I’m on a cider crawl. My ciderkick and I are passing the London train stations of Kings Cross, St Pancras and Euston. There seems to be a healthy choice of real cider pubs round these parts. We’re off round the back of Euston Station to the Bree Louise. It’s starting to piss down, but the promise of 10 craft ciders (and 18 craft ales), means the sun is shining on Coburg Street.
This pub was voted CAMRA pub of the year 2009 and 2010 (why not since?). And (runner up) cider pub of 2013. We step in side. Bright lights, carpeted floor, dog bowl. This is a real pub. There’s no music, magnolia walls, and a ragtag gang of various sorts. There’s a big guy in a rugby shirt, a balding long-haired nerd on a laptop, some beer-bellied, permed 70’s non-ironic disco-goers and a couple of city chaps that we sit next to.
The bar is filled with barrels and boxes–the 24 craft beverages available. They all look inviting. As this is my first venture into the Bree Louise, I choose the namesake cider, by Millwhites (a reputable proper-cider maker). The Bree Louise Special Reserve is a 4.8% cider, so not too strong, and a wise choice after the 7.3% breakfast we just had at the Queens Head.
The barman pours the cider from the box, but suggests that the drinks don’t look quite right and offers to get a new box. I try it and it doesn’t taste too bad, but my ciderkick makes the persuasive, succinct argument, ‘I don’t want to have the fucking shits for two weeks’. Decision made, the obviously knowledgable barman pours two new pints from the new box. Fair enough, they do actually look different, the new pints are clearer, like half-set honey. The old pints are more like earwax. I ruefully leave the two old pints for dead, and we head off to a table.
The wide screen tellies around the walls advertise the drinks menu and the pies available. The Millwhites Bree Louise Special is has sweetness but with a dryness to it, a little sherry, warm and woodlandish. I’m getting woodpecker droppings, I’m getting elf slash. I’m sure elves drink cider. It tastes stronger than it is. I like it, though my ciderkick preferred the sweeter Beesting.
Our table-neighbours are from the West Country, on an all-day piss-up in London. After telling them about my cider quest, they recommend a couple of places in Bristol. The Coronation Tap is, apparently, a must and the Apple Boat sells a cider that is around 12%. More floating pubs, please!
I certainly didn’t expect such a vast array of proper booze in what appears on the outside, like a proper local. Apparently, the pub is named after the landlord’s baby daughter, who died when very young, and this place is ‘King’s Cross’ best kept secret’. Unfortunately, I read that it will be destroyed in the wake of the High Speed 2 train line from Euston. Those infernal engines! Surely this oasis of slow-paced camaraderie must be more valuable than some impatient blokes getting to Birmingham a few minutes faster. Does anyone rally want to get to Birmingham quicker?
Drink Up! All good things must come to an end. We finish the dregs and, like Frodo and Samwise, we toddle off through the grey, wet valleys of the Euston streets, in the search for elf wee. Proper elf wee.
A bit rough round the edges, but what it don’t got, you don’t need.