Historical version 21 of Craft Beer Co., EC1N 7TR
- 82 Leather Lane, EC1N 7TR
- 12pm-11pm Mon-Fri 11am-11pm Sat 12pm-10:30pm Sun
As the name states, this is a pub focused on craft beer (cask and keg), based in the Hatton Garden area of Clerkenwell. It is run by the same team behind Cask in Pimlico, again on a Greene King lease (it used to be a standard, underperforming Greene King pub called The Clock House, and indeed the clock and crest on the facade have been retained). Other branches can be found in Pentonville, Brixton and Clapham.
Aside from the scrubbed up exterior and modish design, the big selling feature of this pub is of course the number of beer taps. They have 16 handpulls for ale, and 21 keg beer fonts, all dispensing specially-imported beers from the UK, Europe and Asia, some of which are unavailable elsewhere in the country. There is also an extensive collection of high-end spirits, as well as a wine list. The weakness is the lack of cider, with just one of the handpulls devoted to cider.
Ale prices are tied in to abv (alcohol by volume), starting from £3.40/pint for ale of less than 4% abv, and rising from there. Of all the beer taps, there are only two regular house beers, the Clerkenwell Pale Ale (brewed by Kent Brewery) and the Clerkenwell Lager (brewed by Mikkeller in Denmark), both uniformly badged in the red colour and font of the pub itself. The former is a pleasant straw-coloured ale, with a clean taste, while the latter is dominated by mouth-puckering hoppiness and grapefruit flavour, not the kind of thing one might expect from a 'house lager'. Ales on handpull on the opening night included ones by Dark Star (a house favourite), Bristol Beer Factory, Oakham Ales, Ridgeside, and many others.
Because most of the lagers are imported, they are significantly more expensive than the ales, with a typical Mikkeller keg beer (Drink'in the Sun, for example, one of their lighter ones, at 3.9% abv) starting at £3.95/half pint. There are also plenty of bottled beers, mainly from America, but with significant numbers from northern Europe (Denmark is a favourite), and even some Japanese breweries. A large, lavishly-printed colour catalogue lists all of these, with tasting notes. Prices are fairly steep, as one might expect.
Decor is comfortable, with fairly minimal seating downstairs, mostly high tables with stools. Upstairs is a lounge room photo, far more relaxed, with more space to sit and spread out a bit on long thin tables. The opening night crowds spilled out over the adjoining street (Hatton Wall) but were mostly restricted to the downstairs (there is no bar upstairs). There were plenty of bar staff working in the fairly cramped space behind the bar, so ordering didn't take too long, and was slowed only by people standing drinking at the bar.
Food options on the opening night were restricted to pork pies (fairly large ones for around £5) and scotch eggs (£3.50). Ewan tried one of the latter, which was served on a small wooden chopping board with a knife (no mustard), and was an excellent example of the genre, with a hard yolk but a good size.
Accessibility: Single step to get in. Gents' toilets are on the ground floor, while the ladies' are upstairs. All the ground floor seating is on high stools, aside from one small table's worth. The staircase to the first floor has a sturdy handrail which however only runs part of the way up.
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