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Claret Free House, Addiscombe

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user reviews of the Claret Free House, Addiscombe

please note - reviews on this site are purely the opinion of site visitors, so don't take them too seriously.

This small bar is now called the Claret & Ale. It's no longer related to the Claret Wine Bar in Cheam. But it's a very handy place to know about if you're passing by on the tram. I got here before opening. But I got chatting to the owner, who was outside smoking a cigarette. We spoke a bit about Cheam and also the local pubs in Addiscombe and Croydon. The barman was also friendly. Unusually for London, there were 3 ales from Palmer's - IPA, 200 & Tally Ho! Guests were Peerless Oatmeal Stout, Hammerpot Australian Pale & Signal Sticky Hoppy Pudding. Ciders were Weston's Rosie's Pig & Raspberry Roller & Thatcher's Cheddar Valley. A board displays what is on and what is coming next. The bar also has a couple of TVs for live football, rugby and selected other sports. Despite opting for the stout, this was only one of two pubs I tried in South East London that stocked real cider. So, all credit for that. Definitely a decent bar and my favourite of the day.
blue_scrumpy - 27 Jan 2019 15:49
Very sorry to find that they no longer stock Biddendens cider. They have replaced it with a lower alcohol and lower taste version called Bushels.
jgurney1 - 12 May 2018 12:42
It's reassuring to return to the Claret and it still be as fine as it was. Good beer decent service and friendly (if seasoned) clientele. No Hoxton fins in here kids. More retired Geography teacher hairstyles than you could shake a stick at.

Great pub. Long may it remain. And remain as it is.
terenced - 20 Feb 2017 08:32
Since my last visit. Well What a good change. The bar looks much improved.
The old carpet has been renewed with a combination of wood effect and new carpet in a interesting design. A new range of fridges. Still good ales, good staff,
polite customers, well designed TV arrangement , A new Dyson hand dryer in the mens . The new owner is trying hard, great start.
quaffer2000 - 26 Sep 2016 11:14
I met a chap recently who is hoping to buy the Claret, he is a long time customer and his intention is to keep things as they are,an admirable sentiment,he seems very enthusiastic and I was pleased with what I heard.There is a lot of competition starting in Croydon both Dark Star and Craft&Co. are opening within two or three months, Dark Star in Surrey St. and Craft&Co. at East Croydon. Every real ale pub in Croydon will have to seriously "UP" their game to see off these two!
slerpy - 31 Mar 2016 17:17
It is still there now, and still sells a very good pint of Biddendens cider.
jgurney1 - 23 Mar 2016 15:04
Worrying news Slerpy - any further detail as to whether it is being sold on as a pub or to be turned into flats etc?
lad_newton - 5 Nov 2015 07:31
Another re-tick for me a couple of Saturdays ago

I first visited here in the summer and thought it was excellent so when given the opportunity to visit again I had to take it. We arrived here just before 10pm on Saturday night and I admit I was a little worse for wear.

A cracking selection of ales. I chose pints of the very smokey Binghams Woodsmoker Porter @ 5.0% & a pint of Gipsy Hill’s Beatnik, which is always a very good pint.

Extremely busy with a very good bunch of mainly locals.

Lots of chatter and music, the tele was also on showing Match of the Day.

I’ve decided I like this place and will return again soon.
lezford - 17 Mar 2015 20:07
A newish manager with a work ethic, a clean up and a new toilet with blade style hand dryer have added up to an impovement, the range of ever changing ales at slightly below average price has always been the pubs strength.Unfortunately many long years ago it was opened as Jesters wine bar and it looks far more wine bar than a traditional pub.The Claret is full if a major sporting event is on T.V. they have two and if An International Rugby match clashes with( lets say) Final Score both are shown. Like a few other pubs a sample jar of the beer "on" is tied to the handpump, so that customers can see the colour and type of ale easily, this saves time and solves at least one F.A.Q.9/10.
slerpy - 12 Nov 2014 15:42
I came in for my first ever visit around 5.30pm on a Thursday and I wasn't prepared for the place to be so busy this is definitely a bar more than a pub, very similar to Irish or Scottish pubs.

