Saturday, 29 September 2012


 So you go along the Brixton Road until you reach the market on Station Road. When I was a kid, we'd come along to the stall which bought old Marvel Comix, while another guy sold punk records. Twenty years ago, I played football at Brixton Rec. Now Brixton has Craft.

Finishing touches were being applied as I lurked outside in the pavement seating area. Station Road was buzzing even though the market was closing. I saw my neighbour and her daughter heading up to the Rec for swimming while I sipped a Dark Star Kiwi in autumn sunshine.

London CAMRA stalwart John Cryne is also waiting for a look inside. Pints downed, Martin and Peter give the sign, and we can go in. Huge neon sign dominates the left-hand wall. The bar space is constrained by the room layout, but they've been clever. Fridges are topped with a copper counter, ten beer engines fixed to the backside. A pipeline takes the Kraft Keg up and over your head. There's 20 taps up there, your server stretching up to pour your beer.

Peter Hates Camera, Camera Loves Emma
The floors are bare boards, the tables and chairs a peculiar pick 'n' mix. A narrow staircase has loos on a half landing and if you don't wnat passers-by watching you sup downstairs, a quiet upstairs room with a retro feel, like dominos or card games should be going on. Sepia felt right when I snapped it.

If you're eating, it's pork pies and scotch eggs, but there's the revived Brixton Arcade about five minutes away, with some of the best street food in London.

Craft aren't accepting Brixton Pounds right now, but they're looking into it. That would feel right. The Crown & Anchor (sister to The Jolly Butchers) is ten minutes along Brixton Road towards The Oval. Jump on a 133, 415 or 333 bus, and 15 minutes away towards the Elephant & Castle, will be The Mansion House, Oakham's first London pub.

South London has been overlooked for good beer for too long, but now that's all changing.

Sunday, 9 September 2012

The Craftening

I was supping a pint of Dark Star APA in The Harp on Chandos Place last Saturday (September 1st), when legendary landlady Binnie Walsh asked about that Craft Beer. I declared myself generally in favour, and she agreed, saying she was putting in some extra keg fonts just for craft keg. She's been researching, and yesterday Phase One saw bottles of Kernel beers taking their place in the fridges.

That sound of wailing and the gnashing of teeth you may hear emanates from some local CAMRA types who have implored Binnie not to install fonts for The New Keg. None of the nine beer engines is coming out, so I don't see what the problem is. It'll just be one more good reason to drink at The Harp. It also makes business sense at a time when pubs are still closing at a rate of a dozen a week. Good pubs don't get complacent or rest on their laurels, and with Craft Beer Co opening two more London bars and craft beer popping up at other pubs and bars around the city, it seems there's still a growing market.

Yesterday a pleasant couple from Brooklyn in New York pitched up at The Harp. The male, Bill, seemed pretty well-informed about Dark Star beers, including APA's recent bronze medal at GBBF. He ought to be, as our mutual friend is Alex Hall. This 'nexus of weirdness' stuff usually happens to me at Cask. The World Of Beer Is Smaller Than We Think.