Friday, 16 July 2010
One chain of London pubs that has improved in leaps and bounds in recent years is Nicholson's, part of the M&B empire. They have always owned some (most ?) of the most historic pubs in London but traditionally had a reputation as tourist traps with warm, badly kept beer served by inexperienced staff at high prices.
Well, someone is now doing the right thing with these great pubs. A few years ago a decision was made to make these pubs a haven for fine ale. Firstly the quality improved, the staff were all made to be trained by leading brewers, cellar to bar fittings were updated, the beer was given a major focus so throughput increased and some old hardy favourites such as London Pride and Timothy Taylor Landlord were made permanent beers at very keen prices for the Capital.
More recently things have improved again. A much wider choice is now available in many of the pubs and those in charge are obviously right on the button as far as consumer choice is concerned.
Lately, beer lists of the Summer Ale List have appeared outside the pubs with the pub's current offerings ticked on the list. Passing the Princess of Wales in Villiers Street WC2 other day day, I was enticed inside by a tick in the box for Thornbridge Wild Swan. One of my current favourite beers, very pale coloured with a distinct flavoursome hop character and only 3.5% - perfect for a summer evening.
Inside, supping my fresh and cool pint, I discovered the list in booklet form. The beers for summer are listed in their categories, session ales, blondes, IPAs, dark and speciality beers and the choices include Rudgate Viking, Adnams Regatta, Morrissey Fox Aussie IPA (hope to find that one), St Austell Proper Job (another of the finest around) and Brian Turner Golden Ale, a beer created by the celebrity chef together with Thornbridge.
The wine list is in its rightful place at the rear of the booklet together with the seasonal offerings such as Pimms and Crabbies alcoholic ginger beer.
So another of my recommendations for the rest of the summer is a London Nicholson's Pub. Not only some of the finest pub architecture in the world but now some of the finest beer too. Cheers.