Carpeted throughout with old and worn looking tables and chairs filling every space on the floor.

Music playing and the television in the corner on mute.

Mixed clientele but most were 40+, there was a steady stream of punters during the hour I spent here.

6 hand pumps offering 5 ales, I went for Dark Star Summer Meltdown @ 4.8% & Marmalade Cat from the Fat Cat Brewery. There is a board on the wall opposite the bar displaying which beers are on now and next .... Currently the beer's on next have 16 listed which is excellent for a small independent bar

A main stay in Camra’s GBG and that was the reason for my visit, certainly glad I did as it’s well worth a visit.
lezford - 30 Jul 2014 13:00
Glad to see they have been working on new toilets in the pub for men and ladies, a great improvement. As usual good beer, good staff.
quaffer2000 - 29 Aug 2013 12:16
I've been going there for nearly twenty years, the beer's always been good & now Don has recently had the toilets redone.
Here's to the next twenty -and mines a Palmers please.
Frequent_visitor - 25 Jun 2013 11:49
Quaffer says "The owners rely on the regulars to keep this pub going but refuse .. to invest in any improvement ". Perhaps because the same regulars would not regard any change as an improvement? There is nothing wrong with the Claret.
jgurney1 - 20 Apr 2013 12:07
So nothing has changed re an upgrade since my last effort.

No investment except new security cameras.

As usual good beer, staff , punters, but a total lack of interest by the owners

The owners rely on the regulars to keep this pub going but refuse or are unable to invest in any improvement , in particular the toilets. Disappointing.

You get the feeling the owners are just laughing at the customers for going in there.
quaffer2000 - 13 Feb 2013 09:55
Millionth pint of Palmer's IPA sold.
slerpy - 28 Nov 2012 16:01
I have been going in to the Claret once a week for the last few weeks and every pint i've had has been very good indeed, particularly the Derventio Brewery King Alfred 4.3% dark ale ( if memory serves me correctly). Beer Shop is my version of high praise ,it means a pub that is not concentrating on other issues such as gastro food, garden flower displays, rock bands etc. It puts the beer FIRST.
slerpy - 22 Oct 2012 20:57
Try as one may to mind his own business these days, but this establishment most certainly merits a comment or two, I am only human afterall! Human that is, yet.... flabbergasted, dumbfounded, distraught, distracted, intrigued, inhumane, outraged, appalled, nosy, dashing, devious, delusional and doing a ten stretch at Her Majesty's 'pleasure'.

But the Claret, Addiscombe, is a cracking Boozer gentleman, and you Slerpy, end of. I'm almost dancing round my cell with jubilatee at the very thought of a Blindman's or an Old Stoat Wobbler, a flipping Fire-Bellied Toad for fooks sake!!!!

Dartitis - never ask for a Leeds match to be turned up louder you ruddy plonker!!! (How do you cure dartitis incidentally I have not been able to throw a single arrow for weeks now????)

Better shoot before I get rumbled, but i rec I'll be back on civvy street before Old McDonald's even finished his crossword in the corner!! first thing I do when I'm out of her
cheekyhalf - 19 May 2012 18:40
Great pub. There's always a bloke in there reading about the horses or trying to do a crossword. Dresses like a farmer.
cliffjb - 23 Feb 2012 11:24
Been coming here on and off for years,good range of ales but the wine range very poor,toilets really need to be sorted ,all in all and nice little bar.
beerman44 - 27 Dec 2011 12:27
Great choice of beer, felt a bit clique'ee, but probably down to my ugly mug. Service great, a tad under invested but where isn't these days. Probably wouldn't seek it out but for the great choice of well kept beer.
huntsbeer - 20 Nov 2011 17:28
A beer shop without any frills, real ale and Sky Sports are the attraction, today the range included , Dark Star Ruby Mild, Red Squirrel Redwood, Otley Number 3, Palmers IPA and a 5% from Mole Brewery.The first "proper" freehouse in Croydon, always worth a visit.
slerpy - 23 Jul 2011 18:01
I have been going on and off for a few years now and always find the pub a good place for some decent beer, Good selection of hand pump Ale or larger and some wine. Faux tudor look inside, but it works, if dated. The bar staff are good in my opinion, polite and friendly, with Don the bar manager more business like. There are some odd timings for extra staff in busy times, so a little wait is required occasionally. A small pub. It can get very busy Thurs , Fri, Sat pm. More or less full with 70 customers.There are two TVs large and small, the staff do their best to accommodate sporting events, a good atmosphere with national games. Quite music at other times. A range of seating, stools at the bar, which can make for difficulty when ordering if it is busy.
Its well run.
The place lacks investment though.
The toilets are badly in need of refurbishment, and a decent 'deep clean'.
The age range is mainly 35-60+, from a wide range of professions. Sadly lacking in no outside area.
The customers are a polite group of people with a large number of regulars. Easy going.

