I just had one of those lovely moments where you exclaim out loud with glee and want to tell someone the news. I had one such moment this morning when a text arrived saying not to go to work because of the snow. But that's not the one I wanted to tell you about. This particular exclamation happened when I finally got round to opening this month's What's Brewing.
Behold, on the front page, a most marvellous piece of news-The (glorious) Harp on Chandos Place, London, has made it into the final four for the CAMRA best pub in the country. I always look at the pubs who win that accolade with a sense of wonder and intrigue- they must be spectacular enclaves of beer joy, full of ale loving pilgrims clutching their Good Beer Guides with rapture. But they are always so darn far away an I find myself asking the inevitable questions- will I be able to go there on a weekend away? How far is it from the nearest train station? When I get there will the punters look at me like I shouldn't be there (or offer me a glass of rose)? Before the cries of complaint at my naive comments leap from your mouths, I will confess to never having, to my knowledge, been to a CAMRA national pub of the year. Not even The Kelham Island Tavern. Indeed a travesty, and a black mark on ale loving credibilty.
But- oh! The Harp! Its 15 minutes on the train from my gaff! It's a mere delight filled skip from Charing Cross! And they never look at you like you haven't got the right to be ordering a stout with bosoms, a good figure, and no memory of the '70s, as the staff are in the same boat! This place is girl power Real Ale Stylee, a place I love so much that I will risk every elbow in the rib, every sweaty armpit up the nose, every moment of missing out on a bar stall, just to be inside. It was the first place I tried the heavenly Old Chestnut by the lovely dudes at Dark Star, and Sambrook's Powerhouse Porter, hot off the press in its first couple of weeks. The beers are reliable, exciting, beautifully served and varied, served to locals, commuters and Japanese tourists in equal measure, making it truly cosmoplitan whilst endearingly quaint, charming and well, bloody small.
Bigup to the lasses at The Harp- a well deserved place in the final four.