I could cry in my Craft Beer

IMG_20180725_141909It was once the Brewery Tap for the old Meantime Brewery but that was a few years ago.

I am not a fan of craft beer, it is normally kept too cold for me and reminds me of those distant days drinking Tartan Bitter, but the beers that Meantime brewed were acclaimed and I needed to give them a try, although that was in 2011.

Bought out, sold out, Meantime is now part of a conglomerate and the Brewery Tap is Young’s with Young’s Best, a Hawkes Urban Orchard Cherry Cider and normally a guest on offer together with the rows of keg, sorry craft beers and lagers that leave me ‘cold’.

But still, the Old Brewery is so close to the finish of the walk from Westminster Abbey to Greenwich that it would be remiss not to include it in Beer Notes.

It should be the perfect place to stop, just through the first gates on the right from the Cutty Sark and up towards the Palladian World Heritage Visitor Centre. The entrance to the Old Brewery is along the colonnade on the left or through the Visitor Centre.

It is some setting.

Inside, there is an eating room, all industrial chic with copper barrels and pipes and gauges on one wall that invoked memories of its past life as the Meantime Brewery Tap, brewing its world renowned ‘craft beers’ on site. The bar is a rather sparse room, a basic drinks server that did little to welcome me with no chairs or tables in which to sip a quiet pint.

But the secret of the Old Brewery is the outside courtyard. Umbrellas and tables and a continental feel on this hot day with snacks, from the standard Young’s menu, ordered from the bar and perhaps this is the reason for all those ‘cold’ beers.

Towards the river and through to the colonnade, there are more tables and chairs, set for dining, that overlook the lawns that once had a perfect view of the river before Zizzi’s and Nando’ took root, during 2012.

Weekends are busy and full and being so close to the river, it is a time when seats and tables are difficult to find and despite my predilection for Young’s, it is not really a pub but an elegant restaurant to eat and drink and while away an afternoon that would be reminiscent of the courtyard of some fashionable French hotel in St Germain. Those just retired lazy days of summer of 2004 and the Old Brewery is perfect for what it is.

Tellingly, the website makes no mention of beer but the food, the rum days, the Pimm’s days and the whisky days seem to fit more easily than having to cater for groups of hot walkers eager to reminisce.

Beer Notes will be published in 2019 as a ‘must have’ accompaniment for the discerning walker on ‘Walking 1066 Harold’s Way’ – the Old Brewery, once the brewery tap for the old Meantime Brewery, will be No 16.

www.1066haroldsway.co.uk

CAMRA WhatPub

The Old Brewery is less than 100 metres from the route of 1066 Harold’s Way.

Food:    Yes      Accommodation:         No

The Pepys Building, The Old Royal Naval College, Greenwich, London SE10 9LW

Tel: 020 3437 2222                 https://www.oldbrewerygreenwich.com/

PS: As a footnote, the Thames path between Greenwich and ‘the Dome’ is a series of diversions that avoid all the new building on the riverbank. For Meantime fans, the diversionary route takes you past the new Meantime Brewery, shop and tap with space for tasting but remember that there is a way to go before Lesnes Abbey and I am sure that the weight of full beer bottles increases the more miles you walk.

Giggle Mug

Cutty Sark.jpg

The boats unloading at Ballast Quay have long gone and the cobbled streets and terraced cottages, that would once have been at the centre of all the hustle and bustle, are quiet.

After a hard day’s labour or maybe at the end of the week after being paid, the Cutty Sark would have been as popular in 1795 as it is today, drinking behind its large bay Georgian windows and spilling out into the cobbled street late at night.

There has probably been a beer house on the site since the early 18th century, but it changed its name from The Green Man to The Union in 1810 from which time the present building dates. When the Cutty Sark found its final berth on Greenwich Quay, the pub was quick to change its name once again to honour this cherished ship.

It is a Grade II listed building and Neil Rhind has written a very interesting and rather more complete history of the Cutty Sark Tavern than I have room for in this blog. He can be read on the internet at http://www.ballastquay.com/the-cutty-sark-tavern.html.

The Cutty Sark is less than ten minutes from its namesake, moored on its green house, and is well worth those extra few yards especially if you are staying in Greenwich overnight.

The ground floor bar is dark wood panelled, dark wood floor boards, dark brick, low ceilings and low lighting. There are cosy corners, heavy dark tables, easy chairs and part of the ceiling by the bar can be likened to an upturned boat.

It has that feel of what a river pub should be like and whether it is a pastiche or the ‘proper job’ it works and is possibly one of the best stops for that ‘end of walk pint’, especially on a warm day sitting at a bench by the river wall and allowing the rhythm of the water to ease the aching feet.

It is a Young’s pub with Best and Special on offer as well as Sambrook’s Wandle and By The Horns Brewing Company’s Giggle Mug Amber Ale and Stiff Upper Lip IPA to wash down food from the usual Young’s Pub Menu.

