Well, the simple answer is, it hasn’t been done well enough…yet. Not for Jonno and my standards anyway. It all comes down to passion. We’re passionate about the best pubs in London, and we enjoy telling our mates, their mates and their mates’ mates about them. And family too.
Sure, there are plenty of pub websites, and a couple of pub crawl sites, but most are the university-get-drunk-fall-over-do-it-all-again-at-the-next-pub type of crawls. You know the ones I mean, 30-40 people crowding in to 10-15 pubs. You aren’t there to appreciate the ambiance, the history of the pub, let alone real beer (i.e. ales) – no, they are there to get shit-faced, and as quickly as possible. I admit, I partook in a few of these in my hazy uni days, but now I am more “mature”, let’s say and I appreciate the finer things in life. Ale being one of those.
And like a good wine, there are good ales – and pubs for that matter. So, why did Jonno and I decide to traipse through more than 500 London pubs in the summer of 2010, when we could have been rolling the arm over a few more times to the Australian cricket team in the nets, in readiness for The Ashes?
Pride and passion my friends. We have both had our share of family and friends lobbing in to London and emailing or calling and saying “we’re staying near XYZ Tube, what’s a great British pub I can visit to soak up the vibe?” All the while, in the back of your mind, you shudder to yourself “please, dear god – don’t let them wander aimlessly into a Wetherspoons before I speak!!” (now, don’t get me wrong – Whetherspoons have their place in the pub eco-system. They provide good beer at a tremendous price but we feel the corporate image and sports entertainment focus of the pubs, except for a few – like The Kinghts Templar near Fleet Street – don’t represent the full and rich tapestry of English and pub history as available in some of London’s finest pubs.)
It’s moments like these, if your synapses fail you - as a die-hard pub-lover - you wander the streets of London quietly haunting the words “why didn’t I say Ye Olde Mitre!? What’s wrong with the Jerasulam Tavern? You idiot, you forgot The Lamb – The Lamb!!!” Yes, we love our pubs (and our Lamb!) and we take pride in them.
To give you a visual of how passionate we are, let me recount one of my “500 experiences” with Jonno (and this happened on many, many occasions). Generally, this is how we’d go about our work to whittle down the pubs to the ones we want to put our name to:
- Jonno would research a route, somewhere near a well-known Tube usually;
- He’d do the “recon” (short for ”reconnaissance”) during the day, on the Boris Bike or Shanks pony (walking);
- After work I’d cycle over on my Genesis Flyer and we’d narrow down the last 5-6 pubs on a 4-pub route; and
- We’d complete the “route map” in the last pub.
Occasionally, I’d be blessed with the opportunity to join Jonno on his “recon”. The passion about pubs I witnessed on several occasions says it all (as to why we’re doing this). He’d take 1 foot into some pubs, spin around, burst out the door blasting out explitives over fruit machines, TVs or no real ales – doors still flapping! Meanwhile, I am quietly unlocking my bike to move on to the next pub (a couple of alley cats have jumped into the Regent’s Canal by this stage).
At least we got through the 500 London pubs pretty quickly.
The crux is, we don’t want any family or friend coming to London and ending up with a less than great pub experience. Even with more than 7,000 pubs in London it takes a local to know the best of that bunch. We feel there are far too many sites out there at the moment that deal in “quantity” of pubs over “quality”, so we decided to do something about it.
We hope you enjoy our site and the services it offers. And may you only visit a pub we love (or like)…