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The Kings Arms, Bethnal Green, E2

11a Buckfast Street
E2 6EY
Phone: 02077292627

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Reviews (Current Rating Average: 7 of 10) Add Review see review guidelines

Tris C left this review about The Kings Arms

A first in here the other night, this pub dates back to at least 1835, but I suspect that it was rebuilt sometime later in the 19th century. As mentioned, it has recently been done up with various extensions and although the old Courage sign bracket remains, sadly the old illuminated red 'cockerel' box sign above the door has been removed.
Unsurprisingly it hasn't changed since the review below. A fairly stark interior with t 'n' g panelling painted dark green. The floor's bare boarded and there's glazed white tiling to the central bar area. Lighting is somewhat industrial, with flexes, shallow metal shades and filament bulbs in wire enclosures, looking like inspection lamps; the overall lighting effect is somewhat gloomy. Décor isn't a high priority here, save for some framed lepidoptera. Furniture comprises some basic wooden bench seating to the periphery along with some plain wood and metal chairs; there are some drinking ledges with tall stools as well as stools to the bar so that barholes can block it. There was a decent soundtrack playing over the gramophone to a young crowd, though more genteel than the hordes at the Well & Bucket; a couple sat in silence, working on their laptops.
The barman was courteous and efficient, presiding over 13 keg taps, just three real ales (one unused pump) and two ciders, their names, ABV and price displayed on a board: Northern Monk's Eternal, Five Points' Pale and Marble's Manchester Bitter at a reasonable £2.20 a half and very gorgeous it was too, despite being served in a wineglass.
It's hard to rate this place - my drink was lovely, but just three ales from four pumps in a specialist beer outlet is a bit lame, or it is for someone who prefers not to drink keg stuff. The lack of creature comforts is a bit of a tired affectation and the gloomy lighting doesn't help, but I'd be happy to pop in if in the area, which holds few attractions.

On 16th August 2019 - rating: 6
[User has posted 953 recommendations about 939 pubs]

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Quinno _ left this review about The Kings Arms

A drop-by here with Retriedmartin en route to see the mighty Prolapse. Almost no discernible changes to report. A number of cask on and our Redemption Big Chief was in great shape. Beer menus at the tables, freshly printed as they included the cask offerings by name. Prices were very reasonable for London, so fair play – my Big Chief was £3.80pp and the most expensive beer was £4.20. A few people in so it looks like it’s holding it own (maybe that influx I predicted happened…?). A worthy place to seek out and enjoy a pint or two, though it does lack that bit of intrinsic warmth to make it a true stand-out in London; as noted below, ‘comfort is not a high priority here’. 7.5

February 2014
One of the new wave of craft pubs that are springing up round London. This one is located in an area where I imagine isn’t quite ready for it (judging by the ethnicity of most of the locals we walked past on the way who I imagine answer the call to prayer rather than the call to bar), but I suspect the owners are planning ahead for the inevitable influx of those with a disposable income priced out of whatever the current hot areas of the capital are. At the bar: six ale pumps, 14 keg (with a good number of overseas imports). All taps unlabelled, look to the right hand wall for black and white signage listing the beers and prepare to take a sharp intake of breath if you aren’t acquainted with craft bar prices. An inevitably eclectic selection, I plumped for the Anarchy Rum and Raisin which was really rather tasty and in good shape. Obligatory hipster barman who was pretty good at his job, to be fair. An island bar (with a nice metro-tiled sort-of bar back) allows for a variety of seating areas. Interior décor a bit stark, consisting of dark green tongue-and-groove panelling and basic wooden seating. Framed and mounted insect and butterfly/moth specimens were of interest. Flowers also present on the tables. I wouldn’t be averse to a revisit here. Rated 7

On 30th August 2018 - rating: 7
[User has posted 3969 recommendations about 3957 pubs]

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hondo . left this review about The Kings Arms

Nice old style exterior with a bare boarded interior. Central island bar was serving 13 keg,3 cask,3 ciders( listed on the right hand wall) and an extensive bottle selection

On 26th September 2017 - no rating submitted
[User has posted 2693 recommendations about 2637 pubs]

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Rex Rattus left this review about The Kings Arms

This pub is essentially unchanged since previous reviewers' visits. The pumps are unclipped, with the beer board on the wall on the right indicating the available beers (cask and keg) and draught ciders. There were four cask ales on - the cheapest being the Dark Star Hophead at £3.80 a pint. My chum and I went for the Marble Manchester Bitter at £4 a pint, which was in excellent condition. Food seemed to consist of bar snacks - at least it did on our midday Friday visit. I saw cheeseboards and meatboards advertised for £8, and scotch eggs at £5 or £6 (I would expect them to pretty impressive specimens for that sort of price).

