As the bunting is strung up and Londoners prepare for public transport meltdown, Pub Diaries is here to tell you beer drinking proles what else is happening in the capital this weekend. If your idea of a good day isn’t watching Her Maj’s booze cruise putter down the Thames here are a few alternatives which may float your boat.
A day of Punk and Hotdogs awaits at the Euston Tap’s Lager Party. Czech Pilsner, Bavarian Helles, local boys Camden and their Black Friday await. For fans of self styled beer punks Brewdog there will be an exclusive supply of Growler, a Citra infused lager. We’re told that they’ll be using the UK’s only Randall beer infuser.
Billed as Pete and his iPod I’m thinking this could go either way. After seeing him tweet Eurovision on Saturday night I’m hoping that I’m not subjected to an afternoon of Boom Bang a Bang. At £4 for a beer flight and the opportunity to hear the beery bard I’m willing to take the risk. Tickets are selling out so get in while you can!
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.
Yesterday my Twitter feed became positively gourmet as this years Michelin announcement was made. It’s a time when the culinary elite hold their breaths to see whether they are ascending or descending the ranks.
Little you would say to do with the humble boozer? Well not quite true. Entering the 2011 Michelin Guide was a firm favourite. The Canton Arms in Stockwell. Yes, Stockwell. It has earned inclusion as a Bib Gourmand, denoting quality food, service and value.
Since my early visits and my posts in reverence of what they can do with a slice of bread and a Toastie Machine – think Foie Gras or Haggis – I’ve returned regularly. Now and again service hasn’t been quite as expected but even so I’ve always walked away well fed, well watered and happy (and eager) to return. It’s good to see the Michelin Inspectors recognise this small piece of South Lambeth Road and makes me wonder if they tried the Toastie.
Canton Arms, 177 South Lambeth Road, Stockwell, SW8 1XP
Its always with interest that I visit either a pub under new ownership or a sister pub of an old favourite. The Canton Arms ticks both boxes.
As the old incarnation closed talk at the time was whether the Canton would succumb to development and be lost permanently. Thankfully it has reopened and joins the Anchor and Hope in Southwark (and the Great Queen Street in Covent Garden). A&H keeps me coming back for the impeccable food and service. Its a destination to eat but not solely drink. The initial thought for me was whether South Lambeth Road could sustain an A&H carbon copy and in fact whether it needs one. The pub retains its features and is only marginally changed. Logical as why spend thousands on a refurb when the booze and food should do the talking.
My first visit was on a Saturday afternoon. The rugby was on, with a few punters sat reading the paper and glancing up to catch the pre match build up. The staff greeted me like a regular, which I am sure I will become, and is always a reason to come back. Two weeks later and I have since been back three times to both eat and drink. The food was good the first time, a Saturday afternoon Pork Belly sandwich (though I eyed Captain English’s Arbroath Smokey with envy) and excellent the second. St Patricks day and not a Guinness felt hat in sight . The foie gras toastie has so far eluded me but one day soon will be mine (Jay Raynor’s comment in The Observer should not be missed). The beer selection is good with a decent selection, Hobgoblin Wychwood and Triple B being notable highlights.
The Canton Arms for me surpasses its older well established sibling. It has everything I love about A&H but added to that is a destination for an excellent beer, a catch up with friends (the Captain and Meister living close by) and the promise of the foie gras toastie should I feel the need.
The Canton Arms, 177 South Lambeth Road, London SW8