Thursday, 31 May 2018

The Surrey Docks

The Surrey Docks - Saturday 26th May 2018

185 Lower Road, London SE16 2LW

Last weekend I had the chance to visit a Wetherspoons pub a little further afield than I normally go. There was a family birthday get together here, so I took the bus and train to this pub near to Canada Water station. It is a typical Wetherspoons affair offering a decent amount of real ales on tap and craft beers in cans and bottles.

It was a very sunny day but luckily I could sit just inside the pub, which has opening full length doors that open onto the street, out of the sun whilst drinking my beer.

As the day wove on into evening, I felt I had to sample their food - a fairly decent burger with chips and a cookie dough dessert with ice cream. All very tasty whilst accompanied by a few beers.

Beers drunk on this visit :
1) Harry & Meghan's Windsor Knot (4%) - Windsor & Eton Brewery, Windsor, Berkshire
2) London Pale Ale (4%) - Southwark Brewing Co., London

Friday, 18 May 2018

Bermondsey Beer Hunt

The Angel - Saturday 12th May 2018
101 Bermondsey Wall East, London SE16 4NB

On the off chance, I decided to visit my sister and her boyfriend for a few beers in some of her local pubs this weekend. I was not to be disappointed. We started off just over the road from where she lives at The Angel. This pub is a tied Sam Smith's establishment and has a good choice of ales and ciders on tap (the old fashioned, Victorian style square taps). It has an old world feel to it what with all the wooden walls and floors etc. and the beer was served to perfection.

The pub was reasonably busy when we got there around 5pm, but it was not packed, and even though it was a miserable day we decided to sit outside and watch the traffic go by on Old Father Thames whilst sipping our drinks. We only had a swift pint in here before we moved onto the pub they really wanted to show me.

Beers drunk on this visit :
1) India Ale (5.0%) - Sam Smith's Brewery, Tadcaster, Yorkshire

Unfortunately I couldn't find any pictures of the pump label.

The Mayflower

117 Rotherhithe Street, London SE16 4NF

This pub is reportedly the oldest pub on the banks of the Thames. Formerly known as The Spread Eagle, this is where the original Mayflower ship embarked on her journey to the Americas. Apparently the captain set sail from here rather than further up the river to avoid paying docking taxes! It is also the only pub in Britain that is legally allowed to sell postage stamps, based on a tradition that in the 18th century sailors who docked here could grab a pint and a stamp during their brief visits.

The pub is an absolute gem inside; bric-a-brac for decoration, wooden floors and walls, and a very busy (4 or 5 bar staff at all times), well-stocked bar with a great choice of ales and wine. The food is absolutely top notch, and I would recommend the cheese board to anyone - my sister and I shared all 11 cheeses on offer with extra crackers whilst JD bagged himself a very tasty bowl of steaming mussels.

The fabulous cheeseboard

The mussels

We didn't only eat in here but also sampled a selection of their fine ales on tap. Luckily, we managed to share the table we were at with a few other groups of patrons and passed a good couple of hours in great company; many of whom grabbed the cheeseboard after seeing the delights on offer on ours.

I will definitely try to get back to this pub again to try some of their cooked food, as the menu looked fantastic. A real gastropub in the true sense of the word. I daresay that a table would have to be booked well in advance.

Beers drunk on this visit :
1) Belgian White (5.4%) - Blue Moon Brewing Company (Coors), Golden, Colorado, USA
2) Golden Ale (4.2%) - Bedlam Brewery, Albourne, West sussex
3) Lushington's Sunshine Pale Ale (4.2%) - Skinner's Brewery, Cornwall

Sunday, 6 May 2018

Free Comic Book Day 2018

Once again, the first Saturday in May becomes a cosplay extravaganza for comic book fans. Three shops in London put on the glitz to celebrate all things comics. I managed to visit all three of the comic shops and got all the comics on my wants list, plus a few extra that may entice me into perusing them in the future.

The bonus for me for this particular event is that I always make it a big day out with beers and burgers thrown in for good measure. This year was exactly the same procedure as the last few, but with different venues being visited along the way.

