I don’t much enjoy pubbing in West London, but there’s no choice.  I needed to be able to do this;

London complete

Yes, London was complete after a couple of exhausting trips with the Travelcard before Christmas, when you might expect to see beer at its best, albeit pubs at their worst.

On the other hand, you do frequently see pubs looking like this one in Kingston,

The Albion, Kingston

overflowing with folk of all ages and levels of hairiness.  I like that.

So into the breach, Kingston on a Saturday night. In the rain.  I thought the whole point of London was that it never rained ?

Take extra care

To be fair, couple of great pubs on that map in Woodies Club in New Malden and the Antelope in Surbiton, but Kingston itself has struggled recently.

The only other GBG entries are the beery Willoughby and the vast Spoons, which looks strangely alluring,  More alluring as a place of refuge than the Bentall Centre. anyway.

Kings  Tun

But of course the Spoons vouchers aren’t valid in December, and anyway starting a London crawl with a pub you’ve already done is a bad idea. I would know that.

The Albion is one of those attractive back-street locals that Kingston used to specialise in when brewery-owned places were allowed in the Guide, before you had to serve ten beers from micros to make it.

The Albion

The Albion has a lot of handpumps. And keg fonts. It’s what people want, I’m told.

More choice

At least, unlike the last new entry in town, it doesn’t have bath tubs for seats.

The horror that is Woody’s

The seating in the Albion is a model for suburban London.

Proper seating

Not quite enough seating for me at 5pm, so I stand at the bar with a half of the Big Smoke House beer (NBSS 2.5), feeling a little left out. You can judge a beer’s condition by the head, can’t you ?



The bar staff eye the bloke standing at the bar with suspicion, but you can’t sit on the floor, can you ?  Perhaps you can in London.

Plenty here for Simon to enjoy, with families dressed straight out of the John Lewis adverts and wagging dogs tripping you up.

I pressed on to the delights of Norbury, pursued by some Wombles and Latics.












  1. I am sure folk are aware there are TWO Woodies/Woodys.
    Woodies Freehouse, New Malden was a favourite pre-match venue, and Woody’s (The horror) Kingston-upon-Thames.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Wych Elm still there, was run by Manny from Spain for a long time. He retired a couple of years ago and the pub was refurbished by Fuller’s. Was always noted for the quality of its Chiswick Bitter – sadly no more

        Liked by 1 person

  2. “The Albion, Kingston”

    Wow. That looks more like somebody’s home. Very nice. 👍

    “The horror that is Woody’s”

    Good Lord. That looks like the waiting room of a rubbish tip. 😱


    Liked by 1 person

  3. “when brewery-owned places were allowed in the Guide” –I’m guessing this is an exaggeration, but confess I’m not sure. Have brewery-owned pubs gone from being the mainstays of the guide to the opposite extreme, i.e. places generally ignored in favor of those that have no brewery affiliation?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Definitely a lot fewer pubs owned by breweries in the Guide than 25 years ago. Partly due to emergence of pub chains, specialist free houses etc, but also I think the decline of the old school landlord for whom quality of Robinsons, Hydes, Brakspear, Bateman etc more important than food. See: lots of Pub Curmudgeon articles. Many really good landlords left family brewers to run free houses

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Thanks for this reply, Martin. You’ve helped me see that a real ale fan’s resentment of the whole “gastro” trend can be about more than just a kind of pub “purism” (which is what I’d imagined it all came down to); that it can quite legitimately be a fear that the attention needed for producing good quality food will come, inevitably, at the expense of time that was once devoted to keeping the ale properly.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Agree. Of course it’s not just about care with maintaining beer, it can be entirely down to throughput. You’d be amazed how many time I sit near the bar and don’t see a SINGLE other pint of real ale sold while I’m there (actually, in six out of twelve pubs I was in over the last two days).

        Liked by 2 people

      3. That’s a shame if cask ale is falling out of favor with the majority of drinkers. Almost seems a little like what happened with jazz music in America: this thing we can be proud of having created, but which these days gets enthusiasm from only a devoted few. Based on what you’re seeing, do you think there’s an inevitable trend toward fewer and fewer real ale fans in the UK as the years go by?

        Liked by 1 person

      4. I do see cask sales continue to fall, but there should be more than enough good places if my experience with the Beer Guide is anything to go by. I had really excellent beer in the Midlands yesterday, at £3 a pint too !

        I think to some extent the growth in what I call craft keg is the reason cask is falling; Mrs RM and my sister will both go for the cooler, low carbonated beers from Brew Dog/Cloudwater etc and I can’t say I blame them.

        Liked by 1 person

      1. I’d say it’s more the case that interest amongst specialist/experimental drinkers has shifted from real ale to craft keg, which is definitely a phenomenon of the past few years. Craft keg is where the action is. That’s much less the case in “normal” pubs – what is most noticeable there is that most ordinary blokes under 60 are drinking lager of various kinds, not ale.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Spot on there. I can’t say I notice much craft keg being sold either, outside the odd brewery tap/Piccadilly Tap/Brewdog type place, which are 1% at most of the pub stock. Premium imported lager is where it’s at with the ordinary drinker; except when a Beer Festival is on of course.


    2. I was just reading some comments about Windsor on the Beer and Pubs Forum (see Pub Curmudgeon blog and pub crawl reports from Leicester). One chap describes landlords for southern family breweries as “having a calling” to run their pubs and serve their beer at it’s best. That would be beers like Palmers, Wadworths, Brakspears etc. Like that phrase.


  4. Congratulations on finishing London- no easy task. Keeps you fit though. Hope to do so next week but reliant on opening times as published. I enjoy doing pubs there even if they don’t all live up to expectations, though the prices can be eye-watering. Will compare notes….

    Liked by 1 person

  5. This dearth of independent family brewers pubs in the guide is sad, but Martin’s comment about Fullers pubs not serving cask at its best might be the tip of an iceberg as said breweries attempt to be hip and crafty, turning their back on cask. Might it be their own fault? Obviously not in the case of Sam Smiths though, whose last pitch into the craft market was in 1758.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Agree. I’m sure family brewers have always made attempts to be hip and crafty, by introducing music, TV, open-plan refurbs, etc etc, but 20 years ago it was Chiswick/Pride/ESB or Ordinary/Special/Warmer, and now it’s 6 pumps plus Frontier plus unpasteurised Pride plus 4 lagers etc etc, so cask sales get squeezed even in good pubs. God bless Sams.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Plenty of family brewers such as the Greater Manchester four and the likes of Bathams and Hook Norton haven’t gone anywhere near as far down that road.


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