quaffer2000 - 28 Jun 2011 12:33
Fairly quiet for a Friday evening (can only assume it was due to being a public holiday). The barmaid obligingly allowed me to increase the volume on what transpired to be a dreadful Leeds United/Reading encounter, during which I had two very well kept ales in the form of Nethergate Essex Border and Whitstable Oyster Stout.
Dartitis - 26 Apr 2011 17:51
Today's range includes; Dark Star CITRA, RCH East Street Cream,a Kings ale,a dorking Ale and Blackwater's Impressionism plus the regularly available Palmers IPA.
slerpy - 2 Apr 2011 12:03
Hophead Citra, Gadds no.5. All six 'pumps have an ale, as ever.
slerpy - 12 Mar 2011 17:44
Busy one room pub with Horse racing a major occupation. Good range of ales - not happy with my Dark Star Winter Meltdown as it was infused with Ginger. Very close to tram stop.
Booze_Allen - 28 Dec 2010 14:06
A pub but a 'public house' if you know what I mean Has a sort of 80s feel to it. Has a TV showing the horse racing complete with punters shouting at it for that short duration. An older crowd, virtually all of them drinking one of the 6 real ales on offer that appeal to a beer snob like me and reasonably priced for London at �2.90.
Abteilung - 27 Dec 2010 22:55
This place is obviously still turning good trade if all these regular reviews are to go by
Its more of a wine bar look to it, but def has a pub feel on the inside.
While was a decent enough visit, theres always something of an over-rated feel to these sorts of places, akin to the beer circus of croydon and the evening star of brighton - yes wide range to drink available, but customer service always leaves something to be desired
Out of the three I have had the best experience in the beer circus so far
Would return but it aint a 'roll out the red carpet' type of place
the_original_rawnsleys - 16 Nov 2010 09:59
The Claret does a fine range of beers for very good prices. They are reliably well kept and it's always a pleasure to run into Whitstable Oyster Stout.

The decor is like a 1970s wine bar that serves gammon and pineapple. But that is no bad thing. The Claret is well worth a visit.
terenced - 16 Nov 2010 08:07
The Claret in Addiscombe is having a mini beer festival from 18th to 21st of


Beartown - Bear Skinful 4.2%
Blindmans - Siberia 4.7%
Bowmans - Quiver Porter 4.5%
Branscome - Brannol 3.8%
Coastal - Angelina 4.1%
Downton - Chocolate Orange Delight 4.5%
Frog Island - Fire-Bellied Toad 5%
Great Newsome - Jems Stout 4.3%
Humpty Dumpty - Norfolk Nectar 4.3%
Newmans - Wolvers Ale 4.1%
Purple Moose - Glasyn Ale 4.2%
Rother Valley - Level Best 4%
Spectrum - Old Stoat Wobbler 6%
White Horse - Village Idiot 4.1%
Wold Top - Wold Gold 4.8%

Palmers IPA will also be available as usual.

