Monday, 9 April 2018

The Rose

The Rose, Bexleyheath - Friday 6th April 2018
179 Broadway, Bexleyheath, Kent DA6 7ES
I managed to get another free evening so decided to spend it with MB having a few pints and a chat. We decided upon The Rose again as we enjoyed it so much last time. This evening was a Friday whereas last time it was a Saturday, but other than not being quite as busy as our previous visit it was just as friendly. We managed to grab a seat at a small table just inside the door and passed a convivial evening chatting about all sorts.

The background hubbub was again at just the right level to have a conversation, except for a brief five minute stint when two middle-aged gents prcoeeded to discuss football at maximum volume. Luckily they soon quietened down and the comfortable level of conversation around the pub continued.  Again, it was busy in here but not heaving, and everyone seemed to be having a good time. The bar staff were attentive and each time we went to the bar we were served in a polite and efficient manner.

None of the beers had changed since last week, but we drank them in a different order. Due to not going to The Prince Albert prior to arriving here, it meant I had one less drink this evening. Again, all of the beers were well-kept and fresh when poured.

Beers drunk on this visit:
1) Doombar (4.0%) - Sharp's Brewery,
2) Best Bitter (4.0%) - Courage Brewery,
3) Tribute (4.2%) - St Austell Brewery,
4) Proper Job (4.5%) - St Austell Brewery,

Thursday, 29 March 2018

Slug and Lettuce Canary Wharf

Slug and Lettuce - Thursday 29th March 2018

Canary Wharf, 30 South Colonnade, Canary Wharf, London E14 5EP

I met up with a few of my work colleagues today for a celebratory/commiseratory lunch. We were all laid off last week but some of us may be called back to work for next week. It was tipping down with rain when I got there but the good thing about Canary Wharf is that you can get pretty much everywhere underground.

We met up at the Byron Burger restaurant in Canary Wharf for a burger and shake then headed off to the Slug and Lettuce for a few beers afterwards. The burger was up to the usual Byron standard an dservice was quite quick considering it was a busy lunchtime. After the boss returned to the office to finalise the contracts, the rest of us headed over to the nearest pub for a couple of drinks.

The Slug is a typical chain pub, but slightly more upmarket than a Wetherspoons, and sells the standard fare of drinks but very few ales. The only ones they had on tap were Camden's Pale Ale and London Pride. I plumped for a couple of glasses of the Camden.

Beers drunk on this visit:
Pale Ale (4.0%) - Camden Town Brewery, Camden, London

Tuesday, 27 March 2018

Bexleyheath Beer Trip

The Prince Albert - Saturday 24th March 2018

2 Broadway, Bexleyheath, Kent DA6 7LE
Not been in this pub for a long time; not since it had its refurbishment a year or two back. I was to meet up with MB this evening and decided on this pub as it used to have 3 or 4 Shepherd Neame ales on at any one time. The new outside decor is not the most welcoming but books an dcovers and all that ignored I stepped into the pub itself.

Again first impressions were not good. The first thing that greets one upon entering is a loud, monotonous wall of "music". Now, I am all for loud music in certain venues but I could hardly hear myself think in a coherent manner - I have been in pubs with music that was louder and still been able to think and talk but the music in here was just noise.

Second impressions were also not good - most things have been re-arranged but not for the better in my opinion. A central bar is usually a good idea but this one seems to have taken up a lot of the space that could have been used for more patrons.

Finally, the list of ales on tap had dropped to just the one. Luckily it was nicely kept and went down well but I was hoping for a bit more choice.

One saving grace though was that they had an old movie reel running of film from early last century showing on one of the screens in there. It was great to see what the local town and environs looked like all those years ago.

When MB turned up I had almost completed my pint, so I suggested we moved on straight away. He agreed.

Beers drunk on this visit:

Spitfire Gold (4.1%) - Shepherd Neame Brewery, Faversham, Kent

Walking down the Broadway we decided to miss out on the Furze (we go there a lot anyway), had to miss out on the King's Arms (closed for refurbishment), so we ended up in The Rose.

The Rose
179 Broadway, Bexleyheath, Kent DA6 7ES

We had not been in here for a while, but were pleasantly surprised by the range of beers still on offer; 4 on pump that we spotted. So, we dived straight in and sampled the lot, along with a couple of bags of dry roasted peanuts to help it along the way.

The clientelle in here were friendly and I managed to get into a brief conversation on both of my visits to the bar with a few regulars and the bar staff - great atmosphere.

