Here at Old Hands, we are in a lucky position where we get to spend a lot of time making some cracking beer, but can also call visiting pubs as work. Whether it is speaking to pub managers and staff about our beer range and meeting customers and listening to their feedback about what we brew.
On another benefit of visiting pubs, is trying beers from other brewers from around the world, to see what they are doing and also giving us ideas about what our brew team want to brew next. But along the way we have a few favourites for different reasons. By no means meant as a best pub list, they all have something that appeals to all the Old Hands team.
First is a pub very close to our brewery in Twickenham, The Sussex Arms, a pub that all the team goes to after work on a Monday due to its really well chosen and kept keg and cask list, a warm welcome from friendly staff. The customer base covers a wide range of ages, all indulging in good conversation and enjoying their drinks, with vinyl always playing a good selection of tunes.
When up in town, some of our sales teams can be found enjoying a pint and a catch up in The Pelt Trader in the City. A very different type of pub to the Sussex, but still has the same ethos as Sussex in its approach to keg and cask beer, always an excellent line up of young brewers alongside some more old School British breweries and some craft breweries from the States and Europe.
Another firm favourite would have to be the Craft Beer Co in Clerkenwell. As with our other selections, they have a well-chosen range of craft cask and keg beer, but its excellent selection of Belgian Lambic that we go for. This unique style of beer is definitely an acquired taste but once you can your head around it, you will love it.
Out In East London, there are two contrasting pubs, but both with a passion for good beer and service. The first is The Cock Tavern in Hackney, where Howling Hops brewery was born. Stripped back floorboards, with some excellent beers and proper cider available. Very much a pub to go for drinks in.
Another pub to head to in East London, is Tap East, based at the Westfield shopping centre in Stratford. Very modern in style, a pub that also brews its own beer and can you can see the brewery in action through the massive glass doors. As well as their own impressive range of beers, there is an impressive line-up of guest keg, cask and bottles from around the UK and the world. Friendly, knowledgeable staff, this is an ideal place to have a drink while taking a break from shopping and the bustle of the shopping centre, though it does get very busy when there is an event on at the Olympic Stadium.
With shopping in mind, located at Borough Market, is the oldest craft beer bar in London; The Rake. A go to bar for many beer tourists and brewers from around the world, always offer a good range of beers with an impressive selection, despites the bar's small size. Its significance in the beer community is shown by the many signatures from various brewers from around the world that are on the walls. Being next to the busy food market, always a buzzy atmosphere and they will let you bring in a snack from the market and will match a beer to suit what you are eating.
Our final pub worth seeking out and close to my heart is The Stormbird. As with our other favourite pubs, The Stormbird has an excellent beer selection, knowledgeable staff and a really buzzy atmosphere from the mixture of art students, beer lovers and people from the area. As with The Rake, they let you bring in food to consume with your beer. They have also just opened a sister pub in Bromley, The Star & Garter, which should be just as good.
From everyone at Old Hands, we would like to hear what your favourite pubs are and finally like to wish you all a very happy Christmas and New Year with many enjoyable visits to the pub.
Contributed by Tom South