Worley’s Red Hen at The Euston Cider Tap

I’ve been walking round london on a photo tour. After 2 hours of walking in 27° heat, I’m sweating like Fred West in a Time Team special, (thanks to John Hamilton, for that one), and I’m ready for ‘something on the lips’, as my dad says. I head to the Euston Cider Tap, to my favourite roadside beer garden, and soak up some particulate matter.

Passing through the district of St Pancras, I see a whole weekend’s worth of pubs that I’ve not yet tried. I’ll leave that for another weekend, but I realise I’m seriously lagging in my quest to visit every London pub before I die. I’ve just decided that I will take on this quest. I don’t yet know when I will die. Probably while I’m on a pub crawl.

I reach the Cider Tap, there’s plenty of room inside and out. What appears to be a stag-do of super heroes – if super heroes had to put their own makeup on while drunk – is just about to leave.

From the wall menu, I pick the Worleys Red Hen. It’s a 6% medium dry, from Somerset. It sounds perfect.

Worleys Red Hen

Golden and still, it perfectly compliments the evening, probably with something like “hello evening, that’s a lovely blouse”. It smells like warm toffee apples and the taste is much the same, but rather dry. A bit watery for me, needs a sugar lump. Worleys do make a medium sweet, too. I might have liked that one more.

A French girl in a baseball cap has been standing outside for a while, and eventually asks me where The Rocket is. The sun is thankfully, dipping behind the Grant Thompson building. Behind me are a bunch of Italians, the other side seem to be a bunch of students saying hello in different oriental languages. The obligatory, toothless junkie comes begging for money. She seems to get an audience with the Italians and well-pleased with her new-found crack money, she skips off across the station to find her dealer. There’s also  large contingent of Warrington Wolves fans, steadily arriving

Station pubs usually attract the weirdest of folks, the Euston Taps (there’s two of them!) are the best station pubs.

Red Hen cider, with it’s dryness, does have a bit of a peck to it. I wonder what would happen if I mixed this with a London Rooster! That would be a post for after the watershed, but I am getting rather eggcidered about it. Haha. Ah, I always say, if you can make yourself laugh, you don’t need friends.

Probably time to go

Verdict 3.5/5

Ryan's Bar Facade

Bad Apple at Ryan’s N16

I’m waltzing round Stoke Newington, looking for somewhere with Sky Sports. And Cider

Past the KFC that used to be a pub many years ago, past the Tea House, that used to be a pub until a year ago, past the hour long queue of people waiting to get into the on-trend Good Egg coffee shop, even though there’s another twenty, (I counted them), places you can have coffee on this street, not to mention countless others round the corner, on the High Street! Good Egg coffee must be fucking amazing!

The cloud is burning off, and I’m getting a thirst on. I notice that Ryan’s has reopened. What used to be a fairly traditional Irish pub, with some live gigs in the basement and a massive beer garden out back, has recently had a facelift and is now a slick, dark bar inside, with the same beer garden outside.

Ryan's Bar Facade

Ryan’s: Keeping Stoke Newington drunk, since 1996

It does have a sports screen.
It does have cider.

The staff are friendly, well it is still early afternoon. The barman recommends the Bad apple cider and offers a taster, but I opt to go straight for the main course: a pint.

Bad Apple CiderIn a branded glass, looking very ‘bad’ and apply, Bad Apple is a lightly sparkling golden orange cider. The taste is not far from a usual keg cider, medium sweet, but with more of refreshing bite of sharpness. It’s bad in a good way, probably melting my teeth. There’s a little of a dessert apple to it as well. Maybe a little too sweet.

I hoped Ryan’s still has live music, open mic night was a laugh in the basement. They seem to have done away with many of the seats upstairs, standing room, maybe, but they do advertise their basement as available for gigis, quoting an impressive array of musical equipment, that reads like a roadie’s wedding list.

It seems they also do food now, with a Thai menu, but also, some locally-named burgers.