Just about everything in here is painted a sort of indigo/green colour, and on all the walls there seemed to be framed specimens of insects, including many butterflies. This could be the Entomoligist's Arms. So far so OK - but on the minus side I found the place quite uncomfortable. The seating seemed to comprise mainly of hard wooden benches around the sides of the room, and when I was in the heating didn't seem to have kicked in, and with the door kept open it never got warm enough to take our coats off. As good as the Marble Manchester Bitter was, we didn't linger over our pints for as long as we might otherwise have done. It might be nicer at another time, but I couldn't help but reach the conclusion that comfort is not a high priority here.

On 17th January 2015 - rating: 6
[User has posted 2575 recommendations about 2493 pubs]

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Pub SignMan left this review about The Kings Arms

Just off the Bethnal Green Road, the Kings Arms is another addition to East London's rapidly expanding craft beer scene. The sister pub to Islington's Earl of Essex, this place is set up in a similar fashion, with a traditional back street pub given the craft beer bar makeover and a daunting range of craft keg and cask ales available at premium prices. This place effectively has a single room layout, broken up only by the island servery which has no bar back, therefore giving you clear sightlines from one side of the pub to the other. The whole place is bare boarded with dark green wood panels on the walls and white tiled central pillars around the bar. The entrance porch has some nice etched glass which is probably the only original feature to survive the makeover. I found the seating options particularly uncomfortable, with lots of hard benches and chairs around all four sides of the room, making it difficult to settle down and the prospect of a lengthy session a whole lot less appealing. The front and left hand sides of the pub are quite bright thanks to the large windows here, but the rear, which appears to have once been a separate room, is considerably darker. To the right there is an Earl of Essex style beer board listing the cask and keg options with a drinking ledge and high stools beneath it. Elsewhere, the décor is made up of pump clips, old photographs and framed butterfly collections. Each table had a large wine style beer bottle on it, full of fresh flowers. An indie soundtrack played quietly throughout my stay, but this was drowned out by the noise coming from customers at the front of the pub, whose voices and laughter echoed loudly through a room devoid of any soft furnishings. A few clever folk had grabbed the tables outside the front of the pub, where a bit of relative peace could be enjoyed.
The beer is a big draw for this place, so it was good to find an interesting selection available, comprising Sonnet 43 Steam Beer, Jones the Brewer Dennis Hopper, Tap East Coffee in the Morning and Windsor and Eton Red Rye. Three real ciders and thirteen craft keg beers made up the rest of the selection, with the cheapest cask ale priced at £3.90 and the cheapest keg at £4.00. I tried the Steam Beer, which was served by a disinterested barmaid in a dimpled pint pot. Unfortunately the beer was in pretty poor shape which didn't really help me to warm to this place.
I had high hopes for this pub, given the praise this venture has received from the esteemed reviewers who preceded me, but I found the whole place pretty uninspiring, with poor beer, bland décor, surly service, uncomfortable seating and a loud, echoing environment. Clearly I've missed something here, so I'd happily give the place a second chance, but initial impressions aren't too favourable.

On 26th May 2014 - rating: 6
[User has posted 2446 recommendations about 2446 pubs]

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Steve of N21 left this review about The Kings Arms

One month later and back in for a return visit, but this time during a mid-week evening, and pleased to report that we found the place quite busy and lively with most tables taken and there continued to be a steady stream of coming and going during the couple of hours we were here, showing that enough of the mostly young professionals and occasional beer tickers are managing to venture past the chicken shops on the High road to search this place out.
Same good knowledge and service from the couple of hipsters working the bar and the Keg taps that went off were replaced quickly. And fortunately this time they had a couple of brews from the Earl of Essex so got to try the Earls, broken biscuits brown ale, and jolly good it was too.
So good to find a good vibe and a good crowd on a mid-week evening which justifies an upping of my initial rating.

