In a dimly lit room, the wooden floor creaks and a fire crackles in the corner fireplace as a business-mannered bartender fills dimpled glass mugs with tepid cask ale. This is the scene in a typical London pub – and could accurately describe any one of the thousands of pubs in the city (yes, thousands). Classic pubs are a staple in London; a throwback to a bygone era that remains oddly fashionable in the present-day metropolis. (Read about our Classic Pub Crawl along the River Thames.) However, there is an alternative beer scene brewing in London: small craft breweries are opening throughout the city for microbrew consumption. Differentiating themselves from characteristic London pubs, the small batch breweries are often informal and industrial. Determined to get a good taste of the burgeoning scene, we joined hipsters and beer lovers for a self-guided London Craft Beer Crawl on the Bermondsey Beer Mile.
The Parliament House of Victoria is on the east end of Melbourne’s Central Business District in an area that is rich in history and densely occupied by bars. Coincidence? We think not. Putting ourselves in the shoes of a politician, we first toured Parliament House and then walked a path to various pubs that we think politicians may have ventured into over the years. Pubs, no doubt, have historically been used by politicians to make back bar deals, capitalize on their position of power and discuss the differences of political regimes. Combining a Melbourne Parliament tour and a politician pub crawl just made logical sense!
Fitzroy is a neighborhood northeast of Melbourne’s Central Business District that has been around since 1839. It has some of the best preserved Victorian-era architecture in the city and a dizzying number of bars. A leisurely walk from the city or a quick ride on the tram puts this area within easy reach for visitors. There are no shortage of Fitzroy pubs to pop into along Brunswick, the main thoroughfare, and we found our way into our fair share.
Basing our preference on pubs to clubs, acoustic music to screaming bands and friendly to fake, we made a short list of our three favorite Fitzroy pubs, each with its own distinct style. And, while that previous sentence might make us sound pretty damn old, we still enjoy a good pub crawl…and Fitzroy is a fine neighborhood for one, for sure.
Of all the things to do in London, visiting at least a few classic pubs was high on our list. Dark interiors, wooden bars and cask ales are as much of a part of London as sights like Big Ben and Westminster Abbey. The favorable spring weather encouraged us to seek spots that offered outdoor seating and a view, which led us to the pubs along the River Thames. We quickly learned that many of the pubs are owned by one of two chains, which we usually steer away from. But, in this case, the locations won us over. Our River Thames Pub Crawl was done over a six-day span and, although it could be done in one day, it would have surely resulted in a severe hangover and an empty wallet.