1 July 2009

Green beer and pubs

A few words on beer and pubs are long overdue so here is a quick update to try and redress the issue.

I continue to try new beers whenever I can and this happens to be fairly frequently these days due to several reasons.

My main pub, the Willoughby Arms in North Kingston, has the excellent policy of having five real ales on all the time with most of these changing guest beers. Well done Rick!

I find myself in Sheffield for a few weeks which gives me the chance to try a few new pubs and a few new local (for Sheffield) beers.

And when back down South I vary the pubs that I go to and I strongly favour those that regularly have new and interesting beers.

One such pub is the Roebuck on Richmond Hill where I was delighted to find the green beer, Sign of Spring from Stonehenge Ales, that not only looks cool but tastes great too. The pub crawl ended at that point and my mate and I finished the evening there on the green stuff. Wicked!

Also green is the new look Hand and Flower on Ham Common.

This is my "local" on the grounds that it is, by far, my closest pub but it has not yet become my local again in terms of patronage.

The good news is that the Hand and Flower is definitely a pub again, having tried to be an up-market restaurant with a bar with the odd name the Legless Frog.

As a result of this change quite a lot of the former regulars have made their way back and I can see a lot of familiar faces whenever I go.

The bad news is that, for whatever reason, it has also attracted some less sociable people who tend to sit out the front where they smoke and swear and act as a deterrent to more moderate people. This came to a head a couple of weeks ago when around thirty people ended up in a raucous fight outside of the pub that led to the destruction of much of the pub's garden furniture, closed the main road and attracted the attention of the local police (which takes some doing).

I'm prepared to give the Hand and Flower the chance to demonstrate that it has regained its form but at the moment it has not yet become an obvious choice when I fancy a drink.

One place that continues to do well is another North Kingston pub, the Canbury Arms.

There is a green connection here too, albeit a little tenuous, in that once a month it hosts an Irish music night.

Here you can see the ad hoc group of musicians who gathered together on the first Tuesday in June. Some regulars turn up every month but there are normally a few new faces which helps to make each month a little different.

The Canbury Arms is to be congratulated for maintaining the long tradition of Irish music in Canbury (bands have played previously in the Richmond Park Tavern and the Lamb) but it must not be forgotten that it also has a superb choice of real ales (not quite as good at the Willoughby Arms, but not far off) and does good modern gastro pub food too.

Good pubs are fairly hard to find but they are still out there and that makes the effort of looking for them all worth while.


  1. Thanks for the pub crawl! Is the Roebuck the one at the top of the hill with "the famous view" over the river?

  2. Great account- encourages me to blog about my own local pubs. I admire your bold attitude towards new beers, too. I've had so many nasty shocks I tend to stick to Stella, Grolsch, etc whilst enjoying the ambience.

    My father was a Preston man who told me this saying about some northern beers :

    Duttons for Gluttons,
    Thwaites for mates,
    And if you can drink Lions you can fight 'em

    He drank a (now defunct) brand called Chesters, also known a 'fighting beer'.Maybe that Ham landlord sells something similar.



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