Thanks, Robert and 'appy birthday.
slerpy - 9 Nov 2010 08:57
The Claret has a Beer Festival on the 18th-21st November2010. No details as yet but normally they have forty ales,biased towards those under 5.5%.The ales are from anywhere in the U.K. An event not to be missed.
slerpy - 31 Oct 2010 08:11
Always six ales and four or five ciders actually on. Today there were two Dark Star ales, an ale from Bushy's I.O.M.the ubiquitous Palmer's IPA and two others that escape my inebriated mind.rather like those things to do before your thirty guides"Just do it" lesser pubs like the Trafalgar (South Wimbledon )win London Pub of the Year, Croydon now boasts several great real ale pubs.
slerpy - 19 Sep 2010 18:47
Well kept ales, normally at least 5 on offer, and at competitive prices.
martins2 - 7 Sep 2010 10:27
The variety of real ales continues to amaze, the Alligator Ale (Ascot) was very good over the last couple of days.
slerpy - 8 Aug 2010 16:34
Extremely hot day today and as luck would have it my visit to the Claret was marred by a breakdown of the ventilation system. The available ales were, Red Squirrel Stout, a Weltons ale, the ubiquitous Palmer's I.P.A.and two from Dark Star Summer Solstice and Hophead.
slerpy - 11 Jul 2010 16:54
I havn't been to this pub for about a year and after a couple of visits this month I realise what I'v been missing, all the ales are clearly chalked up on a blackboard with the prices which are very good.I will definitely be visiting more often.
Belchmeistergeneral - 26 May 2010 09:44
An excellent pub with a good selection of real ales. The recent beer festival was particularly good with around 16 real ales, all available. All ales seem to be priced on strength, starting at around �2.50 per pint for the weakest and increasing in price to about �2.80 per pint for the stronger ales. This seems a fair way to charge as the tax payable is dependent on strength. Most pubs seem to cash in on the tax savings on the weaker beers by setting a standard price based on the strongest beer.
adriancowie1 - 24 May 2010 14:55
After attending the beer festival I have revisited the Claret and I found a wonderful range of ales and well kept .The attention to selecting the very best possible ales is due to Don who like John the previous guvnor is a dedicated real ale enthusiast.The price is kept to a minimum which ensures that the Palmers IPA is the Borough's most sold ale from one handpump.A very honest establishment which suceeds on doing what it"says on the tin". A time capsule of a beer shop.
slerpy - 23 May 2010 17:28
Beer Festival in full swing last night. Some good ales available, and a mild and a wheat beer.
Bowlands 'Devil's Rock' 3.8% 5/10
Potbelly 'Pigs Do Fly' 4.4% 6/10
Blue Monday 'BG Sips' 4.0% 7/10
Beartown Black Bear (Stout) 5.0% 9/10
Brentwood 'Spooky Moon' 3.8%
Palmers IPA 4.2% (and always available) 10/10

The beers were all in good condition and cold enough.
redjim73 - 2 May 2010 10:17
Thanks REDJIM, starts Friday30th until Monday the 3rd.
slerpy - 27 Apr 2010 07:30
Mini-Beer festival upcoming over the Bank Holiday. Requests welcome at the bar.
redjim73 - 18 Apr 2010 10:03
A very worthwhile visit today, three ales from Dark Star. the Hophead was on supreme form1 as our xmas treat a beer from Tyrell is due.Otherwise everything is exactly as it was, after all that is what you'd expect from such a timecapsule of a pub as this. It really does have overtones of " The Iceman Cometh".
slerpy - 3 Dec 2009 19:55
The upcoming beer festival has a wonderful list of ales and ciders, Thomas Sykes( a festival favourite) from Burton Bridge at 10% , Orange Wheat from Green Jack and many others far to numerous to mention ( also my diminished memory due to over indulgence). Today's beer menu included Hophead, APA, Anastasia Stout Ascot, etc.
slerpy - 7 Nov 2009 19:14
Beer Festival starting on the 12th of November 2009.It will last four days ( or as is more probable until the ale ceases to flow) .I'm sounding like Alph River,decent length of rope anyone?
slerpy - 5 Nov 2009 10:56
Made first ever visit last night and there was a great range of beers on offer, also a big blackboard with some unusual beers coming soon.