On 21st March 2014 - rating: 8
[User has posted 1699 recommendations about 1648 pubs]

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E TA left this review about Kings Arms

The rather bland exterior of this old London pub belies the truly wonderful gem that lurks within. It is a truly excellent boozer, uncluttered and unspoilt by electronic distractions has a traditional, almost medieval, feel to it. It's all about the beer here – I counted 6 cask ales and 14 excellent keg beers (never thought I'd use that expression), many from Italy (no, really!), Scandinavia and Germany. I had a pint of Anarchy's Rum and Raisin Bitter, and a half of Jevers Pilsener, both in superb condition. I would like to have stayed for more, but the demands of a pub crawl made this impractical. The one criticism I have is that their prices are very high, but otherwise I highly recommend visiting this pub for its beer alone.

On 16th February 2014 - rating: 9
[User has posted 2532 recommendations about 2510 pubs]

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paulof horsham left this review about Kings Arms

Entering the Kings Arms, one is faced with a line of 6 unclipped handpumps and 14 unbranded taps. Help is at hand on the wall behind the bar in the form of a large board listing the beers on offer, both cask & keg. This certainly assists in choosing the various delights, but doesn't help in identifying the style. Fortunately, there is also a beer list printed on some pretty heavyweight paper, copies of which are dotted around the island bar. The craft keg is, as usual, more expensive than the cask - in most cases considerably more so, although somewhat more reasonable than some of London's other, ahem, craft beer companies.

Quality seemed to be good throughout the range and I can confirm that the Italians are completely up-to-speed with the craft beer revolution - at least 3 examples from Birra del Borgo featured and the 'Hoppy Cat' was quite splendid.

So, if you're pub-crawling in the vaguely Bethnal Green area, or just fancy a good range of ales, you can't go far wrong here.

On 15th February 2014 - rating: 8
[User has posted 286 recommendations about 276 pubs]

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Steve of N21 left this review about Kings Arms

An interesting and potentially brave new venture as the Kings Head has been newly refurbished and reopened as the sister pub to the Earl of Essex brew pub in Islington.
Brave in that, although new Craft beer outlets are all the rage at the moment, specialist beers the wrong side of £4.00 are certainly not aligned to the current typical clientele of this end of Bethnal Green Road, so I guess the owners of this new venture are speculating that the wave of trendiness that has engulfed Hoxton and Shoreditch in recent years continues to flow East. It doesn’t seem to have at the moment as I was first punter through the door when I entered at 1 o’clock last Saturday lunchtime.
Minimalist interior as described below, dominated by the central serving area with its collection of unmarked 20 pumps and taps and a large beer menu board describing what’s on them dominating the side wall.
Can’t fault the knowledge ability of the staff I encountered as, when I ordered a pint of one of their own brews from a barrel that had just gone on, the brewer (for it was he who was here from the Earl of Essex ) waited for it to settle, and when he decided it wasn’t ready replaced it with a well-kept pint of Red Will Wreckless at £4.00 for a 4.8%.
Although as a pub it lacks a bit of character, in this new guise the Kings Head will certainly be of interest for beer enthusiasts and has the potential to be a very successful new addition to the London beer drinking scene, in the same way of the craft outlets in the northern post codes of the capital. Whether it will here in this part of E2, I guess only time will tell.

On 12th February 2014 - rating: 7
[User has posted 1699 recommendations about 1648 pubs]

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Moby Duck left this review about Kings Arms

My previous visit here was some eight or more years ago,a typical backstreet boozer,on approach the exterior hasn't changed much at all,but upon entrance it is all change,a totally modern and possibly verging on the stark,It has now embraced the burgeoning Craft beer scene.6 handpumps for ale and 14 taps for the Craft beers ,all on the expensive side as Mr Fastard notes below, however quite interesting beers,my choice was Wild Beer English Roots, described as a brown ale made with Parsnips,Acorns and Oats, at 4.8% it was a very smooth drinking beer.Certainly worth a look in.

On 10th February 2014 - rating: 7
[User has posted 1325 recommendations about 1311 pubs]

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