A specialist beer house on a modest scale, Tapping the Admiral is also a delightful community pub rescued from oblivion with some tender loving care.
Originally the Trafalgar and once a Firkin brewpub, this corner local in residential streets a few steps from Kentish Town West Overground (and, as it happens, the Camden Town Brewery) spent a long time derelict, squatted and threatened with demolition before being resurrected in 2011 by the people who brought you the delightful Pineapple not far away. The current name, recalling a legend about Nelson’s body being brought from Trafalgar in a cask of brandy that was surreptitiously sipped by sailors, nods its head to the original while also signalling that this is now a contemporary establishment. The irregularly shaped drinking area inside is smallish but feels spacious, with clean and clear surfaces, big posters and plenty of warm wood finishes. Outdoors there’s a small and verdant beer garden.
Tapping the Admiral is already attracting a good following that mixes discerning locals with established real ale fans and new craft beer quaffers in a civilised environment fired by enthusiastic and knowledgeable staff – a powerful combination for pub success. There’s a Wednesday quiz and live music planned.
In common with the other pubs under the same ownership, Tapping the Admiral has opted for a well-priced and decent quality Thai menu, including lunch for £5 on weekdays. Bar snacks include retro curiosities like pickled eggs.
Beer is the main feature here and it’s extremely well presented by expert staff, especially favouring small and local brewers. There are eight handpumps, with Adnams Bitter the current regular, and beers from Dark Star and London brewers Brodies and Redemption are usually on offer. Guests might come from Butts, Camden Town, Meantime or small Welsh brewer Kingstone. Decent keg beers include König Pils and Köstritzer Schwarzbier from Germany besides Meantime London Lager and organic Scottish porter from Black Isle. A 14-strong list of bottled beers is mainly British and bottle conditioned, including rarities like Adnams’ barley wine Tally-Ho.
But the choice doesn’t stop at beer. There are four real ciders and perries and bottled stuff too – they’re planning a cider and perry festival as an alternative annual event to a beer festival. House liqueurs, infusions and pre-mixed cocktails handmade locally are an unusual and popular addition, and are complemented by a wider than usual choice of bourbons and rums. And there’s over a dozen well chosen wines, most available by the glass.
The Last Word
London’s new beer geek joints like Cask, Craft and BrewDog Camden may dazzle with their huge range of world beers, but places like Tapping the Admiral are a clear sign of the rude health of beer and pubs in London, taking pride in a top quality beer offer while still contriving to function as proper community locals. An admiral that deserves a thorough tapping.