The Draft House, Clapham Junction

Our rating: FAP Rating 4 - Click for an explanation of our ratings      User rating: Community Rating 1 - Click for an explanation of our ratings   (2 reviews)
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FancyaPint?'s review...
FAP Rating 4 - Click for an explanation of our ratings
We had high hopes for this sister pub to the Westbridge and thankfully they were realised on our last visit. It's not huge, with a bar space at the front with stools and ledges to lean on around the room. Granted, with some 15 taps on the bar and the rather large selection of bottled beers available, the bar area does take up quite a bit of room. And that set us a real dilemma: what to have. If anything, it's verging on too much choice. In the end we settled for the Porterhouse Red, from London's Porterhouse Brewery; it is good to see a pub support local beers as well as the international imports. Like the Westbridge, they do a "Pint of thirds" tasting menu which does cover some of the bases if you want to try a selection of their range. The staff also know quite a bit about beer and are very helpful should any questions arise. A larger room at the back may allow expansion, but it was set for lunch when we were in last - who knows, it may go a bit more casual at night, we'll have to go back and see. The food menu looks good, there's also a decent wine list and they have a proper selection of whisky to go with it. It would be very easy to stay here for days. Frankly, it's pretty damn close to heaven as far as we're concerned.
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Reviews (1)
18 Feb 2013
Rating 1 - Click for an explanation of our ratings
Saturday 16 February, 2013: I arrived to the Draft House on Northcote Road to find my mates standing at the bar with a distressed look on their faces. I asked them what was wrong and they replied that they had been waiting nearly 10 minutes to be served. After a quick assessment of the beer on tap I noticed that 4 of their 10-12 or so taps were ‘off’ explaining with a sign that patience is a virtue or that good beer will come to those who wait or something equally as witty. After finally being served we ordered a Camden Brewery American Amber Ale and proceeded to our nice window spot that our partners managed to secure during the nearly 15 minute wait for a drink.

For our second round we decided to choose at random three bottles that promised big things for our taste buds: Odell Brewery IPA, Flying Dog K-9 Winter Ale and Conqueror 1075 Black IPA. Odell and Flying Dog were both from the States and the Black IPA coming from Windsor.

We returned to our tables to begin drinking this very expensive (The round was around £16 for 3 12oz bottles) but hopefully brilliant selection of craft beers. About two sips into our beers as we were inspecting every detail of the labels on the Odell bottle we noticed the best before date on the bottle was for sometime back in 2012 (August). We quickly looked at the others only to discover the same for the Conqueror (date from mid 2012) and a missing date for the Flying Dog.

I decided to try to speak to the manager with the idea of letting them know that they had an issue with the dates of some of their beers. After being pointed to the manager I approached her let her know that we had discovered that two of the three of our beers were out of date and that I suspected the third was as well. Her reply shocked me and has compelled me to write this review; She said that she knew that the Flying Dog was out of date (which confirmed that the third bottle was also out of date as it was missing from the bottle), and that the Odell was as well but that she wasn’t aware of the Conqueror to which I invited her back to our table to see for herself. Before even seeing the bottles she assured me that she would make this right and would refund my money. After coming to the table, verifying my account she was satisfied enough to go away to arrange a refund.

When she returned she was holding a receipt for the beer as well as two two pound coins. She offered me the coins to which I replied with confusion as I understood she was going to refund the cost of the out of date beers. She then told me that she never promised a full refund and that she would only offer a 20% discount on the old beer. I asked her further about this, explaining that it didn’t seem right as this was a premium product that should be served at its best, only. I very much doubt that breweries would appreciate a bar selling out of date beers at all, let alone at top dollar.

The manager went on to explain that she was new (within a week) but that she was only allowed to offer the 20% as per her managers instructions. If this is true then two things are pretty shocking about this:
1. Management of the Draft House are aware that they are selling out of date premium bottles and
2. They are willing to try to pass old bottles off as premium despite being out of date, unless someone complains then they will offer a 20% refund

She went on to explain that a best before date on a craft beer doesn’t indicate that the beer is ‘off’ only that it is no longer in its prime. She adamantly defended the decision to sell the old beer without any acknowledgment of the fact that they were in fact deceiving the public by selling old stock at top prices and not wanting to create any more of a scene I accepted on the premise that the compensation offered was all she was authorized to offer.

Having been a craft beer enthusiast for over 10 years I have never heard of such practices and I struggle to imagine that the top brass at Draft House would be happy with this (or at least I hope). It is obvious that the Draft House on Northcote Road is busy, however from my experience I do not think they are busy drinking the craft beer on offer from the coolers in favour of their draft selection. I do not believe that the Draft House is a beer destination like it makes itself out to be for craft beer lovers. From the out of date beer, off taps and poor service, it seems that this place might be trying to capitalise on its location and less on the experience it is offering.

My thoughts about this are simple, if you want good craft beer that is looked after and served in congress with how craft beer should be served then go to Craft Beer Co in Brixton, Pimlco, Farringdon or Angel. If you are in Clapham Junction and in need of a decent pint go to the Falcon or worst case go to The Draft House and order a draft lager so you know it will be fresh.

Contact details
94 Northcote Road, Clapham Junction, London, SW11 6QW
020 7924 1814

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