A Grand Farewell to the London Drinker

March 2018 saw the 34th and final London Drinker Beer Festival, held in the Camden Centre which is very convenient for both St. Pancras and King’s Cross stations. Advance train tickets were booked, but again the cheapest route was via the non-stop Grand Central train from Doncaster to King’s Cross rather than East Midland Trains from Sheffield to St. Pancras.

Arriving in London I went straight to the venue to join the queue, even though opening was still about an hour away and I was not the first. The time passed fairly quickly with only a brief rain shower to contend with. The festival was very popular and now served beers only from London breweries. I sampled halves of cask beer from House, Gorgeous, Spartan, Alphabeta, Reunion and Thames Side. Lunchtime closing was at 2.30pm which then allowed plenty of time for a wander around Highbury and Islington.

Brewhouse and Kitchen, Highbury

I decided on visiting the further pub first which was the Brewhouse and Kitchen at Highbury (CAMRA Good Beer Guide 2018). Three of their own cask ales were sampled here: Romford Pele, Uncertainty and Tramshed. Retracing my steps I visited the New Rose on Essex Road (GBG 2018), which I would describe as a multi roomed basic traditional boozer of a type all too rare these days. Five hand pumps were in use and I sampled beers from Truman’s and New River Brewery.

Next was the Brewhouse and Kitchen at Islington. This was the busiest pub encountered today as by now the teatime drinking crowd had descended upon it. Anyway, another two of their in house brewed cask ales were tried, Myddleton Blonde Ale and Britton American Brown. Remember that Brewhouse & Kitchen pubs do give CAMRA discount. Onwards towards the Craft Beer Co, on White Lion Street (GBG 2018) and a very tasty, naturally cloudy, Park Killcat Pale Ale. Of their ten hand pumps, seven were in use today.

Craft Beer Co, Islington

Heading back towards King’s Cross was the Scottish Stores. I was disappointed to find that only 3 of their 8 hand pumps were in use so to give them chance to put additional beers on I visited the Parcel Yard in King’s Cross station (GBG 2018). Here I sampled St Austell Cousin Jack, which at £2.43 a half for a 4% beer was one of the dearest of the day. Back to the Scottish Stores now but, sadly, still only 3 beers were available with no sign of any of the staff being willing to replace any of the beers that had gone. I had no time to go elsewhere so settled on a half of Portobello VPA.

Changing trains in Doncaster allowed no time for a drink there, but on arriving in Sheffield a quick visit to the Bankers Draft provided a half of Greene King Heritage Suffolk Pale Ale from their festival list. At £1.10 for a 5% beer, this was by far the cheapest beer sampled all day.

Andy Morton

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