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This Is Euston Tap

February 15, 2011 3 comments

An early finish following a day of work in London and a pre-booked railway ticket left myself and a colleague at something of a loose end. Fortunately I had a plan B, and it involved The Euston Tap, the relatively new, tiny craft beer bar at the front of Euston station from the people who brought us The Sheffield Tap and Pivni in York.

From Euston Square I dragged my reluctant colleague through the pouring rain to the porterhouse stone building at the front of Euston proper. Unimpressed as he was by the almost entirely male clientele, even he was forced to admit how great the little bar looked, with the big copper-coloured back bar with American taps and peculiar, CAMRA-baiting unpumpable hand pumps. With little room or no room to sit downstairs, we shared a minor grumble over the lack of coat-hooks under the bar.

On each side of the bar there were fridges of European (on one side) and American (on the other) bottles. “Not cheap”, my colleague noted, and his Northern intuition was in this case correct: these are fancy imported beers with prices to whiten the hair of casual drinkers. He balked at a £20 bottle of Mikkeller, and double-balked at a £43 bottle.

The excellent selection of casks ale was much more reasonably priced, especially for That London, so I recommended a couple of pints of Marble’s Driscoll’s End. Impressed with this, a really robust, hoppy cask ale, we moved onto two keg beers, an O’Dell 5 Barrel Pale Ale and a Matuska Raptor, a Czech IPA.  After starting with a pretty severely hoppy beer (again), it took me a while to appreciate the finer nuances of the Raptor.  An earthy, lavender taste melted into a solid bitterness in the aftertaste.

My colleague went to meet a friend, leaving me to try Sierra Nevada Celebration on keg, which had a oddly cold, flat mouthfeel.  However it did have a nice solid malty, astringent bitterness.  Next was  Thornbridge Brock on cask, which was dark, with a creamy mouthfeel and smoky, bready flavour.  I then had a half of BrewDog Alpha Dog, which, after the pounding my tastebuds had already taken, came across initally a bit like a boring brown beer with barely any aroma, but did have a very nice finish.

Just like in the Sheffield Tap, it’s very easy to go a little bit mad in the Euston Tap, but I did manage to drag myself away with only a couple of bottles of Stone Oaked Arrogant Bastard and a bottle of Lupulus (by, erm… some Belgians, I think), after a slightly confused (on my part) conversation with the helpful barman.  I happily and purposefully strode out through the rain back to King’s Cross for the train north.

As it turned out, the entire train network had collapsed in a gibbering heap that evening, so I ended up drinking one of the Oaked Arrogant Bastards accompanied by a Tunnocks Caramel Teacake, which was the only thing I could afford from a vending machine whilst stranded for a time in Doncaster station.  They went pretty well together actually.  It certainly beat the usual can of John Smiths Smoothflow on the East Coast service.

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The Bree Louise, London NW1

November 4, 2010 Leave a comment

Last year, for reasons too convoluted to go into, I found myself working on the Euston Road in London, but living in and commuting from Milton Keynes every day through Euston station. I investigated a lot of pubs around this time, ranging from Sam Smiths pubs to icy gastros that weren’t really pubs any more, such as The Queens Head & Artichoke, where you felt like you were putting the serving staff out in some way if you just went in for a pint, even when it was empty.

One pub that I found myself returning to a number of times was The Bree Louise. Just around the side of Euston, it’s a shabby, frayed-at-the-edges traditional pub with terrible toilets. But sometimes the best pubs have awful bogs.

The Bree Louise has two things going for it:

1. It has a huge selection of real ale, with up to 11 beers on gravity and 6 on hand pumps.  It looks like a beer festival behind the bar, with all the casks sitting on saddles. For me it was a good place to explore a wide range of beers from a decent selection of breweries.

2. In summer it was a great place to sit outside, or (more likely, given how busy it got) stand outside and enjoy a little bit of evening sun, on a quiet sidestreet just away from the dashing commuters rushing between Euston and Euston Square stations.

Today I note that on the comments to Pete Brown’s entry on the (very exciting) Euston Tap, there’s a bit of hostility towards the Bree Louise. One commenter says:

As long as the whole bar doesn’t smell of piss like the Bree Louise, then I’ll be happy.

Which is probably fair comment.  Opinion is deeply divided on Beer In The Evening, where it retains a solid 7.2/10 but attracts criticism for the condition of some of its beers and the quality of the food.  Back on Pete Brown’s blog, The Beer Monkey noted:

The lacklustre Bree Louise now has some serious competition down that neck of the woods.

I think this is both fair and positive.  There’s room for more good pubs in that end of London, and if the competition from a shiny new craft beer pub forces the Bree to up its game a bit in the areas where it’s been subject to criticism to keep beer fans coming in, that’s all for the best.   But I’d hate to see it close.

(For another take on The Bree Louise and helpful links to some largely unimpressed reviews on a number of other blogs, see Boak and Bailey).

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