Following the joyous spectacle of Kate and William’s wedding last year, the owners of the Bree Louise in St Pancras swelled with pride, bought the former Pacific Bar on Goldhawk Road and renamed it after the nation’s favourite new royal (gawd bless ’er). The Bree Louise is known as one of the best places in London to drink the sort of real ale beloved of Camra note-takers; the Duchess too takes its beer seriously, although it’s a much more comfortable and even family-friendly pub.
Making full use of the space the inner suburbs allow, it’s a large, two-roomed place with spaced-out tables and many sofas for parents to lounge on reading the Sunday papers. Food’s on offer – Sunday roasts, homemade bar snacks, a hefty pie menu and another of pub standards – fish and chips, burger, sausage and mash.
But at heart it’s a drinker’s pub. Behind the bar, a stillage supports nine barrels of cask ale, which are all served as nature intended – no pump, less chilling than through a more common cellar chiller. It’s this serving method that gained the English their reputation for favouring warm beer, and it’s not for everyone. If you’re used to a bit of froth and a refreshing chill to your pint, there are six on tap as well. (Given that it was Six Nations season, and it’s that sort of place, I scoured the labels for something like a ‘Dirty Tackle’ ale, a ‘Joy of Six’ or a ‘Happy Hooker’. There it is! Welton’s ‘Oddly Shaped Balls’). There are also nine ciders served in similar fashion, and there is, we’re told, a microbrewery opening on the site to supply the pub with own-made beer.
The draught is backed up by a bottled beer list which skips around the world before lingering in Belgium. If there was any logic to its layout, though, it confounded me. A few subheadings would make selection much easier. But there are rich pickings within it – staff are keen to recommend and offer tasters of draught beerw. The whisky selection is great, and the rest of the gantry is loaded with spirits. A smart outdoor area and regular events (comedy, live music, quiz) make the prospect more appealing.
It will no doubt win plaudits from London’s serious real ale guzzlers, and it’s good to see a neighbourhood pub owned and operated independently. It’s reliable, traditional and appeals to everyone – just as duchesses are supposed to.