After I had finished my comic book gathering and attended a signing (2000AD at Orbital Comics) I headed for the first pub whilst I waited for MB to arrive.

The Spice of Life
6 Moor Street, Soho, London W1D 5NA
After completing the running around to get the comics I wanted, I needed a sit down in a cool environment - London was hot today! I have not been in here for a while but it used to be a regular haunt when I met my rugby mates in the off season or, in my youth, my rock night mates before going to a club later that night.

It is nicely decorated throughout, with large tables with plenty of space to eat. The menu is not extensive but what I saw served up looked appetising and reasonable value for money (considering it is London). There are plenty of drinks on offer whether you like wine, spirits of beer, but on this occasion I opted to start with a soft drink and then moved onto the IPA. This is a Greene King pub so you know pretty much what to expect in here.

The Salisbury
90 St Martin's Lane, Covent Garden, London WC2N 4AP
A pub that I have only ever been in once or twice in the past. It has a fantatsic layout and decor inside, a true gem of a pub for wowing the tourists. Again, it is a Greene King tied pub, but is different on so many levels to the standard tied pub. There is a great view from the front windows of Mr Fogg's Tavern on the opposite side of the street.

There is an extensive beer menu in here, which means on my next night out in London with SH, RT and MB I will make sure we pay it a visit. On this occasion, I opted to stay on the Greene King IPA but moved onto Old Speckled Hen when MB arrived - he needed something to calm his nerves after an awful journey getting there.

Beers drunk on this visit:
1) IPA (3.6%) - Greene King Brewery, Bury St. Edmunds
2) Old Speckled Hen (4.5%) - Morland (Greene King) Brewery, Bury St. Edmunds

After we had supped our pints, MB and I headed just up the road to the Five Guys burger bar and filled our bellies with bacon and cheeseburgers "All the Way", with fries and a shake (peanut butter for me). This soaked up a bit of the beer and set us in good stead for an evening's drinking. We wandered around Covent Garden and then Soho (there were some lovely looking pubs we hadn't been in before but all were very busy) before finally settling on the Crobar. I did pop round to check out the Pillars of Hercules earlier that day after hearing a rumour it was due to close. Alas, when I got there it had indeed been closed down - there goes part of my history; only fond memories of the place will now survive it.

The Crobar
17 Manette Street, Soho, London W1D 4AS
As usual, we were some of the first to arrive, but the place slowly filled up over the hour or two we spent in here. I really like this place despite its small size. The people always seem to be friendly an dthe music is nearly always top-notch, although today there were some unusual songs played on the juke box.

The internal mural has changed from the previous one that displayed a variety of rock legends, to a dragon and lots of mushrooms. I am sure it means something to somebody, but it is a nice mural nonetheless.

MB and I managed to find a table at the back of the bar and proceeded to drink a couple of bottles of beer whilst listening to the music and generally relaxing and taking in the ambience. We were both tired by now so thought that we would leave the rock scene to the youngsters by heading on out to a pub we promised ourselves we would visit again on a non celebratory (Christmas) night to see if it was just as enjoyable now as it was then.

Beers drunk on this visit:
1) Trooper (4.7%) - Robinson's Brewery, Stockport, Cheshire
Mr Fogg's Tavern
58 St Martin's Lane, London WC2N 4EA
We were not disappointed with Mr Fogg's. Although last time we visited this place at Christmas we wanted to know how it stood up to a normal Saturday night out. The beer was nice, the bar staff, dressed in period costume, were friendly and the atmosphere was genial. It was quite busy in here again, so we didn't manage to grab a seat but the customers were friendly enough and there was no jostling or bad manners on show. This time MB and I managed to take in a bit more of the decor and spent a wee bit of time discussing it. There are some real oddities hanging up on the walls and ceiling which give this pub a fantastic olde worlde feel.