Ryans N16 Beer Garden
Ryan’s beer garden stretches into the horizon
Ryan's Bus

An evil ghost, drives the Ryan’s Real Ale Bus

 

 

 

 

 

 

The beer garden is much the same as it was, a vast tract of picnic benches, beneath a few trees. It’s a huge garden – always plenty of space and beneath some large trees. The neighbours need to tidy their garden up, though, a right mess! There’s a strange London Bus painted on the side of the fence, in which a sinister, smiling old man requests everyone to come aboard. Maybe the Bad Apple is taking effect, but as I feel his gaze caressing my neck, I decide I’d better get back inside, to the sports screen.

I hope I won’t have nightmares

Verdict: 2.5/5

(for the cider, not the venue)

Snails Bank at the Euston Cider Tap

I’ve been walking round London town, looking at stuff all day – photos and the like, pretending to be cultured. My lungs will be black by now, so I’d best get some antioxidants.

The handiest place for a pint of antioxidants in the Euston locale, is the Euston Cider Tap. It’s a bright day, as I wonder through the towers and traffic of Euston. Oh look, there’s the BT tower!

The cider menu, chalked up on the back wall, lists what’s available today. I’m going to go for the Snails Bank, it’s still, medium, and I haven’t yet tried it. “Cash only bar” is painted on the counter in Tipp-Ex, so I pay my four quid, (Cheap for London), and head outside. It’s a Saturday afternoon, so still too early for the ravers to be out and there’s plenty of room outside. A nice day to sit and sup and breathe in the nitrous oxide from the Euston Road.

I take a pew amongst the reasonably civilised, still-sober cider drinkers, and see that my Snails Bank looks, by far, the most mental drink at the table – like a pint of thick, frothy piss. Everyone else is on pale, sugar water. Snails Bank is an opaque, dark orange colour, and though it’s supposed to be a still cider, it came out with a bit of head on it. Snails_Bank (3 of 4)

Snails Bank is a 5.2% cider, I’m expecting it to be rough and dry, but it tastes as caramel as it looks. Not too sweet, but it’s cider apples dipped in honey. Actually a very mild flavour, a smokey-sunshine taste. That’s my lungs fixed, then.

A shaven-headed Harley fan and his lady, sporting his-and-hers Harley jackets, cross the road towards us. Cider drinkers, I bet. They return to the tables with some proper-looking cider. I notice the chap next to me is reading “Suicide, a modern obsession“. I’ll recommend the barman give him a plastic glass next time, just in case.

Snail’s Bank website tells me that this is a Herefordshire cider. It’s called the Appley Dappley, which adds “the more contemporary Russet apple” to the blend. They’re aiming traditional ciders at modern tastes. I can see where they’re coming from and I’d recommend this as an easy drinking cider, if cider rookies can get past the initial shock of the colour. Snails Bank also make a keg cider, which they claim is made of pure pressed apple juice. I’d like to have a go on that!

Via my eavesdropping, I find out the Harley fan is down from the Midlands, to fix his sister’s curtain rail. A string of winos file past, asking for spare change. The suicidal gives them all a bit of change, he seems a kind man. Well I suppose he won’t need it where he’s going.

Snails_Bank (4 of 4)

The only printable bit of graffiti

I’m actually surprised by the mixture of drinkers at the Cider Tap, I expected there’s be more elderly, toothless men. However, now I have the taste for something stronger, something that might knock my teeth out. I’m about to go and ask what is the worst cider on the menu, when a bunch of young lovers arrive, which reminds me I’m old and alone, so I decide to leave it for another day. A quick visit to the unisex bog, before getting on the bus, offers several minutes of entertainment, in the form of insults, and advice. Most are not printable here.

Verdict: 4/5

Hoxton Cidersmiths Harry Masters Jersey

Some time ago, I reviewed the Interesting Cider, by Hoxton Cidersmiths. Though I gave it less than full marks, due to not being particularly interesting, the nice people at HC thanked me for the post, and graciously sent me samples of one of their other ciders, Harry Master’s Jersey.
Hoxton Cider

I’ve been waiting for a perfect moment to review these ciders, ideally somewhere in Hoxton. However, rather than sit in the rain on my own in Hoxton Square, surrounded by hipsters, I’m at a barbecue on a sunny day in London Fields. Don’t worry, barbecues are allowed in the dedicated barbecue area, complete with fire buckets and water, just in case your barbie turns into a raging inferno.

