The Draft House, Hammersmith, W6

A darker, clearly Brewdog-influenced Draft House perched at the Hammersmith end of the Shepherd’s Bush Road that is barely distinguishable from the several other of this stable in London. It is, however, the most inviting pub in the area, which probably says more about Hammersmith than it does about the juicer.

I’m unlucky enough to chance upon this place during a night of unrelenting rain and halfway through a quiz night that sounds like it won’t take much to win. But I am fortunate enough to have at first been presented with a pretty grubby-looking glass to accompany the Tripel Karmeliet I ordered, the replacement being the appropriate glassware – and clean at that. Common and quasi-compulsory in Belgium, this is a rarity elsewhere and is to be welcomed.

As with the other branches in this chain, the Hammersmith Draft House offers a wide and interesting choice of beers, some of which you would cross the road for. But it’s not somewhere in which you’d want to spend a great deal of time drinking them. And I can’t work out whether that’s the tile-influenced acoustics that amplify everything from the clichéd alternative rock piped over the PA to the clumsy clinking of glass on counter – or whether I’m just beginning to feel older than this place’s target audience.

I kind of like the music posters that pay homage to the infamous Palais that once draw rock royalty and punters to this part of town. But what really helps lift this place are the nods to the pub’s previous existence – the Laurie Arms – in the form of retained beams, fleur-de-lys stained glass multi-lite windows and – sadly now redundant – the fireplace and mantelpiece. Redeeming features that make up somewhat for the standard craft bar perennials. There will be a chapter on pubs of this ilk in books yet-to-be-written and I fear the author will not use kind words.

A pub in this area, given the paucity of the competition, should need no redeeming features. That it does is something of an indictment. I can’t imagine being here when it’s busier; nor, God forbid, during the day when fellow customers are conspicuous by their absence – it’d be like drinking in a literal echo chamber. But that said, if ever I find myself stuck for a pint in the shadow of the flyover, I’ll probably plump for this pub. Just don’t give me a crappy glass in future, yeah?


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