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Beer of the Week (w/e 22nd May 2022) with london calling on the Pub Forum

The Express Tavern, Brentford

56 Kew Bridge Road
Phone: 02085608484

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Steve of N21 left this review about The Express Tavern

First time to visit the new Brentford stadium albeit for a London Irish match and first time to visit the Express Tavern since the Bees built their new stadium right behind the pub.
In all my previous visits to this fantastic pub I’ve never had to stray further than the front bar section on the right hand side as I usually visit during the quieter times. But that is not an adjective you can use for a match day and finding this section packed tighter than sardines in a tin I got my pint of stout and decided to explore the rest of the pub and was really impressed with what lays beyond the original pub building.
The modern square extension is nice enough but the plastic grass coated outside section to the back with its own bar, couple of teles and enormous umbrella covering, which gave the feeling that you’re still indoors rather than being out in the open, is a fantastic outside space. And the there is further outside tables to the side of the pub.
Also really impressed with how the staff were managing the throngs of thirsty Irish supporters and was interesting to see the Guinness being part poured in the room behind the ball bar and then topped up from the pumps on the bar when ordered, something they were having to do constantly. Consequently this was speeding up serving time for the rest of us not on the Guinness and we got served within minutes of reaching the bar on each occasion which is pretty impressive for a match day. Ale quality was good and the Irish musician in the extension section was stoking a fine pre match atmosphere.
I really like how the Big Smoke brewery runs their pubs and now especially happy that they have taken over the Old Wheatsheaf in Enfield town close to me.

On 24th December 2021 - rating: 9
[User has posted 1807 recommendations about 1745 pubs]

Blue Scrumpy left this review about The Express Tavern

We returned to the Express Tavern yesterday as a group of 11. I'd been concerned that the pub is so close to the football ground to make any visit enjoyable, but it wasn't as packed as I'd expected with home and away fans mixing happily.

The ale range yesterday was Burning Sky Porter, Saltaire South Island, Bristol Beer Factory Notorious, Vale Brill Gold, Gorgeous Gunpowder, Howling Hops We Buy Teeth, Exeter Fraid Not, Bass, Harvey's Sussex Best Bitter & Big Smoke Solaris. Ciders were Gwynt y Ddraig Black Dragon, Cotswold No Brainer, Abrahall's Lily the Pink, Lilley's Mango Cider & Saxby's Strawberry Cider.

The Big Smoke chain are no longer issuing loyalty cards to get a 10th pint free, but are continuing to honour those that had already been issued. In addition, a 10% CAMRA discount is also offered, which will replace the loyalty cards.

Drinks were being served in plastic glasses regardless of whether drinking inside or out and table bookings were seemingly being enforced by staff at the door, due to the football match.

A very good venue for a pre- or post-match drink if visiting Brentford's football ground and an excellent place to visit at any other time too.

Visit on 4/7/21:

I'm finally back to writing pub reviews. 107 days after my last pub visit, a period of time which included a 31-day alcohol fast to prove to myself that I wasn't an alcoholic (!), I'd made a reservation for 5 of us on opening day for the Express Tavern. Reservations wouldn't normally be my thing. But we did it to ensure we could enjoy a few drinks on what was clearly going to be a very busy opening day for pubs. As part of the Big Smoke chain of pubs, the Express has always been a fairly reliable place for a drink or two. So, it was an obvious choice when I saw that tables were available online.

Situated close to Kew Bridge station, the pub has a couple of rooms. There is a small bar are to the right on entry and a much larger drinking area to the left. This gives way to a new partly indoor area with a sliding roof and an outdoor drinking area just beyond.

Arriving shortly after opening, the welcome was a bit chaotic. A couple of bouncers "controlling" the door approached me after crossing the threshold. Quite a number of staff also approached me. It was clearly not the new norm to head straight to the bar, which I had done!