The chairs might creak a little, the tables might wobble but I thoroughly enjoyed my pint at The Cutty Sark.

Beer Notes will be published in 2019 as a ‘must have’ accompaniment for the discerning walker on ‘Walking 1066 Harold’s Way’ – The ‘simple’ Cutty Sark will be No 19.

The ‘simple’ Cutty Sark  (Pubs of London 1976)

www.1066haroldsway.co.uk

CAMRA WhatPub

The Cutty Sark is on the route of 1066 Harold’s Way.

Food:    Yes     Accommodation:         No

4-6 Ballast Quay, Greenwich. SE10 9PD    Tel: 020 885 83146    www.cuttysarkse10.co.uk

 

Ripe melon, apricot and pineapple

Yacht

The ‘plain comfort’ of The Yacht

Less pretentious, calmer, comfortable and with space to drink and no pressure to eat.

Easy chairs and tables by the windows that open on to the same Thames view and river life as the Trafalgar next door but the Yacht is unburdened by the history and tradition of its neighbour. Whitebait is also on offer as a starter, but no wire baskets here and at almost £3.50 cheaper it is worth sampling. Even the piped music seemed to blend into the background.

Rebuilt yet again after bombing in WWII, the Meridian Line runs through the pub.

Tradition has it that a seaman’s mission stood on the present site of The Yacht and that the premises were licensed in the early 1600s. Charles II and succeeding monarchs were frequent visitors to the tavern while Greenwich remained the fashionable centre of Court life. Bombed during WW II, The Yacht was built in modern design to command views of this busy stretch of the Thames and close to the centre of Greenwich, the Cutty Sark and the National Maritime Museum.

This is a Greene King pub with a Greene King menu of pub food and a couple of specials and Greene King beers to savour. As a session beer, GK IPA is always a treat at 3.6% and good for that post walk re-hydration, bitter and hoppy and worth a second pint before the train home.

As well as the IPA, there was Truman’s Zephyr (4.4%) which is described on the Truman’s website as ‘A brash and bold ale packed full of juicy new world Australian hops. Bursting on the nose and palate with ripe melon, apricot and pineapple, this beer has a pithy grapefruit finish balanced with a delicate caramel sweetness.’ Fine in a fruit cocktail but I’ll need a taste before I pass judgement – next time I pass perhaps!

There was also a curious World Cup Special that must be a little past its sell by date at the end of July.

All Greenwich pubs are likely to be busy at weekends but on my Wednesday lunchtime I had a very relaxing pint sat by the window and overlooking the river with just enough customers to create a little buzz.

Beer Notes will be published in 2019 as a ‘must have’ accompaniment for the discerning walker on ‘Walking 1066 Harold’s Way’ – The ‘plain comfort’ of The Yacht will be No 18.

www.1066haroldsway.co.uk

CAMRA WhatPub

The Yacht is on the route of 1066 Harold’s Way.

Food:    Yes      Accommodation:       No

5 Crane Street, Greenwich. SE10 9NPTel: 0208 858 0175     http://www.yacht-greenwich.co.uk

 

 

Seven Whitebait Stood Vertically In A Small Wire Mesh Basket!

Nothing’s changed!

Closed for refurbishment when I last walked by but it just seems the same, refreshed, but still the same.

Trafagar 2

The ‘swanky’ Trafalgar has, for at least the last ten years, been a victim of its own history and burdened down by its importance but perhaps I am missing the point of the Trafalgar – it always has been a dining Inn.

It has been a ‘cool place to eat’ for nearly 200 years so why should it change now.

All the tables are laid out for meals, knives and forks and serviettes, windows open for a breeze from the river, couples eating lunchtime food and mere drinkers abandoned to the serried ranks of the outside tables, all numbered and regimented – but what if it rains!

It stands on the site of the Old George Inn, one of the original and best loved of Greenwich’s taverns and when The George was rebuilt and extended in the 1830s, the inn was renamed to commemorate Nelson and his famous victory.

The Trafalgar was a favourite haunt of Dickens, with ‘Our Mutual Friend’ set around the town. Political and private groups gathered to partake and even Ministers sailed down the river from Westminster to dine at the Inn, long famed for its whitebait suppers, drink and hospitality.

At the end of the 19th century, the inn deteriorated into no more than a beer house and it closed its doors in 1915 and remained closed until 1965 when, against a background of much destruction, it was decided that The Trafalgar should be restored to recapture its former charm and comfort.

So much for the history, the reality today is a little different. I’m not sure that Dickens or the Cabinet would travel down the Thames for a portion of seven whitebait stood vertically in a small wire mesh basket although now, they are served on a board but it was still not the ‘supper that they would have expected.

On that Saturday a few years ago, everybody and the world, including our group of 1066 walkers, struggled for service and for somewhere to sit. It was expensive and not very enjoyable and I have not returned since until today.

