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Ten great places to drink near London 2012 venues

Posted by: desdemoor 26/06/2012 @ 15:33
Subject: Pubs & Bars

Olympic drinking - ten great places to drink near London 2012 venues

The Olympic and Paralympic Games take place this year in a host city undergoing a beer renaissance, with innovative new brewers springing up all over and a growing crop of new generation pubs and bars offering the widest range of great beer the capital has ever seen. Sadly you won’t notice this in the Games venues, where the bars will be selling only standard Dutch lager and smoothflow bitter from Yorkshire, thanks to Heineken putting up big euros for the exclusive pouring rights. Even venues that normally do a range of real ale, like Lords, will withdraw it from sale during Olympic events.

No matter – take the time to explore around the venues and you’ll find plenty of great pubs and bars battling heroically with restricted delivery arrangements to serve you fine beer in much more pleasant surroundings than in the ticketed areas, and most of them will have the telly on so you can watch the action too. From traditional British cask ales and the new crop of heavily hopped contemporary beers to the hottest imports, there’s plenty of choice for toasting athletic prowess.

Here are ten pubs and bars worth looking out for near Olympic venues, and some ideas about the gold medal beers you might find on sale in them.

1. Black Lion E13
Near Olympic Park, sort of.
Events include aquatics, athletics, basketball, cycling, handball, hockey and the opening and closing ceremonies.

One potentially less congested way of reaching the main event is via West Ham station, where the Greenway walking and cycling route along the top of a Victorian sewer will take you straight to the Olympic Park’s southern entrance. But head in the other direction along the Greenway to find this curious East End boozer, a sprawling collection of historic buildings with connections both to amateur boxing and West Ham football club, possibly the eventual owners of the Olympic stadium.
Beer choice: It may now be brewed in Bedford, but Courage Best was originally from the Borough and they’re still loyal to it here. Look out too for excellent beers from Mighty Oak, not far away in Essex.

2. Carpenters Arms W1
Near Hyde Park.
Events: marathon swimming, triathlon.

Wander up to Speakers Corner to leave Hyde Park in the northeast and hidden in streets behind Marble Arch station you’ll find this gem of a traditional pub, with old-fashioned tiling and mosaics, a big wooden bar and some inviting booths. It’s under the same ownership as famous real ale specialist the Market Porter in the Borough, and has a welcoming local feel all too rare in the West End.
Beer choice: Guests change all the time, but the excellent pale, dry bitter Harveys Sussex Best is a regular, and you might catch a contemporary cask from Windsor & Eton, brewed not far from the Olympic boating events at Dorney Lake.

3. Cow E20
Near Olympic Park.
Events: see Black Lion.

This big new pub on several floors is in the Westfield Stratford City development right outside the Stratford entrance to the Park, so you’ll likely pass it if you arrive at either of the Stratford stations. One of Young’s Geronimo pubs, it’s a comfortable, quirky place that feels remarkable lived in for its age. The beer range isn’t huge but is interesting and well kept with some good cask choices and premium bottles.
Beer choice: Often stocks a Redemption beer from not far away in Tottenham. All are worth trying but Trinity and Urban Dusk are particularly approachable.

4. King Edward VII E15
Near Olympic Park.
Events: see Black Lion.

If you venture into Stratford town centre, perhaps to admire its fine church and the historic Theatre Royal Stratford East, the squat green-painted Edward is about the best pub choice. The place turns out to be bigger than it looks, with traditional decor recalling the Essex market town this once was.
Beer choice. A great place to try traditional cask ales from independent brewers outside London – look out for Adnams of Southwold or Yorkshire’s Timothy Taylor.

