Friday, 7 August 2015

A Mini Pub-Crawl in the West End

Mini Pub Crawl in the West End of London - Tuesday 4th August 2015

I met up with one of my old rugby pals, SH, this evening. We see each other maybe four or five times a year plus any rugby finals that our team (Wasps RFC) manage to get to. SH is also my main Oktoberfest buddy - we have been to six in the last eight years and are due to go to his year's one too.

Back to this evening - I met up with SH after grabbing a quick bite in a new burger bar called "5 Guys". It feels like an American diner inside and they serve a basic menu of burgers and fries with a selction of soft and alcoholic drinks. I went for a basic cheeseburger, onto which I could add as many 'free' toppings as I wished from their list - I went for mustard, ketchup, tomatoes and pickles, and a small portion of fries. It was tasty and very filling, just what was required to line my stomach for the evening's drinking session. The only downside was that for what you get it is very expensive. The quality, in my mind, lies betwen Burger King and Byron's, but the price is up there with Byron's. If they were maybe a couple of quid cheaper then they would be perfect.

Sorry about the aside there. Anyway, I met up with SH in the Punch and Judy in Covent Garden after my repast. We have met here the last few times we have gone for a drink in London before heading off elsewhere. We had a couple of drinks here and then headed back down to The Strand to see what was on offer there.

The Punch and Judy, Covent Garden

40 The Market, Covent Garden Piazza, London, WC2E 8RF

The Punch and Judy is a rather expensive tourist trap but a lovely pub all the same. They offer many of the usual lagers and wines and so forth, but only three beers on tap. However, unusually for many a pub, they offer around half-a-dozen bottle ales too!

The pub is on two levels, but the majority of the patrons frequent the beer 'garden' (as shown in the photo) or the inside bar downstairs. We sat inside whilst we had our two beers and a neck and shoulder massage from a couple of lovely young ladies from the Marie Curie Cancer trust - for a small donation. The upper balcony is usually reserved for the smokers and is actually the easiest way into the main bar downstairs.

Beers drunk on this visit:

1) Best Bitter (3.8%), Black Sheep Brewery, Masham, North Yorkshire - a light, golden hoppy bitter
2) IPA (3.6%), Greene King, Bury St Edmunds - a good session IPA

Visits: 1st / several previous

The Lyceum Tavern

354 Strand, London WC2R 0HS

This is a pub that I walk past every day on my way to and from work. I used to drink in here on a semi-regular basis (along with The Wellington a few door down) with a friend of mine after work who I have since lost touch with - Graham (Madam X fan I met on a Charing Cross to Bexleyheath train) get in touch if you ever get to read this, it would be great to see you again.

This is a great pub with loads of character. There is an upstairs bar that serves food but the downstairs bar with its side booths and airy main snug is great. They are a Sam Smith's house but the tied status does not detract from the great beer on offer. They have four pumps of Sam Smiths Old Brewery Bitter and around four of those old fashioned 'taps' - those wierd pumps that have the lit cubes above them advertising what is contained within.

Beers drunk on this visit:

1) Old Brewery Bitter (4%), Sam Smiths, North Yorkshire - a malty, toffeeish bitter

Visits: 1st / a few previous

The Coal Hole
91-92 Strand, London WC2R 0DW

This is a pub that I have just started to go back to after many years. They have 12 pumps of ale on (although, upon chatting to the barman, during the summer they reduce the number of beers to about 7 or 8 and double up or switch off some pumps due to people switching to lagers in the hot weather) and a large selection of usual and premium lagers and wine.

Again, it is on my way to/from work, so is perfecly situated for an after work drink. That said, I only partook of one ale as time was marching on and I had already had three drinks in the previous two pubs. SH is usually a lager drinker but for The Lyceum and here he joined me on the bitter/ales. I think he enjoyed them as much as I did.

We managed to carry on talking the hind legs of our proverbial donkeys as the beer loosened our tongues and we pomised to meet up at least once more before Oktoberfest to sample a few more pubs in the area.

Beers drunk on this visit:

1) Tribute Ale (4.2%), St, Austell Brewery, Cornwall - a light, hoppy easy to drink session ale

Visits: 1st / a few previous

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