Postal London - November 1999
Welcome to the tenth and penultimate instalment of Postal Drinker, my attempt to drink a pint of real ale in every one of the hundred and nineteen postal districts in London. I have kept up to schedule and now have twenty-one districts left for the last two months of the year. At the beginning of November I am still working in Central London but I am not sure for how long the job will last so I decide to get a few done while I still have a travelcard. As previously mentioned all my articles are available on the internet at the Hassrale website http://www.edmund1.demon.co.uk.
On Monday the first I get the tube to Brixton Underground station and walk round to the Trinity Arms in Trinity Square, Stockwell (SW9). This is a small one-bar Youngs pub and as Winter Warmer is now available I have a pint. The Trinity is a well-furbished pub with little in the way of facilities apart from drinking and talking. It is well worth its place in the Good Beer Guide where it is described as an oasis of calm yards from Brixton market. When I get home later that night my copy of London Drinker has arrived and I see that South West London Camra were having a social there later that night.
Leaving the Trinity I go back to the station and get the tube to the Oval in Kennington (SE11). There is a little of note in the South East London guide so I have a wander around and eventually arrive at the Prince of Wales. This is a small pub in Cleaver Square recently taken over by Shepherd Neame. It is dimly lit giving it the feel of a nightclub and appears to be aimed at the business trade which makes it seem a bit incongruous for the area. The beers available include Late Red which is Sheps seasonal beer for the autumn. It is vaguely similar to Fullers Red Fox and O'Hanlons Red but is not quite as distinctive. However it is slightly unfair to judge a beer after drinking a pint of Winter Warmer.
Leaving the Prince of Wales I cross Kennington Park Road into Walworth (SE11) and walk on to the Beehive in Carter Street which is in the middle of a housing estate. The Beehive appears to be a slightly up-market pub furnished in a wine bar style with pictures and cartoons of politicians decorating the walls. Like the Prince seems to be a bit incongruous for the area. Four beers are on handpump and I have a pint of Fullers London Pride. A wide range of wine and about fifty malt whiskies are available. According to London Drinker there is a Camra social here later in November.
On the Tuesday the second I head to Blackfriars station and get a train to Steatham (SW16) and walk down to the Pied Bull near the Common. This is a large multi-bar Youngs pub which is a former Evening Standard Pub of the Year and is a current Good Beer Guide entry. For a change I have a bottle of Youngs new bottle conditioned beer London Ale which at half a litre is almost a pint. This is a beer which does not seem to be available in all Youngs pub and is more aimed at the off license trade. Youngs also do a bottled Special which is not pasteurised but is cold filtered and half pint bottles of London Ale are not bottle-conditioned. I believe that there were suggestions in London Drinker that the bull would be refurbished as a cafe bar but, thankfully, they do not seem to have materialised.
Leaving the Pied Bull I head north to the town centre and Streatham Hill station which is quite a trek. As I head up the High Street I pass several large pubs of the town centre superpub type. When I get to Streatham Hill station there is a train to West Norwood (SE27) due in a few minutes so I decide to make that my next district. West Norwood station has several small pubs in the vicinity and I choose the Hope. This is a small somewhat nondescript Youngs pub and I have a pint of Ordinary. The Hope is also a current Good Beer Guide entry although I would not say my pint is up to that standard. Perhaps I am unlucky and have called on an off night.
I get the train back to Streatham Hill and head up to Brixton (SW2) and enter the Crown and Sceptre. This is a Wetherspoon pub and is also a Good Beer Guide entry. Only four beers were available so I have a pint of Boddingtons. There are few customers and the atmosphere does seem a bit flat. This may be because the Wetherspoon Halloween beer festival ended at the previous weekend and they have not fully restocked yet. Just after a beer festival is probably not the best time to visit a pub.
On Wednesday the third I get a train from London Bridge to East Dulwich (SE22) to visit the Crystal Palace Tavern. This is a two-bar, back street locals pub on a street corner built in the late Victorian era. At the front is a basic public bar and a more well furbished saloon is at the back. Four beers from the Allied range are available and I have a pint of Marstons Pedigree. The pub is a favourite of South East London Camra and is well worth its place in the current Good Beer Guide. Listing to the locals conversation it appears they have some concern for the pubs future as Punch Taverns are taking it over. In its current state the Crystal Palace is well worth a visit. Let us hope no drastic changes are made.
I head back to the station and get a train to Peckham (SE15). This is an inner-city district with about seventy pubs most of which do not sell real ale. I was unable to find the Nags Head, Del Boy and Rodders local, but after walking from Peckham Rye station to Queens Road I chance upon the Asylum in Asylum Road. This is a small two bar local decorated with some old photographs of Peckham. Courage Best and Greene King IPA available so I have a pint of the latter. Most of the customers are watching the evenings European football on a large screen TV.
I then find out that my work in Central London will last until mid November so I leave the last three pubs until later in the month. For the first of these I take the tube to Earls Court and leave by the Warwick Road entrance. Turning right I head up to West Kensington (W14) and find the Radnor Arms, a small Everards pub which is a Good Beer Guide entry. Everards Tiger and a special Millennium beer are available and I have a pint of the former. Warwick Road also has a Fullers pub and a Youngs pub so it is well worth a visit for an evenings drinking.
From Earls Court I get the tube to Fulham Broadway and head down the Fulham Road to West Brompton (SW10). Just past Stamford Bridge, the Chelsea ground, is Billing Road, a small side turning, and the Fox and Pheasant. This used to be a Bass pub but is now run by Greene King and I have a pint of IPA. The Fox is a small two bar pub with the feel of a county pub, even to the extent of having an outside toilet. It seems ideal for a quiet drink if you are in the Chelsea area unless, of course it is match day.
As I am allowed to go early on my last day at work I head down to Chiswick (W4) for the last pub of November. As this is the location of Fullers brewery there are several Fullers pubs here and their winter beer, Jack Frost, is now available. Jack Frost is available in the Mawson Arms on the edge of the brewery site. It is a dark beer with fruity overtones but is on the weak side for a winter beer being below 5%.
The Mawson is a plainly furnished pub that acts a brewery tap. The walls are decorated with a large amount off old photographs, price lists, posters and other memorabilia. It is also known as the Mawson Arms and Fox and Hounds which leads me to believe it was originally two pubs but a photograph from the thirties shows it as one pub. Several of the customers are Fullers employees
and one of them advises me that Jack frost is brewed with blackberry essence. This gives it the fruity overtones without giving it the full fruit flavour of a Belgian fruit beer.
This completes Novembers eleven pubs and leaves me with ten pubs left for December to complete my intention of drinking a pint in every London postal district.