London – The Craft Beer Co Clerkenwell

This was another of Nathan’s excellent drinking choices, but I had been trying to remember why I had heard of this rather lovely pub chain. This is the advantage of this blog, well to me anyway, as I was able to see that I had visited their outlet in Brighton.

The menu here is for drink as the pub stocks several hundred different bottles from around the world, alongside twelve or so guest beers on tap from around the country. The choice was certainly excellent with just about every beer type that I could think of being listed. The pub doesn’t sell food, but customers are apparently able to bring pizzas in from next door. There’s a Greggs opposite, I’m unsure whether customers are allowed to bring in their fine food as well, but I’m sure the staff would be amenable to such a sensible request.

It’s clear from some of these prices that this pub isn’t nervous about stocking higher end beers which are harder to find. I’ve never really understood why some people feel that expensive beer is somehow unjustifiable, whereas expensive wine is acceptable. I’m not drinking anything that pricey, but small scale imported beers are sometimes inevitably going to be a little specialist.

There was quite a refined atmosphere in the pub, but it remained relaxed and comfortable.

The ceiling of glass panels was intriguing….. There’s seating upstairs in this pub, which dates from the Victorian period and was formerly known as the Clock House before the Craft Beer Co took it over in 2011, although before the 1860s it was the Coach & Horses from at least the late eighteenth century. It was a Greene King pub before 2011, so there’s certainly been an upgrade on the beer at least, with some of the pub’s old internal features retained.

Service was relaxed and engaging, with the staff member chatting away about the range of drinks. The prices aren’t the cheapest, but I’m far more interested in the quality of the beer than the quantity. As clearly was Nathan, as he spent some ridiculous sum on his beer, the name of which I can’t recall.

So, on to the delights of TripAdvisor, where this pub is very well reviewed by hundreds of happy customers. Bar this one.

“Not only I work in the area so tried it a few times but also on occasion went with friends who are professional brewers from Switzerland. On all occasions beers were just rank. My friends pointed out they are infected with wild yeast hence the spoilage but the reaction was “nah mate all good”. Bottled Budweiser (and oh dear lord is it pisswater) tastes better than spoiled beer. I’ll always avoid at all costs and recommend you do the same, plenty of other good places around serving fresh beer from a tank.”

From a tank?!?!?! And the chances of the beer being infected is near zero in my view given how many they sell and not one other person has managed to find infected beer in any other TripAdvisor review….

This pub is the first in the chain, which other than Brighton is only in London, and they note:

“Our first pub was opened on an historic site on London’s Leather Lane and held the distinction of having the most beer taps in the UK until May 2014 when it was overtaken by out very own Covent Garden pub”.

That is some claim to fame….  Anyway, a marvellous pub and quite rightly in the Good Beer Guide.