As 2014 draws to a close, it’s that time of year when I have to start taking days off from work so as not to lose out on my holiday allowance for the year. Last week, I took off Thursday and Friday so we decided to pop down to the capital for a day of beer exploring.
To a Northerner, London seems crazily expensive sometimes (I read those stories in the Metro about ridiculous housing/rental prices!) but if you do your research you can find good beer for not-that-bad prices. Then again, after paying £8 for a pint in Stockholm (blog on this to come shortly), I don’t think even London prices can phase me.
As we were only there for a day, we decided to forego the tube and stay relatively close to Euston. So after a morning at The British Museum, we wandered down to near Covent Garden to begin our beer adventure.
First stop was The Craft Beer Co. which had a whopping 15 cask ales and 30 keg beers available with most styles of beer represented. I was quite spoilt for choice!
Although the bar seems small, it has a fairly large basement area with a number of tables. But a lot of these did get reserved signs placed on them, so I assume the food selection is good too. It did get quite busy but there were enough staff on to keep the bar service flowing smoothly, and all of the team were friendly, polite and helpful.
As for the beer – I started with Weird Beard’s K*ntish Town Beard followed by Rothaus’ Hefe Weizen. With such a wide ranging selection, it was somewhere I would’ve enjoyed to spend an evening.
Second stop was the Holburn Whippet. This was quite tricky to find but we got there in the end. It’s a strange shaped venue made up of a couple of different rooms with sporadic seating areas and the toilets (and kitchen) in the basement. Because of its layout, it seemed pretty rammed but we managed to grab some seats at the bar. The cask and keg beers (about six casks, ten keg) all came out of a large brick wall and there’s a decent range of options.
I went for another wheat beer (Weisse by Mahr’s Bräu) and when a group moved, we managed to get some seats in the window and decided to order some food.
It was a halloumi burger (£7.50) for me and Currywurst (£6.50) for Ross and we were both pretty happy with the food we got for the price we paid. Mine wasn’t anything particularly special, but it arrived promptly and filled me up.
We then had a little walk over to Draft House on Goodge Street. I think ‘small’ is the best adjective to describe this bar. When we arrived, the outdoor smoking area was packed and we discovered this was because of the limited space inside, not because it had a particularly high amount of smokers!
The selection was OK, but there was nothing that really grabbed me. I went for Camden Pale Ale by Camden Town Brewery (when in London…) and we managed to grab some seats on the end of a table.
But the bar was far too small and cramped for my liking which didn’t make staying for a second very appealing, so we drank up and headed off.
At this point we started heading back towards Euston and went to the Bree Louise. This is a very traditional pub and a bit of a culture shock after the ‘cool’ and modern bars we’d frequented so far.
It looked quite old fashioned but it had patrons from a wide range of age groups (and a couple of dogs too). It seems to be quite popular for its pies, and the ones we saw coming out of the kitchen looked delicious.
I had three halves in here (including Pils by Stod Fold which was absolutely rank) which were all really good value especially because CAMRA discount was on offer. It’s available on the pies too which was tempting. If you’re on a budget, the Bree Louise is a good option.
Our final stop of the night was Euston Tap. This place really wowed me. It’s inside a Victorian gatehouse and it’s amazing how much space there is crammed into a venue which looks tiny from the outside. Small is definitely mighty in here – it has 19 keg lines and eight casks plus well stocked bottle fridges.
Choosing was quite daunting (especially as we had limited time with a train to catch) and Ross eventually went for a recommendation from a fellow customer while it was Aecht Schlenkerla Rauchbier – Märzen for me.
The only downside was because of the limited space, the toilet facilities aren’t great. But it does have a spiral staircase to get to them which almost makes up for it.
I’m particularly glad I enjoyed Euston Tap as the folks behind it are coming to Manchester soon. And it appears they’ve confirmed their station – their Twitter location has been updated to say Manchester Piccadilly. So Manchester Tap, coming soon!
Even with only staying in a tiny part of London, we managed to scope out a few decent pubs and I was pleasantly surprised at the relatively small amount of money I spent during the day. Maybe London isn’t as pricey as you expect when you know where to look!