Drink Articles

London's finest stouts & porters

Andrew Dickens takes the ultimate trail to the dark stuff with the Craft Beer Channel’s Jonny Garrett as his guide.

Published:
London's finest stouts & porters

1. Mason & Company

Start here

Close to the Copper Box, we sit in a wooden box. Well, a box-shaped bar with a lot of wood in it. It’s a bright, modern craft-beer cathedral, but we’re beginning with a history lesson, as Jonny explains how porter – named after the working men who used to drink it – developed from a type of beer called “stale”. Let’s call that a successful re-brand. We tuck into the wonderful Five Points Railway Porter; a fittingly modern take on a traditional brew.

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2. People’s Park Tavern

Distance travelled: 1.4km

Entering a pub whose name Corbynites would surely welcome, we find ourselves involved in a political debate from the savage world of Beer Nerds. Here we are drinking the pub’s own Polar Night Black IPA. “But an IPA isn’t a stout or porter,” someone is probably saying somewhere. However, as Jonny points out, there are many who argue a black IPA is actually an Indian porter, or Cascadian dark ale, or an imperial mild. Our conclusion: it’s beer. Very tasty beer.

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3. The Palm Tree

Distance travelled: 1.6km

Apparently, on the walk from Victoria Park we have moved from Bow into heaven itself, aka The Palm Tree. With its warm red glow, bygone vibe, and bar staff who actually enjoy conversation, it should be preserved by law. In fact, it should be compulsory to drink here, absorbing that vibe and whatever is in the upholstery. We drink London’s best pint of Guinness. Why so? All the throughput, says Jonny. The more a pub serves, the better it’ll be. Sláinte.

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4. Mother Kelly’s

Distance travelled: 1.3km

Back to modernity with a bump, we’re under railway arches sipping on Mexicake Imperial Stout by Tempest. It’s supposed to taste of Mexican chocolate cake, and perhaps it does. What we know is that it’s lovely, with a gentle chipotle afterburn. Why “imperial” stout, I ask. It’s because those crazy Russian royals loved stout, says Jonny, but it froze in transit, so we brewed a super strength version to export to them. Pop that in your pub-quiz pocket and your next joint-eighth finish is assured.

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5. The Kings Arms

Distance travelled: 900m

We just about make it for last orders and the chance to listen to a very loud and confused conversation between some people who were clearly here long before last orders. Guinness has ruled the Dark Side for decades, but as this stroll has proved, it’s up against some stiff, ominous, delicious competition. We finish with the excellent Camden Ink, a dry stout as close as you’ll get to reigning champ, and one of the main contenders for the crown. May the battle rage on.

Want to take the crawl yourself? Just follow this map

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