South Norwood has hip answers to the pub quiz question

Our occasional pub crawler KEN TOWL set off for SE25 to discover the delights of the craft beer bars and cafés close to Norwood Junction, with SIMON BENTLEY in the quiz team and taking the photographs

It was a Thursday and I fancied a pub quiz.

Pubs tend to hold their quiz nights in the early part of the week to encourage custom on their quieter evenings, so I didn’t expect to have much luck.

Thank goodness, then, for the internet, the font of all human knowledge.

It turns out that the Shelverdine Goathouse has, as well as a brilliant mouthful of a name, a pub quiz on a Thursday, and in South Norwood.

I had not been in the area since the Grenfell March organised by the redoubtable South Norwood Tourist Board back in November, in response to some local racists burning an effigy of the tower and distributing a shameful video of their work.

On this occasion, I decided to spend a couple of hours checking out the area before moving to the Shelverdine Goathouse for the quiz’s kick-off at 8pm.

And since I am not a great one for drinking alone and don’t particularly like coming last in a quiz, I decided to invite a team member to deal with the sports questions.

And the music, food, current affairs and general knowledge questions. I would handle Greek mythology and anagrams.

Simon arrived at Norwood Junction Station on the 18.04 from Clapham Junction as arranged and we checked out (or “checked into” as Facebook would have it) Yeha Noha which, though it sounds like an allusion to a Little Britain sketch, is actually rather cosmopolitan in ambience.

Yeha Noha. It is Navajo, apparently

Stationed on Station Road, its name is Navajo for “wishes of peace and prosperity”.

It sells Polish food and beer, as well as coffee, wine and Old Speckled Hen (at £4 per bottle) and feels and looks like a little slice of continental Europe deep in the heart of SE25. The staff are friendly and the clientele laid back.

The shabby chic tables outside provide a great vantage point to watch as the denizens of South Norwood are decanted out of their trains after a hard day at work.

Next stop is the Craft Beer Cabin a few steps away on Selhurst Road. It could easily have been called the Craft Beard Cabin if the helpful and hirsute staff are anything to go by.

The Craft Beard Cabin in SE25

There is a wide range of craft beers inside and plenty of tables and benches outside this fashionable micropub which seems to be yet another sign of the gentrification that is becoming more palpable in SE25. Prices are aspirational, too, of course, and our beers came to just a tiny bit less than a fiver each.

Further evidence of impending embourgeoisement was to be found at the retail space on Station Road with the legend Cycle Shop above the window.

“Is this becoming a cycle shop?” asked Simon of the guy who was occupied in painting the door frame.

“No,” came the reply, “it is becoming an art gallery and juice bar.”

It was getting close to 8pm so we headed for “the Goat”, as I fondly call it now that I have been there once. A pub with style but without pretention, it sells several iterations (session bitter, IPA, etc) of a beer called Volden at a tiny bit more than £3 per pint. I can confirm that each iteration provides excellent value.

The pub quiz was won by a respectable margin and the winners accepted their victory with consummate modesty

In a building on the high street that was once a Wetherspoons, it is part of the Antic chain of pubs which last Christmas was subject of protest by some staff over poor pay and conditions.

The quiz was fun; we came a distant second. If we had known more about modern chart music we might have come a close second. Disappointingly, there was only one question on Greek mythology. The winners won by a respectable margin and accepted their victory with consummate modesty. The quiz master was more than competent.

Why not get some friends together and see if you can do better than we did? Even if you can’t, the Shelf (as I call it) is not a bad place to spend an hour or two without having to increase your overdraft.

Go to hip South Norwood now, while you can still afford to.

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News, views and analysis about the people of Croydon, their lives and political times in the diverse and most-populated borough in London. Based in Croydon and edited by Steven Downes. To contact us, please email
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5 Responses to South Norwood has hip answers to the pub quiz question

  1. Peter Gillman says:

    With all due respect to your visitors to the distant land of South Norwood, the Craft Beer Shack is not an example of gentrification (if only!). It represents and caters for a growing taste of craft beer, with its range of distinctive, complex and powerful flavours, often produced by small local brewers, for example in Gypsy Hill and Penge (the Southey brewery). This week it was also selling a sensational craft beer from Falmouth. Prices in the range of £4-£5 per pint are not excessive for the skills they demand and the transport costs, and also reflect high alcohol content. And £5 a pint is now a standard price in many truly “gentrified” pubs further into London. The Southey brewery, incidentally, has its own tap room, open on Fridays and at the weekend. There are two more equivalent craft beer bars nearby too: the Douglas Fir (run by the Gypsy Hill brewery) on Anerley Hill; and another in Westow Hill near the junction with Westow Street, and so only a short distance outside the Croydon border. They are all great places to experiment with and savour craft beer, but I think the South Norwood one just has the edge.

    • With all due respect, all of the cost pressures that you identify for so-called “craft” brewers apply to every other producer in the sector. And yet, many are able to deliver up their products for considerably less than some of the so-called “craft” brewers or bars.
      A premium price is not uncommon for a premium product. The ultimate test is, surely, in whether co-called “craft” beers have a sustainable market.

  2. Lewis White says:

    Sorry to disagreee with Inside Croydon, but my experience of many craft beer pubs is that they often have two or maybe more regular beers on tap that are priced lower than the guest beers.

    Alcoholic content and duty must affect price as noted in Peter’s comment. A 3.8 % wil be cheaper than a 5%

    Cooking lager may be cheaper (a bit) but if you want a decent, tastesome pint of a good beer, such as is made by thousands of micro and a few big brewers, you don’t have to pay the earth.
    The days of going in 3 pubs in one town where all were tied houses, all tied to the same brewery, with one bitter, and maybe a mild and one stronger ale on hand pump, are thankfully, gone.
    Thanks to the micro brewers and CAMRA, and a receptive public.

  3. Ken Towl says:

    Just on a technical note, as far as pricing goes, the duty on beer is constant between 2.8% and 7.5%, so any price difference on the basis of alcohol strength must be down to some very expensive dextrose.

  4. Lewis White says:

    Thanks for the helpful correction Ken. I had assumed. Often a very bad thing to do without checking facts!

    So …….. does the higher cost of stronger beers reflect greater input of brewer time needed to brew them ?. Do stronger beers take longer to mature? Time is money for occupied space in a warehouse etc.?

    I could appreciate that a small-batched, hand crafted beer might cost the brewer more to make than perhaps a pint of best from a large brewery where giant stainless steel tanks hold thousands of gallons, and robots staff the shop floor. Economies of scale and all that.

    Maybe a local commercial micro-brewer could clarify this !

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