Beer. I love it. In a job where cocktail bar visits are a must, the joy of an anonymous pint at your local cannot be underestimated. And in my area I am spoilt for choice. Also, although I know this does not extends cross all my “trade” friends, if you are interested in different tastes in spirits and wines this tends to cover beer too.
My love for beer started, as silly as this is, when I moved to London. Unfortunately despite the brewing talent in Scotland the offerings in pubs extend to Stella and Guiness only. So it is a delight to live near three fab pubs: The Nightingale, The Avalon and The Grove.
The Nightingale http://www.youngs.co.uk/pub-detail.asp?PubID=430
Yes, it is a Young’s Pub but they also have a whole range of Meantime, both on tap and bottled. In my time I have tried everything from IPAs to Porters and the highlight is always Tuesday pie night when artisan pies are served with yummy fresh veg and paired to beers – genius.
When I first walked past the pub I was a little afraid it was your standard “old man pub”. You know the type, when you feel like the pub might grow very quiet as you timidly push open the door. But that is not at all true as this tardis manages to encourage a friendly prop-up-the-bar area at the front where I have enjoyed friendly banter with the old timers, darts at the back, tables out front for smokers and a huge garden at the back as well as a fire for when the nights draw in. Winner all round with a brilliant land lord and dogs welcome (to my other half’s delight).
The Avalon http://www.theavalonlondon.com/
Part of the Renaissance Pub Group these guys offer a more upmarket option, especially whenit comes to dining. Another space of extraordinary size, there is a front, side and back garden; all are huge. The front half of the pub has the traditional sweeping oak bar with sport regularly shown, the back extends into an upmarket dining space, worth looking out for website deals and taste card offers as it can get pricey, gastro-pub style. They think out their wine list well and the beers cover the basics, with a specially brewed offering now to celebrate their 10 years.
Although the crowd can be a little…boating shoes and chinos at dawn kind of thing… it is friendly and a great Saturday night alternative to a big night out as it never feels empty here but there are enough couches, to go with the Victoria cornicing and high ceilings, to tuck yourself away if you want.
The Grove http://www.grovebalham.com/
Fast becoming a favourite I am afraid to say, despite the outdoor space around the edge of thebuilding seemingly developed in a wind tunnel so perhaps more Autumn onwards! This pub offers everything from film clubs to sport on the big screens, cookery classes and very good food better priced than the above. Spirits are not the main attraction but the beers are and especially their experiments with unfiltered beers, straight from large casks at the bar (Meantime again).
The lay out is also brilliant with smaller tables at the front (and another curved oak bar) leading to areas separated by draped materials and filled with couches, perfect for larger groups and often accompanied by children, then the bright back area is mainly set aside for dining with a kind of “kitchen table” too but it makes a great viewing area too. Free popcorn during their film if it helps.
Clapham – it may not be pushing the boundaries of cocktails, but to kick back with a beer there is nowhere better.