Feb 15 16

The Hopsmiths, Crouch Hill, N4

Jack Cutforth

Visited: Monday 25 Janury by JC


This place is kind of surprising, if you read some of the online reviews before visiting. They talk of a traditional no-nonsense pub serving delicious Sunday roasts. So Boozehound could maybe be forgiven for expecting a cosy, carpeted affair, perhaps a fireplace in the corner and a few inanimate, ever present locals sitting at the bar.

In reality, The Hopsmiths is sparsely decorated: wooden floors and exposed brickwork with mismatched plastic furniture. The centrepiece is definitely the bar serving twenty different beers and ciders. In short, it feels more like a brewery than a village local. And it’s a brilliant one at that. It just came as a bit of surprise to me. The lesson here is that you can’t really trust Google reviews and should stick to a more discerning, detailed, and entertaining London pub websites instead. And if we ever come across one, we’ll be sure to let you know.

The Hopsmiths ought to feel like a brewery, as it’s one of Late Knights Brewery’s several bars (and their first in North London). And they make a nice beer, and it turns out they run nice bars as well. The beer selection is obviously large, varied and frequently changing, so instead of telling you what we went for we’ll just tell you to go down there, take a look at the blackboard, or ask someone behind the bar for a recommendation. Given the wide selection the price obviously varies but nothing seemed unreasonable. If beer’s not your thing they also do wine and whisky.

The food seems to be fairly popular, and though we can’t comment as we visited on one of the days the kitchen is closed (Mondays and Tuesdays) we would definitely be tempted next time we’re there. It also seems to be very empty on a Monday night (hardly the only pub that we can say that about), but it was still so enjoyable that we will definitely be returning at the weekend to check it out again, and you should too.

If drinking at home is your thing, but you feel guilty because you’re partly responsible for the sad death of the British pub, then good: you should. But you can slightly assuage your guilt by at least buying your drinks from a pub, and The Hopsmiths very conveniently does sell bottles to takeaway, and at 20% off as well. Indeed, while Boozehound was quietly nursing his pint in the corner a man who could best be described as ‘definitely from Crouch End’ rushed in with an incredibly middle class dinner part emergency: he needed a few bottles of saison beer, stat. I imagine that he had once told his father in law that he was a big ale and craft beer drinker in a failed bid to impress him, and now said father in law was coming over but to his horror the only drink he had in the house was a bottle of rose wine because that’s all he drinks anymore.  Or maybe he just fancied some beers.

Fortunately the guy behind the bar was a lot more helpful and a lot less judgmental than Boozehound ever is, and gave him some recommendations. The service here couldn’t be faulted.

This pub was made for sessions. Try as many of the beers as you can, and then try to remember where you live. It’s minimalist but that means it concentrates on the beers and the food. It’s offering something a bit different to the other pubs in the area and for that reason it deserves a visit.

Beer: 5
Price: 3
Service: 4
Atmosphere: 2

Do they do food? Yes, but not on Mondays or Tuesdays.
Are they in the 21st Century? Yes, contactless and no minimum spend.
Are there dogs? Didn’t see any. But didn’t see any other people either to be fair.
I’m hungover, do they do a Bloody Mary? Beers, wines and whiskies only.
I want to smoke: On the street with you.