It’s a school night, but I’m still off to meet the gang in Walthamstow. After a short trek north of Walthamstow Central, it feels like I’m in little Istanbul, and I feel doubtful of finding any pubs round here. Hang on, there it is! Camouflaged by scaffolding, with an Italian pizza stall at the main entrance, there’s something of a buzz to Ye Olde Rose and Crown Theatre Pub.
It’s big inside, with a large annexe at the rear, in which various bands have already begun playing. I meet my friends in the front room, good they’re still relatively sober, then head over to the bar to order a drink. Looking over the taps and fridges, it looks like there’s a good selection of beers, but not much special for the cider drinker. Until I spot the box. Sitting atop the counter behind the bar, as if placed on the naughty step, and out of reach of children, is a box of the proper stuff. It looks like it says… Millwhite’s Scrumpy. One of them please. Straight from the bag.
I head back to the table, thinking the interior of YORaC is like a cross between a Victorian pub, a Bestival tent, and the Women’s Institute art gallery. I don’t know if there is a Women’s Institute art gallery, I’d just like to make that clear. Looking at my Millwhites in its Cornish pale ale glass, it’s hazy and golden. This one smells treacly, but ripe, like a wet forest. It has a very sweet taste, but with a a warm bite to it. I couldn’t see the alcohol percentage on the box, even with my laser eye surgery, which disappointingly, didn’t let me see though clothing, as advertised, though thinking about it, in many cases that’s probably a good thing.
So I check out the Millwhite’s website. Now Millwhite’s have featured in the Cider Sense before, notably for the cask ciders. The scrumpy is more of a pure cider, it looks like this is the Mixed Scrumpy at 6.5%, a mix of ancient apple varieties. There’s even a hint of lemon, if you do the sucky thing that wine connoisseurs do, and are careful not to inhale a lung full.
I take my seat in the front row, for the bands. There’s a wide range of types in this bar, a bit like Mos Eisley Cantina in Star Wars with the funny jazz band, but without the blasters. In fact this hood is becoming quite trendy, and there’s lots of young people here. Not full-on hipsters yet, but Walthamstow is the new Dalston. Which was the new Hackney. Which was the new Shoreditch. Which was the new, well, I suppose it started in the King’s Road and Carnaby Street in the 60s, and will probably end somewhere in Scotland, with only the vastly wealthy being able to afford to live anywhere between Brighton and Peebles, and the rest of us stuck in a massive block of flats in Drumnadrochit. Hooray for gentrification.
Anyway, I digest. The band begins, There’s banjos and mandolins and we all have a jolly good, toe-tappin’ time. With the next round, I’m presented with another pint of some scrumpy or other, there’s no way of telling which one this is. Now there’s an Elvis impersonator, a bit of rock and roll, even some theatrical singers promoting their show, which is on upstairs and finally the night finishes with a massive communal jam, and I’m rather disappointed it’s ended. I walk back to the drab train station, thinking that’s what a pub should be like, something for everyone, a keystone of the community. But most of all, a couple of dodgy boxes of cider next to the Monster Munch. And it’s only Wednesday!