Postcard from the Road: Craft Beers at London’s Borough Market

The Rake London

The weather has been positively glorious here in London, from the moment I touched down a week ago until my departure this afternoon. Blue skies pocked with only an occasional spot of clouds, warm sunshine, light summer breezes–it all makes for an occurrence about as common as a British national winning Wimbledon (nice one, Andy Murray). Of course, the weather hounds that are the British wouldn’t be British if the warm weather didn’t come with some grumbling.

“Have you been outside yet today? Yeah, it’s quite lovely, but a bit boiling though, isn’t it?” – My hotel receptionist, commenting on temperatures that had tipped 80 degrees.

“Aw, yeah, gorgeous out there, brilliant… ‘course I’m sure it’ll be shitty again any day now.” – Owner of Islington’s new craft beer bar The Taproom

I truly do love the Brits’ dry sense of humor and outlook on life.

It’s been nearly eight years (!) since my last visit to London, and for various reasons I think this trip will go down as the one in which I fell in love with the city. One reason? I’m reminded of the kindred spirits here who enjoy a good pint or three or four. Everybody drinks — or at least it sure seems like it. Still, as the narrator pronounced on an episode of Boozed Up Brits Abroad on the tube the other night, “The British are actually not the heaviest drinkers in Europe–we’re third, behind the Irish and Finns.” Well done, Britain.

I’ll be dishing on a few of my favorite pubs and watering holes discovered this time around in London in the coming weeks, but one to quickly recommend is The Rake, a small, ramshackle little pub located in the Jubilee Parking Lot, behind the lovely Borough Market. Open since the fall of 2006, The Rake offers seven taps pouring a well-curated selection of local and international craft beers (“No crap on tap”), including three reserved for cask-conditioned ales. Today I enjoyed a delicious Flemish-style sour ale from Grand Cru with lunch, while the other day I splurged on a Russian Imperial Stout from award-winning American microbrewers Rogue; in other words, expect beers not found in London’s everyday corner pub.

There’s also a fantastic bottle selection here, but it’s the taps that make this modest little space stand out. A small outdoor deck is perfect for sunny afternoons like the ones London has been blessed with as of late, and the bar offers free Wi-Fi to boot. Prices are reasonable, though you’ll pay slightly more for your fancy Rogues, Grand Crus, etc. The Rake has a sister shop, Uto Beer, located within Borough Market that has an even larger bottle selection–both venues are well worth scoping out (as, of course, is the market).

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