As real ale and craft beer continues to flourish in the capital, winning new fans everywhere from Dalston to Deptford and Hammersmith to Highgate, the people behind one of the long-standing favourites among seasoned ale drinkers, the Bree Louise pub in Euston, have opened up this new outpost in W6, bringing hard to find ale and obscure bottled beer to Fuller’s backyard.
With Fuller’s brewery nestled down against the Thames some 20-minute walk from this pub, it’s unsurprising that a lot of pumps in the area offer the Fuller’s range, with one of two ales from the likes of Sharp’s, St Austell or Young’s the usual alternatives. Notable exceptions are the The Swan, a Nicholson’s pub in Hammersmith, the Defectors Weld in Shepherd’s Bush, and The Tabard just down the road from here by Turnham Green. The Duchess of Cambridge is a game-changer for the area as it has nine gravity pouring metal casks behind the bar, offering limited edition brews from micro-breweries and ales from more established names, plus a huge selection of beers from around the world in bottles.
The venue itself is an imposing sight on the corner of Goldhawk and Stamford Brook Road. It’s a spot that looks like a good location but has actually had a fair amount of failed ventures previously. The new owners have kept things simple with a lick of paint, a new name (one that surely pays tribute to this year’s royal wedding) and some comfy leather furnishings. Retro beer posters are dotted around the walls and it’s a big old space that’s split in to two: one side offers squishy sofas and the service area for the bar; the other provides a couple of window-side booths plus wooden tables and chairs for larger groups. Gaping windows allow natural light to flood in and confirm an easy way to get to the pub: the 94 bus stops right outside. In addition there’s an open fire at one end for colder months, and an outdoor terrace at the other end for smokers or warmer weather.
This is a nice part of town where Hammersmith blurs into Chiswick and, as a result, there’s a fair amount of families with children in tow – especially during the day. Older couples, thirtysomething friends chewing the fat and young professionals are also present. Once word spreads expect curious beer aficionados from the capital’s beer trail to also seek it out.
The menu is made up of traditional pub offerings like fish and chips, burgers, and pie and mash. Prices are cheap for the area with most of the dishes under the £10 mark, but the quality needs to improve as demonstrated by the pork belly: it’s dry and has an anaemic colour without any sign of crispy crackling. Much more enjoyable is the cheese board – it’s great value (£8.50 for two people, including a selection of three types of cheese from a list, plus biscuits, grapes and quince jelly) and the cheddar, Shropshire Blue and blue brie are all of very good quality. Overall, the food offering is a work in progress.
The unique selling point for this pub is most definitely the beer and cider; it has the best selection for miles around. A recent visit provided options like Twickenham Ladies, Adnams New Zealand IPA, Windsor and Eton’s Knight of the Garter and a very rare chance to sample a limited edition IPA from the London Brewers Alliance, one of only a handful of casks distributed around the capital. All the options are scribbled on blackboards with their strength and price tag, which are based on the strength of the brew. Pints cost £3-£4, not cheap but fairly standard for the area, and you’re encouraged to try little tasters before you make your mind up. Cider drinkers are also spoilt for choice with around ten options including tipples from Black Rat, Millwhites and Orchard Pig. Bottled beers continue to impress: Delirium Tremens and Bruges Zot from Belgium join the likes of Little Creatures Pale Ale from Western Australia.
The Last Word
With the capital’s thirst for real ale seemingly becoming unquenchable, the Duchess of Cambridge is a significant opening for ale-loving west Londoners and anyone who follows the capital’s beer trail. A very welcome addition to the area.