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Pub/Bar of the Month October 2017: Mother Kelly's, London, UK

Mother Kelly’s, Bethnal Green, London

For a bottled beer enthusiast like me, one of the more welcome developments of recent times is the arrival of the beer shop that doubles as a bar.

Mother Kelly'sIt’s always been a bit frustrating to peruse the shelves of a specialist off-licence knowing that you’ll have to wait until you get home to sample your purchases but this new concept means that you can order a bottle or can to open on site, or even just enjoy a different draught beer while you take your time choosing what to take away.

A fine example of this type of establishment is Mother Kelly’s in London’s Bethnal Green.

Like many of London’s newer beer venues, the bar takes advantage of the space offered by a railway arch. It sounds a bit dour but the interior is surprisingly airy, thanks to the high, domed ceiling and the expansive glass frontage.

The décor, in true beer geek fashion, is elementary, stripped back to plain walls, daubed with a little graffiti, and bare-board flooring. Half a dozen communal tables seat up to a dozen or so drinkers each, and there are stools for others to perch on at the bar.

Warm Ambience

Functional it may appear but the ambience is really warm, aided by flickering tea-lights on the tables and, of course, the general bonhomie that envelops the beer-loving community. The occasional rattle and squeal of trains running overhead adds to the atmosphere.

Mother Kelly'sSound beer knowledge is in evidence throughout, in the shelf of books for sale, the advice from the staff, and, of course, the selection of beers.

Every day a new beer menu is printed, clipped to boards and scattered around the tables. This makes it easy for drinkers to take their time and select the right option, which they can then simply order by number from one of the twenty-three keg taps (no cask beer here).

London breweries – Kernel, Fourpure, Weird Beard, etc. – along with other acclaimed British breweries like Siren and Magic Rock are very well represented, as they are in the bank of glass-fronted fridges that lines one wall.

These fridges are divided into sections for IPAs, Sours, Pale, Black(ish), Sharing Bottles, and so on. As well as high-quality British bottles and cans, there are also numerous American and continental classics.

Food is kept simple, with a choice of cheese and meat boards, pork pies, olives and bread and, if you’ve a sweet tooth, a special chocolate board. More hearty fare is available at weekends when a street-food wagon pulls up alongside the terrace.

There are now four Mother Kelly’s outlets in the capital but this is the original, taking its name from the old music-hall song ‘On Mother Kelly’s Doorstep’, which, like the bar itself, was located in Paradise Row – just across from Bethnal Green tube station.

Don’t be deterred by the high street number, it’s only a matter of yards along the narrow lane.

Mother Kelly’s,
251 Paradise Row, Bethnal Green, London E2 9BU.
Opening Hours: 12–11; 12–midnight Friday and Saturday; 4–11 Monday

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