Phill’s Crawl around Camden

Camden is an area with a strong music history, and you can’t have live music without a lot of pubs and bars. However Camden is also famous for its markets and unique local character, therefore it’s not surprising that it is quite touristy. However even on a wet cold Tuesday night in winter, it is a great place to go out for a few drinks

I’ve lived here for three years but have been drinking in these bars for the last eight, here is a selection of mainly craft pubs that makes a nice little crawl, although I’ve thrown in a few non craft as well.

The Monarch

www.monarchbar.com – Sun to Thurs 12pm to 12.30am, Fri & Sat 12pm to 3am – @CamdenMonarch

The beer selection at this pub has transformed over the last five years, it now has some pretty decent beers alongside the usual London pub selection. Saturday night is Soundtracks where every song is a winner, and check their website for themed quizes such as Game of Thrones or Breaking Bad. They also host regular live music, comedy and talks. This is the sort of pub you want to live close to.

What to Drink? Camden Pale Ale on draft, Goose Island on bottle or Five Points on cask.

Tapping the Admiral

www.tappingtheadmiral.co.uk – 12 to 11pm Monday & Tuesday, 12 to midnight Wednesday to Saturday, 12 to 10.30 Sunday – @tappingadmiral

If you’re a tourist, you would consider this a proper English pub. Redeveloped last year from a local boozer to something a bit more interesting. Winner of CAMRA North London Pub of 2013, the pub now offers a lot of London beers on cask and keg along with a few German lagers. There’s usually a cat about as well (called Nelson) and they have a fun pub quiz.

What to Drink? Go for something local on cask from Hackney Brewery or similar.

Camden Brewery Bar

www.camdentownbrewery.com – Thursday, Friday and Saturday 12pm-11pm only – @CamdenBrewery

Since the Camden bar opened in 2013, my visits have been limited by them only being open three days a week and bad weather. They have rotating street food traders most nights so there is always something interesting to eat, and the staff often try and match the food with different beers.

What to Drink? Unfiltered Pale or Unfiltered Hells are rather special, or go for something seasonal such as their 2013 Triple currently on the go.

Brewdog

www.brewdog.com/bars/camden – Mon to Thurs 12pm to 11.30pm, Fri & Sat 12pm to midnight, Sun 12pm to 10.30pm – @BrewDogCamden

The Brewdog guys opened their first London pub by driving a tank up and down the street. This bar is a great place to grab a drink, they have busy evenings but you still get served quick enough and their selection is impressive – it’s not just their own beers but some stunning guests as well from all over the world.

What to Drink? The taps change so frequently here it’s hard to suggest anything. But there is always something interesting to try, the staff are usually knowledgable so just chat to them. If not just go for Dead Pony Club.

Black Heart

www.ourblackheart.com – Mon & Tues 3pm to 11:30pm, Wed & Thurs 3pm to midnight, Fri & Sat 12pm to 2am, Sunday 12pm to 11pm – @theblack_heart

Just down from Brewdog is the Black Heart, a great live music venue, but also a great selection of beer. Lots of American bottles and a rotating keg line that will sate your thirst. Tends to be a bit more punk so you’ll appreciate the Camden atmosphere.

What to Drink? Sirens or whatever American IPA they tend to have on.

NOTABLE MENTIONS

Other places in and around Camden that you may find worth a visit.

The Lock Tavern

www.lock-tavern.com – Mon to Thurs : 12pm to Midnight, Fri & Sat: 12pm to 1am, Sun: 12pm to 11pm – @thelocktavern

Just down the road from the Monarch, a bit nicer, but had a half decent selection of bottled beer and cask. It’s open until late on the weekend and has a good roof garden.

What to Drink? Camden on draft or Flying Dog/Bear Republic on bottle

Dublin Castle

www.thedublincastle.com – 12pm til late – @DublinCastle

A true music legend of a place, dingy but full of character and occasionally minor celebrities in the music world. Also good for late nights. Not so strong on the craft beer front, but I’m just emotionally attached to it.

What to Drink? – try and already be drunk.

Let me know if you’ve think I’ve missed anything off this list. Have fun and I’ll probably see you in one of the pubs!

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Our first few beers

To honour the launch of this blog we decided to have a tasting evening where we sampled a selection of beers, some old favourites and some new to us! Going forward we will do some themed tastings and comparisons however for our first we are going to be a bit more haphazard.

The beers we drank, from right to left for some reason.

Curious Brew; the product of Chapel Down winery. This beer is what happens when you add champagne yeast to well-chosen hops and malts. It is a refreshing new-age lager, packed with aromas of gooseberry and tropical fruit. All of these factors make it a very drinkable lager. The second bottle tempted our new found professionalism, but we resisted.

Camden Town Hells Lager; another wonderfully refreshing beer but nowhere near as aromatic as the Curious Brew. However, what it lacked in aromatics it made up for with its slight hoppiness. With an almost biscuity quality this made another favourable impression on us. Having drunk plenty of Paulaner Helles (argued by many to be the king) we are certain this is a worthy match in terms of quality.

Fruh Kolsch; another German style beer. This top fermented beer is not as popular in the UK as it is at home in Cologne, though that does leave more bottles for us. Really pleasing bitterness. Certainly a beer we hope will become more prominent and if you are looking for something better than a generic lager/Cobra for your curry then look no further than Kolsch.

Cantillon Iris; from the iconic Belgium brewery this is a dry hopped Geuze. To say it blew our socks off would be a mild understatement. It is a mouth-puckeringly sour beer. Mike loved it, Phill liked it. It is certainly a beer that is not to everyone’s taste but to say there was an abundance of flavour would be to undersell it. The bitterness from the dry hopping added an extra dimension to the traditional, almost cider like qualities of a Geuze.

Nogne Porter; every time we have tasted a Nogne beer we have been thoroughly impressed and once again they do not disappoint. A dense black colour in the glass, there was an array of dark chocolate and bitter coffee flavours on offer. Very smooth in body, the 7% abv was not felt at all. It would make an excellent beer to match with your pudding, or like us, have in its place.

Meantime Yakima Red; the combination of five different hops this is a robust beer and one that helped finish off the evening. Full bodied, and a slight toastiness accompanied some fruit flavours. It is a shame we had eaten our steaks by this point as this would have gone great with them. We are both eternally grateful to Meantime for making this a full time beer and not just a limited run!

We hope you have found the above recollections of the beers we drank useful. Let us know what your thoughts are on the beers we tried and please voice any recommendations for other beers based on them!

Suppliers used;

Camden Hells, Curious Brew Lager and Yakima Red all came from Grape Sense in Chalk Farm.

The Cantillon Iris came from Bitter Virtue in Southampton.

Fruh Kolsch and Nogne Porter came from The Vineking, Reigate.