Beer House (Paddington)
SECOND VISIT: SUNDAY 14 SEPTEMBER 2014
My train was ‘delayed’ so I decided to pop into this place and have a beer while keeping an eye on the train boards. The draught beer was unenticing – Meantime stuff or GK Noble or a £6 pint of 5AM Saint. I looked in the fridges and spotted nice neat rows of Camden Town Hells. In honour of my favourite beer writer, Matthew Curtis, I decided to buy a bottle. After much tapping at his EPOS, coupled with a look of mild anguish, the bartender told me that it was £5.05 a bottle but there was a special on which meant I could get two bottles for seven quid. I was on my own and didn’t really fancy two bottles but even though it meant spending an extra £1.95 it made more fiscal sense to get two bottles. I poured one of the bottles and had a few gulps. It was okay. It was arguably better than okay. It is certainly one of the better lagers that you can easily purchase in central London. I looked at the train boards and the ‘Delayed’ had changed to ‘On Time’. Fucking hell. I had five minutes to down two bottles of Hells then make it over to Platform 4. Obviously, I made it with a couple of minutes to spare.
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FIRST VISIT: THURSDAY 13 MARCH 2014
The Beer House is effectively a train station waiting room. But a train station waiting room that sells expensive beer. For a few years it was known as the Isambard and in those days the most exotic drink you could acquire was a pint of Guinness. Even then the beer was 50p more expensive per pint than Paddington station’s other pub, the Mad Bishop & Bear. The current incarnation sells Brooklyn Lager and 5AM Saint and a revolving selection of Meantime offerings. The rise in the quality of the beer range has also seen a rise in prices. You’ll be lucky if your pint comes furnished with any change from a fiver. Actually, you’ll probably have to hand over some coins with your crumpled blue note. A pint of 5AM Saint cost £5.60 (or it did back in May 2013 – it might have gone up!) Decor wise, the place is dark and uninspiring. There’s a big telly that usually shows the news or sport (sound down, subtitles on) and free wi-fi but other than that the place makes no real attempt to coax you to stick around for anything other a quick bite to eat and a swift pint or two. The toilets can only be accessed if you know the secret code. But the bar staff seem happy to give the code to people who have asked politely to use the loo but not actually bothered buying a drink. Despite the inflated prices and the fact that it has nothing to recommend it, I still enjoy having a beer or two in the Beer House. Probably because it’s dark. Like my heart.
I ordered a half of Meantime’s Smoked Porter, which I didn’t think was particularly smoked or porterish but it was decent enough. I also had a £2.00 pork pie, which looked like it was an Asda Smart Price Mini Pork Pie and had next to no flavour. The Colman’s mustard helped jazz it up. Pie dispatched and beer downed it was time to go as the 1536 to Cheltenham Spa (via Swindon) was departing in less than three minutes.