We all know how much I love a good old fashioned pub. Friends frequently get frustrated with me as I badger them away from a groovy bar into a backstreet local. My pals have long since learned never to scorn me for ordering ‘an old man’s drink’ but they will occasionally allow themselves a rant about my choice of venue. Having said that, on a recent pub crawl round Forest Hill,
South-East London, it was the time-warped Forest Hill Hotel, with its distinctly early 90’s karaoke set up and faded flowery seat covers, which had everyone hooked. Except me, as there was no real ale.
But there is real ale a-plenty around
today. In cool, funky venues with quirky design and young, interesting staff who know what they are talking about. London
For the past two Saturday’s we have found ourselves in the shadow of
, in the delightful Dean Swift and the much talked about Draft House. We found them both through sheer fluke last weekend but returned entirely intentionally this time round. Tower Bridge
Last Saturday was a landmark day for Real Ale Girl. We spotted that our 2nd closest brewery, Kernel, is open every Saturday to buy their beer directly (for those of you interested in such things, Meantime’s new brewing premises is 3.6 miles away from my gaff, Kernel = 5.6.). So off we sped, traipsing round the back arse of Bermondsey, carefully tracing our route alongside the railway arches, repeatedly mistaking mechanics for our destination. But boy, what a destination. We sat on a wooden plank, admiring the fashion for cool young lads to make themselves look as geeky and unstylish as possible, and marvelled. We made our way through as much of the exotic range as we could manage in half an hour, and chatted to Evin, the brewer, who made my year by recognising me. I am officially cool.
Evin recommended the Dean Swift to us. They sell his bottles, and even the occasional rare cask. He told us how to find it and told us they serve good beer. He didn’t tell us just how darn hip it would be. It is stylish, it is quirky, it was full of groovy young folks. And I loved it. They indeed serve good beer. Not just cask, but a carefully selected range of draft beers from around the world- beers for the connoisseur and the casual beer drinker alike. The bottled beer list is split into styles and features a Wheat beer from
Corsica. The place is quite simply very cool. They know their stuff- about both beer and what makes a pub attractive to young people, and are combining the two perfectly. And I am going to keep going back.
Round the corner is the much hyped Draft House, but hyped has negative connotations. Hyped implies an exaggerated reputation, and that when you finally go yourself, you’ll be somewhat disappointed by the reality. But I didn’t get that with the Draft House. I got some amazing beer- the Rauchbier is pure heaven for a smoky beer lover, and I got to sit in a
loft-esque space marvelling at their witty marketing and Ghostbusters wallpaper. New York
What is exciting about these bars is not just the beer. And it’s not simply the style. It is the combination of the two. Looking around both bars yesterday afternoon, there were groups of friends having lunch and nursing hangovers. Drinking exciting, unusual beers. There were cool couples on their way home from Spitalfields. Drinking exciting, unusual beers. There were family groups having birthday lunches, drinking exciting, unusual beers- not a glass of wine in sight, the grannies were drinking Belgian fruit beers. And there was me. In a state of excitement that beer really is getting cool. About bloody time.