The sixth branch of the Craft Beer Co to open in London (following pubs in Clerkenwell, Islington, Brixton, Covent Garden and Clapham) skulks in the shadow of the Gherkin. The pub’s official designation, St Mary Axe, is slightly misleading as it’s actually located on nearby Mitre Street, a few yards from Mitre Square (the site of the murder of Catherine Eddowes by Jack the Ripper in 1888).
Those familiar with other Craft Beer Co pubs will find little surprise here. As the pub’s name promises, the main attraction here is beer from independent brewers, and lots of it. 27 regularly changing draught beers (from cask and keg) and a wide variety of bottled beers will keep pretty much any beer geek busy for an indefinite period. Aside from beer, the pub also serves a decent selection of wines and an above-average variety of spirits. Food offerings are limited to snacks, albeit rather good ones; pork pies, scotch eggs and pork scratchings supplement the ubiquitous packets of crisps.
The atmosphere and decor is also rather familiar, with exposed brickwork and a couple of large mirrors giving the pub a comfortably stripped-back feel. The ground-floor bar is modestly proportioned and will probably be packed on busy weekday evenings, but there’s a more-or-less equally-sized downstairs bar that will help to provide extra capacity. Music was playing on our visit, at a pleasantly unobtrusive volume. The electronically-needy might find the free wifi and handful of power sockets useful, but those protective of their bags or coats might miss the provision of hooks at the tables — we certainly couldn’t find any.
We visited the pub shortly after its opening in November 2015, and rapidly came to the conclusion that it will probably become a firm weekday favourite with nearby City workers. Oh, and gents... watch out when you go for a wazz — an unfortunately placed mirror reflects on the urinals whenever the door opens.