It isn't that often I get the chance to explore my local London pubs, my better half, though a beer drinker, is much more reluctant than me to wander round pubs looking for decent beer. Funny that.
I started off at our local JDW , The Goodman's Field. I have had good and bad here and tonight, that's exactly what I had. The bad, Caledonian Golden Promise, which smelled odd, took a while to clear and was clearly past its best and the good, an old friend, Gunpowder Strong Mild, though now just "Gunpowder" from Coach House in Warrington. Now I have to say I'm not a Coach House fan. I remember meeting one of the owners when they set up years ago. An ex Greenall's brewer. The Gunpowder was as I remember it. Dry, sharp and slightly sourish. A good interesting drink.
Then in pursuit of winter warmers, I tried the Three Lords for Young's. None on and the deafening music (played live by a toneless geezer) drove me across the road to Fuller's Chamberlain Hotel. Now this place is nice enough but somehow contrives to have no atmosphere whatever. Still London Porter was on offer and didn't disappoint being dark, complex and liquoricey with a full tasting dry finish. I enjoyed it a lot but couldn't have drunk much of it. Still, the best Fuller's beer I have had for a long time from this brewery that seems to produce too much overly sweet beer.
I couldn't resist a look in the Cheshire Cheese under the Fenchurch St railway arches, but all the pumpclips were turned round. What's that all about? Then to the Crutched Friar where I was the only person not wearing a suit. Landlord there, sans sparkler and it suffered from that, being overly sweet.
Turning towards home I popped in the Ship for a half. Butcombe Bitter this time. What a godawful bland beer. What's the point of micros producing this tasteless nonsense? Alternative offerings were Courage Best, Sharps Doom Bar and Old Hookey. This is a likeable one roomed pub with only faintly annoying background music. Not sure that a pie and a pint at £7.50 floats my boat, but then again I'm from the grim North.
Then more in hope than expectation to the Liberty Bounds. Only beer worth a second glance was Itchen Valley Tower Bridge. Another pointless beer from a micro. Brown, 4.5% and BORING with a taste of malted old socks. Sometimes I despair. This the kind of nonsense the big brewers used to bring out years ago and which lasted about a week. Think Tetley Imperial and Thomas Greenall Original and you will get the picture. As a digression, I exclude Walker's Warrington Ale from this, but that's another story.
So to the Empress of Prussia. A tied Shep's House, but no Porter. A half each of Bishop's Finger and Master Brew left me convinced they were the same beer watered down. Harsh and unappealing. This pub is attractive, old fashioned and welcoming with a neat line in attractive Polish barmaids and a mere 300 yards from my London front door. Why does it have to be Shep's?
Lastly and just round the corner from our flat is the Brown Bear. This still has traces of its former Taylor Walker ownership and has some wonderful pub mirrors, It also supplements its (yeugh) London Pride and Adnams Bitter with a guest. Great. This week's guest? Greene King IPA!!! So Adnams it was. In excellent condition and a good finish to the night. Incidentally, if you want a challenging bitter beer which is readily available, Adnams is just the ticket.
So. It was a mixed bag. I found all the beer to be in good nick (except the Caley) and didn't see a sparkler, even in Wetherspoons. So there!
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