138. Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese, London, England

Just off Fleet Street, London (but oddly off Google Maps), is a museum of a pub. A heavyweight holding a candle to anywhere.

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Nestled down an alley, it is has been worth seeking-out since at least 1667. Even Dickens thought so.

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Old gent by the bar not guaranteed. Photo stolen shamelessly from beerlens.com.

The front bar is probably the best- ancient yet robust-looking dark wood encloses a quaint little room with a fireplace and more pumps than you’d think one would need for the amount of customers that could be squeezed in. The floor is covered in sawdust, as this was the normal way to mop up spills and debris and old people fear change.

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The excellent front room will of course fill-up quick, but Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese is the gift that keeps giving; there is an overflow room on the ground floor, then a further two basement levels. People will have preferences, but you can’t really lose.

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Apparently the food is tosh, but who really cares? It’s not that sort of place; not that sort of blog.

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Venue: 10/10

Rebuilt in 1667. No need to improve it since.

Beer: 8/10

Samuel Smith’s pubs are a stalwart on the English ale scene. Not unique to Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese. Not complaining.

Worthy? Oh yes.

The UK is blessed with (an unfortunately dwindling number of) old pubs. But this one stands out- did Charles Dickens drink at your local?

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Candidate #12- The Rake, London, UK.

Near London Bridge, hiding in a back-alley around Borough Market, is the curiously named The Rake.

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London, for a city so large, is not resplendent with ‘Little insert-part-of-the-world-here‘. Sure, there’s a Chinatown, but I’m not looking for tea (or msg). So it comes to The Rake to single-handedly prop up the Little American-dive-bar area of town.

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It does a pretty good job. I like dive bars. I like the worn, rough individuality, and how they always seem to have better tables than their ‘renovated’ cousins (see The Market Street Porter nearby). The Rake has used the scribblings and wisdom of craft brewers to decorate the walls, with brewer memorabilia to add flair.

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Not the first bar of the day.

The garden is bigger than the venue, and in truth this is the front-end of a beer distribution business. This ensures a great selection and rotation of international beers, the best I’ve sampled in London. One particular member of staff let these efforts down, as he shrugged his shoulders when I asked if they stocked any Dutch beers; I then sat down and put my beer on a Texels coaster.

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Venue: 6/10

If you like this sort of style, you’ll feel at home. Top effort, given the space limitations. A little bright and hard to relax in during the day.

Beer: 7/10

Great for London, merely above-averaged for the States.

Worthy? Maybe

Probably the second best bar in London, for those who want to sample from the international faucet.