I’ve been toying whether to write this was a while. It came to me after reading a poll asking if the London beer scene (I hate that word) was too saturated. My response “Fuck no! I still can’t get a decent beer near my workplace on a Friday night”.
My workplace is on Wigmore Street down the Self ridges end. My workmates, unlike other places where I have worked, are really, genuinely, lovely people to be around. I’ve been here for 9 years and enjoyed many a Friday whiling away the hours with them over a few drinks. I’ve even managed to acquire the job of Friday drinks secretary which entails me emailing everyone on a Friday to say which pub we’ll be going to.
However, the more and more I am spoilt by the amazing choice of beers I have at home and at places close to home (I live very close to Bermondsey) the more and more I don’t want to go out on a Friday night with my workmates anymore. This is nowt to do with them but to do with the pubs in the area and lack of choice when it comes to beer.
I know there are great places in Marylebone for beer (The Prince Regent, The Phoenix and The Globe up by Marylebone Station are a few examples) but my workmates, understandably, don’t want to have to walk far for their beers after work. They are, on the whole, happy with their pint of Kronenberg or delighted with their pint of Doom Bar. They don’t need to walk far for that, the Devonshire Arms across the road sells those, no need to travel. The problem is the Devonshire Arms, like many of the pubs round here, only have token Punk IPAs in their fridge for people like me. I know a lot of pubs are tied and can’t sell certain things blah blah blah but having to drink Punk IPA every Friday for months on end gets very very boring. Not to mention sometimes the bottles are a bit too old.
It just frustrates me as I’ve travelled a fair bit and have found great beer readily available in every capital city I have been to yet you come to pretty much central London (Oxford Street is 30 seconds away) and there’s no decent London brewed beer being celebrated which I think is criminal.
Take where we are going tonight. Tonight I’m not in charge of pub choice as somebody is leaving and having leaving drinks. We are usually tied between two places for these due to space issues – The Coachmakers or All Bar One. Tonight we are at The Coachmakers. The Coachmakers have a pretty standard beer selection but they do sometimes have the odd guest cask bitter which is great if you’re into those, which I’m not really. I usually end up on the bottles of Affligem Blonde which at 6.8% you really can’t drink all night. On another note, in case someone from The Coachmakers is reading this, you’re website is terrible to use. I’ve seen many a workmate frustrated over it.
All Bar One used to be bearable as they had a few surprising Siren bottles in the fridge but they’ve now disappeared and been seemingly replaced by Corona and Estrella.
There are a few glimmers of hope. The Gunmakers normally has the odd thing on tap but the last few times I’ve been in it has been from London Fields which has tasted incredibly vinegary and just been totally undrinkable. They also have Camden Pale and Hells on tap which I’m not a fan of but I credit the Gunmakers for it. We also have a Sam Smiths pub near us which is great, I’m a big fan of their chocolate stout, the problem is it’s just too small to accommodate all of us.
I dunno, maybe my standards are just too high and I should get on with it. I’m just at the stage where I don’t think I should drink something I’m not going to enjoy for the sake of drinking and with the British culture of going out drinking on a Friday night to socialise that just doesn’t fit anymore. Maybe it’s not you, it’s me.
If I’m wrong and you know a pub within 5 min walk of my office that has great beer let me know.