It is still a smart place to eat, the river views are great, boats and clippers provide entertainment, the merchants towers of Canary Wharf are opposite and the ‘Dome’ seems close enough to touch.

Cask beers were: Adnams Mosaic Pale Ale, Freewheel and Ghost Ship, Nelson Brewery Trafalgar and Admiral IPA and Sharps Doom Bar but I felt that having to drink outside in the heat was not for me – I went next door to The Yacht.

Pop in for a taste of history but beware that there are other pubs that can offer a little more solitude for that end of walk pint.

Beer Notes will be published in 2019 as a ‘must have’ accompaniment for the discerning walker on ‘Walking 1066 Harold’s Way’ The Trafalgar.  Whitebait suppers, politics and intrigue will be No 17.

www.1066haroldsway.co.uk

CAMRA WhatPub

The Trafalgar is on the route of 1066 Harold’s Way.

Food:    Yes      Accommodation:         No

Park Row, Greenwich. SE10 9NW.      Tel: 0203 887 9886     http://www.trafalgartavern.co.uk

Tragedy at Iden Green

This Bird is dead, deceased, gone to meet its Maker.

The Woodcock is no more.

What sad tragedy it is that walkers will never feel the warmth again of the fire on winter walks or sit in the garden on a summer’s day.

Isolated and weather boarded, remote down its country lane – that led to Dingleden and little else – it was supported and enjoyed by all who discovered its charms.

IMGP2132 cropIt was always a walk leader’s nightmare for every group would want to stop and savour its delights and bang their heads on the beams inside. The Woodcock sat by the footpath from Sissinghurst to Bodiam Castle and I found its charms irresistible when researching and walking both 1066 Harold’s Way and Three Castles but now the doors are shut and its lease for sale.

It was once a freehouse and served as a ‘gentlemen’s club’ for the owner, who delighted in serving Goacher’s excellent beers and food to satisfy, but he retired around four years ago and Greene King’s accountants became the owners.

The rest is history but its reputation will continue in the hope that the Woodcock will fly again.

Beer Notes will be published in 2019 as a ‘must have’ accompaniment for the discerning walker on ‘Walking 1066 Harold’s Way’ 

www.1066haroldsway.co.uk

CAMRA WhatPub

Read The Woodcock Blog 2014

You never know what is just around the corner

Walking 1066 Harold’s Way – Staplehurst to Sissinghurst

Road sign

Getting off The Arriva No 5, that wonderful bus service that provides a link for walking 1066 Harold’s Way from Maidstone to Sandhurst, I was in plenty of time to complete the walk from Staplehurst to Sissinghurst.

After the disappointment that The Railway Inn was still closed, and likely to be for the foreseeable future, I wondered what changes there might be since I last walked the route.

I was soon to find out and within five minutes my plans had changed.

I left the Railway Tavern and walked south along the A229 for a few metres and took the first road left, Fishers Road and continued to the end.

Instead of the expected paddock there was now a small housing estate nearing completion and although the footpath took a similar route as in the Guide, there was no path south!

Health and Safety issues with the continuing building work has meant that the path has been closed and although it is likely to be re-instated in the Autumn it was no good to me today.

So, for the moment, there is no alternative but to walk the mile along the A229, first on Station Approach and the High Street to re-join 1066 Harold’s Way at the top of the hill by All Saints Church.

Walking through the length of this very long village is not the ideal start to a walk but, for the moment, needs must and there is the consolation that you are walking along the old Roman road and the likely route of King Harold’s men on their way to battle.

The rest of the route is still good with the added bonus that the revitalised Knox Bridge pub should be open for weary walkers after a very chequered recent history.

1066 Harold’s Way

Route

Open, closed, open, closed – OPEN

The Knox Bridge

Pub sign crop 2

Refreshed and restored back to its original name and with a new landlord and landlady two years ago, The Knox Bridge is building its reputation again and I’ve heard nothing but good about the place.

At the halfway point of the walk between Staplehurst and Sissinghurst it provides a beer alternative to the Knox Bridge Café across the road, especially on a summer’s day in the sun trap of a garden.

Good beer, good food and attentive owners bring the pub alive. Inside this one roomed country pub there are scattered chairs and tables set for eating, settees in a snug by the hearth and a small cosy dining area behind the bar.

There was Harvey’s Best and Harvey’s Pale Ale and the guest Canterbury Ales’ Pardoner’s Ale at 3.8% that proved to be a real treat, a refreshing pale ale and nicely bitter that complimented the sunlight streaming through the windows as I sat and thought about walking and ‘Beer Notes’.

Bright and cheerful, it has that welcoming feel that all pubs try hard to achieve and now, The Knox Bridge succeeds and if you do decide to stay for a couple more, the bus stops to Sissinghurst or back to Staplehurst are just outside!

Beer Notes will be published in 2019 as a ‘must have’ accompaniment for the discerning walker on ‘Walking 1066 Harold’s Way’ 

www.1066haroldsway.co.uk

CAMRA WhatPub

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