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Des de Moor
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Accredited Beer Sommelier
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"A necessity if you're a beer geek travelling to London town" - Beer Advocate
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Des de Moor


Craft Beer Co Islington N1 *

The Craft Beer Co Islington, London N1

The Craft Beer Co , N1

London’s Best Beer, and Bars updates
Central London: Islington (Angel)

, specialist (Craft)
55 White Lion Street N1 9PP
e w f thecraftbeerco tw thecraftbeerco
Open 1200-2300 (2400 Thu, 0100 Fri-Sat, 2230 Sun). Children welcome until 1700.
Cask beer 10 (Kent, unusual guests), Other beer 22 keg, 100+ bottles, Also 14 wines, specialist spirits.
Food Scotch eggs & pies only, Outdoor Front terrace, side beer garden, Wifi. Disabled toilet.
Impromptu piano, beer events, occasional live music, functions.

The expansion of the Craft Beer Co over the past couple of years to five branches (if you count the Cask in Pimlico) has been a trailblazer for the phenomenal surge in interest in craft and specialist beer in the UK in general and London in particular. This new Islington outlet represents another breakthrough, further upping the game in a part of London curiously bereft of such places before the Earl of Essex opened earlier this year.

Whereas the Crafts in Brixton and Clerkenwell are relatively small places, the N1 branch is a generously proportioned multi-roomed pub which, until recently, was an underachieving local known as the Lord Wolseley, delivering standard lagers and big screen TV to Arsenal fans. And this was despite a promising location just round the corner from Chapel Market and only a few minutes from Angel Tube.

The designers have tackled the broader canvas by giving the pub a more traditional look than its sister venues, with plenty of tables, stools and armchairs filling not only a main bar but a separate adjoining space where the business has at some point clearly expanded into a neighbouring house, and an extension at the back that’s ideal for tastings and functions. Deep green dominates the decor, as chosen by enthusiastic manager Emma, formerly of the Jolly Butchers. Only a few days after opening it already felt lived in, and busy with a good mix of people, from tattooed young hopheads to a tableful of bearded gents conforming to an older stereotype.

“British Ale will always be our number one passion,” declares the beer menu, a claim borne out by a range of ten casks featuring standout craft brewers like Magic Rock, Marble and Thornbridge, newcomers like Cromarty and Tiny Rebel, and a house pale supplied by Kent. Two ranks of keg taps divide into domestic – Beavertown, Dark Star, Leeds, more Magic Rock and Thornbridge – plus exclusives like a Mikkeller lager, and imported novelties from the likes of 8 Wired (New Zealand), Evil Twin (Denmark/US) and Port (US).

There’s not a wasted entry in the bottled list, divided roughly three ways between Belgium, the US and Scandinavia, with a good range of Kernel beers providing the few British entries. The Belgians are mainly first rate classics – Orval, Dupont, St Bernardus – and a good choice of lambics, including Tilquin and limited edition 3 Fonteinen bottles in the Armand 4 series (a mere £55). The Americans include numerous rarely seen brewers like Shorts and Sly Fox alongside heavy hitters like AeSmith, Cigar City, Green Flash and Southern Tier. Innovative cuckoo and small brewers like Evil Twin, Mikkeler and To Øl account for the northerners. Off sales are also provided, with a “buy five, get one free” offer.

While the beer range and quality keeps up the very high standard we’ve come to expect from Craft, the comfortable and expansive surroundings make this an instant contender for the best specialist beer bar in London. Some customers might find the decision to limit the food offer a regrettable one, but there are numerous options nearby, including Hundred Crows Rising.

Insider tip. A working piano is available to anyone able and willing to play it, with the possibility of a return slot for popular contributors.

Underground Angel Cycling LCN+7 16, link to 8 and Regents Canal towpath Walking Jubilee Greenway, link to New River Path

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