Once shown to our table, we were invited to download an app. Lots of questions and about 15 minutes later, we finally got our drinks. Selecting a beer/cider in this day and age can be difficult, given you don't necessarily know what is on. Moving around the pub was discouraged. The app did not provide any clues. Eventually, I worked out that the selection was Harvey's Sussex Best Bitter, Big Smoke Distant Lands, Kent Citra, Pig & Porter Trotty Veck, Thornbridge Strickland, Five Points Best, Thornbridge Jaipur & Triple fff Full Back Stout. The 2 ciders were Lilley's Wild Dog & Mango Cider.

We worked our way through all of the ales and ciders and enjoyed a very pleasant afternoon. The pub did get quite crowded and social distancing started to go out of the window, especially in the gents toilets. But that was perfectly understandable given the circumstances the pub had been placed in (what a great decision to open pubs on a Saturday).

After having several pints for the first time in a session since March, we all left feeling somewhat tipsy. It was only later that I discovered that use of the app had meant I had paid for a pint that we never actually received. Despite no reply from an email I sent to the pub, the mistake was rectified by Big Smoke themselves and I should hopefully get the pint I paid for on my next visit to one of their pubs! In addition, the pub normally operates a loyalty card system, where every 10th pint is free. With Covid-19, the cards could no longer be used and it was supposed to be honoured through the app. But our "waiter" did not know how to work the system. So, we missed out on a further 3 pints.

Overall, a good opening day's visit to the Express and I'm sure we'll be back soon.

On 29th November 2021 - rating: 8
[User has posted 1261 recommendations about 1261 pubs]

Bucking Fastard left this review about The Express Tavern

Situated at a prominant position by Kew Bridge,this is an outstanding real ale venue and is also CAMRA Regionally Important Interior listed.The illuminated Bass signage is a local landmark at night.
The front entrance has two doors with inlaid etched glass,go right to the Chiswick Bar for the real ale.This is a small charming L shaped room with a narrow drinking shelf opposite the bar,then light leather fitted benches around the rest of the perimeter.There is an intruiging door frame with a clock above hinting at a private bar which has subsequently opened out creating a banquette affect .The paintwork is a mix of light and dark blue and there is a substantial ceiling rose.A drop down screen was showing the Test match on Sky muted.Light muzak was playing..Very homely and traditional.
The 10 handpumps have regulars Big Smoke Solaris Session,Harvey's Sussex Best and of course Bass while the 7 rotating guests were on my trip Thornbridge Jaipur IPA and Crackendale,Siren Yulu,Arbor Shangri La,Moor Revival, Big Smoke Underground Stout and Marble Lagonda IPA (NBSS 4).IMHO that one of the best ale lineups I've ever seen,clearly the team here know their ales and showcase outstanding brewers.
The left hand door is marked Saloon and Lounge and indeed there are two sections.The serving bar juts into the saloon and features 5 handpumped ciders.It's a comfortable square room with traditional furniture and has one wall decorated in Brentford's red and white stripes while the rear lounge has more dining style tables,some set for diners on my Friday lunchtime visit.However keep on walking and the tardis affect will soon hit you as there is a large conservatory and then an even larger rear beer garden with it's own serving shack with kegs and two handpumps for Harvey's Sussex Best and Big Smoke Solaris.To the left side of the building is a partially covered alley way,now full of large pic nic benches so although there maybe a concern about how the pub can cope when Brentford are playing at home,there is certainly a vast amount of seating in outside areas.
I chose a fish finger sandwich from the very reasonably priced food menu and it was superb,other options looked tempting.The service was friendly,and most professional.Everything is well done here.
This is an absolute must visit when in London,near the Thames Path and will feature on any subsequent visit I make to these parts.Why would I give it any less than full marks ?