Beers drunk on this visit:
1) Mr Fogg's Best Bitter (3.5%) - Mr Fogg's Brewery, London

Bexley Beer Festival 2018

Bexley Beer Festival - Friday 4th May 2018

Old Dartfordians Sports Club, Bourne Road, Bexley, Kent DA5 1LW

I have been to a few of these festivals at Bexley now but I have to say that this one was the least enjoyable. The entry fee was extortionate (to me anyway), the way to buy the beers was convoluted and the beers on offer were not the best choices out there.

The entry price this year was £10, for which you got a glass, £4 worth of beer tokens (well, actually a card) and a programme. I am on a bit of a tight budget at the moment due to my work not being particularly regular, so for the first time in a long while I actually returned my glass to get the £3 deposit back at the end of the evening.

Beer tokens are normally a bit of fun and I can understand why they are used, but having cards with multiple values of 10p and 20p stamped on them that have to be crossed off manually seems to me to be a bit too much work for very little gain. I can understand that having cash all over the place may cause some issues (especially in the cashing up at the end of the evening) but the same amount of money would have had to have been handed over and taken to the bank the following day no matter the system used. I can only think (the cynic in me) that this was done on purpose as most people with just a few pennies left on their card would not cash it back in at the end of the night (due to not wanting to be embarrassed about penny-pinching) and thus put more into the pockets of the organisers. Presumably most of this would go to charity, but I want the choice of where my money goes not someone else.

I understand from chatting to a few people there that the beer organisers had changed since last year and, unfortunately, it shows. There was not one beer that I tried that gave me a Wow! moment, only one that tasted OK (and it wasn't even one of the beers I chose), and the rest were poor to very awful - a couple were almost undrinkable.

Beers drunk on this visit:
1) 29. Loxhill Biscuit (3.8%) - Crafty Brewery, Loxhill, Surrey - Golden ale
2) 82. Holy Island bitter (4.0%) - VIP Brewery, Alnwick, Northumbri - Amber ale
3) 61. Hefeweizen (4.4%) - A speciality beer (banana and cloves) - truly awful
4) 71. Shieldsman (3.8%) - Three Kings Brewery, North Shields, Tyne & Wear - Blonde
5) 64. Millie George Blonde (4.0%) - Pennine Brewery, Yorkshire - Blonde
6) 94. Redhouse - Bexley Brewery, Kent (not on the menu)

Things were so bad I had to end the evening at the festival with a beer that I knew I could enjoy. Afterwards, feeling distinctly cheesed off, MB and I headed into Bexley Village to find a pub that served a decent ale.

The George
74 Bexley High Street, Bexley, Kent DA5 1AJ

I have not been in this pub since moving to Bexley last August time so decided this evening might be a good opportunity. It seems to cater for an older clientelle (i.e. not really for teenagers and twenty-somethings, although there were a few), but was busy nonetheless. There were three or four ales on tap, so not a bad choice of pub afterall.

Unfortunately, due to having the hump with the beer festival earlier, I cannot remember the beer we had in here other than that it was most likely a Greene King ale. I usually make a note on my phone but failed to do so on this occasion.

This means that I will have to revisit this establishment in the very near future.

Monday, 30 April 2018

The Dome

The Dome - Saturday 28th April 2018

2A Dartmouth Park Hill, London NW5 1HL

The Dome is a gig venue above the Boston Arms pub. It caters to mostly rock and alternative styles of music. This is the second occasion I have been to this venue and, again, I was not disappointed with the music on offer. On this visit I had already pre-booked tickets rather than turned up on the day. The venue was busy but not filled to capacity, which surprised me considering the bands that were on this evening: Almanac (with ex-frontman from Rage), MaYaN (big in the Netherlands) and Leaves' Eyes (been going for many years with 7 albums under their collective belts). I had booked tickets to see Leaves' Eyes.

Anyway, onto the beers on offer - I have not been into the Boston Arms pub (other than a visit to use their loo) so I am not sure what they have on offer but the venue has one decent beer on tap and several cans in the fridge. I stuck to the very tasty, and very strong (for me), IPA on tap.

Beers drunk on this visit:

IPA (4.6%) - Maltsmiths Brewing Co., Edinburgh - a strongly flavoured American style IPA

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