PINT TO PINT

The Maw­son Arms, Lon­don W4

The Sunday Telegraph - Sunday - - The Sunday Cook -

Si­mon Grif­fiths glances out of the front win­dow be­fore re­mark­ing: “We prob­a­bly have more peo­ple go­ing past this place than any pub in the world.”

Very few of those passers-by are in a po­si­tion to stop off for a pint. Be­yond the nar­row strip of Maw­son Lane lies the A4. All six lanes of it. Quite a con­trast, it must be said, with a stun­ning stretch of the Thames which runs past some 300 yards or so to the rear of this Grade II* listed pub.

Be­tween river and road stands Fuller, Smith and Turner’s brew­ery, that longflow­ing source of Lon­don Pride.

Si­mon is the deputy man­ager of the Maw­son Arms and the main “fella in the cel­lar”. He’s charged with en­sur­ing that fine pints keep flow­ing in this long­stand­ing tap. Brew­ery ex­ec­u­tives can call in at any time. So can brew­ery tours.

Hav­ing seen off a pint of Pride with some rel­ish, I’ve set­tled on Oliver’s Is­land. Yes, it’s named af­ter the nearby nine-acre clump of trees and, no, it tastes noth­ing like the river wa­ter that laps around it.

Slightly darker than most golden ales, its cit­rusy af­ter­taste lingers – a splen­did ac­com­pa­ni­ment to my chicken breast and pota­toes with chorizo but­ter from a menu best de­scribed as “pubby” with a few twists.

A well-pol­ished floor of dark, gleam­ing boards seems to stretch into the mid­dledis­tance. But then there were two pubs on this site at one time. The other was called the Fox and Hounds. In­deed there’s still a sign out­side with a hunts­man rid­ing through rus­tic scenery.

The one I’m in to­day was named af­ter Thomas Maw­son, who was brew­ing here long be­fore Messrs Fuller, Smith and Turner came to­gether in 1845. Whitepan­elled walls are strewn with paint­ings, pho­tographs, old ad­verts and much else.

Among them is a print of Hog­a­rth’s Gin Lane, an­other Lon­don by­way where mo­bil­ity was as im­peded as traf­fic on the A4 in the rush hour, al­beit for a very dif­fer­ent rea­son.

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