Beer and Loathing
Katzenjammers, London Bridge
If, like me, you are someone who prefers their beverages served in such comedy measurements that the average human has trouble carrying them, I have good news for you. Katzenjammers, a faux Bavarian beer hall right near London Bridge station, serves their beers in traditional ‘steins’ which is German for ‘definitely more liquid that the human stomach was designed to hold’.
This isn’t the only draw though, obviously. They aren’t just serving fucking Carling in mega glasses and hoping people will turn up based on the fact that you can now drink two pints out of the same glass, instead of having to drink one after the other like some third world poverty precipitant. Although, of course, that would also work as a method of getting punters through the doors. If there’s one thing people like, it’s gimmicks. And as I am a people, I am no exception.
No, the beer is legitimate Bavarian helles or dunkel weizen or hefe weizen. From the biggest most famousest Bavarian breweries, yeah, but it’s still top drinkables. And it had fucking better be because, dude, you don’t think two pints is that much but when it is staring up at you from a glass larger than the majority of bedside lamps it seriously becomes a daunting task.
The venue itself its a pretty good shout for a fake Bavarian bierkeller. Other than some mildly German tiling in the bogs and the bar, they’ve not actually pumped the place with too much German imagery. Although considering the hot potato that much of the most famous 20th century German imagery is maybe there’s a reason for this. But yeah, the place itself does most of the work in the German bierkeller vibe creation department by being – A) Made of cellar B) Full of bier C) Just a bit ornate and German or whatever.
However, most of the authenticity gained through the acquisition of authentic beers and novelty glassware is pissed away by the outfits the female staff are required to wear to work. I don’t think it’s a real Bavarian outfit. It can’t be. It looks like the sort of ‘sexy’ outfit you would find in the rude section of your local fancy dress shop. You know the part. Where suddenly instead of Jack Sparrow hats and fairy wands it’s all “WATCH OUT HEN PARTY ALERT ROFL” sashes and fairy wands, but with light up penises on the end. The Katzenjammers female employee uniform would be in this section with the title “Sexy Bar Maid.” Think strappy green top with some poofy blouse underneath that emphasises the breasts yet also manages to show the shoulders and most of the legs. It’s a bit cringe really. What is even more cringe though is that as we sat there complaining about this clear attempt to induce drunken city boys to eye up then verbally harass the female staff, we got steadily drunker ourselves. As we did so, slowly but surely, our eyes began to linger on the girls, who were in no way bad looking, and suddenly any pretences of feminist outrage went out the window. I am pleased to say that other than the occasional stare nothing became of our foray into drunken misogyny. But I am super pissed off that through a little known concotion of beer and national stereotyping skimpy outfits Katzenjammers made me a perv.
Other than the transcendental and elusive group of London based Bavarian hipsters that are rumoured to drink in here on the odd occasion, clad in alpine hats and lederhosen, there are no kool kidz here. There are lots of semi-drunk to very-drunk bankers nurturing rabid semis though, if that’s the sort of thing that floats your boat.
It’s in the ‘London Bridge Quarter’. You know the ‘London Bridge Quarter’, right? It’s that part of London that used to be referred to as ‘London Bridge’? Yeah? Well it’s in exactly the same place as it was before but since the creation of the Shard (peace be upon him) some marketing wanker decided that the whole area needed to be rebranded. I suppose to draw attention to it. As if a 36 mile tall shard of fucking glass wasn’t enough. I am angry; Katzenjammer loses marks for this because I have nobody to vent at so am lashing out.
At first you’re all like “£9.50 for more beer than I could feasibly fit into a human skull? Well, that’s a bargain. I smell my way out of the recession.” Then you rapidly realise that it works out at about £4.25 a pint and that is average/bad.
Take your pick from the following options. 1- Nobody. 2- So many people. If you are one of the people that chose option 1 then congratulations! You can come on a Tuesday afternoon and you will experience joys such as: sitting down; getting a drink in under half an hour; and having the option of ordering food in an almost empty room! If you are one of the people that chose option 2 then congratulations! You can come on a Friday evening and sample delights such as: arm cramp from not being able to rest your overtly large beer on anything other than your spare arm; being knocked incessantly by the thousands of London Bridge quarter workers rushing past you; and, finally, being safe in the knowledge that were there a fire you would all surely die. I am not here to choose between 1 and 2 for you, I’m just here to show you the ones I made earlier. Like Blue Peter. Or a drunken Neil Buchanan.
Hoopers, Dog Kennel Hill
You know how it is, you’re sitting in a pub and suddenly you’re all like “Fuck. This is 100% the pub from Snatch.” You know the scene where Vinnie Jones takes refuge in a pub and then the black dodgy dealer pair come in with a fake gun and Vinnie Jones realises that it’s a fake gun and shit kicks off? Yeah well the pub from that scene. This pub is that pub. Well it would be if it was. But we asked the bartender and he said it wasn’t.
