Beer Tale of Greenwich

Regular readers of my articles may be feeling a sense of déjà vu reading the title of this post. A few years ago, I wrote an article about pubs in Greenwich for Leeds CAMRA’s New Full Measure branch magazine. Recently, I visited Greenwich again and thought I’d post an update on what’s happening in the beer scene here.

The Meridian Line

A warm, sunny day in October. Probably the last day of me wearing shorts (outside!) in 2018. This was the first of three consecutive weekends in the Big Smoke and, with the weather being as nice as it was, a trip to a green space beckoned. A journey across London from North to South, as a combination of the Victoria line, Northern Line and Docklands Light Railway (DLR) took me from Walthamstow Central, across the River Thames, to Greenwich.

I’ve been here before. And, I enjoyed it before too. Granted, it has tourist attractions that draw people away from Central London, but it’s much less chaotic. In fact, I find it quite a relaxing spot. No skyscrapers and some lovely open spaces to enjoy.

The Gipsy Moth

There was no specifically designed pub crawl route. It was simply a plan to walk from the historic Cutty Sark to the Greenwich Peninsula and the Emirates Air Line. No, I wasn’t then planning on travelling to the middle east! This is the scenic cable car route that takes you back across North of the Thames again.

You don’t have to step far from the DLR station at Cutty Sark to start stumbling across pubs. The Spanish Galleon (Shepherd Neame) and the Gate Clock (Wetherspoon) are both nearby. But, it was another pub that called me towards it, for the first pint of the day. The Gipsy Moth, which is where I also began my pub journey on a previous visit here.

Irresistible Fuller’s Staple

The location is ideal to attract tourists and locals alike. A stone’s throw from the Cutty Sark, large indoor dining area and outdoor seating, a food and drinks menu with offerings to quench the thirst and feed the hunger of all.

It felt appropriate my first beer of the day should be a local treat. On keg, they had offerings from local Meantime Brewery. On cask, though, they had a Fuller’s staple that I couldn’t resist – London Pride. I have a real soft spot for Fuller’s and this pint didn’t disappoint. The right temperature, full of flavour and it even had a foamy head! I didn’t spot a sparkler on the swan neck of the hand pull, but it certainly poured like it had one.

The Kings Arms

That pint gave me enough time to soak up a bit of atmosphere in the Gipsy Moth and start to formulate a slightly better plan for the crawl. The Gipsy Moth was alive, lots of people taking advantage of the warm day to sit outside. As well as the usual food menu, today they had the barbecue going. An October barbecue!

In the beer garden, there was plenty of greenery and flowered hanging baskets. A nice sight at a time of year when my garden begins to lose its vibrant colour and energy.

A decision was made! The pub crawl route would take me along front path of Greenwich Park, across the meridian line and to the next destination – the Plume of Feathers. It didn’t quite work out that way…

Adnams Mini-Party

The walk to Greenwich Park was also lined with tempting pubs with Cask Marque plaques. Too tempting to ignore. So, my walk to the Plume of Feathers was delayed, as I took in the delights of the Kings Arms (Greene King) and Greenwich Tavern.

Greenwich Tavern

Like the Moth, these pubs were also buzzing with life. Tourists resting their weary feet after walking around Greenwich park. Locals enjoying the beer gardens of both venues. A guy from Leeds, eager to continue his Greenwich beer adventure.

The Kings Arms was standard Greene King fair. A nice food menu and selection of Greene King Ales with some supporting guests. For the first time, too, I saw Greene King’s ‘Beer Academy’ initiative have beer on cask hand pull. In the end, I opted for St Austell’s Proper Job. Disappointingly, it was on the turn – vinegar. There was no fuss at the bar is I swapped it for a guilty pleasure of mine, Greene King’s own Abbot Ale. This was in much better nick.

At the Greenwich Tavern, I came across an unexpected delight. Adnams, and lots of it. Ghost Ship on cask, Mosaic Pale and Ease Up IPA on keg. There would have been more too, but it looked like I was a little late to the party. Lighthouse and Broadside with their clips turned around on the hand pull.

I bought a half of all three and I started a mini-Adnams party. Sadly, once again, a beer was on the turn – Ghost Ship. It’s very rare I find this, one of my all-time favourite beers, on cask. So, I returned my half with sadness and ordered the house cask ale instead.

The Plume of Feathers

The imaginatively named Greenwich Ale didn’t hit the hop craving I had from almost getting Ghost Ship. However, it was a very tasty beer in its own right. A nice, malt-focused ale, with nut and caramel dominating the flavour. I couldn’t find out who brewed this for the pub. A mystery, for now.

A Plume of Feathers and Piles of Leaves

It was time to embark on the walk across Greenwich Park. My regular pit stops on the way there hadn’t meant I’d missed enjoying the nice weather. The park was full of families and, although the weather remained great, the piles of leaves told the true story of Autumn.

Enjoying dragging my feet through mountains of leaves, I actually missed the park’s exit to the Plume of Feathers. A quick cut back on myself corrected that.

The Plume of Feathers is a gem. A local country pub in an urban space. Homely, with character and a top selection of beers to chose from. And, luckily for me, more Adnams! The Plume of Feathers continued where the Greenwich Tavern had started. This time, though, it was the turn of Southwold Bitter and Dry Hopped Lager. Fantastic!

The Crown

With a few beers now consumed, pangs of hunger began to take over my thirst for beer. Fortunately, I had scouted ahead of the Plume to the next destination, which offered great beer and home-cooked pizza – The Crown.

Another delightful pub, with carpets, a wooden bar and traditional pub seating. What set this pub apart from the others though, was the aroma of cooking pizza, which drew my eyes to a properly fired Pizza oven. When I say properly, this was a traditional pizza oven. No metal here.

On the bar, another good selection of ales. I opted for another locally brewed beer, Truman’s Zephyr. Dubbed a pale ale, this beer had much more of the flavour and aroma attributes of a red ale. Moreish malt taste and mouthfeel that was balanced with citrus hops. A lovely accompaniment to a home-made American Hot.

The warmth and brightness of the day had now become dark and cool. The wind, earlier refreshing, was now a pest on my bare legs. However, the food had left me re-energised and I made one last stop before my flight across the Thames. Greenwich’s own Meantime Brewing Company.

Drinking from the Source

All the previous pubs had the charms of a traditional British pub. The tap room at Meantime, was a complete contrast. Benches, tall tables, bright and airy, with the brewhouse just metres from the bar. This had all the hallmarks of a modern brewery tap room.

Meantime Brewing Company

I love drinking beer from the source. I find the freshness unmatched and, it’s one of the few times a brewery gets to serve its own beer how it wants and expects it to be served. Alas, no cask ale. This was all keg, cans and bottles. No issue for me personally, but something a beer fan should be aware of before coming here.

As with many modern bars, there was a taster option available. Four third pints for £8. Perfect to satisfy the beer ticker in me. I took little time in ordering London Helles, Anytime IPA, London IPA and their flagship Pale Ale. The latter was tank fresh.

Unusually for me, the Helles stood out the best. I tend to find the style quite thin and lacking the big flavours my palate so often demands. But, perhaps a day of such variety had made me crave an easy drinking, sessionable lager.

With time and night drawing on, my check-in at the Emirates and return trip to Walthamstow was calling. This had been another trip to Greenwich that was fun, enjoyable and relaxing. Well worth the day trip.

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