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Trip to London

Hello again!

To jump to the write up of pubs we visited, use these! The RakeThe NightingaleBelgoDe HemsEuston TapPodcast Pubcask

So we recently departed on a trip to London. This didn’t start as a planned trip however we thought since we had the opportunity we would head down and at least try a couple of pubs that we could find. Jon had a meeting in South Clapham, and Dan and Myself thought we would tag along and try some pubs we fond along the way.

We decided we would try to find a few Belgian bars, and briefly researched what was en-route and not to far from the tube stations from London Liverpool to South Clapham. We were using The Belgian Beer Guide to try to find what was in the area, along with Google maps which was very useful in pin-pointing what was closest.

We arrived early for Jon’s meeting so we thought we would get right to it and get the first beer in. We got the tube to London Bridge, and took a walk taking in the markets and the shard shooting up next to us!

The first pub we went to was The Rake, a 5 minute walk from the tube station. It’s a quirky little, and I mean little, bar. It looks very modern and hip inside, they had a number of draught beers on tap and even a couple of real ales on hand pump from the cask, and also a fridge with a large selection of bottled beers! They mainly had Belgian and European beers, and also a number of craft beers in bottles. Jon and Dan each went for a beer on draught and I foolishly started with a bottle from the fridge, the prices where what you would expect from a bar of this type in London. The two halves on tap came to around £3 each, and my bottle was a staggering £6.

The bar itself was nice, it was quite small with limited seating but there was also a larger outside beer terrace where we sat. It didn’t help that it was a gloomy day, but the contrast between in and outside was visible. Inside was a clean, modern, well kept area and outside could have just done with a lick of paint and a scrub. Although we can’t really complain, it wasn’t as bad as some we’ve seen and like I mentioned the bar itself made up for it. It gave the impression it was a quite ‘trendy’ bar but that may have just been what the bars in London are pushing towards at the moment.

So the beers we tried here,

I had a Bottle of Oaked Arrogant Bastard Ale from the Stone brewery at 7.2% – This was amazing! I had worried this would be too much for the first beer of the day, but it was great. It was a very strong, dark ale. Great hopped with a great strong ale malty flavour. Then just the right amount of oak wood flavour came through, nothing over powering just enough to give it a lovely wooden edge.

Jon had a La Trappe Puur at 4.7% – This is one of the Trappist beers we didn’t sample in our La Trappe tasting session. It’s a light, freshly hopped and a delicious pale yellow beer with a hint of pear. It’s also brewed from completely organic ingredients, giving the name PUUR which means pure.

Dan had a Floris Cactus by the Huyghe Brewery at 3.5% – This is one of their Floris fruit range of beers. This was very green and very cloudy, not overly strong and the fruit didn’t overpower it. Very refreshing but did not taste like alcohol!

We then headed down to South Clapham, and Jon had to dash off briefly, so Dan and Myself decided to wait in The Nightingale. This is a Young’s pub, and we were a bit apprehensive to go in at first. Then once we were in we loved it! This a great looking old pub. It’s an old Victorian cottage style pub, and is actually a Grade II listed building built in 1859. It had a great old pub feel. Just what you’d expect actually from a traditional London pub, everything we imagined. There is an area with high backed smoking chairs, then seating around the rest of the pub with wooden panelling across the walls, an old style bar with glasses on a hanging shelf around the top.  A coal fire warming you as you walk in. It was very quiet, and we had just missed the lunch service which was a shame since the food looked good, it was also pie Tuesday where you can get a pie with mash and veg, and it also suggest which beer to accompany which pie, great little touch. Also on the price front, they were standard pub prices again around £3.50 for a standard pint of Young’s, and slightly more for a bottle.

Another thing to mention was it was very clean! It looked like an old traditional pub, but it didn’t look as if it hadn’t been cleaned or maintained since it was opened, which unfortunately we have found in other older pubs! All in all we really enjoyed this pub. Dan and Myself had two beers which were fresh and tasty, and Jon then met us for one of his own. The beers we tried are,

I had a Young’s Bitter at 3.7% – This is a good standard session bitter. Full of flavour, fresh, crisp, and excellent. It’s light, dry, and a fruity taste. An excellent bitter and really good when you find one that’s fresh on tap.

Dan had the Young’s Special at 4.5% – Another classic bitter. Not overly special, but refreshing and nice all the same.

Jon arrived and had a Adnam’s American Style IPA at 4.8% – Not as nice as the 5.5% bottle variation they do. Slightly too dry, a hoppy taste with good hints of grapefruit, but lacking a nice after taste.