I have been to this pub on two occasions, precisely one year apart, both times because we saw an advert saying they had an ale festival on. Both times the ‘ale festival’ was just me and my friend sitting on our own in an empty pub, drinking one of the festival ales (OVER FIVE TO CHOOSE FROM!!1), and wondering whether it was the pub from Snatch or not. I think the ‘ale festival’ might be a bit of a marketing ploy to get people in through the doors, I would say that it was clever and that it worked but it really didn’t because we were the only people in there. It was like mid afternoon though and I don’t think the place does food so maybe it’s just an area that doesn’t contain many alcoholics/general wastemen.
I don’t like the name. Hoopers isn’t a very good pub name. It sounds like a department store. Or a sports shop. Not settled on which it sounds more like. But, whatever, it sounds like it sells cricket jumpers. I don’t know about you, but if I say ‘Hoopers’ out loud and close my eyes I get visions of cricket jumpers.
Inside the vibes are wooden, in that bare stuff is made out of/panelled with wood, not that everyone is well stiff. Although maybe that too; the only other human we saw in here was the bar tender who gave off a distinctly Eastern European “Perestroika ruined my sense of humour” buzz. The best bit about the layout of the pub is that it is a corner pub on a hill and it is a particularly acute corner so the pub gets really narrow down one end. But at this end there is a table and a window. The ramifications of this are, of course, that you can sit at the table and pretend you are steering the pub down the hill. As if the pub were some kind of land boat. Please find below an example of the sort of view you can expect from this window.
What beer did we drink, I hear you cry in an impatient tone, bordering on rudeness. Well, we drank ale beers. I had one called Notting Hill Blonde. It was a light hoppy ale, which I have a sneaking suspicion was made in Notting Hill. It was alright. My mate had something I vaguely remember him not enjoying. So avoid whatever that was. I think we ended up drinking at least a half of every beer they had before throwing in the towel and leaving the pub to steer itself.
Other highlights included a piano you couldn’t put drinks on, a good map of south east London from the twenties or something where there’s no supermarkets and New Cross is still called Hatcham, a poster for some ‘Forest Hill Stout’ that we didn’t know existed probably because it no longer exists and last but not least a free newspaper that seemed to be entirely funded by Hoopers. Now, Mint Magazine has a policy of not ripping into other publications (except the Lewisham Shopper, fuck those guys) partly out of common courtesy and partly because we don’t want to start another south London journalist turf war. We lost too many good men in the last one. So I shan’t be mentioning the title of this free paper, but the amount that Hoopers featured in it was ridiculous considering the newspaper had no direct affiliation with Hoopers. They had just hired out a tonne of adverts in it, and every third article seemed to shoehorn Hoopers a cheeky shout out somehow. It being in Hoopers rendered the adverts useless as well. “Come to Hoopers!” I’m already in Hoopers, you stupid magazine.
I have been spreading the rumour that this is the pub from Snatch for exactly one year, and would like to think that my opinions are respected enough/the film Snatch is liked enough to have drawn in a stream of curious 20 somethings. But now, with the startling and disapointing news that it is not the pub from Snatch, that trickle will dry up. Sorry Hoopers, but you just sabotaged your biggest & free-est advert. How hard would it have been just to lie to me and say yes? You stupid Hoopers.
I say Dog Kennel Hill because it’s not quite Peckham, Denmark Hill or East Dulwich. It’s one of those horrible grey areas where you can’t really place it anyhere so you just say the name of the nearest big road. Or in this case the name of the nearest road with a funny name. There aren’t thousands of dog kennels lining the hill btw. But oh God I wish there were.
It being an ale festival you would assume everything would be a bit cheaper. But it wasn’t particularly. Also I don’t understand what the pub looks like when there isn’t an ale festival on. You have 6 hand pumps. With 6 beers on. When you stop having an ale festival do you just arbitrarily take 4 off? I don’t understand.
We were the only people in the pub. Were it not for the following rofl no lols would have been had. Here is the rofl though – On our way to the pub a dude on a scooter turning onto the road we were walking down took the corner too fast and took a tumble. We ran up the road to help him because we are good citizens/wanted to touch a real life motorbike. He seemed alright and got back on his bike before even checking the damage or really thanking us then pootled off in a direction that was not the one he seemed to be intent on going in when he had originally tried to take the corner. We joked as we walked off that he had just gone in the wrong direction because he was embarassed and just wanted to get the hell out of car-stopping boy-helping mayhem he had created. This suspicion was confirmed about 20 minutes later when we were steering the pub and saw the same dude scoot past the front of the pub looking confused and possibly a bit concussed. Moral of the story – If you are so excited about turning a corner that you fall off your bike whilst doing so then you should carry that commitment through to the end. Simple bystanders such as ourselves will not judge you for going the way you intended to go. But we will judge you if you start acting like a motorised bumblebee, bowling about at random falling off your bike like an idiot. And your punishment will be being laughed at from inside a pub.
Do you have any god awful pubs in mind for Jack to go to at some point in the future? If you do please harass him on twitter @beerandloathinz