London a beer town? You bet!

While many may not think of beer when traveling to London, I sure did. Pubs are everywhere, and the choice of cask conditioned ales are probably the best in the world.

Follow us as we visit some interesting pubs of central London, including an interesting pub crawl called the “Monopoly Pub Crawl”.

A word on beer temperature. Have you heard this? “Beers over there are all warm.” In part, this is true. Whatever the temperature is in the cellar, that is the temperature of the ales. As one learns and drinks different beers, you’ll find out that certain beers lose all their flavor if served too cold. Light lagers are great ice cold, but when you start trying different beers in the U.S., don’t be embarrassed by asking for a room temperature, non iced glass. You’ll be glad you did!

My first beer ever in London. I know, I know, big deal. But finding cask conditioned ales in the U.S. is tough.

This is Young’s “Winter Warmer”, poured at the Duke of Wellington pub on Portobello Road. (If this was a movie web site, I’d tell you about the sites near here from the film “Notting Hill” but I’ll leave that for the movie nerd web sites out there.)

This is a typical tap set up in a London pub. Notice the taps behind the handles, they’re curved down. The bartender “pulls” the beer like a pump, “pulling” the beer from the keg in the basement. Also, notice the “guest beer” sign on one of the taps. Since this is a Fuller’s pub, all beers are usually from that one brewery. Some pubs have a guest beer that is from another pub, usually a small microbrewery in the area.

For those you who are new to the beer world, “IPA” is short for India Pale Ale. IPA’s contain a good amount of hops, making them very flavorful (some would say “bitter”). IPA’s got their name from the time when England was colonizing India, and brewers figured out that if a large amount of hops were added to the brewing process, the beer would not spoil on the long voyage from England to India. Lo and behold the IPA was born!

Another cool tap setup, this one at a pub called “East India Arms”.

Here I am standing in front of a typical pub setup. There are no bar stools around any bar in London pubs. One stands and enjoys their wares. As you can tell, other beverages are available in pubs, from wines to spirits.

Remember my comment on the Monopoly Pub Crawl? The game Monopoly in London is not about Boardwalk and Park Place. England’s Monopoly contains street names of London, and the Monopoly Pub Crawl is about taking one day to visit a pub on each street named in the game. Along with railroad stations, this amounts to 26 stops. Can this be done in a day? Believe it or not, yes! We stopped at all 26 pubs on our week in London, but these firemen above (along with my wife Sandy and Sandy’s wife’s cousin Mary), were on their 23rd stop of the day with only three to go! Needless to say, these guys were having a great time. Once again, beer creates friends!

My wife’s cousin Todd and I in front of the “V & A Free House”. A “free house” means that no one brewery owns the pub. This translates into some interesting choices in beer.

A “half pint” in another pub. This small glass allows one to try different beers while at the same time knowing how to find the door!

Related links: (Campaign for real ale website. Good info on real ales.)  (Guidebooks and info we use when traveling in Europe) (Site to learn about the monopoly pub crawl.)  (THE site for beer travel and info)