Forget the anthem ‘Land of Hope and Glory’: this sounds much more appealing. It’s a new name for an old boozer at the Essex end of Essex Road. Until December 2012 it was known as the George Orwell, a tribute to the writer who lived nearby in Canonbury. There’s no record of him actually drinking here, but he did enjoy a pint, so you never know.
Also, it does fulfil several of the requirements for the perfect pub, as laid out in Orwell’s famous ‘Moon Under Water’ essay. It’s two minutes from a bus stop (Ockendon Road), there’s a garden, and the architecture and fittings are ‘uncompromisingly Victorian’. He might not have approved of the piano (though it remained unplayed) and there isn’t a ‘ladies’ bar’.
But plenty of Londoners will approve, as the Hops & Glory is full of the sort of things that make pubs good. Buffed-leather sofas, a big mirror behind the bar, candles. A blackboard lists the current selection of 13 beers on tap and 60 in bottle, and a fine selection it is. London brews get a good look-in, which is always welcome: a pint of the limited-release Camden Cavalier was particularly well received. Hops & Glory joins the Craft Beer Co, the Earl of Essex and the Railway Tavern in what’s becoming a neat little ale trail through Islington.
To eat, there are boards of meat, cheese and pickles, and toasties – but this being Islington, they’re filled with the likes of Spanish jamón and artisan cheddar.