Probably The Best Book About Beer In London
Londonist Rating: ★★★★★
A few years back, any double-page spread on the range of beers available at Heathrow Airport would have been seriously bulked out with pictures of 747s and Boddingtons. That Des de Moor's updated guide to drinking beer in London now waxes lyrical about hoppy pre-flight offerings, shows how far we've come. To paraphrase another inappropriate slogan, good things came to those who waited.
The CAMRA Guide to London's Best Beer Pubs & Bars is, above anything else, a statement: CAMRA (Campaign for Real Ale) — at least the London region — have finally seen the light when it comes to craft beer (whatever that is exactly). We're swamped with bad tidings of pubs falling foul of unsympathetic revamps, being closed down, or bulldozed into rubble, just to make sure. But de Moor demonstrates just how many new setups there are: the Beer Rebellions, the BrewDogs, the slew of breweries and brew taps — all covered here in fervent, thirsty detail.
Terminal 5 isn't the only esoteric bolthole the author winkles out for praise; others include St. John in Smithfield (better known for its plates of tripe), the Leyton Orient Supporters' Bar, and branches of posh burger people Byron. Even seasoned drinkers with the most seasoned of beer guts will be pleasantly surprised by some of the book's entries.
But lest we forget this is a CAMRA publication, the old bitter-supping faithfuls are not neglected; The Harp in Covent Garden, The Dog and Bell in Deptford, The Kings Arms in Waterloo, The Crosse Keys (yep, a Wetherspoon, nowt wrong with that) in the City... our pub heritage is not only rich, it's pretty well looked-after too.
Beautifully presented, London's Best Beer Pubs & Bars also wedges in snippets of London's brewing history (such as the London Beer Flood of 1814), quick-fire interviews with the likes of A Head in a Hat's Peter Haydon, and a mini guide to London beer styles. You can sense de Moor didn't want to stop writing; later sections push the boundaries of the subject matter; there's a bit on breweries just outside London, and almost two pages on gin. This is not merely a guide on where to drink, it's a guide on how to, and why Londoners drink like they do.
There is one flaw, and one flaw only with this book: it's a book. London is sprouting breweries, pubs and beers like no-one's business (we've found this when trying to keep our own guide to breweries up to date), and even by the time it was published, some information was out of date. No matter though — when it's time for the next round in a few years, we'll happily get a few copies in.
The CAMRA Guide to London's Best Beer Pubs & Bars by Des de Moor is on sale now. Get it from the CAMRA online store for the reduced price of £10.99.
Last Updated 12 August 2015