Monday, 28 July 2014

Mother Kelly's, Bethnal Green


























Like beer, a good bar or pub needs good quality ingredients in just the right balance in order to be a success. Good food and drink is arguably the most important of these, great service is of course essential as is cleanliness. No one in their right mind appreciates putting their elbows on sticky tables or holding their nose whilst side-stepping pools of urine on their way to relieve themselves. There's another element though that's far more difficult to achieve. Some pubs have it, some don't and then there are those rare places that have it in spades. I'm talking about vibe.

There are a handful of pubs in the world that have this magical balance of which I speak. Pub vibe is akin to the perfect dry-hopping regime, that injection of unicorn power that makes a beer like Pliny the Elder one of the best in its class. North Bar in Leeds has it as does 't Brugs Beertjes in Bruges and on the other side of the pond I've so far found no better than the Mayor of Old Town in Fort Collins, Colorado. Sadly, in London I've not yet found a place that quite has that essence, that pull that makes me want to empty my wallet and waste my hours descending slowly into drunken bliss, until now that is.



It's easy to get lost in the short distance between the exit of Bethnal Green Underground station and Mother Kelly's Beer and Bottle Shop but once you've located the narrow, cobbled Paradise Row you're only metres away. Soon you're presented with several freshly renovated and for now mostly uninhabited retail spaces beneath a railway arch. There's no huge neon sign (although perhaps there should be) to indicate you've arrived at your destination, just some subtle branding frosted onto the glass of a doorway that's been invitingly flung wide open.

Picnic tables are laid out on a generously sized outdoor space and as you step inside your feet find wooden floorboards which add a softness to the urban surroundings. There are similar tables inside with chairs that look like they've been teleported from a 1970's classroom and right at the front are old oak barrels turned upright and surrounded by tall stools which are ideal for smaller parties. It's not the modest furnishings that your eyes are drawn to though as on your left are 6 huge fridges, gleaming with the multicoloured labels of beers from around the world and on top of these sit the kind of Belgian beer crates you wish you had at home for storing your own stash. 





When you finally reach the bar at the back of the arch you're confronted by 23 minimalist taps. Cask is omitted from the selection which doesn't bother me personally and with at least 19 draught beers and ciders plus what must be a selection of at least 150 different bottles there's definitely something here for everyone, wine and spirit fans included. Even the selection of soft drinks from amongst others London's Square Root is well thought out. The taps are mostly dedicated to British breweries such as Magic Rock, Weird Beard and Siren but you also see some gems from overseas such as Evil Twin Falco IPA and rarities such as Schlenkerla Urbock. The bottles (and cans) available range from locals like Beavertown and Kernel right through to foreign gems from Cantillon, Schneider and Flying Dog, in fact on each of my visits I have struggled to find a genre of beer that has been poorly represented. 

All of this is to be expected in any good pub but it's the little touches that push Mother Kelly's into the premier league. The staff are friendly and knowledgable as should be expected. Each table has a small flower arrangement next to which is a bottle of sparkling water (they carbonate it in house) and a stack of tumblers. Giving customers water without them having to ask for it is something far more pubs that sell very strong beer need to do. There's no kitchen but they still manage to prepare plates of fine cheese, charcuterie and fabulous pork pies. The unisex toilets are not only immaculate but the taps are the same as those behind the bar, a lovely little touch. They're not just a sit in pub either, a hefty discount is available for take out which is just another reason for you to keep going back. 

I've visited Mother Kelly's in the daytime when it's quiet and lazy and in the evening when it's lively and energetic and I love it when it's in both of these states. The bright graffitied mural of a New York street on the wall opposite the fridges almost evokes the feel of the Brooklyn craft beer scene and with London's East End being similar in vibe to the New York borough this feels appropriate. On my most recent visit I ordered a bottle of Cantillon Iris, the fresh hopped version of their Gueuze and asked for four glasses. When the server disappeared into the back and returned with four branded Cantillon tumblers I was taken back, this represented that x factor that makes this pub a truly excellent place to be. Long may it continue to be just so.


22 comments:

  1. I can't remember the last time I was given a Cantillon glass in a London pub.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Well you know where you need to go then!