The background hubbub was just the right level to have a conversation at the table we were able to sit at in one corner. It was busy in here but not heaving, which was about right. Everyone seemed to be having a good time.

I have had all of the beers on offer here previously (most likely on a previous visit to this pub?) but it is a good selection and not too strong except for the Proper Job, which is not too bad in the scheme of things considering most lagers are 5.0% or more which I find not conducive to a good head and stomach the following day. I generally try to stick to the weaker beers and finish off on a smaller glass of a stronger ale at the end of the night as my "one for the road".

Beers drunk on this visit:
1) Tribute (4.2%) - St Austell Brewery,
2) Doombar (4.0%) - Sharp's Brewery,
3) Bitter (4.0%) - Courage Brewery,
4) Proper Job (4.5%) - St Austell Brewery,

Sunday, 18 March 2018

The Kentish Belle

The Kentish Belle - Saturday 17th March 2018

8 Pickford Lane, Bexleyheath, Kent DA7 4QW
Again, like with the Halfway House yesterday evening, I visited this micropub on opening night. I have walked past the site of this pub every morning for the last 7 or 8 months and not noticed it was there! Goes to show the vegetative state I am in on my way to and from work in the mornings and early evenings. Still, on Friday morning I finally noticed the pub and took a quick peek inside. I also took a quick preview on my way home from work on Friday evening to see a private party in full swing. I was looking forward to visiting two micropubs this weekend.

I tried to take a picure of each of the micropubs before entering them but for some reason the phone camera would not work properly - it took the photos, displayed them on screen, but when I tried to call them up from my gallery the photos were just black. Oh well, I will figure out what happened another time and try to get non-copyrighted images for the blog going forward (although the images I use on my site are in no way meant to infringe upon any asserted rights of the owners - they are merely to illustrate and advertise some great venues and beers).

Anyway, back to the evening. The pub was packed when I got there but not as shoulder-to-shoulder packed as the Halfway House. There were probably just as many people in there but this micropub seems a little larger on the inside. I also got a completely different vibe from this one as I entered - it felt more welcoming as there was not a raucous noise going on, more a hubub of friendly banter. Again, though, there was a great mix of people.

From what I could see, the decor is plain and the tables and chairs modern and very functional, although they were normal sized tables and chairs in contrast to the taller ones I commented on in the last post. The bar was well-attended by staff, who were very friendly and also very busy. Service was quick despite it being very busy in there and also, despite the crush at the bar, there was only good natured banter and politeness from the patrons.

The beers on offer were extensive; the beer board had eight or nine ales advertised, but by the end of the evening all bar two or three had been scrubbed off the chalkboard! There was a great choice of strengths, styles and breweries on offer, as well as bottled Belgian beers and other craft beers in cans kept in a well-stocked fridge. I noticed some people drinking wine and other drinks too, so most tastes are catered for.

One thing that really stood out for me though was that beers were being sold in 1/3, 2/3 and full pint glasses. The 2/3 size seemed very popular, and indeed I stuck to that format all evening. It seemed a comfortable size for a beer and it meant that the last dregs in the glass were not warmed up by the time they were drunk. This for me is a major selling point of this micropub, as well as the close proximity to Bexleyheath railway station and two bus stops (literally a few seconds walk from either) - it is a very easy pub to get to.

Beers drunk on this visit:

1) Due to my camera not working I was unable to make a note of the red ale I drunk (3.8%)
2) Hengist (5.0%) - Wantsum Brewery, Canterbury, Kent - a strong golden ale
3) American Pale Ale (3.8%) - Howling Hops Brewery, East London - a fruity, well-balanced ale

Saturday, 17 March 2018

Halfway House

Halfway House - Friday 16th March 2018
188c Halfway Street, Sidcup, Kent DA15 8DJ

This is the 6th micropub to open in the Borough of Bexley following the Door Hinge, Penny Farthing, Broken Drum, Hackney Carriage and Hopper's Hut (in no particular order). I am not sure that Sidcup needs another micropub so close geographically to the other two, but if demand is there, then good luck to them.

It was a bit of a faff to get there even though I am a local. It would need a small hopper bus (286?) from Sidcup railway station to get visitors from afar to the pub, or a 10-15 minute amble, which is the option I chose, as the pub is about half a mile or so along the main road that leads away from the station (and you have to pass the Hackney Carriage and Ye Olde Black Horse to get there, so not bad from a pub crawl point of view).

