I was the subject of an intervention recently. English sat me down, placed a pint in front of me and laid the bare facts out. There’s been too much frippery of late. Too much fluff, or to be more accurate: Popcorn. In pretty cups. I was taken to task on the lack of pubs talked about here and in particular the lack of London pubs. It seems English doesn’t care to know what’s happening in Perth.
Now I could have said it wasn’t a problem. I could have got angry. I could even have told him to write his own blog; which he’s talked of writing, has a half decent name for, but to date hasn’t put finger to keyboard on (hands up who wants English to write his own blog?). I didn’t do any of it. Instead I took it on board, gave it some thought and went to the pub – in fact I went to 10.
Where better to start than just round the corner from the intervention and the newly reopened Crown & Anchor.
Brixton and Stockwell have long needed an injection of craft beer. They have boozers of note but none that has ever delivered as a destination solely for the beer. From the owners of the Jolly Butchers comes the answer with the refurbished Crown & Anchor.
I’m often accused of a dourness bordering on being sullen. A street artist once asked me to smile and when I obliged said it was cruel and twisted, which in recent years has meant that I don’t smile as often as people would want. As I walk into the Crown & Anchor I’m beaming like the Milky Bar Kid, without any hint of the crooked or cruel. A pub that can do this has to be good right? It’s a large open space, with 20+ beers on tap and packed out. It’s the opening day and the mix is locals and others. As I stand at the bar there’s confusion all around as people can’t make the decision of what to have. Choice like this hasn’t been seen in these parts. Bar staff advise the bemused punters and it makes for a great atmosphere of people trying something new, both pub and beer wise.
What I particularly loved was the local feel. Gentrification has become a dirty word as often it’s for the benefit of outsiders and excludes or at worst forces out the locals. As I look round the bar there’s an old man shuffling through. He takes a seat and looks out with a look of shock and happiness combined. My guess is that he’s been drinking in this pub since he was old enough. Back in the 50s his kids may have come here as one of the first rock n roll joints in the UK. As he sits inside others peer open mouthed through the window.
Stepping outside to make a call I look down the road and see what a surprise it would be. The guy smoking next to me explains that it used to be a “right old kip” and hopes it will do ok. He points out it’s between tubes and isn’t sure how it will go for custom. I tell him that they’ll come for the beer. He thinks a moment smiles and gives me an approving nod.
Crown & Anchor, 246 Brixton Road, London, SW9 6AQ
Pictures courtesy of Urban 75