On 4th September 2021 - rating: 10
[User has posted 2310 recommendations about 2310 pubs]

Tris C left this review about The Express Tavern

Photographed seven years ago and now approached at dusk, the fading light revealing new dreamy tangerine livery, the Bass neon signage looking great. It also sports a painted 'Ale - Cider - Food' frieze, which looks suspiciously like a take on the one on Kentish Town's Southampton Arms.
The pub is well documented below and on CAMRA's pub heritage site; it has an interior of Regional Interest, though the current colour scheme doesn't seem to match that on the site, being now very blue or stripey; likewise, the flooring which now has flagstones rather than carpet, at least in the right-hand bar.
Customers seemed older rather than old and possibly a Pugger in the left-hand bar.
Ten pumps in operation with offerings from the likes of Big Smoke, Northern Monk, Five Points and of course draught Bass, so as not to contravene advertising standards.
I went for the Five Points XPA, served by a barmaid who seemed unaware of 'express', though it was in great condition and reasonably priced for the ‘new normal’ at £4.60.
Chosen as a quality hostelry to pen my one-thousandth review, it exceeded expectations and is a must-visit London alehouse, with an attractive, comfortable interior.

On 28th July 2021 - rating: 8
[User has posted 1502 recommendations about 1481 pubs]

Please Note: This review is over a year old.

Real Ale Ray left this review about Express Tavern (Express Ale & Cider House)

A very inviting looking establishment, on our approach across Kew Bridge. Once through the doors we took a right into the Chiswick bar, where we had a choice of ten ales across the ten handpumps. The young barman was knowledgeable about his beer and offered us a few samples. I initially went for the Redmill Brewery Extra Pale Ale, which was excellent. I also tried the Siren Soundwave and Twickenham Naked Ladies, also in excellent shape and prices around £3.90 to £4. We really liked this pub and would have no problem revisiting.

On 7th November 2016 - rating: 8
[User has posted 3073 recommendations about 3073 pubs]

Please Note: This review is over a year old.

Moby Duck left this review about Express Tavern (Express Ale & Cider House)

A prominent real ale drinkers, two bar pub handily placed next to Kew Bridge train station,14 pumps in evidence which I did't attempt to note but settled for a rather nice pint of Binghams Admiral. Obviously a destination pub.

On 20th June 2016 - rating: 8
[User has posted 1524 recommendations about 1505 pubs]

Please Note: This review is over a year old.

Malden man left this review about Express Tavern (Express Ale & Cider House)

I finally managed to get through the door of this place on Sunday afternoon after a couple of attempts undone by the previous owners' quirky hours. I have to say I am very glad I did, a splendid establishment, now run by the team that look after their outstanding sister pubs in Twickenham and Surbiton. Inside it is effectively three areas, the front room to the right of the door is the Chiswick Bar, the ale pumps are in here, just the ten of them, the TV had the Sunday football on, a couple of leaded glass screens, stone flagged floor, moulded ceiling with a cornice, traditional seating and with a tiny recess beyond the bar giving an almost private table.
To the left on entering the door proclaims "Saloon and Lounge". Boarded flooring in both, the third room is beyond and seemed to be where people eating either preferred or were directed. I sat in the front of the two, banquette and pew seating, ships' lamps, my table was of the Britannia type with a marble type top, other seating arrangements at small wooden tables. The cider pumps are in this room, five of them, décor included paintings of the nearby river plus various quotations on the wall. The fireplace smelled like it gets some use but it was a warm day. The back room has a beamed ceiling, a couple of framed maps and a brewery mirror. There is a nice garden to the rear.
A neat stripped wood arch behind the bar separates the two rooms connected to it, there are chalkboards in both front areas listing the ales and ciders.
Cask ales are priced by Abv, weaker ones to 3.9% £3.50, mid range £3.80 and 5.5 to 5.9% £4. Any stonkers are £4.20. Kegs were between £4 and £4.80, nothing like you see the silly prices in some so called trendy places.
As for the beers, they still do Draught Bass, as the previous incarnation and clearly some long standing locals have stuck with this, otherwise there was Windsor and Eton Koh I Noor, Upham Sprinter, Binghams Coffee Stout, Dow Bridge Lock Keepers then one not fully noted, Citra Sonic, Big Smoke Underworld Stout, Sambrook's Session and Scrum Down and Upham Tipster. Cider from Lilly the Pink, King Crimson, Wilces, Strawberry Lane and Foxnhelp. Well that's what the chalkboard said.
There is no question that this is a cracking pub, well worth seeking out. Right up there with the best of them.

