Southwark Bridge Road, London. (2012). Microbrewery, only seen bottles.
  • Brew Wharf, Borough Market, London Bridge, London. (2005). Brewpub.
  • Brodies, London.  (2008). Brewpub is King William IV, Leyton also Old Coffee House, Soho.
  • Brupond, Leyton, London. (2012).
  • By The Horns, Wandsworth, London. (2011).
  • Camden Town, London. (2006). Tried some of their bottles; I think I’ve had keg.
  • Clarence & Fredericks, Croydon. (2012). Croydon, of course.
  • Crate, Hackney Wick, London (2012). Brewpub. Or brewpizzeria.
  • The Cronx Brewery. (2012). Croydon, so Surrey if we’re being pedantic.
  • The Duchess of Cambridge, London. Brewpub. 320 Goldhawk Road, London, W6 0XF. Lager?
  • East London, London, E10 (2011). Had a couple of these; very nice.
  • Florence, Dulwich Road, Herne Hill, London. Brewpub, The Florence. Also A Head In A Hat?
  • Fuller’s, London. (1699). One should possibly boycott them on grounds of their support for austerity measures.
  • Hackney, East London. (2011).
  • Hewitt’s, Croydon. (2011).
  • Howling Hops, London. Brewpub, Cock Tavern, 315 Mare Street, London, E8 1EJ.
  • Lamb, London. Brewpub, 9 Barley Mow Passage, Chiswick, London, W4 4PH
  • Late Knights, Penge. (2012).
  • Little Brew, Camden, London. (2012)
  • London Brewing Co., 13 North Hill, London, N6. Brewpub, The Bull, Highgate.
  • London Fields, London. (2011). Had a bottle.
  • McLaughlins Horseshoe, London. (2006). Brewpub 28 Heath St, Hampstead; main brewing is with Camden Town.
  • Meantime, London. (2000). Enjoyed some bottles. Various pubs, including Greenwich
  • Moncada, London, W10. (2011)
  • Partizan, London. (2012). Had a great bottle.
  • Portobello Brewing Co., Kensington. (2012). Really enjoyed their pale ale. Want more.
  • Pressure Drop, Stoke Newington.
  • Redchurch, London, E2. Bottles. Also Redchurch Brewery Tap Room, 275-276 Poyser Street, Bethnal Green, London, E2.
  • Redemption, London. (2010). Had a couple of nice pints.
  • Rocky Head, Wandsworth. (2013). Have a bottle as yet unopened. Dated 2012, mind.
  • Sambrooks, Battersea, London. (2008). Enjoyed a couple.
  • Tap East, London. Brewpub, Stratford Westfield. Enjoyed their stouts.
  • The Kernel, London. Some fantastic bottles.
  • Truman’s, London. (2010). Old name revived. Had an ok bottle.
  • Twickenham Fine Ales, Twickenham. (2004)
  • Zerodegrees, Blackheath, London. (2000). Brewpub with branches elsewhere. Lagery to my taste.

London Desperation

I’ve found half a dozen interesting pubs in London, mostly in the King’s Cross area, a couple London Bridge, but I’ve hit the probably-need-something-for-the-journey-home stage of incipient alcoholism. There’s Sourced Market at St Pancras and Uto Beer at Borough Market, but neither are convenient for central London if I’m wandering around Oxford Street. There must be other places to buy bottled beer, right?

Waitrose seems to have a local beer – so there’s Meantime – and you’d think the food halls of Selfridges or Fortnum and Mason would help. A couple of Camden Town ales and something new that I forget right now (Rocky Head Pale Ale) in the former, and what I bought didn’t have a bar code so led to all kinds of till chaos.

So, off licenses. Yesterday I dropped into about twenty of them, or food and wine shops, and the selection is generally Hobgoblin, Badger, Newcastle Brown, Spitfire, Brakspear Oxford Gold and that’s about it. Three food and wine shops in a row, exactly the same stock. Wines from all over the world, but no local beer. Last week I found a whole shop devoted to Adnams, but I’ve yet to find anything within, say, the Circle Line. More research is needed, but I know a lot of the brewers in London do sell bottles.

There’s an old Time Out listing – but, again, none of these are central. Am I missing anywhere – aside from buying a take out at a pub itself (a Partizan Pale Ale from new brewery Partizan with citra, pacific jade and cascade hops, and very nice, too, since you ask)? Or are the economics of central London such that its own heritage is not available?