Dec 09

The FT Top 25 Pubs of the 00s No 13: Cask

FT + Pumpkin Publog4 comments • 1,215 views

Most of the pubs on this top 25 list have offered years’ worth of fond memories, but even so there’s always the chance for new discoveries. You have to sneak them in though sometimes, when your contingent of drinkers has visited the Doric just once too often in recent weeks and the area in question isn’t too difficult to escape from if necessary. Mentioning that you’ve just read about the place on a beer geek’s blog is probably not going to be much help in the matter. And quite apart from straying outside the comfort and convenience of London’s West End, you’re not usually going to be able to entice people to visit an estate pub.

Estate pubs, of course, occupy a special place in pub fandom. Being integrated into the fabric of a residential (often Council-built) estate makes them peculiarly close to the lives of the residents, and often makes for a more cosy and welcoming environment, if always with the danger of a hostile reception for outsiders. You never can quite be sure. Cask, which opened in mid-2009 as a renovation of the old Pimlico Tram, is classic estate pub from the outside: dark and forbidding, squirreled away at the foot of a fairly ugly post-war residential block. However, inside the space has been opened out, with light streaming in from large windows at the right of the pub, the walls painted brightly and decorated with maps, and plentiful cushions lining the benches.

This in itself could be the prelude to some hideous gastro-pretentious makeover (the place is worryingly called “Cask Pub & Kitchen”, and the particular shade of green adorning the walls isn’t exactly comforting), but where Cask excels is in the range and quality of beers they offer. Five handpulls which offer dependable and ever-changing stand-bys like Dark Star ales and the Everard’s Tiger which provided our group sustenance all night on our first visit. Add to this a vast range of German and Belgian bottled beers, and a few ciders, and you’ve got… well, something that’s starting to sound like ad copy, but I’m trying to get across that this is a good pub in the hinterlands of Zone 1.

I use the word “hinterlands” advisedly, as of course it’s not so far from civilisation (aside from the tube station, the pub’s not exactly a stretch of a walk from Victoria), but somehow Pimlico remains a corner of central London which just seems cut off, a quality exploited by Ealing Studios in its 1949 comedy Passport to Pimlico. Perhaps this is due to its primarily residential character (rare enough in central London), or perhaps because it’s physically cut off by the train lines into Victoria, but then perhaps it’s just because those of us who go out drinking can’t reach our homes so easily from there.

Therefore, the fact it shows up on this list is a sign that the pub is getting something right, and it’s why we’ll be finishing up there on our annual pub crawl this year.

(Cask on Fancyapint.)


  1. 1
    Pete Baran on 30 Dec 2009 #

    Well we would have if it wasn’t shut.

    Ah well, it was only shut for Christmas, I wuv The Cask, and I am sure it will see us in 2010. I want one of its Club Sandwiches wiches looks like a crab.

  2. 2
    Nicholas Bennett on 30 Dec 2009 #

    Although Passport to Pimlico was actually filmed on South Lambeth Road near the Imperial War Museum in Kennington.

  3. 3
    Matt DC on 30 Dec 2009 #

    I actually really like the building that the Cask is in, it’s a good shape. I may be alone in this.

  4. 4
    Ewan on 31 Dec 2009 #

    Yes, I was unfair to the architecture. It compares favourably to many other estate pubs…

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