Iron Maiden played a couple of gigs at the O2 in London the weekend that GBBF was on, I was lucky enough to have tickets to the Friday show. Instead of going down after work, myself and my partner in crime for the day, Toby, decided to take the day off and hit some London pubs that neither of us had been to before. The original plan was to head to Borough market and spend the afternoon in The Market Porter, Brew Wharf and The Rake, before heading off to the O2.
However, between booking the tickets and the date of the gig, The Craft Beer Co. in Clerkenwell opened, so we changed our plans and decided to start our time in London there. The train from Cambridge to Kings Cross was uneventful, but it felt strange getting the tube to Farringdon, rather than wandering up to The Euston Tap for a beer or two before doing anything else. After a bit of faffing with Google maps on our phones, we found Leather Lane and what has to be one of the UK’s finest destination pubs.
I knew the selection of beer was going to be good, but it was still a shock when we walked through the door and saw all those taps and hand pumps on the bar. There was almost too much choice, should I start on the Thornbridge Galaxia, Seaforth or Geminus, maybe try the Mikkeller house lager, Exotic Punch or Gypsy Juice, or dive right into the Grassroots, a brewery who’s beers I’ve only ever seen in Ma Che Siete Venuti A Fà. In the end I decided to start on a Thornbridge Galaxia, after all we had a long day in front of us.
After another couple of halves, Thornbridge Seaforth, not as good as when I had it before and Mikkeller Exotic Punch, lacking most of the exotic punch I was expecting, we headed across the road to Greggs for a pasty. The Craft Beer Co. doesn’t do food, so having somewhere near by for a quick bite, even if it is just Greggs, is quite handy, although there is supposedly a falafel place on the same road, I may have to find it next time we go. After stuffing our faces, we headed back to Farringdon tube station and headed to London Bridge, where we were going to make a bee line for The Kernel Brewery.
Instead of heading straight to The Kernel Brewery, I suggested that we should head to the Dean Swift. I’d heard good things about it and as it had been International #IPADay the day before, I thought there might be a few IPAs left over for us to try. I didn’t quite realise how far the Dean Swift was from London Bridge tube station, I thought it was on the same side of Tower Bridge, so we had to break out Google Maps again just to check we were heading in the right direction. We eventually got there and found an absolute stack of top flight IPAs available on both cask and keg.
I grabbed halves of both Magic Rock Curious and Summer Wine Kahuna and tried to find a mobile signal to check into Untappd. I was a Magic Rock and Summer Wine virgin, so it was great to be able to try their beers for the first time. The Curious was lovely, just my kind of pale and hoppy beer, while the Kahuna was a a bit too warm, you could tell it was an excellent drop too. Evidently the Dean Swift have sorted out their beer temperature issues, as they now have a python cooling system. I was very impressed by the Dean Swift, it felt like a really nice pub and I’ll certainly be going back if I’m in the vicinity.
After finishing our beers, we headed to The Kernel Brewery, which I was so excited about as they are one of the best up and coming breweries in the country. When we got there, two of the brewers were having a beer before they cleaned up, so it would have been rude not to join them. I had a rather delicious Pale Ale Nelson Sauvin, while Toby had an equally delicious Pale Ale Columbus Cascade. I had a nose around, it’s always great as a home brewer to see a real brewery setup, it’s amazing what these guy can produce in such a limited space. When Evin turned up, he’d been out when we arrived, he joined us for a beer and a chat, it’ll be great to see what they can produce when they move to larger premises.
As friendly and welcoming as The Kernel Brewery was, we had to move on, so we started to head to The Rake in Borough market. As neither of us had been there before, we didn’t quite know which bit of the market we should be heading for. We passed The Market Porter, which was absolutely rammed, so we had a quick half in Brew Wharf, before finding out via Google maps that The Rake was literally round the corner.
I’ve heard a lot about The Rake, so was really looking forward to going. Even though I knew it was small, I really didn’t expect it to be that small, I’ve no idea how they managed to fit four people behind the bar and still have enough room to serve beer, but what beer they serve. When we got there, Glyn Roberts, the manager and Simon Johnson, the Reluctant Scooper, we chatting to a couple of guys who soon left. We joined them and cracked into some damn fine beer, I had an Otley mOtley Brew and a St Austell Big Smoke.
Then things started to get messy as the Summer Wine duo, James and Andy turned up and we all cracked into the Stone 12th Anniversary Bitter Chocolate Oatmeal Stout, which was utterly, utterly lush. After seeing the Summer Wine brewers sign the wall and everyone trying on the ginger merkin, we’d ran out of time and had to head to the O2.
We got to the O2 with perfect timing, straight through and onto the floor after having to persuade an Angel that we only wanted to drop our bag and didn’t want into the priority lounge. The gig was great, especially once they’d overcome their sound issues, that’s the last two Maiden gigs I’ve been to that have had dubious sound. Unfortunately we just missed the ideal train home and had hang around Kings Cross until 00:30, which seemed to take an absolute age. Once back at Toby’s we opened a few more bottles, which is traditional and eventually stumbled off to bed at about five in the morning. All in all, it was a bit of an epic day.
As I often do, I’ll leave the final thought to some one else: