It used to be quite a challenge tracking down a well stocked real ale bar around Brixton, but Brixtonites are becoming positively spoiled these days, with the opening of a second real-ale bar, the Craft Beer Co in Brixton Station Road, SW9 on Friday.
In April this year, the Crown & Anchor in Brixton Road paved the way for south London ale lovers, opening up an ale-stuffed pub at 246 Brixton Road – see our feature here – so we were keen to see how this new place compared.
Opening up for business on the weekend, the Craft Beer Company Bar is situated in the premises formerly used by the Hive Bar, and offers a ground floor bar, a smaller upstairs ‘lounge’ and an outdoor drinking/smoking area.
It’s perfectly located for the pre-Academy crowd and I think it’s going to do very well out of that traffic. I also expect that it’s going to find favour with after-work quaffers and the increasing numbers of upwardly mobile types that are currently
infesting moving into Brixton.
The choice of beers on offer is truly formidable and has necessitated the construction of an unusual two tier pump arrangement.
We tried the tasty Leeds Best beer, the smooth Sunburst golden ale and the positively lethal Bracia which tasted more like a shot with its throat-warming 9.3% alcoholic punch.
The beer was all well looked after and the staff attentive but we have to say we didn’t feel inclined to stay very long.
The problem is that the place just isn’t very, well, ‘pub‘ like – which is rather strange seeing as the first thing you normally associate with real ale pubs is a warm, cosy and inviting atmosphere.
With its exposed floorboards, bare walls, large glass windows and high ceiling, it’s an incredibly noisy bar and we had to shout to hear each other over the sound of anecdote-swapping Bracia-laced drinkers and braying young professional types.
The austere vibe is accentuated by the dazzling neon sign that throws an unflattering cold light across the drinkers and gave the place the ambience of an airport lounge. The dimly lit room upstairs wasn’t much better either.
That said, I did like the stools which were neatly crafted from bicycle components (sadly you can’t actually spin the pedals) but the lack of comfortable seating is disappointing.
I think the biggest mistake they’ve made is wedging the bar – and all their staff – into a corner of the room. Pubs work much better when there’s a long bar to lean against, letting punters see what’s on offer and giving the chance for the bar staff to chat to customers.
It’s great that there’s more real ale choices being made available in Brixton – the more outlets for independent breweries the better as far as I’m concerned – but the general noise levels and overall coldness of the décor meant that despite the fantastic beers on offer, I don’t think the Craft Beer Co will be becoming my new local.
I do recommend that you give it a go though because there are some exceptional ales on offer.
The Craft Beer Co.
11-13 Brixton Station Road
Sun – Weds: 12:00 – 00:00
Thurs: 12:00 – 01:00
Fri – Sat: 12:00 – 03:00