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Archive for July, 2011

It’s been rather wet around these parts this summer, meaning that the opportunities for outdoor drinking have been somewhat limited. A pity, as there are a few places that really stand out among the hundreds of pubs offering bland lagers and uninteresting food.

Olympen has an outstanding beer selection throughout the year, with Norwegian micros and interesting Danish and British imports. Their terrace is open during the summer months, with a more moderate selection of beers plus a barbecue menu that made me regret I had eaten before I arrived.

Of particular interest among the beers are two fairly strong newcomers from Inderøy Gårdsbryggeri which are only available from a few bars, being too strong to be sold in supermarkets.

Mærrabætt (The Mare’s Bite) is an APA with a very complex and inviting aroma. Strong in-your-face flavour, sharp hops on a foundation of sweet malt. Mint and grass, the hops are sharp enough to cut through the malt like a knife through butter.

Stut (The Bull) is an imperial stout, with a magnificent smoky nose. Deceiving light body. Fennel and soot, some milky coffee, too.

Both of them well worth exploring.

But if you want to enjoy them outdoors, you’d better get there early. It’s  a residential area, so their guests have to move indoors at eight. Sharp.

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There used to be one good pub at Euston station, the Head of Steam, featuring beer from a range of breweries. This was later taken over by Fuller’s, renamed the Doric Arches and the ale range has gradually shrunk. It is probably still the place to go if you want to have a proper meal before or after your journey, and there is nothing wrong with a pint of London Pride.

When it comes to the beer range, you don’t have to go far to find a world class bar. Sure, you can call it a pub if you prefer, but in this tiny building, which looks like an old gatehouse for the station, they have crammed in a range of beers from around the globe that would impress the most spoiled beer drinker, but there is not much to associate with a traditional English boozer.

Dozens of cask and keg beers from breweries like Thornbridge, BrewDog and Otley plus interesting Continental and US beers. And if that isn’t enough, there are fridges full of temptations. The bottles are available for takeaway, too, so your journey does not have to be boring, despite delays.

It is very tiny, but there is seating up some rickety stairs and even some places outside. I went on a Sunday lunchtime when it was blissfully quiet, but I assume this place is packed on weekday evenings.

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Time I summed up my London impressions from last month, right?

In Kentish Town, easily accessible by Tube, though you have to walk for ten minutes if you don’t want to figure out the bus routes, lies a small but charming pub, the Southampton Arms.

Their aim is to sell only beer and ciders from small UK breweries, so you’ll be sure to find something interesting here. A dozen cask ales, almost as many ciders. Keg beers from Camden, too, a pils and a wheat.

It is a small one room pub, with additional seating out back. Laugher and friendly conversation. I did not make a real estimate of how many customers it can seat, but with 30 it would be rather full.

Cash only, no phone, no nonsense. The menu is a range of pork pies and other snacks, though I find the notion of a vegetarian Scotch eggs a bit weird.

On offer when I visited: Thai-Bo, a lemongrass beer from Otley. Hardknott Atomic Narcissus ( a fairly conventional bitter, despite the name), Titanic Last Porter Call and Buxton Black Rock.  There is even a “Suggest an ale” scheme, where you may nominate your favourites.

My favourite of the day was the Dark Star Saison. Fantastic flavour, apricots and oranges, some funky yeast character, dusty hops.

Despite the stiff competetion nowadays, this is firmly in the Top Ten of London pubs. Don’t miss it!

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