Sunday, 21 August 2011

GBBF periphery, grapefruit beer and cat pubs

I like to take advantage of being in London for GBBF to visit pubs, both old favourites and new discoveries. One pub I’d been meaning to visit for years, chiefly because Michael Jackson wrote about it, was the Star Tavern in Belgravia, which according to him was a good place to drink Fullers beers. But times change and I was disappointed there was no Chiswick. Pint of Discovery then. My mission to drink Chiswick on its home turf is thwarted again. You’d think it would be easy, too.

I have met up with a couple of friends and we are just spending a day wandering across the city. The Wenlock Arms? Why not, on a day like this? The threat to the place seemingly less urgent than it was thought to be, we drop in for a pint and to experience what Real Ale pubs were like in the 1970s. Sussex Best. No rush.

Then it’s off to Clerkenwell and the Jerusalem Tavern. Last time I was here the beer didn’t impress, but today it was spot on. Old-Style Porter goes down a treat. After tasting my friend’s Grapefruit Beer I beg the others to stay here for another round, so I can have a pint of that to myself. Gorgeous stuff. The sun is streaming through the windows and it’s just perfect.

Ye olde menu of ye winter fare and ye summer fare
We are passing the alley that leads to Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese. My friends have never been, so we pop in for one. Ye Samuel Smith’s beer isn’t exciting, but it’s worth a half pint to sit here for a while, even if ye larger rooms aren’t open and we have to crowd into ye small bar. Looking at ye old menus in ye display cases outside, it’s clear they’ve been milking ye great age of ye place for at least a hundred years already, if not longer.

Cat pub
The Seven Stars in WC2 is a pub I’ve never been in, or even heard of before. But we have to go there, as it has a cat that wears a ruff. Alright then. Fortunately the cat is not the only attraction. It’s a nice old pub, rather scruffy in a good way, and serves a delicious pint of Dark Star Hophead.

The cat changes the dynamic of the pub. People come in, pet the cat, and order a drink. Bet there are never any fights in here. Cat pubs are the future. I’m going to start a chain of them.


  1. You seem to have landed lucky. I wouldn't cross the road to go to the Wenlock, and have yet to experience an acceptable pint in the Jeruslaem. However, the Star and the Seven Stars are both excellent pubs.

  2. Love that grapefruit beer. It's the sort of thing that has every right to completely suck, but is actually quite decent.


  3. Cat pub. Fucking amazing.

    I can't believe some bureaucrat hasn't shut that idea down yet.

  4. Time moves on, and the significantly renovated / part reconstructed Wenlock Arms goes from strength to strength, with a more than interesting range of cask ales, clean bogs, music and more - see

    The Seven Stars is not alone when it comes to cats ..... the ship's cat at Tapping the Admiral is decidedly aloof - a bit like the eponymous England's Hero, perhaps: when it comes to the beers though there is again a refreshing range generally available.

    Sadly Fuller's have now relegated Chiswick Bitter to a seasonal (Aug-Sept), and what I always reckoned was their best beer had virtually disappeared from Central London anyway. About the only place I could reliably find it up 'til this year was Normans I've yet to see it this summer, tho' have yet to check out this year's Great British Beer Festival at Olympia now about to get underway.

    And that brings me to my local, the Harp in Chandos Place, tho' you didn't mention it. Sadly Binnie Walsh, licensee for near 20 years, and owner for about five, had to retire because of ill-health in 2014, just two years ago, and even more sadly she died last month. Fuller's bought the pub, and have carried on much of the same tradition and approach. Inevitably there will be changes, and some happened (to some positive acclaim when it came to the gents bogs) quickly. The range and quality of beers and ciders remain second bar none .... and I'll be pushing for Chiswick (they keep only one Fuller's ale on, usually their flagship London Pride) for some time this summer.