I sampled the Dark Star Hophead and Dark Star American Pale Ale. Both were in excellent shape. Also on offer were RCH Double Header and one from the Cottage Brewery. May have been another - not sure though. For those interested, there was also real cider - served from a cask in a back room.

To be honest, it didn't look like what you'd expect from a real ale emporium and there were two TVs showing Sky footie - not that they dominated.

The pub didn't get anywhere near busy until gone 10pm (it was a Monday night though), and I noticed there were no women in the bar apart from the woman pulling the pints! But they were friendly staff and strangers would not feel unwelcome. The beer was also very reasonably priced - from �2.30-�2.60 depending on strength seemed to be the price range. I'll definitely go again.
Roodeye - 15 Sep 2009 11:19
Hophead today was in excellent form. the summer Ale from Hornbeam was a real revelation. Don seems to be around more often which is good news.The menu extended to a cheese roll, possibly made today.
slerpy - 20 Jun 2009 19:34
The Green Dragon were robbed in truth, Slerps.
young_camra_collectiv - 9 Jun 2009 21:21
The Claret receives the P.O.T.Y. award tonight, from the Croydon & Sutton branch of CAMRA.Not quite the place it was in truth.
slerpy - 9 Jun 2009 15:09
Things are coming together now. Don the Cheam guvnor is in charge fairly regularly, the wide ranging beer choice is being upheld, Quench from Crouch Vale was on last week it was virtually the first brew as Beermad has only just reported that such a beer exists ! The Hophead was a brand new barrel today and as you would expect in top order.Four ciders are available at all times.
slerpy - 16 May 2009 17:13
On Friday 1st May 2009, the Harvey's Sussex Extra Stout was in excellent condition.

The price of a pint is competitive, the locals are either friendly or at least polite and the surroundings comfortable. Its proximity to Addiscombe tram stop (adjacent) makes visiting a breeze. Yes, John (the former part-time manager) may have moved on but The Claret survives. Long may it continue.

The real cider, (usually Biddenden), is also well worth a try.
Beertiful - 4 May 2009 22:07
Well to answer your latest critisism, something that you are very good at ! When John Rann ran the Claret the beer was usually in superb nick. due to family illness sadly john will not be back this has created an hiatus in the normally smooth running of the place, for awhile the ale has not ,quite frankly been up to the mark. more recently things have steeped up again, lets face it the place is a beer only outlet as I have mentioned before. As to wether I choose to submit thirty posts or three thousand it is really non of your business, if the administation staff on B.I.T.E. feel that I have posted too frequently I am assured that they would indeed let me know ! One other factual error that you have made was to suggest that the Claret was a potential POTy when what i actually stated was that the Claret has WON the Croydon and Sutton CAMRA POTY.
slerpy - 29 Apr 2009 16:20
Making almost 30 posts in a year on this pub, slerpy's bias is obvious. Virtually all posts were extremely positve - 'can I give 12/10 ?' The Claret is fine, but certainly not exceptional; it seems clear that free beer is probably relevant to slerpy's bias - as he feels he has to be its constant BITE frontman and hardly ever mentions a fault (there are many!)
Retire from BITE slerpy, for not being truthful - or, indeed, in the real world.
blackgander - 29 Apr 2009 13:41
Blackpropaganda,I did not vote for the claret as POTY ,I am just relating the fact that it won. Seriously NOT my choice ! As I am already retired it would be difficult to retire twice. I hope I did not use any sesquipedalian words that would confuse you.
slerpy - 29 Apr 2009 08:30
2009 winner of Croydon and Sutton pub of the Year. Now The Claret goes forward to the London POTY finals.
slerpy - 27 Apr 2009 12:07
I meant season not summer... d'oh !
slerpy - 17 Apr 2009 19:23
I just cannot get along with the Dark Star beer Saison ( french for summer) it is a cloudy(delibrately so) wheat beer i adore everything they brew but however much i try i cannot like this beer. it sounds a bit like Sarson's ( no it was not vinegary ) ! Don from the Cheam pub is looking after the beers at the moment.
slerpy - 17 Apr 2009 14:08
Hal Davies, Every word of your review is eloquent and perfectly true, however the Claret have subsequenly put some of the beers that had been at room temperature into the cellar and tasted like tepid chicken soup. i do admit to being a tad fussy over beer quality but i feel justified as at the end of the day we do pay for the stuff ! If my BMW was to conk out regularly I would be equally unhappy and complaining.End of rant !
slerpy - 16 Mar 2009 17:29
The beer at the Scottish Beer Festival was warm. However, I managed a few pints on Thursday before they warmed up and found them to be really nice. I am not a beer snob, but some cooling will be required before the next festival. The beers on pump were the proper temperature and very good. Thanks for running the festival. I don't only go for the beer, the regulars are a lovely, welcoming bunch of interesting people. Now, you can't say that about many pubs in Croydon!
HalDavies - 15 Mar 2009 21:01
Firstly , Many barrels of festival beer were left in the bar at about 72 degrees farenheit, virtually every regular ( a knowledgable crowd drink here) were complaining about this and avoiding the overly warm beer . John the guvnor was called away due to serious parental ill health, the owners I am reliably told have taken the dimmest of dim views of this. the assistant Manager (recently appointed) happily admits that he knows absolutely zip about real ale. John is 68 years old and obviously well past retirement age, the owners are octogenarians. it really does not require a tremendous leap of ones imagination to picture a for sale board perched above the front door lintel, twenty -five years ago this place was called Jesters Wine Bar as you can well imagine a very nasty feeling of deja vu went through my mind ! I really could not bring myself to post this over the weekend as the Claret and the Cricketers are the only pubs in the area where you can obtain a really good pint of ale. let's hope that when the dust settles that it is a smooth landing and not one of the bumpy variety.
slerpy - 13 Mar 2009 08:25
Slerpy, your post of 7th March confuses me.

