Pub/Bar of the Month December 2013: Cask Pub & Kitchen, London, UK
'Leading the craft beer revolution since 2009', so reads a sign at Cask Pub & Kitchen.
Housed on the ground floor of an apartment block just a few streets south of Victoria Station, this widely-acclaimed venue doesn't look particularly promising from its water-stained, red-brick facade.
Even within, although clean, modern and perfectly comfortable, it's a little bit stark, the one room painted a dull battleship grey.
A flicker of colour is provided by lime green seating around the walls, which are dotted with steamy, industrious images of the brewing process in full cry, but the stripped board and tile flooring only strengthens the pared-back idea.
However, things brighten up quickly when you glance towards the bar, which is not so much a servery as a shrine to quality beer.
If your preference is for cask ales (and the pub's name does, after all, encourage you to lean that way), then ten handpumps will, between them, surely offer something of interest. Beers from Crouch Vale, Thornbridge, Tyne Bank and other lauded breweries line up for your pleasure.
If modern keg beers float your boat, then the fourteen taps will keep you entertained with offerings from the UK and further afield – Camden's Gentlemen's Wit, perhaps, a Magic Rock ale, or something from Wild Beer or Siren, rubbing shoulders with the likes of Taras Boulba from Belgium.
'Please ask for a beer menu', reads another sign, this time above the bar. When you do, you discover a printed wish list of great and exotic bottles, with beers catalogued by style.
Fancy a stout? Well, take your pick from brews by Mikkeler, Hoppin' Frog, Port Brewing, Clown Shoes, Jester King, Jolly Pumpkin, Alvine or Sierra Nevada. Maybe a sour beer fits the bill. Greats from Cantillon, Drie Fonteinen, Boon and Tilquin are among the choices.
Alternatively, you can browse the fridges behind and to the side of the bar. Press your nose against the glass and dream that you could have them all. There are beers here that you may not find elsewhere, because the company imports its own.
This means bottle prices can top £20, so shop wisely, but there are take-home discounts (buy six and get the cheapest free).
The second part of the pub's name comes into its own with a highly-rated selection of gourmet burgers, served with skin-on house chips, and with cold pies temptingly tucked under a glass cloche on top of the bar. But really, this place is built around beer.
From its instant success back in 2009, the owners branched out and opened a sister establishment, Craft Beer, in Clerkenwell (already reviewed on these pages), and the empire has continued to grow.
There are now four further pubs in the Craft chain – in Brixton, Islington, Clapham and Brighton. The beer revolution shows no sign of faltering so don't be surprised to find even more in due course.
Cask Pub and Kitchen, 6 Charlwood Street, Pimlico, London SW1V 2EE.
Tel. (0207) 630 7225
Opening Hours: 12–11; 12–10.30 Sunday