On 22nd April 2015 - rating: 9
[User has posted 1693 recommendations about 1667 pubs]

Please Note: This review is over a year old.

Pub SignMan left this review about Express Tavern (Express Ale & Cider House)

Situated on the northern approach to Kew Bridge, this is a prominent traditional pub that has recently undergone a sympathetic refurbishment and rebranding as an 'Ale and Cider House'. A small porch offers you the chance to head left for the Lounge Bar or right into the Chiswick Bar. There is a nice curved bar counter with an impressive arched bar back, which serves both rooms. The lounge has bare floorboards and a large marble fireplace on the end wall with a big mirror above and lots of plants on the mantle. The room offers bench and standard seating around the perimeter and has a fairly neutral colour scheme with a few drinking quotes painted on the walls. The tables are marble topped and have heavy decorative bases and there are also some elaborate light fixtures and a nice set of filigreed double doors to the rear which lead into a smart rear room with plenty of additional seating options, old photos and brewery mirrors on display and attractive stained glass partitioning screens creating seating booths in places. The Chiswick Bar has a bit more of a basic feel to it than the other rooms, with simple seating options, an upright piano, nice lighting fixtures and an interesting pub clock over a doorway that leads into a snug-type area which apparently once served as the landlord's parlour. The day's papers had been supplied in a rack near the door and had the weather been more favourable, it might have been worth exploring the decent looking beer garden.
The ale range was certainly befitting of the pub's rebranding, with a long row of handpulls offering Naked Brewer Palindrome Porter, Bass, Bingham's Brickwork Bitter and Total Eclipse, Hawkshead Red, Marlpool Otters Pocket, Dow Bridge Lock Keepers, Milestone Black Pearl, Alechemy Daylight Strobbery and a beer called First Drop (brewery not noted). Five real ciders complimented this extensive range and there was a strong keg and bottled range as well, all detailed in beer menus and various blackboards. I gave the Palindrome Porter a try and thought it as in excellent condition.
This is a very well presented ale house that makes good use of the pub's history and combines this with excellent beer and a smart, clean environment to great effect. The pub is practically next door to Kew Bridge station, making it easy to reach and I would thoroughly recommend this as a genuine destination pub.

On 15th March 2015 - rating: 8
[User has posted 2785 recommendations about 2785 pubs]

Please Note: This review is over a year old.

Rex Rattus left this review about Express Ale & Cider House

I paid my first visit to this pub on Friday since its recent refurbishment. The refurb seems to have been fairly sympathetic, although a bit more lighter coloured paintwork has appeared in the room at the back on the left. The black lacquered door, with the peephole in it used by members of the Royal Antedeluvial Order of Buffaloes to order drinks now seems to be propped open, and is now painted a light grey.

Bass seems to still be an ever present ale, along with eight or nine others, plus five or so draught ciders. But you can't please everyone - when I was waiting to be served a couple of blokes were despondent that this place only served beer and cider, and no lager that they recognised. Not wishing to risk something strange like Brooklyn Brewery or Camden Hells, they left disappointed. But I was very happy with my pints of Lock Keeper, ELB Foundation and didn't give a toss about the absence of Stella. The sandwiches at around £3 a pop are a good bet as well.

This is now a destination pub for any real ale afficionado. I'm sure I'll be back sometime.

On 6th December 2014 - rating: 8
[User has posted 2597 recommendations about 2511 pubs]

Please Note: This review is over a year old.

Steve C left this review about Express Ale & Cider House

A very savvy purchase with the Bees' new stadium being built in Lionel Road alongside the new housing development.

On 4th October 2014 - no rating submitted
[User has posted 3849 recommendations about 3825 pubs]

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