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Goose Island Vintage Ale House (CLOSED)

Bars and pubs, Craft beer pubs Balham
4 out of 5 stars

Time Out says

4 out of 5 stars

A beery bar and restaurant from Chicago’s Goose Island Brewery.

Please note, Goose Island Vintage Ale House is now closed. Time Out London Editors, June 2018.

Balham’s Vintage Ale House seems to be in the throes of a minor identity crisis. That name – and the fact that it’s the first UK opening for Chicago’s Goose Island Brewery – implies that it’s one of those elaborate craft beer pubs they do so well across the pond. True, there are a few oversized bar tap ‘toppers’ like you see in the US (model goose heads and a teeny telephone), and a small list of hops-infused cocktails. But GI have erred on something a little more refined: a wood-clad, low-ceilinged, open-kitchened joint that’s more beer-led restaurant than late-night watering hole.

Food is the focus, and portions are very, er, American. And not smugly clean-eating west coast American either. Heart of the Midwest, ‘Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives’ American. A ‘starter’ of smoked short rib and blue cheese croquettes – intensely beefy, beautifully fried, slicked with sriracha mayo and the size of soap bars – was gigantic. Likewise a platter of chorizo-stuffed, bacon-wrapped dates with an exemplary romesco sauce. The same size, basically, as the house burger that followed: buttery rich, shot through with marrow and topped with taleggio. Chips here are chunky, crinkly (high five!) and clearly hand-cut. To finish: ‘Oh my! Caramel pie’. A light caramel cream/fudge slabbed onto a biscuit base with barley ice cream and honeycomb. It was utterly worth the frivolous punctuation.

Delicious? Sure. Cripplingly rich? Oh yes. Thank god for all that beer, then. A pint of 321 Urban Wheat Ale was insipid, but a ‘prestige’ flight of vintage Belgian-style ales – massively expensive by the wine-sized bottle, another nod to the non-boozehound nature of this place – was superb. Particularly killer was a tart, fruity glass of the brewery’s Lolita beer, aged in wine barrels. Drown me in sour beer. But first, bring me back here for more of those croquettes.


Address: 3 Ramsden Road
SW12 8QX
Transport: Tube: Balham
Price: Dinner for two with drinks and service: around £90.
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