'worst fears are coming to fruition'...'the rumours do not bode well'...'things may turn out better than anticipated'...'events of Thursday were merely a prelude'

What is happening ?
blackgander - 9 Mar 2009 13:01
I quickly popped in to the Claret today, my worst fears are coming to fruition, the rumours do not bode well for the future. Hopefully when the smoke clears things may turn out better than anticipated. The events of Thursday were merely a prelude.
slerpy - 7 Mar 2009 22:04
The Scottish beer festival is a bit of a damp squib ! The beer on stillage in the pub is at 72 degrees and sweltering, if you HAVE to go have a beer from the cellar.
slerpy - 6 Mar 2009 14:12
Alongside the Cricketers, five minutes walk away Addiscombe has the best two real ale pubs in the borough. The Dark Star Hophead is far more regularly available in the Claret, but other top rate breweries beers appear at intervals, Dorking, Twickenham , Beachy Head, Ascot, Surrey Hills,Bushy's,Crouch Vale, I could go on the list is endless ! The company is always warm and welcoming, everything one looks for in the perfect pub.
slerpy - 22 Feb 2009 16:49
Superb session here last night. Met up with five others and had splendid time, made all the better when two extra Dark Star ales came on to replace a couple of empty casks. Palmers was its reliable self, Dark Star Hophead and Sussex Stout were exquisite.

