London – the best drinking city in Europe?

Posted by on Sep 23, 2011 in In praise of..., Pubs | No Comments

Look up ‘pub’ in the dictionary – this is what you should see

Thanks to the wonders of East Coast wi-fi, beer bloggers no longer have to wait until they get home to file copy on their ale adventures*. Having just spent two days wandering around London, enjoying the variety of pubs and visiting with new brewers – there really wasn’t any need to wait before coming up with a post on drinking in the other capital. Over the next few days we’ll be posting detailed reviews on some of the places I wandered into – but the overall theme is one of wonderment at the beery options down there. It really seems as if London is the place to be at the moment.

Not that London hasn’t always had great watering holes, of course. Having family and BeerCasters based there means we’ve been down on plenty of occasions over the years, enjoying the pubs and bars. It just seems that recently the sheer variety of what’s on offer has multiplied to a level that puts London firmly into the top bracket of beer destinations in Europe (along with…Copenhagen? Rome? Burton-on-Trent?). Edinburgh’s no slouch either, but when you can visit the Craft Beer Co, Royal Oak (pictured), Market Porter, The Rake, King William IV and the Euston Tap in 48hrs, how can you top that?

Take the Royal Oak. Tabard Street is a fairly anonymous street in Borough, running in a south-easterly direction from the traffic-choked church of St George the Martyr. Yet a hundred yards down the road sits one of the most perfect pubs I’ve ever set foot in. Just look at the photo – could it look any more inviting? Even if you don’t fancy a beer, just try walking past without poking your nose through the door, to see what’s behind those lace curtains. The interior is fantastic – an ornate bar, everything wood, Harveys Brewery memorabilia on the walls. It feels utterly comfortable from the first step inside.

Over the next few days I’ll be writing about younger, upstart places that are breathing new life into the city – but pubs like the Royal Oak are what make London great. A few well-kept real ales on, friendly beardy landlord with his quiet tankard on the go, no noise of any kind other than gentle conversation and the creak of chairs. You can practically hear the sunlight filtering through the windows. We’re all for chaining Imperial Stouts in noisy keg bars here on the BeerCast – but the Royal Oak is an oasis, and is as perfect a pub as you’d hope to find.

* Using the phrase ‘file copy’ makes us sound more professional than ‘hit publish’

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