Beer Blog

Is this the best Wildlife pub in London? The Queens Head, Acton Street, WC1.

Me at WembleySo keen were we to get in the The Queens Head we were sat there at five to twelve waiting for the doors to open. Once in it didn’t take long for the pub to start to fill up. I know there were 80,000 RL fans down to watch the Rugby League Challenge Cup, but London is a big place and I didn’t think there would be any other RL fans in. I was mistaken, because after ten minutes we were engaged in good humoured banter with a group of lads from ‘Fax, replete in team colours. This is the best thing about RL, you can have a laugh, friendly rivalry and wear your colours, wherever you go, even if you are sat in the middle of the opposing supporters end. It was the same story last year when we went to The Rake and found it full of Castleford fans; ‘A mate told us it was really good beer and you don’t get that down here much.’ I didn’t know there was anyone from Cas’ who knew that Borough Market existed, let alone where it was?

The Queens Head is a typical London, mid terrace, single front, long and thin, one room, bar on the left as you walk in, sort of pub. I think there’s a survey to be done on which side the bar is on in these Victorian pubs. I think the sinister side would win for dexterical reasons? As well as us RL followers there were some beer tickers, the ubiquitous (in London) I can shout louder and sound posher than you types, and some locals, having some sort of community meeting. Quick, better get it listed as an ACV!

Retrospectively I shouldn’t have stood in the door of the gents and shouted to my son, ‘Get in here quick and have a look at this!’ In the diverse metropolis that is our capital, no one seemed to bat an eye lid as my bearded, six and half foot, twenty something son joined me in the gents. I pointed up at the reinforced glass skylight in the roof. Framed by the overhanging foliage was the outline of a fox cub. We watched while Reynard stretched and shuffled. He couldn’t see us, but like when women instinctively know to adjust their clothing, he sensed us watching, so he slowly stood up and slinked off.

I’d read the accolades about The Queens Head and was surprised they only had three cask ales on and maybe twice as many keg lines, plus some decent cider and a lengthy bottle list. I decided to pay the premium for a half of The Kernel IPA  (Simcoe, Columbus), I’ve never had anything bad from these people, although they are usually expensive they’re worth paying for so I had another one. I also tried half of Stone & Wood, Pacific ale, Untappd said it was a typical Ozzie brew, strewth, I didn’t know they went in for as much fruitiness down under – pleasant, but a bit thin after The Kernel; shouldn’t have had the strong one first, on reflection.

While I played the field a little my conservative son stuck on the cask ale. Springhead brewery beers were on two pumps; Robin Hood & Outlawed. He declared the Robin Hood to be really good and totally different to the last pint he drank a few weeks ago (which he liked). So, I had a taste of the bitter and then another and then a pint and then one of the Outlawed golden ale. Both were out and out, by far the best beers that I had tasted for a long time. To adopt CAMRA’s beer scoring criteria, they were both a 5 – Probably the best you are ever likely to find. A seasoned drinker will award this score very rarely. The few times I have had beer as good and as fresh as this was either in a brewery, at a beer festival (that I’ve set up) the night before it opened or in my old man’s pub years ago. It was almost a shame that kick off time loomed and we had to make our way across town to Wembley. I’m back next week for the England game and The Queens Head will be the first calling point after alighting at Kings Cross, it’s literally five minutes walk from the station. I honestly can’t wait.

Unfortunately, while I waxed lyrical about the quality and condition of the ale, I overlooked the need for a few photos, but you’ve all seen a photo of a pub before so you’ll have to content yourselves with one of me at Wembley.

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