I’ve brought my last remaining bottle of Harrys, intending to take in the ambience of the hipster-filled park. I assumed London Fields would be a good compromise, but we know where assumptions get us. I’m a little disappointed that, apart from a punk in a shiny suit, carrying a bag of leeks, it seems to be more full of creative director dads and multifunction buggies than sockless wonders with trousers turned up beyond reason. Hipsters can no longer afford the rents round here. I expect Class War will pay a visit, chucking paint on the barbecue bins, before knobbing off to spend their Nat King down Top Shop and KFC, in support of the diversity of community.

Oh well, the lack of interesting characters does not have to detract from the enjoyment of a cider. Harry Masters is a 4.5% cider, made using somerset apples (Harry Master’s Jersey variety). This one is more of what I’d expect from a cider. It has more depth and  tannins, but is not too dry.

The Hoxton Cidersmiths do admit that they are not aiming to make a cider like ‘that scrumpy Grandad used to make’, and their market is the person who’s looking for an easy-drinking cider, but not bog-standard chain-pub fare. Well, Harry Masters ticks the boxes. Hoxton’s have partnered with Sheppy’s cider makers, to create something that is well on it’s way to being something Grandad would be proud of. I’d like to see it on draught. In Hoxton. Maybe it is, my turn-ups are too short to be allowed in.

Myself, we’ll I’d still like to meet their Grandad.

Verdict 3.5/5

Severn Scrumpy at The Euston Cider Tap

I’ve been set loose on a Thursday afternoon, with nothing better to do than sniff out a few good ciders. After seeking out The Euston Cider Tap, I’m deciding on the second of my five-a-day. In fact, there’s a lot of evidence that proper cider is high in easily-absorbable antioxidants. Enough of the science, let’s get on with it.

There’s now a few old dears inside, in pastel anoraks seemingly waiting for a train, while the bearded barman plays ‘The Ace of Severn ScrumpySpades’ at a safe level over the sound system. I opt for a traditional-sounding Severn Scrumpy. The beard offers me a taste – a sign that this one will certainly be something to write about. I decline the sample, and request to proceed, immediately,  with the immersive experience.

BOOM! It’s like drinking smoke machine liquid, (try Googling ‘fog juice’). Severn Scrumpy still bears enough sweetness and dryness to make it bearable, but this cider has spent a week at reading Festival, standing next to a bonfire, holding a milk jug full of scrumpy, while some hoodied crusty chucks pieces of smashed up guitar onto the fire.

I take another bite of the charred apple, it’s starting to burn my throat now. The 6.3% Gloucestershire cider is not for the faint-hearted, but a treacly taste shines through and draws me on, through the thick smoke of the dance floor. The old chap in the corner who raises his eyebrows every time I glance over, is waiting for his chum, who is tottering down the steep spiral staircase. I realise the toilets must be up there – probably not the safest toilet-route in a proper cider bar. I sit back and savour a cider that must certainly be difficult to find in these parts, and read about cider-making in French, while I wait for the nosebleed to arrive. Fouloir a vendanges….mmm…fog juice….

Verdict: 2.5/5 it’s an experience

Cider Crawl, North Central London. Episode 4: The Green Man

Green ManI’ve just escaped a gobshite with a beanie and a tape measure, and I’m on my way to The Green Man, with my ciderkick, on the historic, first ever recorded Cider Crawl®. The Green man is next on the hit list. It’s in Riding House Street and, on this Easter weekend, it’s like 28 Days Later round here. Apart from the odd crazy, there’s no one around. It’s quite nice, really – I manage to get to the bar straight away, without having to employ any of that ‘bar presence‘ stuff. Or telekinesis. Or violence.

Green Man BarThe Green Man used to be Paul McCartney‘s local when he was shacked up with that washing up liquid lady – the ginger one. I came in here a few years ago to show my dad, and it was characterless. Recently, it’s had a new lease of life as a cider pub! However, most of the ciders are keg ciders; Mortimers, Aspalls, and the like – the hard side of mainstream.

