Art of Craft ~ brews and reviews
By Greg Richardson

The adventure began as a great quest.

My wife, Gayle, was presenting a talk at a conference at Lucy Cavendish College, Cambridge University, in England. We had an opportunity to spend a few extra days in London before and after the conference.

If I could live in any city in the world, I would live in London. I love the history, the literacy, the architecture, the rhythm of the city.

My ancestors were English. Years ago, when I was disillusioned by industrial beer brewed in the United States, it was British beer that reignited my passion for brewing and beer. British Bitters drew me in, and then introduced me to Porters and Stouts.

This was my chance to explore English pubs I had missed in the past.

My favorite pub from past visits is the Churchill Arms in Kensington, which is known for its delicious Thai cuisine and Fullerís London Pride.

London has become more cosmopolitan, and the first beer I tasted was a Menabrea, an Italian craft beer blonde lager, at Zizzi in Earls Court. It was not bad, but it was not the authentic English beer I was seeking.

The weekend took us to Cambridge, where we visited The Punter, an excellent local pub in a renovated coaching house. I enjoyed their fish and chips and hand-pulled Guinness.

Returning to London after the weekend, our quest began in earnest.

We found a guidebook with a London historic pub crawl, and set out to "settle back with a pint and drink in all the history."

The list in the guide included pubs mentioned in books by Charles Dickens and pubs frequented by William Shakespeare. The descriptions were filled with historic details, but not necessarily with clear directions.

Gayle and I decided to begin with Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese, where Dr. Samuel Johnson, Charles Dickens, Voltaire, Oscar Wilde, and even Americans like Mark Twain and Theodore Roosevelt had preceded us.

We were able to find Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese on Fleet Street, and make our way down two flights of stairs. The historic atmosphere was authentic.

This was the first stop on our crawl, and we were excited to be there. Our expectations were high, shaped by our experiences in craft breweries back in California. 

We got to where we thought we were supposed to go, and waited. We waited for some time. No one talked to us, or even made eye contact. It may have been "English reserve," but it was unusual in London. Our wait lasted long enough that it did not feel like hospitality to us.

We decided to move on to our next stop.

The next pub we decided to visit was Ye Olde Mitre (No, not all pubs in London are called "Ye Olde.") We followed our guide, which described Ye Olde Mitre as "hidden-away." We walked the streets it describes. We asked people, and no one knew where it was. We searched, but could not find it.

By that time we were tired, hungry, and thirsty. It was, as it often is in London, sprinkling rain. We decided to give up and head back to near where we were staying and visit a decidedly non-historic London pub for dinner and a pint or two.

Our quest, though, was not over. The next afternoon we headed to the historic village of Rotherhithe to visit The Mayflower

Before we left on our trip, I had let people know I would be away from my blog for a week or so. I mentioned my interest in finding pubs. A new friend named Michael Moore responded, suggesting we meet at The Mayflower.

It was great to meet Michael, and to visit The Mayflower. We sat on the pubís patio deck listening to the lapping of the Thames underneath our feet. We sat and talked, drinking their Best Bitter, Mayflower Scurvy. It was an excellent evening.

The Mayflower is the oldest pub on the River Thames. The captain of the Mayflower which carried pilgrims to Plymouth Rock, Christopher Jones, is buried at Saint Maryís church adjacent to the pub. Rumor has it that Captain Jones tied up alongside the pub to avoid paying mooring taxes and passengers boarded the ship. They continued on to Plymouth to pick up the remaining passengers before they sailed to America.

We are thankful to Michael, and to The Mayflower for being our favorite historic London pub. I can hardly wait to visit again.

Greg Richardson is a leadership and organizational coach, and a spiritual life mentor, in Pasadena, California. He is passionate about craft brewing, listening, and monks and monastic life. Greg is a recovering attorney, executive, and university professor. Gregís website is StrategicMonk.com and he is on Twitter @StrategicMonk. You can email Greg at StrategicMonk@gmail.com.

Return to DaBelly

© 2015   DaBelly Magazine.  All Rights Reserved.