Set up by beer traders Utobeer and tucked behind Borough Market, The Rake prides itself on one thing and one thing alone: its huge selection of independent beers.
The Rake is easy to miss, as its sign is low key and at a casual glance it more closely resembles a brightly lit front room than a traditional pub. Calling it tiny is not an exaggeration - the main room has bar stools and high tables for about ten people and the walls are decked with posters for exotic beers from around the world. There’s also a heated, decking-covered garden, although smokers are banished to the street when the ‘jumbrella’ (a massive umbrella) is up.
If you’re anticipating the stereotypical CAMRA type then you might be surprised – on a recent visit there wasn’t a beard in sight and no-one had brought their personal tankard along. In fact, the clientele is more likely to be made up of professional types living or working locally. Although the pub is only a couple of streets away from the legion of pubs around London Bridge station, there seems to be little passing trade and certainly the vibe is more relaxed and less hectic than what’s going on in Borough High Street. Come here for a catch up during the week, but expect to stand and raise your voice a bit at weekends, when its diminutive size means it can get somewhat swamped.
Don’t walk in an order a pint of Foster’s unless you’re trying to wind up the staff - chances are you won’t have heard of many of the 160-plus beers on offer, so be prepared to ask for some advice. That said, staff can sometimes come across as gleefully aloof and, if you’re not careful, this can lead to an order of a very expensive beer or one that’s got a potent ABV. A pint of Infrared, weighing in at a relatively wimpy 6.2%, goes down beautifully, it is evidently well kept and it comes blessed with some slightly psychedelic after-effects The hefty £4.50 price tag is just about justified.
The Last Word
The Rake certainly isn’t for everyone. If you’re the kind of person who gets wound up by the geekier end of the beer market then definitely avoid it. But if the quality and diversity of the beer on offer is top of your agenda then there’s no question, you will love it.