Dan and Myself also couldn’t resist a bottle of Young’s Double Cohocolate Stout each at 5.2% – This is an utterly delicious beer! It’s dark, smooth and a great chocolate taste. A great stout, and highly recommended by us.

Our next stop was at Clapham North, where we headed to a Belgo. Belgo is a Belgian restaurant, that serves great Belgian beer, Muscles, and everything Belgian! They have a number of restaurants around London, and the one we went to was indeed very nice. It’s a very stylish bar/restaurant. One side has seating for meals, and the other has smaller tables for people to sit and have a smaller meal, or just to have a beer at. the interior was clean, stylish, and modern. It was very comfortable and a very inviting and great bar. The prices were higher than a standard bar, but again something you expect from a Belgian bar, especially in London!

They have a great selection of beers and a great menu online here, with a number of bottles and then a few on draught, including their own house beer. They also do great food which smelt delicious, and Dan even had some Frites & Dips, which were some f the tastiest chips and garlic mayonnaise I have tasted! So on to the beers we tried,

Dan and Myself started with a Brugse Zot by De Halve Maan at 6% – This was a lovely fresh Belgian beer. Full of fruity spicy flavours. Very light with a large frothy head, an excellent refreshing beer.

Jon had the Belgo Wit at 4.8% – This was a pale white beer, very refreshing with a distinct Belgian taste. A good bear with a good foamy head and a lovely fruity fresh flavour, a great Wit beer.

Jon next had the Belgo Pilsner at 4.2 % – This was another house beer, and it was tasty, crisp and fresh. Definitely a beer to turn lager drinkers away from the fizzy stuff they cling to!

I then tried a bottle of the Westmalle Dubbel at 7% – This was a great reddish-brown beer, with excellent dark fruit and caramel tastes, and a rich smooth body. A lovely Dubbel and well definitely be looking out for it again.

We then headed to Leicester Square, and found a great bar called De Hems. A Dutch café bar owned by Nicholsons. This was a great bar, and absolutely heaving when we arrived so looked to be very popular. This looked a traditional pub, with a large bar and two floors.  Like I mentioned it was very busy, but felt like a great atmosphere, and we still got served pretty quickly. They had a good range of beers, a number on draught and I believe bottles too. They of course had a good range of Dutch and Belgian beers, and from the look of the menu some great food. So we were served by the very lovely bar staff,

Jon and Dan both had a Verdett Extra White at 4.7% – This was a very white beer, smooth and carbonated well. Very refreshing and cool, lovely zesty flavour and great in the warm bar, also served with a slice of lemon.

I went for the La Trappe Dubbel at 7% – Another La Trappe beer, and one of my favourites. A lovely dark beer with great caramel notes and a smooth rich finish.

Our final stop was the Euston Tap, just outside Euston station. This  is a great quirky bar in one of th two old gatehouses outside the station. We have visited this bar before, and really enjoyed it so made a point of going back. You can read about our first visit in more detail here! We weren’t disappointed with this visit either. It was reasonably busy, but we still found a seat in the small upstairs area. We were served quickly, after spending a while deciding from their huge range of beers. A large number of beers on tap, and then two large fridges full of bottle, you are spoilt for choice. The bar itself in unique, it makes the most of the tiny space it is in, and is quirky and different.

The bar staff were friendly, and the beers themselves weren’t too pricey, which is always a good note, so on to what we finally decided to try,

Jon started with a Thornbridge Feallen at 5.8% – A nice copper orange beer, very germanesque in flavour, light and refreshing with hints of dried fruit coming through.

Jon and Dan had a Thornbridge Halcyon at 7.4% – This is an Imperial IPA, and was very interesting. Very rich and very hoppy with some great fruit flavours coming through.

Dan also had the Bernard Dark Lager at 5.1% – A Czech brewed dark lager, this was standard and quite thin, nothing to shout about. Very dark with a good head.

I started with a Hopf Helle Weiße at 5.3%- This was a lovely beer, very fruity and zesty, highly carbonated and delicious. Very light and fragrant, bursting with fruit and citrus flavours.

I also tried the Magic 8 Ball by Magic Rock at 7%  – This was not for me, it was very strong and dark, a black IPA that just didn’t taste right to me. It was thick and hoppy with some odd fruit notes.

So that concludes our trip to London, we know we barley touched on the range of bars and pubs around but that an excuse to go back time and time again.

We also have an accompanying podcast that you can hear here.

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Until next time.


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This entry was posted on February 7, 2013 by in Days Out, Podcasts and tagged , , , , , .
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