From time to time I tell you about the many pubs local to me here in London. There's good and bad, with one or two where I really like the pub but not the beer and some, the other way round.
On the way back from an event I thought I'd check out the Hoop and Grapes at Aldgate, which was a pub I used to go in from time to time around ten years ago. Since then it has become part of the Nicolson chain and is shall we say, considerably cleaner. Alas last night I was unable to update myself, as at six o'clock the place was so rammed that I couldn't even get to the bar. Trading well then. A skip round the corner to the White Lion in Alie St. Shepherd Neame with all that entails, which is a range of beers that all taste more or less the same. It's a funny little pub, which again we used to go in around ten years ago, but don't now. It was also very busy, but service was swift. Bizarrely the barmaid thought my request for a half of Amber and of Whitstable Bay was for it to be served as a mix in a pint glass. That sorted out, I wished it had been, so awful was the Amber and so ordinary the Whitstable Bay.
Onward and homewards. The Dispensary used to be a local CAMRA Pub of the Year. Despite its braying hoard of suits, we used to like it, though beer quality varied and the old problem of very warm beer finally drove us out. No such problems last night. The suits were still there in force, but the beer was cool, varied and well conditioned and a very pleasant pair of barmaids ran the show with a smile. Adnams American Pale, St Austell Proper Job and two from Colchester Brewery (new to me) were all excellent, though the Brazilian Coffee and Vanilla Porter wasn't to my taste - vanilla in beer? - just say no. A good visit and worth a second chance I'd say.
I looked in the window of the Black Horse (not rammed) but didn't fancy either GKIPA or OSH, so moved on to the Oliver Conquest. Now this is a bit of an oddity. It had a chequered past under a different name (Mr Pickwicks) and was a notorious after hours hang out, despite being next door to the cop shop. (I remember people tumbling out of there pissed at five in the morning as we were on our way to Liverpool St Station en route to Stansted Airport.) It was (compulsorily) closed for a while and now in its new incarnation, is a cosy hang out of oddballs. It offers a gin selection of over 100, a couple of handpulls, including Landlord and young staff that always seem to be whispering conspiratorially to customers. Nonetheless it is quite likeable in a tart's boudoir sort of way. The very pleasant barman discussed Meantime beers with me happily, as he'd just come back from a brewery visit. Meantime Pilsner was my choice and it was good and at £4.40 a pint, about par for the course I suppose. So busy pubs for a Wednesday night, a mixed bag and two I want to go back to within five minutes of our flat. Result.
There was a few craft keg offerings including one from Hog's Back. That one was a surprise.
A bit of a CV. Tandleman is a veteran beer lover, local CAMRA Chairman and activist, beer author, beer reviewer and pursuer of all things good in beer. He lives in the North West of England and London. Despite his CAMRA membership, he does not limit himself to cask conditioned beer, though he believes that cask conditioning, when done correctly and appropriately, brings a quality to beer that is hard to equal by any other kind of presentation. He is a strong supporter of Northern methods of beer dispense and avidly detests poorly presented beer and dislikes pasteurisation. He regularly visits Germany, has conducted corporate British and German beer tastings for CAMRA at the Great British Beer Festival where he has worked for years on Biere Sans Frontieres and was Deputy Organiser at CAMRA's very successful National Winter Ales Festival in 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2012. He admires good brewers wherever they are and has travelled extensively in pursuit of good beer to drink.
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