Pub/Bar of the Month October 2016: Dean Swift, London, UK
Dean Swift, London SE1
I liked the Dean Swift from the moment I first set foot inside.
Here was a ‘craft beer’ bar that still felt like a proper pub. It was fresh, clean and modern but comfortingly traditional at the same time. It seemed to span the best of both worlds.
This ex-Courage pub sits on a street corner just a block or so from the southern end of Tower Bridge.
Considering its position, and the traffic that thunders over the river, it’s a remarkably quiet spot in an area of offices and student accommodation.
Downstairs is a single room with a bare board floor and a white-painted ceiling. There’s a small fireplace on one side and a mix of tables, some topped with copper, others fashioned out of stripped wood.
Dark vinyl bench seating lines the front wall and big, south-facing windows allow plenty of daylight to brighten the interior.
The décor is simple, with just a few framed brewery posters dotted around. Piped music is played at a tolerable level and, while there are two televisions, they are both tucked out of the way and not left on gratuitously.
Food provides a cornerstone of the trade. There’s an upstairs dining room if you prefer; otherwise there’s a small menu of bar snacks. It’s not typical pub grub but not overly gastro either, so you can have your haddock and chips alongside your partner’s mozzarella and quinoa salad.
But what brought me to the pub was the selection of beers. There are four handpulls on one side of the corner bar. These feature London breweries such as Southwark or Bankside, and also small breweries from further afield.
On the other side of the bar are ten keg taps, drawing beers from the likes of Beavertown and The Kernel alongside imported offerings such as Stiegl from Austria and a house pilsner made in Belgium.
If the draught selection is not sufficient, then there’s also a fridge full of bottles, featuring beers from fledgling British breweries as well as the Belgian classics.
The Dean Swift – a ‘local beer house’ named after Jonathan Swift, author of Gulliver’s Travels – is part of a small pub company called Pubs of Distinction that, in its own words, has set out to create ‘environments that are conducive to fun, relaxation and conversation’ with a focus on microbrewery beers and ‘interesting honest food’.
In this little corner of London, I think they’ve succeeded.
Dean Swift, 10 Gainsford Street, Butler's Wharf, London SE1 2NE
Tel. (020) 7357 0748
Opening Hours: 12–midnight; 12–11 Sunday