If there's one thing Boris Johnson should have sorted out in his tenure as London mayor, during which he appears to have done absolutely nothing except waste newspaper pages with his buffonish "antics," he should have spent millions of pounds joining up South East London (and even Croydon) with decent transport links. Carshalton is 12 miles away from my house in SE London, a 40 minute car journey. However to get there by public transport took 1 hour 30 minutes, as I had to go into London and out again which is ridiculous. After trundling through the cultural desert that is Mitcham, I arrived at Carshalton, a nice enough little town nestled on the main road between Sutton and Croydon which is blessed with three decent pubs.
First up was the Windsor Castle, a Shepherd Neame pub although you wouldn't know it from the outside as it doesn't appear to advertise itself as a Neame. This imposing street corner pub on a busy junction has an exterior clad in wonderful green tiling, and inside the traditional feel continues. It's a surprisingly large place with a central oval bar dishing out Neame ales, plus three guest ales. As I've drunk far too much Neame in my lifetime I tried out the guests, and went for a half of Legless Rambler from the Beachy Head microbrewery. This award winning ale was a little rough around the edges, but there was plenty of promise and it was a pleasant enough bitter sup. Only two other customers were in and Smooth FM was being played so the atmosphere wasn't exactly electric, but the pleasant decor made this a nice enough place for a lunchtime half and possibly a nap. Food was available as well with standard pub grub options.
Next up was The Sun. From the outside this was another imposing street corner boozer, but the inside was nearly the exact opposite of the Windsor Castle. Modern decor and furnishings gave it a boutique feel, and although the focus was mainly on good looking food, I felt comfortable just having a drink. There was a well chosen selection of ales on offer and my Off Beat Brewery Kooky Gold was a solid example of a British pale ale. There were slightly more customers in this one, so there was a bit of atmosphere going. The light and airy style of pub isn't usually my favourite, I prefer my boozers dark and dank so I'm not distracted from the serious business of drinking ale, but I did quite enjoy the look and atmosphere of this pub, even if the dramatic black patterned back bar wallpaper looked like it may be more at home in a hairdressers. Nice little pub and I'd like to return to try out the food.
The last pub was the main reason I made the trip out to Carshalton. The Hope is a CAMRA favourite, and was voted Pub of the Year 2013. This old school boozer was bought out by the locals, and a beer revolution is happening inside. Some well chosen ales were on offer and there was also a smattering of craft beer offerings on keg, such as the Pale Ale from Five Points brewery. I ended up going for the Arbor Triple Hop, which was a fruity, hoppy treat. A few regulars were in hogging the bar but they were friendly enough. Preparations were in place for a beer festival which, just my luck, was due to start the next day. There's no music, no fruit machines, and the decor and furnishing look like they haven't been changed in years. No wonder CAMRA love it so much. Luckily it's my kind of pub as well. A very simple food offering was available, and I was pleased to see a billiards table in the back. A classic and welcoming boozer, and the excellent beer on offer makes it even more worthy a visit.
I carried on to Croydon to meet up with The Lovely Jemma and try out a few new pubs, but I'll tell you all about those in my next blog post as I desperately need the content. Until next time!