I see there’s a Rosie’s Pig. I do like an Old Rosie, so I request a pint of pig.Green man Ciders

It has s stuffy smell, like a dusty loft, and in The Green Man, seems to come with it’s own barfly. But at 4.8% it’s not too strong, and is rather sweet. In fact it’s becoming stickily sweet, like a dessert apple cider. But it’s not, it’s a Weston’s Herefordshire cider, named after and old truck that used to carry the Weston’s cider.

This normally bustling pub is very peaceful tonight. There’s more ciders than you could realistically get through in one night, which is great, but it’s lacking proper, dirty ciders straight out of the barrel. You won’t get many cider bumpkins round here though – this is the perfect cider pub for besuited office chaps and ladies who aren’t into lagers, but want to venture beyond the realms of Strongbow. I don’t know what my ciderkick got, but his cider tastes like washing day. He’s disappointed it’s been ‘played around with’. At least the flowers are real.

I whack the barfly away, and struggle to write, as it’s my fifth stop on this Cider Crawl®. That’s probably enough for one day. But there are plans for more. We drink up and slink off into the darkness

and end up in a karaoke bar.

Verdict: 3/5

Cider Crawl, North Central London. Episode 3: Euston Cider Tap

I’m making my way though Euston train station, on a cider crawl. This may be the first ever cider crawl, in fact, I’ll trade mark the term. I’m on a Cider Crawl® . I’m making my way through Euston Station, with a quick stop for my ciderkick to get some plasters – his new shoes are killing him. Always wear sensible shoes when out on an all-day lashing. You could even buy this sensible pair, called Marc.

The Euston Cider Tap is part of a pair of little pubs, housed within the old ticket offices of the first Euston station. I won’t describe it too much, as you can read more about it on this previous post. Go on, it’s quite good.Euston Cider tap

We arrive at the Tap at twilight, though that is of no significance to this post. We choose from the wide range of ciders chalked up on the blackboard. There’s more scrump in here than you can shake a Tom Putt at. I decide on the London Cider “Bushpig”, my ciderkick chooses the Twisted Cider “Misty“.

We translocate to one of the tall benches within the bar. the Bushpig, like its cuddly name, is fragrant, like apricots in summer picnic. I see the my ciderkick’s face turning at the taste of the misty. We make a swap and he’s much more content with the Bushpig. Unlike the summery cider, Misty feels more like a spicy winter drink. Like a weird winter candle scent, it’s dry, herby, coriander, tomato vine, mildew, burned stuff… I can’t quite put my.. I know! It’s like when, on bonfire night, your mam can’t afford a pumpkin, so you have to make a hallowe’en lantern with a  swede. Then it’s too small for the candle, so the top gets burnt. Misty tastes like that smell.

Euston Cider Tap InsideMisty is heavier on the nose than the Bushpig, which, despite its name, does not smell much at all. By heavier, I mean minging. There’s a lot going on in that mist. It’s made with all local (Dorset) apples, and the Twisted strapline is “Don’t get Wasted, get Twisted’. ‘Don’t get Pisseded’, would also rhyme.

It’s Good Friday, and it’s a bit quiet round these parts, but is surprisingly full in this cosy little bar. I observe the barman telling a punter what ciders are on offer. I hear an American accent in reply, ‘That doesn’t mean anything to me’. He asks for something apply, something sweet. Halves please. Another customer arrives, just down from Royston Vasey. He asks for anything weak. The barman points at me.

I think people are missing the point of The Cider Tap. Hanging around a bus station, drinking weak, sweet cider is what 14 year-olds do. If you come to the Tap, you really have to get into the spirit of things and try a proper pint. So, rather than watch a load of middle aged men looking like they’ve just tried an oyster for the first time, we drink up and knob off through the dim, drizzly Fitzrovian streets, heading towards our next Cider Crawl® target: Oxford Street and The Green Man.

Verdict: 5:5

A dedicated cider bar, in a disused ticket office outside Euston bus station? You couldn’t make this stuff up!