Drinking dens: The Old Fountain

It’s a crying shame that I did not discover The Old Fountain sooner. It’s in EC1, I’ve lived in EC1 for six years, and for about four of those, Wetherspoons pub The Masque Haunt was my local. I simply did not know any better (not that The Masque Haunt was bad, really – it’s just that The Old Fountain is so much better). I’ve missed so many beers! But that’s London for you – so big and impossible to get to grips with that you can live practically on top of one of London’s best little beer pubs for six years without noticing.

The Old Fountain is a proper old-school pub with poor lighting, worn wooden furniture and pale, near-bare walls (there’s a dartboard, though) – in other words, absolutely wonderful. At this time of year the white ceiling is also decked-out with Christmas garlands, which somehow adds to the shopworn quality of the Old Fountain rather than detracting from it. I love this kind of pub in an entirely non-ironic way: the moment you step in the door, you feel that this is a pub that does not put on airs, it just quietly goes about the business of being excellent.

And excellent it is: the pub (independent and family-owned, of course) keeps eight rotating real ales/craft beers on the pumps, and in addition often has a couple on keg besides the standard offerings (i.e. Beck’s, Guinness etc). Friendly and efficient staff keep the casks well and are knowledgeable about what they sell. The beers rotate very frequently so there’s always something new to try. You can usually rely on finding something from local London brewers being poured: Brodie’s, By the Horns, Camden and Kernel are fairly regular – the other day they even had Brodie’s and Kernel’s new collaboration brew (Stella for Breakfast, an ABV 6.2 breakfast stout) on cask. There’s also stuff from around the country like Dark Star, Red Squirrel and Oakham. Newcomer-of-the-year Magic Rock often has a presence – the other night they had High Wire, Cannonball (best IPA of the year?) and Curious NZ on pump and tap. In addition, there’s a small fridge for bottled beers, mainly from London  Brodie’s and Kernel – in fact, Old Fountain probably has the widest selection of Kernel beers outside the brewery itself.

Food is served at lunchtime only (12 noon – 2.30 pm) and is standard-plus pub fare, soups and sarnies – strictly no frills. Like many pubs in close proximity to the City, The Old Fountain is closed weekends – and it does feel a bit of a tease to review the pub when it’s now closing for the holidays (today is the last day of opening before Christmas). But hey, at least now you know where to start off 2012 the right way!

The details: The Old Fountain, 3 Baldwin Street (Old Street Tube), EC1V 9NU, Tel 02072532970, Twitter: OldFountainAles


Posted on December 23, 2011, in Pub & bar and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. Spent the evening there tonight. Looking a bit swish these days I reckon, glad they’ve kept the aquarium though.

    I wonder if the fountain is, in fact, secretly the best pub in the area? The salt beef sandwiches are very very good also…

  2. Completely forgot to mention the aquarium! I was sat right next to it the other night. It certainly add a certain je ne sais quai…

    Thx for the tip about the salt beef sandwiches, haven’t tried them yet!

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