My journey to the pub involved a bus, two tube lines, one national rail line and a tram - but was 100% worth it! Only wish it was my local!
lad_newton - 22 Feb 2009 13:14
Several very good beers on last night including a wonderful choice of Dark Star ales. As usual a 10/10.
slerpy - 1 Feb 2009 17:06
The word is that there is going to be a mini festival in March with some Scottish Ales. John said 5th - 8th March
redjim73 - 29 Jan 2009 22:21
An unlikely-looking real ale (and malt whisky) emporium, but six welcoming handpumps leave one spoilt for choice. Could easily have had the Dark Star Imperial Stout (at 10.5%) and stayed all day, but had things to do so settled for the more manageable 4.5% Sussex Extra Stout. All-in-all, an excellent place.
rpadam - 2 Jan 2009 20:07
The next Festival will be February. The Dorking Brewery Ruby was simply fabulous! The Princetown IPA spectacular. The range and choice are always breathtaking. As I was about to leave John shouted out " Don't leave "yet another beer was about to come on, but sadly I had my fill.
slerpy - 22 Nov 2008 20:22
Well, the Claret came up trumps today,great Hophead followed by Dark Star Smoke, a really great range in top condition. I do not know what the other four were but who cares !
slerpy - 8 Nov 2008 19:39
Popped in after reading an article in The London Drinker. Six real ales on the bar, plumped for a pint of TEA from Hogs Back. OK, but not in great condition and quite hard to finish. Nice atmosphere though, I'm sure I'll go back to try the other five!
busterboy - 28 Oct 2008 23:11
The Palmer's offer changed slightly, yesterday John said it will be �1.20 per pint and will be available throughout the day on the 31st of October.
slerpy - 24 Oct 2008 15:23
A big sorry to everyone, the Claret beer festival will NOT take place, as a replacement the Palmers ( ?) IPA will be buy one get one so �1.20 a pint ! you can always try the Green Dragon in Central croydon which has a wonderful beer list.
slerpy - 15 Oct 2008 18:58
Itchen Pure Gold was on yesterday, it was not up to the usual standard, a tad cloudy. Whitstable beers seem to feature at the mo.
slerpy - 13 Oct 2008 10:17
the Claret Beer festival starts on Friday the 24th of October, Surrey micro beers will be featured,
slerpy - 10 Oct 2008 16:14
Well-kept Biddenden cider, they have both the dry and medium versions. Ask for it, as it is not on display. Helpful staff allowed us to put our large bags (we were going to Gatwick) in the cleaners cupboard so people did not keep falling over them.
jgurney1 - 21 Sep 2008 12:58
My worst pub visit in a while yesterday. Five of the six pumps were clipped but none were to my liking. I usually like the Itchen Valley beers but the Fagins was thin & tasteless, I�m not keen on Deuchars & it was a little hazy anyway, Palmers was at the end of the barrel and undrinkable, that left a watery stout and a 7% dark beer. Think I�ll give it a miss until they get their act together.
trainman - 14 Sep 2008 07:12
Yesterday's six real ales included Dark Star Hophead Extra at 5.8% plus their Espresso Stout; both in tip top condition and at the right temperature (for me). Also as well as the regular Palmer's beers there was Anastasia's Exile Stout - absolutely beautiful.

Contrary to others, I can accommodate a variety of different tastes and styles, and the Palmer's IPA was also very good. Just what you'd expect of a quality session beer.

OK sometimes it is not perfect occasionally, but everywhere has its bad days. Yesterday was a good day, so much so, I have had to increase my rating to 10.
Beertiful - 25 Aug 2008 10:21
Nipped in here yesterday on a bit of a tour round the area. It's a nice enough pub but I nearly walked past as I thought it was an Indian restaurant! I would like to go back in the evening to see if they put any more beer on as the choice wasn't brilliant. The beer I had was a bit warm and veering towards sour. Just on the turn but the bar was very quiet and I suppose if there's not a high turnover that's what happens. I guess having frequented the Wenlock for the past few weeks you get spoilt with the high turnover of beers.
ofrex - 14 Aug 2008 14:27
The " only" special thing about the Claret is the wide variety of Real Ales they sell every month, it is about one a day. Six ales available at any time, if you stay here two or three hours probably a pump will change. Oh ! I nearly forgot, also four ciders at all times.Real Cider is VERY hard to find in Croydon.
slerpy - 14 Aug 2008 12:42
Looks and feels like it used to be a restaurant. Nice and handy for the tram. There was a bit of overkill on Palmers beers which I'm not wild about. I had a fairly average pint. After reading the reviews I was a bit disappointed. Nice enough beer and pub but nothing special about it.
chick - 14 Aug 2008 09:17
The entire range of Ascot Ales is due on during August,this should be enough to keep the Claret in second place on BITE ! A beer festival is due in late October.
slerpy - 12 Aug 2008 17:24
There is a secret to John's success ! He revealed this recently. ( Drum roll please ) He has discerned that beer tastes better in an 18 gal. The simple reason for this is there is more "middle" and less end.It is true as the Hophead here yesterday was much better than elsewhere.One or two people complain that they are not keen on the Claret but the atmosphere is much better since the smoking ban, I estimate that I inhaled about 40 fags a week in here and I have never bought the darn things !10/10 Can I give 12/10 bite people ?
slerpy - 5 Aug 2008 11:00
Ha Ha ! Trainman that passes for ambience in Croydon !When I go on holiday (like last week ) I have withdrawal symptoms over the Claret.The most homely pub for many a mile and it is small and so unlike the great big beer barns that deface Central Croydon.As for John it is a relief to have a guvnor who is so knowledgeable on real ale, and he always gets the beer temperature spot on,and the beer has exactly the right head.!10/10.
slerpy - 28 Jul 2008 20:08
Great little (v) basic pub with interesting, changing, selection of beers plus notices of what's coming next, but please change those manky beer 'towels' on the bar - they stink to high heaven of vinegar & make you wanna gag if standing at the bar.
trainman - 26 Jul 2008 22:49
Croydon's best pub by a mile, well worth the journey ,much better than the the beer barns of central Croydon.The quality and variety of real ale is not matched elsewher in Croydon. The Shardlow Mild was top hole last week.
slerpy - 26 Jul 2008 22:18
On 24th June, the beer was excellent. Hepworth Prospect and Sussex were on, as was Westerham William Wilberforce together with the regular Palmer's Beers and Spitfire.

