For some time this Radical has been saying “Must go to the Lord Northbrook” and finally managed it. Deputising a fellow ale drinker (please, no ‘craft’ beer) who last featured at the Kidbrooke Beer Festival, we meandered down Burnt Ash Road on a cold Saturday night.
Unsure what to expect – so many renovated pubs go pastel shades and a bland safety designed not to offend anyone, except we Radicals – we liked the décor and ambience. Not too trendy but comfortable, light and airy. Plenty of comfy seating too, but we opted for a bar stool. The barman(ager) was knowledgeable about the beers on offer and we opted for the fairly local Brockley Golden. A rather excellent pint.
As we savoured this session ale conversation led to decent pubs outside the village. Is it the Old or New Tigers Head that has been closed for an eternity? Oh, there is a Wetherspoons! Never been in the Duke of Edinburgh… After a few more pints the decision was made for a bit of a pub crawl – a brave move given the ale on offer in the Lord Northbrook, but we Radicals are an intrepid bunch.
First stop heading North was the Lord Halley, a Wetherspoons. We entered with an open mind and were bitterly disappointed. The ale selection was not great and the beer this Radical had was either pretty awful or off and was not consumed. The deputy had a forgetful beer and we decided to abandon the pub, leaving the drinks. Although not after a long walk to the toilets – possibly the furthest trek since I was last in Zero Degrees.
Questioning our judgement of leaving the warm and friendly Northbrook it was with some reticence that we made for the Old Tigers Head (for it is the open one). Our first impression, aside from the lack of ale, was that it with a bit of an effort could be a decent boozer. As we supped on Guinness again or thoughts turned back to the Lord Northbrook and something similar could be done with the Tigers Head. We would rather see that than it end up like the New Tigers Head, but with only a handful of people in that is the fear.
Subdued, nay, despondent we headed for the Duke of Edinburgh on Lee High Rd. Accepting the crawl was a monumental error we were considering heading direct for the safety of the Dacre Arms in Kingswood Place but a sense of duty to the crawl prevailed and we went in. The bar maid was friendly, the prices were (we vaguely recall), very reasonable, and there was a pump with the Brockley Gold on it. A mirage? No, and it was a good pint too. Spirits bolstered we took in the Edinburgh. A pub that is traditional in that there is a bar, plenty of pictures, comfy seating, slightly chilly loos, and a welcoming and pleasant place to be. We approved. It was not trying to be something else (no coffee machine, for instance). We were sorely tempted by a second pint but time was against us.
With the success rate at a mere 50% we bypassed Rambles (formerly The Swan) further up Lee High Road – no pumps or ales visible – contemplated the future of The Woodsman which has been closed for much of the past 5 years, has been recently gutted, and is to let, and ended up at this Radical’s local, the Dacre Arms. Pints of the Reverend James all round and a review of the evening. Focusing on the positive: The Lord Northbrook is an excellent updated pub; the Duke of Edinburgh is fine traditional pub; the scampi fries and pork scratchings are one of the many reasons the Dacre is a decent pub.