26 Wenlock Road
Wenlock Arms was another off-the-road, off-the-map pub but astounding in its selection of beer and uncommon ales delivered from around England.
It's a local place, but tourists came in as well, drawn in by the lure of rare ales and the 2004 CAMRA North London Award. At any given time, there are six cask ales on tap. On the night I came in, the pub featured Black Dog; Jolly Sailor; Aztec Gold; Adnams Bitter; Hammerpot, Meteor; and Hop Monster Sadler's. The selection changes daily and also included pub classics Carling, Guinness - but why stick to something you can have anywhere in London when you can try Lierman's Cherry Kriek (recommended by Bartender "Speedy" Tom). Some of the locals were more familiar with the selection than the bartenders were.
Nigel, craggy faced and somber, was relaxing with a pint of Jolly Sailor. "I try something different everytime. Today this? Is the Jolly Sailor." He gravely gave me an education about hop beer, bitters, milds and cider. I tried to pay attention, but another older bartender, a blond with a motherly bedraggled air (who declined to give her name or photo), started to bestow generous samplings of Aztec Gold (fruity with an eventual bitter aftertaste), Welsh County Cider (really dry), Jolly Sailor (bitter), cherry Kriek (delicious!) and Hop Monster's Sadlers. Nigel was getting more and more difficult to follow.
Doug, sitting in the corner, watched my struggle in beer education with bemusement. "I'm also drinking the Jolly Sailor." The pub also sold bottled beers, Schneider Weisse and Chiamy, to name a few. Other recommendations from Bartender Bernie [picture] was the Pictish Ginger Ale. I ended up liking Speedy Tom's cherry Kriek the best. Nigel watched my process and commented, "That stuff's good but at 6%, you don't know how strong it is until you pass out."
Caledonian Ale, Crouchvale's Brewers Gold, Jolly Sailor, Pitfield Golden, Welsh County Cider, East King Golding (EKG).