Supping in The Smoke

A mid-December London trip by committee member Paul Manning and his wife Bev

Our long arranged trip, which coincided with the start of Omicron, got underway after boosters and negative lateral flow tests, with a train journey from Sheffield to St Pancras on a sparsely populated East Midlands train. We were in need of some refreshment on arrival so went in the Barrel Vault Wetherspoon’s on the station where we had a couple of pints of Winter Star (a dark winter ale) and Naked Ladies (a light hoppy ale) by the excellent Twickenham Fine Ales. Priced at £3.98 it was by far the cheapest beer all trip! A short, even more sparsely populated tube journey took us to Hampton by Hilton London Waterloo, our base for the trip.

South Bank Bev

We ventured out late afternoon and enjoyed a very lonely and quiet walk on the South Bank to meet an ex-colleague and his wife for an evening meal. We called in at the Mad Hatter Fuller’s pub at Southwark for some London Pride and then Blitzen dark ale by Black Sheep Brewery at Doggett’s Coat & Badge. There were excellent views across the river and a number of pop-up Christmas stalls and bars. We sampled one at Hay’s Galleria but it wasn’t cask – an unpronounceable IPA at over £7 a pint. An excellent meal at Côte Brasserie followed with some French bottled beer, which was very nice.

The next day we jumped on a tube for the Bank of England counter where I changed some old bank notes. The streets and shops were eerily quiet with many office staff clearly following working-from-home advice.

McMullen’s Bootwarmer in the Old Bank of England

We called in at the Old Bank of England on Fleet Street, now a McMullen pub, for a pint of their Bootwarmer, a great festive ale.

Memorabilia in the fantastic Edgar Wallace
Southwark Brewing’s Bankside Blonde

Across the road down Essex Street, we went in a fantastic little pub called the Edgar Wallace a regular CAMRA award winner and sampled Bankside Blonde by Southwark Brewing Company. The pub featured an amazing array of drinking and smoking memorabilia on all the walls including brands such as Double Diamond, Babycham and Swan Vesta.

£22 of pie

A quick pint of Wandle by Sambrook’s Brewery in the Nell of Old Drury followed before a visit to the Pie Room, a MasterChef-featured dining room in Holborn where we had a fantastic meal even though the pies alone were £22 each.

La Chouffe in Lowlander

On the way to our evening visit to see the musical Mamma Mia! we stopped off in the Lowlander craft ale cafe on Drury Lane which served excellent Belgium beers in keg and bottles. We had the delightfully named La Chouffe and Kwak beers and then battled our way through a huge Covid booster queue to the Novello Theatre.

Windsor & Eton’s Mandarin

On leaving we visited a local Wetherspoon’s, the Shakespeare’s Head, for pints of Three Kings by East London Brewing Company and Mandarin by Windsor & Eton – both very quaffable. A quick look around the now much busier Covent Garden ended our evening and visit.

Covent Garden getting busier

London is a fantastic place to visit and seek out some real ales and I’m sure we will be back in safer and hopefully busier times.   

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