5. Lord Moon of the Mall SW1
Near Horse Guards Parade.
Events: beach volleyball.

Wetherspoon pubs are plentiful in London and while they might not be most fashionable of drinking holes, they can usually be relied upon for decent cask beer at keen prices in relatively civilised surroundings. The Lord Moon, created in the rather sumptuous surrounds of a former bank, is one of the better examples.
Beer choice: A bigger range of interesting cask beers than most in the chain, with up to nine constantly changing guests. Look out for beers from brewers like Brentwood, Cottage or Mauldons, including some Olympic specials.

6. Old Brewery SE10
Near Greenwich Park.
Events: equestrian.

Right in the heart of the World Heritage Site, in an outbuilding of the Royal Naval College that was used historically for brewing, you’ll find this spectacular bar, restaurant and brewpub operated by the Meantime brewery, whose principal plant is just up the road. Established in 2000 and now the second biggest craft brewer in London, they make speciality beers and quality German-style lagers. You’ll pay more than average pub prices but in a breathtaking setting like this, it’s worth it.
Beer choice: A fine range from around the world is on sale but you should pick a Meantime beer, such as the slightly sour Hospital Porter brewed specially for the pub, or a fine IPA or London Porter in a smart champagne-style bottle.

7. Pilot SE10
Near North Greenwich Arena (O2/Millennium Dome)
Events: basketball, gymnastics, trampoline.

A short walk south of North Greenwich station, riverbus and cable car terminal, through a strip of parkland, this unlikely survivor, once owned by former prime minister Pitt the Younger, stands at the end of a row of early 19th century cottages marooned amid industrial heritage and modern development. Now much enlarged, it’s a great place to enjoy the world class beers produced by Fuller’s of Chiswick, London’s only surviving historic independent family brewer.
Beer choice: All Fuller’s classic cask ales are worth trying, but low gravity flavoursome Chiswick bitter is particularly recommended. The pub also sometimes has aged bottles of Vintage Ale, an excellent match for its range of fine cheese.

8. Rose and Crown SW19
Near Wimbledon (All England Club).
Events: tennis.

Victorian poet Swinburne once stayed at this landmark inn, which dates back to at least the 1650s. It’s now a rather posh but welcoming Young’s pub and hotel well placed for the world famous Wimbledon tennis venue, dishing up strawberries and cream in a big marquee during the grand slam fortnight, so expect something similar for the Games.
Beer choice: Resist the Pimms and opt instead for a fine ale. Young’s beers are no longer brewed in London but both Bitter (known to aficionados as Ordinary) and Special are worth trying. And you might still find genuine London beer in the form of Sambrook’s Wandle, brewed in Battersea.

9. Sporting Page SW10
Near Earls Court.
Events: volleyball.

Head south from Earls Court into the leafy streets of Chelsea to find this handsome local institution, well worth the extra walk. It’s a smart but egalitarian place welcoming staff from local hospitals as much as well-heeled Chelsea bohos, and certainly lives up to its name with a loyal following for sports of all kinds.
Beer choice: Plenty of local and localish cask beers should be on offer, often including beers from Twickenham brewery near the home of English rugby, like the intriguingly named Naked Ladies. Sambrook’s, and Westerham from the North Downs just outside London, are other stand-bys.

10. Tap East E20
Near Olympic Park.
Events: see Black Lion.

Westfield Stratford City’s other pub is a much smaller but considerably more interesting affair, a cool craft beer bar and brewpub among the specialist food stalls of the Great Eastern Market at the Stratford International end of the mall, handy for the Javelin to and from St Pancras. The beer choice here approaches 150, from cask, keg and bottle, including established classics and smart newcomers.
Beer choice: Pick one of the house brews produced on the attractive small brewery visible behind the glass. The East End Mild if it’s on is full of sappy, liquoricey flavour.

Des de Moor is one of Britain’s leading experts on bottled beer, contributing regularly to CAMRA’s BEER magazine and maintaining his own Beer Culture website at http://desdemoor.co.uk. If you’re visiting London this summer, his book The CAMRA Guide to London’s Best Beer, Pubs and Bars (CAMRA Books) is essential reading, and is kept thoroughly up to date online.


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