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Good Beers on tap in South London

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NYC-hound here. Looking for a good, not too trendy pub in South London, preferably Balham, Clapham, Streatham or Brixton. Ideally I want a place that really cares about good beer and offers interesting ales, lagers, stouts, etc. on tap. An emphasis on smaller breweries would good too.

Any tips are appreciated. Thanks!

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  1. In Brixton, i can heartily recommend the Trinity Arms, which fits your requirements perfecty..

    1. In Battersea I suggest going to Microbar - http://www.microbar.org/ - they have a good rotating selection on tap and loads of bottles. Lots of good beers.

      1 Reply
      1. re: catandcrow

        microbar is a pain to get to, and is not a pub.

        but it does have a good range.

      2. It's not in any of the areas that you've listed, but The Rake in Borough do great beers - Sierra Nevada specifically, and Brew Dog beers.

        6 Replies
        1. re: hollow_legs

          Why travel to London to drink American beer i.e. Sierra Nevada?

          1. re: PhilD

            Ah good point - I missed the NYC-hound bit. Nevertheless, the Brew Dog beers are very good, Punk IPA is my favourite.

            1. re: hollow_legs

              If you're heading to Borough The Market Porter or the Royal Oak are fab! Not sure if New Cross/Deptford is too far out of your way (it is South) - if you fancy a trip The Dog and Bell is really worth a trip

              1. re: iheartcupcakes

                Thanks for The Market Porter tip. I'll def be heading to Borough so will have to make a research stop.

                1. re: iheartcupcakes

                  I second the Market Porter. One of the few places to feature Harvey's.

              2. I like The Bedford in Balham, but like most of of the pubs in Balham, it is fairly trendy. Food is nice too. Most stuff on tap is pretty mainstreem, but you can get Sharp's Doombar which is a lovely ale.

                3 Replies
                1. re: nanette

                  the bedford clearly does not fall into what she asked.

                  its a (very good) pub, with the bog standard standard range of drinks. completely out of scope.

                  1. re: batfink23

                    I think that's a bit mean. Sharp's is a very good ale and I'd hardly call it "bog standard". It is also just about the nicest pub in Balham.

                    1. re: nanette

                      The Bedford is a lovely pub, one of my favourites but did you not read the OP?

                      you'll also note I called the range of drinks 'bog standard', which you seem to agree with your comment "most stuff on tap is main stream".

                2. Pam if you are a beer connoisseur then this site may be of interest - http://www.camra.org.uk/home.aspx CAMRA are one of the original consumer driven campaign organisations in the UK, in the 1970s they mounted a successful campaign against the large multinational breweries who were intent on standardising and homogenising the beer that was available in the UK. Much credit is owed to them for the current interest in, and success of the UK micro/regional brewing industry. They publish a pretty good guide to pubs that sell good beer which is a good resource (I don't think it is available on-line as it is their main fund raising vehicle), it tends to value the quality of the beer over the decor and ambiance, and like tradition over modernity.

                  London has always been quite a good town for real beer having a few good regional breweries like "Youngs" and "Fullers". As good british beer is generally cask conditioned (i.e. it is a living product) and so the quality of a pint is as much determined by how it is stored, cared for, and served as much as the quality of production. Finding a pub that "keeps" its beer well is the secret - lots around, and the CAMBRA guide can help find them. Sorry I am no longer an expert on London pubs now I live in the West Country.

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: PhilD

                    From the 2009 CAMRA guide:
                    Streatham Hill - Crown and Sceptre
                    Clapham - Rose and Crown, Windmill on the Common, Bread and Roses, Manor Arms
                    Balham - Nightingale (locally known as The Bird)

                    1. re: PhilD

                      Thank you all for your suggestions. Phil, I am looking for cask conditioned beer. It's a recent discovery and it has become a talking point here in New York with some excellent small breweries offering delicious stuff and they are very much influenced by England still. CAMRA looks like the perfect resource - thank you so much for pointing me in the right direction.

                      My. Gimlet, I know Crown and Sceptre but this was before I knew anything about real beer Glad to hear they are noteworthy and I will check them out again after all these years.

                      1. re: PamG

                        Note that camra rates entirely on beer quality - ambience, food, service doesn't get a look in! The 09 guide only came out at the end of December so it should be pretty current. Also keep an eye on the festivals listing on the camra website - a great and inexpensive way to try lots of beers in peak condition

                    2. the clarence in Balham is your best bet. was the evening standard best pub in london, a couple of years back and has an unusual range of beers and ale's on tap, all well kept.

                      there isn't really anything comparable nearby, presuming you want to rule out bierodrome - and you should.

                      the blithe spirit has a very good range of ale's as well, just not always as well kept.

                      3 Replies
                      1. re: batfink23

                        Oh, so the Bedford isn't good enough, but you suggest the Blithe Spirit? Been in there lately? Service is slow, beer is expensive, and the staff rude. Their beer has all gone bog standard too.

                        1. re: nanette

                          Hi hounds, sorry to interrupt the chow talk, but please let's play nice and not get personal. Offer your opinions but also allow everyone to speak their mind. And please feel free to agree to disagree, we can't all like the same places or it would very boring. Do remember that a criticism of a place you like is not a criticism of you. Eat and drink well!

                          1. re: nanette

                            yes of course I mentioned the blithe spirit, it is an appropriate response to the question asked.

                            where as this post has little to do with the OP?

                            the blithe spirit has many different ale's, about 20 liisted on a blackboard out front for example - not just bog standard as you disingenously imply. the bedford, by your own admission has only mainstream beers.

                            instead of getting so antsy, you could actually read what the opening post asked.

                        2. Greenwich is not quite the area you were looking at, but it has a great place - the Greenwich Union - which is the local Meantime Brewery's only pub (as far as I'm aware). Has great pale ale and an extensive selection of draught ales, lagers and speciality beers. It also has lots of decent bottled beers including Sierra Nevada (good news for us SN-loving Brits) and Anchor Steam. Fancy a pint has a spot-on review of the place. (and if you don't like it, there's always the more regular boozer Richard I next door)

                          1. My local in Clapham now stocks a decent beer from a new south london brewery, which would certainly meet your smaller breweries requirement. Full list of pubs on their website otherwise strongly recommend microbar.


                            2 Replies
                            1. re: spazza

                              The Eagle Ale House in Battersea fits your bill pretty well, Pam. They have a wide range of guest beers - at the moment they have six, including Rucking Mole and Dark Star Old Chestnut (I haven't tried either). Keeping beer well is a fetish of theirs: they banned Fullers (to my regret) because it arrived in bad shape. They were runners-up in the south-west London section of Camra. No food apart from crisps, utterly untrendy, quiet except when there's sport on the big screen, friendly landlords.
                              Let me know if you go there - I live practically next door.

                              1. re: Jenny Sheridan

                                now that's a proper recommendation Jenny! I might need to check it out myself.

                                I've also noticed, not a pub, but a genuine french brasserie Gazette in Balham has quite the range of beers. Meantime Kolner & Pale Ale on tap, and a number of continental, trappist ales by the bottle - and some rather tasty local food.