Sunday, 12 October 2014

Liverpool Street

I first visited the Williams Ale & Cider House near Liverpool Street station a few months ago, but sadly the visit was short lived as they weren't serving food on a Saturday lunch time and I was absolutely starving. At the time I couldn't understand why they would open at 12pm and not serve food. I'd heard good things about the place though and wanted to try it out, so a few weeks later I visited again on a Saturday lunchtime to pop in for a drink. They must have listened to my griping as the pub was now closed until 4pm, so again I missed out on a having a drink there. It was third time lucky though as yesterday I popped in at 4pm, the place was open, and I enjoyed a fine half of Spitalfields Bitter, served by a friendly barman who was more than happy to help me out with what beer to have by offering a few samples. Even though they had just opened there was a buzzy but relaxed atmosphere about the place, and it was a very pleasant visit all round.

There are other boozers around Liverpool Street that are worth popping in to. First up is the Woodin Shades, yer standard Nicholson's boozer across the road from the station. On my last visit I enjoyed a half of By The Horns The Saint, a very suppable stout. A smattering of customers, mainly tourists were in the pub enjoying a drink - there didn't seem to be much food being served, even though it was approaching 12pm. Service was functional. It's not a pub to make a special trip to but for commuters waiting for their train it makes a nice change to the Wetherspoons next door to the station. More on that later.

Next up is another Nicholson's, The Lord Aberconway, tucked down a side street near the front entrance of the station. This is a very pleasant pub inside, split over two levels with charming wooden booths down one side. Last time I was there I had a half of Trumans Runner and unfortunately the pub let itself down a little.  The ale was watery and insipid, and having had decent pints of it before I knew this was the fault of the pub and not the brewery. It need a little more time and conditioning and unfortunately tasted like it had been served too early. Still I quite like the pub and the service overall, although it is quite a small and I imagine it gets very busy on weekend evenings.

The useful Craft Beer London mobile app also recommends a pub in nearby Shoreditch, and I had a wander down there. I don't really like visiting the Shoreditch area as I always see something that throws me into an irrational rage - usually a ridiculous hipster beard or someone wearing cardboard shoes. This time it was a Bitcoin ATM which funnily enough I didn't see anybody using, because Bitcoin is an absolute waste of everybody's time. If you've never heard of Bitcoin, it's a virtual currency adored by idiots, who think they're sticking it to the man but who are actually wasting real life money on junk. The "value" of Bitcoins fluctuates widely and it's nearly impossible to actually spend the things - unless you live in a fad bubble like Shoreditch. They're useless as an investment as well, you may as well visit a casino, go to the roulette table and dump your money on red or black - you probably have a much better chance to make some money back.

The Crown and Shuttle is a former brothel turned into a craft beer establishment across the road from Shoreditch High Street station. It looks small from the outside but is surprisingly large inside. I could make a lazy Doctor Who reference here but I'm going to refrain. A very long bar down the right hand side has handpumps and keg dispensaries with all the latest and greatest craft beer offerings. Halfway down is a massive drum offering "brewery fresh" Meantime Pale Ale - I didn't get the chance to try it. My half pints of London Fields Hackney Hopster and Late Knights The Great Exhibition were both in great form and went down a treat. There is a lovely beer garden as well, with a mobile unit dishing out food being eaten by happy punters sitting on bric and brac furniture. This place is a bit hipstery but on a Saturday afternoon it was pretty nice, and well worth a visit if you're in the area.

The final pub in the Liverpool Street area worth popping into is the Hamilton Hall, a Wetherspoons inside the station that offers a little taste of Essex in Central London. Bronzed punters can choose from the decent selection of ales, and my Eton Boatman from Windsor & Eton was in fine shape when I last paid a visit. The interior is rather grand, with a sweeping staircase leading up to a balcony which overlooks the regal decor. All very posh for a Spoons and it's worth venturing in for the interior alone.

Well hopefully this long ramble will help somebody looking for a drink in Liverpool Street. I'm giving to leave you with one piece of advice: don't venture into Dirty Dicks, no matter how humorous you find the name. This tourist pack den of mediocre beer isn't worth the effort.

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