Welcome to the third edition of Raising the Bar – a fortnightly review of an establishment that a beer fan (such as yourself) should really pay a visit to. Each entry in the series will lay out why said place should be on your beery agenda, giving the key factors as to why these venues are so special.
And for this edition (aptly):
The Three Johns – Angel, London
“It’s pretty quiet in here for a Thursday!” cries out an Antipodean accent from across the bar. It’s not quiet, the whole place is pulsating and it’s standing room only, but this (presumably) local knowledge seems to imply The Three Johns would usually be much busier on the fourth night of the week. And whilst popularity may not always equal quality, in this case it’s a good indicator.
As part of the Bar Works chain which encompasses some of London’s favourite beer venues like The Black Heart, The King’s Arms and The Axe – The Three Johns is a staple of the city’s craft beer scene. And don’t let the word “chain” deceive you into thinking this is some sort of craft beer Wetherspoons with a copy and paste layout and a slightly different carpet. Each of these bars has its own unique feel, and in The Three Johns’ case this is antique living room chic. Dark wood everywhere, huge portaits (with a pop art twist) and Chesterfield-esque seating attached to the walls means the place looks more akin to a museum exhibit than a beer bar – but it’s an integral part of the atmosphere. You could almost picture a host of Georgian-era naval captains enjoying a final pint here before groggily boarding their galleon the next day.
However stunning the decor may be though, you’re here for the lowdown on the libations and the aliment (unless you’re here from an interior design blog for some reason, if so please don’t hammer me for my knowledge of historical furnishings).
The affiliation that Bar Works has with Camden Town means three spots on the keg list are Camden beers (Hells, Pale and Ink) with Buxton, Ayinger, Mikkeller, Rogue, Captain Lawrence and Stone and Wood making up a keg world tour of brews from three continents. The cask offerings meanwhile comprise of London’s omnipresent Five Points – Pale Ale and brews from cask maestros Oakham and Dark Star. Also worth mentioning is the substantial number of sharing bombers on offer from the likes of Cloudwater, Rogue and Rodenbach that completed a hearty bottle selection. The standout of which being a sharer bottle of Evil Twin – Liquid Double Fudge (the New York brewery’s 12% chocolate and caramel tasting, heavy hitter). And if you so happen to be a pizza fan, the food offering is headlined by 10 sourdough options such as ‘Nduja, Chorizo or Aubergine.
The Three Johns is both an excellent place to have a pint and an important location in the London beer scene. Launching a new beer? Want to establish yourself as a player with a tap takeover? The Three Johns has the right level of prestige and popularity to be very high on your location list. And if you find yourself stepping into its atmospherically-lit rooms, it’ll be very easy to see why.
Why you should visit in a sentence: Like taking a step back in time, and you were smart enough to pack pizza and craft beer.
Where – 73 White Lion St, London N1 9PF. 5 minute walk from Angel tube station.
Selection on day of visiting – 3 cask beers, 14 keg beers.
Highlight Beer – Buxton – Pale (Citra, Ekuanot and Victoria Secret). Hoppy, citrusy, thirst-quenching brilliance from one of the UK’s hottest breweries.
Food Menu – Sourdough pizza with a range from Prosciutto to Fennel and Artichoke.
Price of an average beer – Cask – £4.25 (Pint). Keg – £5.40 (Pint)