Wednesday, 20 March 2013

All Forest - No Trees


My London reports have been a resounding success, with an enormous number of comments, for which I am grateful. Well not exactly, though readership of the articles has been high. More comments please. Really they are the life blood of blogs. Not numbers, but opinions. Still, I'll plough on, this time returning to pubs and three and a half bits of really good news. Well news to me at the time anyway.

Where was I? Oh yes, at the closed Tower Hill tube station, but undaunted, we nipped up the Minories and hopped on a tube at Aldgate, destination, the Old Red Cow of which I'd heard good things. Heard from Tyson that is. It is a neat little pub, just outside a gigantic hole which is part of Crossrail and just along from Smithfield Meat Market. Two bars here, the downstairs one with handpumps and some keg and the upstairs one with a keg only bar, but possibly with a touch more room. Beer choice was good, with a very knowledgeable and chatty barmaid downstairs and the more usual, tactiturn beardy manning the CO2 upstairs. Why are these beardies always so bloody dour? I am going to make a study of this. I would tell you all about the beer, but that's boring, except to say it closely resembled the Dean Swift in its foreign range and unlike the Dean Swift, is sparkled as God intended. Well my pint of something black and tasty was. It was at the correct temperature too. Upstairs, we bumped into Tyson and Eddie, still on the prowl and giving up, we threw our lot in with them for the duration.  We certainly couldn't beat them, so we joined them.

I liked the Old Red Cow enormously.  A lovely little boozer with good beer, all served properly.  Only black mark was the ludicrously overpriced Brick Lane Lager at £5.10 a 33cl bottle.  Nearly £10 a pint for a locally brewed beer.  Taking the piss.  Nonetheless I'll be back, made all the more likely by our next port of call, the Fox and Anchor, a couple of hundred yards away.

The Fox and Anchor is a long, elegant, dark wooded, feast of Victorian pub architectural splendour.  It reminded me of the Beehive in Liverpool before some arseholes (Punch Taverns) ruined that.  Lots of trendy snacks were on offer, good looking meals and a decent range of beer in top condition too.  I enjoyed (again) Citra from Caveman. It was very busy indeed and we were all impressed and again, combining it with the Old Red Cow, we'll be back.  Me when it is quieter for a proper look round.

Next up, a decent walk away was Exmouth Market and the luscious looking Exmouth Arms, which I haven't been in for years.  It has been opened out, is all bare boards and is very dark inside, but somehow cosy and pleasant.  Or was that just because the drink was getting to me?  I don't know.  It might be as I have no recollection of the cask beers at all. My drink of choice was kegged Camden Pale, served in the proper glass and rather good.  Again, we'll be back.

All good things must come to an end though. Eddie and Tyson were looking at their watches anxiously. Of course that merely meant we had time for one more pub.  Again one I'd heard of, but this time, one I haven't been in.  The Pakenham Arms, right by Mount Pleasant Sorting Office, has large picture windows and a sort of gentleman's club atmosphere.  Again very likeable, but the veritable forest of handpumps (was it 16?) had only three or four on.  There is also a small selection of craft beer in bottles. The beer was good though and again, I'll be back, as the pub itself is very attractive.  Have a look at their website to see what I mean.

 With the addition of the Well and Bucket, I have, in one weekend, found (or rediscovered) five pubs I'm keen to go back to because they are good places and importantly have good cask beer being looked after properly.   London certainly is picking up a bit. 

It is particularly gratifying that some pubs at least have installed (or are starting to use) cellar cooling.  Summer though is a big test for London.  I'll let you know.

15 comments:

Cooking Lager said...

I suspect if you post something about beer tax after Gideon makes his budget announcement you'll get a few comments ;)

Tyson said...

Aye some good ones there to do again. I'd like to include the Fox on the May crawl, if possible. Oh and you were drinking Raw Citra Black in the Red Cow. A good beer, if not really Citra like.

Matt Curtis said...

As a Londoner and a beer enthusiast I feel ashamed that I've not been to these pubs yet but your great writeup has incentivised me so I'm sure I'll visit them soon enough.

I almost never buy bottled beer in London's 'craft' beer bars now as they have to inflate the price exponentially to make enough margin but bottled beer is for drinking at home, drinking draught beer is what going to the pub is all about, surely.

Tandleman said...

" they have to inflate the price exponentially to make enough margin"

You imply they are overpriced by the brewers in the first place?

Paul Bailey said...

I picked the wrong time to visit the Red Cow - early Friday evening was NOT a good idea! However, I liked what I saw, and will defeinitely be making a return visit, at a quieter time of day.

johng said...

I was talking to a new brewer who will be getting his beer into the sort of pubs you mentioned (i have been in them all and the Packenham is the only disappionting one)and he told me the max you will get for a bottled beer is £1.20.Big mark up then.

RedNev said...

I went for a pint in that London once. Special guest beer, it said outside a pub, so I went in and it was Thwaites Wainwright.

Anonymous said...

I bought some High Wire direct , 12 bottles with postage was about £3.70 a bottle (330ml) very nice too but I will stick to Jaipur for £2.40 for 500ml from waitrose, or Punk for or Pony for £1.69
now if they are charging the pubs similar over inflated prices ( not as high obviously) it is going to be more expensive in the pubs, than other beers

Martyn Cornell said...

Strange to see the Old Red Cow featuring as a top beer destination, when I worked in Smithfield 17 years or so ago that was definitely well down on any list of pubs in the area you'd wish to go into. The best bit about it was the name of the alleyway alongside - Red Cow Passage.

Tandleman said...

Anon. You can't compare what you pay retail with what they pay wholesale.

Anonymous said...

Obviously not, but if retail prices are higher it is most likely their wholesale prices are higher than others, unless ofcourse it is just the pubs ripping us off on these products. The smaller brewers who say they use more expensive ingredients seem to forget their tax breaks.

Lord Egbert Nobacon said...

Enjoyed the write-ups from that there London and will definitely be visiting some of the boozers on my next visit.
This is what blogging is all about - pubs and beer.Are they good or bad ?
And naming and shaming of shit-holes and rip-offs.
Not estoeric wankerings about what is or isn't craft beer.

Tandleman said...

I can do the esoteric wankering too, but I like to get down to the nitty gritty.

Anonymous said...

Great pubs, but the Jerusalem Tavern was just round the corner from the Fox and Anchor. I'm amazed you didn't find the time.

The Red Cow's a great pub but a bit too compact for me. I dislike pubs which feel crowded.

Tandleman said...

Anon: Given up on that long since. Warm beer you could poach an egg in? No thanks.