      Delete
  2. A great piece of writing on a fantastic beer venue Matt. Kudos.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Sounds like a really fab place. Great work

    ReplyDelete
  4. Another place to visit when I'm in London for LBC week.. I'd been hearing various good reports about Mother Kelly's on Twitter, but this has made me sure that I'll adore it. Nice post, and lovely photos as usual.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Rowan, let's meet for a beer when you're in town.

      Delete
    2. I liked it too. Not as much as you mind, but that's fine. http://tandlemanbeerblog.blogspot.co.uk/2014/06/just-off-bethnal-green-rd.html

      Delete
    3. I guess I'm part of their target market T ;)

      Delete
  5. Of course. I'm with the whippets and flat caps. At least I can exercise my hobby of raising the average age in these bars by at least ten years.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Nonsense, in fact from my experience MK's has a slightly more mature average customer than your average 'craft' bar. Sign that the scene is growing up a bit.

      Delete
  6. I read brewery and brewer made money out of that beer! O how I laughed! If they did it wouldn't be much more than the price of a pint per cask, I recently had mcspoons asking to buy my beers, when I saw their pricing formula I told them to walk away using short jerky movements, & don't come to darken my door again, there is a good reason beers a good price in wetherspoons, & it's because they pay bugger all for it. I have noticed that the general quality (taste, usually a very harsh bitterness) changes with breweries who supply a lot of spoons outlets, I'm assuming it's because they use tinned alpha as opposed to hops, in order to try and make money out of the very little spoons pay. A brewer doesn't get fat on spoons, & they prey on the fact that some micros need to shift x casks per week to survive in a very competitive wholesale market place. I belive that this will be the detriment of many uk microbreweries in the future, & don't think CAMRA should be working so closely with their endorsement of JDW as it skews all their current saving pubs etc campaigns, spoons pay on average around £20 a cask less than the pubs around them, how can a small pub compete on price? By holding out on brewers and buying the cheapest on the market, this is in turn driving wholesale prices towards below cost selling by many. It's something that cannot carry on and will in turn make many many breweries close forever. Spoons are only good for spoons, I read their 6monthly profits were in the region of £36million, take into consideration that a brewer such as MCBCUK won't be making that much pretax on a 12monthly return & you will get a better idea where the value is.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Looks like you caught the same Mother Kelly bug as me! I loved it... even posted about it on my blog a few months back ... www.thehalfpintgentleman.wordpress.com hope you enjoy it like i enjoyed your post!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks! Yes I love it here, can't wait to go back.

      Delete
  8. hello blogger,i really appreciate your highly thought about this matter through your post.Obviously your post is very informative.If you update your Social account, please visit buy facebook likes
    For facebook Service.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Greetings dear,many many thanks for sharing such wonderful information with us.I am eagerly waiting for your next post.Kindly please visit buy real facebook likes
    site for social information.

    ReplyDelete
  10. I must admit I have popped in a read a good number of your blogs but I have no idea how to post a response over there, so I'll tell you now how good you are at describing the stuff your at - I must admit I find it insightful to read your blogging. Keep up the good work. If you want to know more about a sites, please visit our website buy instagram followers

    ReplyDelete
  11. I'll give you a pat on the back just for the sheer effort in screencapping all those blogs.Giving a blog talk to beginner bloggers in the not-too-distant future, I'll be pointing people in the direction of your efforts. Nicely put together dude.Here is our small effort about buy instagram likes

    ReplyDelete
  12. Amazing post dude.It will be very helpful for begginers like me.Thank you very much for this important post.Waiting for your next post.You can visit our site also buy twitter followers

    ReplyDelete
  13. Most of the people ask should we buy facebook fans cheap for the initial growth of business. The purpose for this is very easy of buying facebook fans cheap. Similarly is to having a facebook page, it's also significant and essential to have people that just like the organization. This enables a boom in the business and their client base increase day by day, the mixture of a massive purchaser base and a huge variety of products is the success components which on maximum groups depend upon. This will become even greater relevant in terms of the facebook. When buying facebook fans cheap on your fan page. It is to be very careful as most of the online websites which provide service to buy facebook fans cheap are fake.

    ReplyDelete