The Rake

17 Mar

Borough Market. South London. Situated just before the famous disappointment of London Bridge not being Tower Bridge, or any bridge of note unless someone is exercising their right to drive sheep across it (that’s another story). Apparently, markets have existed in this area since 1014 and in this particular location since the 13th century. I’ve watched Borough Market go through a bit of a transformation in recent(ish) years. Much of it exceptional and bits of it a little disappointing.

Over the years I’ve frequented the market and enjoyed proper nice food innit! That goes without saying. The pubs that served the market directly used to be the Globe, the Wheatsheaf, the Southwark Tavern and the Market Porter.  More recently, the microbrewery Brew Wharf and the Rake have been added to the list. The whole area is great for beers and great for food. Each has its own claim to fame.

Last night I went to Borough Market for a drink, which I occasionally do. I went to the old favourite the Market Porter and the newish kid on the block, the Rake. About 10 years ago the Market Porter was possibly the only pub in London where you could get 12 cask microbrewed ales always on, always changing. It was a beer Mecca. One of my personal favourite memories of this pub was discovering dark mild. I ordered a pint of Highgate Dark Mild (or was it Archer’s, can’t remember which came first), stood outside and watched a load of morris dancing women prance about with leeks in their hands for the best part of half an hour. Priceless. The mild was a revelation and the dancing won a place in my heart forever, sort of. Recently, I’ve not really enjoyed my trips to the Porter, the beer isn’t always as good as I remember it, the service isn’t as spot on as it once was and there are just not enough quiet times. Last night, there was no mild, no porter, no stout. I chose a bitter I can’t remember the name of from a Bristol brewery, which was just ok, so I left a little more than disappointed.

The Rake is a place I should love. It probably has a couple of hundred beers in its fridges and more unusual beers from Europe and the US on keg as well as about 3 changing cask ales. Great. I was so excited when this opened in 2006. I went along to enjoy the ridiculously priced rare beers from all around the world, and did enjoy them but not where I was drinking them. Still, I persevered, returned and tried to enjoy it again only to be met with slightly arrogant service and uninspiring surroundings. Great as the beers are, I just can’t warm to the place. Last night was no different, although the staff were OK on this occasion.

Do I really need to go for a drink in these pubs/bars any more? So many other places have caught on to the fact that beer choice is a selling point now and are more comfortable and friendly to boot. Do I really want that 10.2% American Superhopped Sherbert Brew enough to go and drink it in a place which I don’t like very much? Truth be told, the lure of all that fine produce will probably suck me into the market again, and we all need a beer when we’re shopping don’t we?

In the Rake, I had something not worth mentioning, Odell’s Crimson Stout 5% (Keg), which was quite nice, and a bottle of Flying Dog Porter 6% (bottle), which grew on me as I drank it, they way I like them. I think I liked it more than others seem to have. 

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