It was opening night when I went there yesterday evening and the place was very busy. I had to queue at the bar, which is not so bad in itself, but when other patrons just barged in front and yelled their orders at the bar staff, I was not impressed. The bar staff were busy, courteous and friendly but had to contend with patrons who had most likely been there several hours and were on the road to being fully drunk and disorderly.

The decor is plain but functional and the few tables in there are of the taller variety; so some patrons may find the stools and benches a little difficult to get onto and off of - this seems to be a common feature with micro-pubs - perhaps it is so they can fit more people in as a standing option and the taller tables and stools make for fewer tripping incidents? I managed to stand for the couple of hours I was in here but it was no issue for me, but it may be for others.

The beer that was served was very fresh and seemed well-kept. I only sampled a couple of pints (of the 3 on offer) but there was also a short list of bottled and canned beers in the fridge, and an extensive wine and gin menu scattered around on the tables. This choice of drink probably led to the decent mix of people in the pub (including one child after 7pm) - on first appearances this is not an old man's cardigan and ale pub. I think some micropubs give off that vibe but some of the later ones to come online have tried to shrug off that image (especially the Hackney Carriage and the One Inn the Wood in Petts Wood).

Beers drunk on this visit:

American Pale Ale (3.8%) - Howling Hops Brewery, East London - a fruity, well-balanced ale
Effra Amber Ale (4.5%) - Brixton Brewery, Brixton, London - a smooth caramel ale with a bitter finish

I will most likely pop back to this pub when it is not so busy and see how things pan out. I would like to chat to the owner to see how things are going and get some insight into his plans for the pub. MB mentioned to me last week that this pub was opening but he couldn't make it - maybe next weekend?

Friday, 16 March 2018

A Surprise Session

The Furze Wren - Saturday 3rd March 2018

Broadway Square, Bexleyheath Shopping Centre, 6 Market Place, Bexleyheath DA6 7DY

This was a spur of the moment session at the Furze. Luckily the kids were at their mum's so I had a free evening. I called my usual drinking buddy MB and we headed into the Furze for a few jars.

Once again it was busy in there but when we had grabbed our first pints we were lucky that a table came free on the raised dais by the window. We just spent the vening supping ale and putting the world to rights in a way that only middle-aged men can.

Beers drunk on this visit:

Bitter (3.5%) - Jennings Brewery, Cockermouth, Cumbria
Mild (3.5%) - Bank'sBrewery, Wolverhampton
Oxford Gold 4.0% - Brakspear Brewery, Witney, Oxfordshire
Wainwright Golden Ale 4.1% - Thwaites Brewery, Blackburn, Lancashire

Sunday, 28 January 2018

Burn's Night 2018

The Furze Wren - Friday 26th January 2018

Broadway Square, Bexleyheath Shopping Centre, 6 Market Place, Bexleyheath DA6 7DY

As I was otherwise engaged on the actual Burn's Night this year, MB and I decided to head to our local Wetherspoons to sample some haggis and single malt the following day. As we had missed our usual trip to the Robin Hood and Little John we had to find somewhere that still sold haggis - Wetherspoons have it on the menu for a week so, like last year, we headed there for our annual fix.

Tonight was rather fortuitous in other ways too as it was the start of yet another of their famous beer festivals. One look at the five or six ales on offer though meant I was limited to only a couple of them unfortunately, and one wasn't being offered on the beer festival night but was there for the Burn's Night celebrations. One had a coffee infusion, and as I have an intolerance to caffeine would not touch it. The others were all way over 4.5% and out of my league. This left me with a choice of the Burn's Night special brown ale and a hoppy golden ale.

The two beers I chose were actually very nice indeed, as was the Glenmorangie I supped with my haggis, tatties and neeps. MB and I decided that we should try to get back again before the end of the festival to see if we can sample a couple more of the beers on offer. Due to a major change in my life recently I can no longer get out during the week, so I am limited to weekend drinking, and only imbibing the lower alcohol content beers due to the running I do every Saturday and Sunday morning.

The evening in the Furze was very lively, with lots of youngsters in the bar enjoying themselves. It took MB and I over an hour to secure a table and then be bale to order our food, so we were both very hungry before it arrived.

Beers drunk on this visit:
1) Bow Bells (4.2%) - Truman's Brewery, Hackney Wick, London - a hoppy, citrusy golden ale
2) Robert Burns Brown Ale (4.2%) - Belhaven Brewery, Scotland - a very tasty traditional brown ale