Where there’s life there’s Hope in Carshalton’s best pub

Out and about in Carshalton? ANDREW LENG suggests a visit to the area’s co-operative, community-run pub, rated among the best in the whole of England

My only previous visit to this part of leafy Surrey was to see Carshalton Athletic take on Croydon at Colston Avenue many years ago. The pub that I visited wasn’t one that sticks in the mind. Come to think of it, the match wasn’t that entertaining either. I’ve not had cause to go back, since both teams went in opposite directions league-wise.

The Hope: a pub which delivers on expectations if you're seeking a wide selection of real ales

The Hope: a pub which delivers on expectations if you’re seeking a wide selection of real ales

So, I checked out The Hope’s website on the internet for directions. The website is impressive, giving a potted history of the pub and the awards that it has won in its relatively short time of existence as a real ale venue. The pub is unusual, in that it is owned and operated by a local community co-operative, which came together four years ago when the pub was in imminent danger of closing and being sold off for development (sound familiar?).

The website is constantly updated to show what beers are coming to The Hope, with most of the regular beers coming from breweries from the Midlands and the south-east. It’s nice to see that two of my favourite breweries, Dark Star and Oakham, feature on this list. With seven real ale pumps, it is my kind of place.

The pub also serves three real ciders as well as a selection of craft beers, which are enjoying something of a revival. So there’s plenty of choice.

Midweek, The Hope is busy. If you’re lucky/unlucky (depending on your point of view, or desire to get some seats at a table), it might be a night when a troupe of Morris men and women are in, to drink as well as to dance. The pub’s recent festival also provided more beers to choose from, with a tent pitched in the busy garden area.

There is a good mix of regulars alongside real ale enthusiasts. I find my friends, sitting at a corner table, before going to the bar to order my first pint: Deliverance APA. Service is quick and in a matter of moments I am back at our table, putting the world to rights and enjoying a very nice pint of this light and hoppy beer. I am soon back at the bar ordering another pint.

TitanicTwo of my friends are not real ale drinkers. They normally prefer lager but this evening, swayed by a little bit of gentle persuasion, they are drinking Knights of the Garter, a golden ale and at 3.8% a good session beer, from the Windsor and Eton Brewery. The beer is obviously doing the trick as they both stick with it for the rest of the evening. The Nights of the Garter is very nice and refreshing, with a fruity aftertaste. I can see why they are happy to drink it.

After drinking Deliverance and Nights of the Garter for most of the evening, I see that the bar staff have added Titanic Plum Porter to the roster of changing beers. I am not a huge fan of porter, but I do like plums. I threw caution to the wind. Mmm… this beer really does taste of plums and turns out to be the best drink of the evening for me. With an ABV of 4.9%, it’s a beer with a strong taste, but the plum flavour really comes through and makes for a very lip smacking and thirst quenching beer.

The Hope has won the Campaign for Real Ale – CAMRA – Sutton Pub of the Year in 2009 and 2010, and the CAMRA Croydon and Sutton Pub of the Year in 2012 and 2013 and it was CAMRA’s Greater London Pub of the Year in 2012 and 2013. Earlier this year, it made it into the final four on CAMRA’s list of the best pubs in the whole country.

You can understand why the place is so popular. The beers are really well-kept and prices are reasonable, at around £3.30 for a pint. There was a nice atmosphere inside the pub and the bar staff were really friendly and quick to serve customers.

One of the barmen that served me, probably recognising I wasn’t a regular, remarked “you really like our beer then?” Too right I did.

So, all in all a very enjoyable evening in Carshalton. Good company and excellent beer. I’ll have to find another excuse to visit this place soon. Now, let’s check those Carshalton Athletic fixtures.

Previous Andrew Leng pub reviews:

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2 Responses to Where there’s life there’s Hope in Carshalton’s best pub

  1. tomvoute says:

    Unfortunately one crucial bit of information is missing. Does The Hope play intrusive background music or is it properly music-free? However fantastic the beer etc may be, I avoid pubs with constant music.

  2. Andrew Leng says:

    No – The Hope does not play intrusive background music. It relies on the quality of it’s beer (which is excellent) and a good, local customer base to create a good atmosphere. I also avoid pubs where there is loud background noise. If this had been a problem when I was at the Hope I would have certainly mentioned it in the review. Thanks for the feedback though.

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