Adjacent Addiscombe tramstop so so well-connected you just have to try it!
Beertiful - 26 Jun 2008 00:12
The Palmer's beers have a distinctive taste that is hard to get used to , many West Country beers have a slight nod towards cider. The Claret is the best pub for many a mile for beer , o.k. maybe not for food or other facilities. The Recent beerfestival was a roaring sucess after the recent rubbish that was served up in other festivals, the beers were selected micro breweries of distinction not the cheapest beers from a wholesaler who has frozen the beer and is therefore devoid of taste. I have rated the Claret even higher at TEN and I have had to drop my mark for other local pubs that just play lip service to Real Ale.
slerpy - 21 Jun 2008 18:02
Last two visits - very bad beer quality - or is the Palmers supposed to be old tasting. I'll wager its not. Good to see it though - where else?? No, needs a quality check (Sat 31/05)& I dont mean cask marque! Derrick (correct?) a nice guy though. Right next to tram and bus - easy to get to.
operationmindcrime - 3 Jun 2008 19:03
Rainlight did you actually enter the place ? It looks like a typical old fashioned wine bar ! the secret is that it not.The beer festival has been delayed until the 6-9 th of June, the beers wil be from small micro breweries.
slerpy - 11 May 2008 17:02
Oldfashioned-looking pub, despite which it apparently has only been a pub for 30 years or so; sells a range of beers from a little bar on the left and the rest is nicely informal. Palmers bitter is the regular one but there are also a couple of beers from Dark Star on at present. Really a proper pub.
rainlight - 26 Apr 2008 09:09
The last weekend of May sees the start of the Claret Beer Festival, it is unique in the fact that the beers are selected rather than just any old thing from a wholesaler , the beers are fresher as well. In one word UNMISSABLE.
slerpy - 23 Apr 2008 18:50
In terms of real ale this is the best pub in Croydon. Do not be put off be the overly local atmosphere, once you have been in a couple of times you are recognised and afforded a warm welcome.
The real ale is top notch, and I usually go for the Palmers IPA, which is on most of the time. The bloke behind the bar said they sell more of it in the Claret than in Bridport where it is produced.
It's good to go in a pub like this as a (reasonably) young person and not be stared at, despite most of the clientelle being a bit older.
Highly recommended. No food as such, but then there is a chinese restaurant NEXT DOOR and plenty of takeaways down the street.
redjim73 - 17 Apr 2008 09:30
One of the critical things that makes one pub welcoming and another NOT is the warm welcome consistently given by the publican, John uniquely always gives a warm welcome, regardless of the vagaries that life throws up.This makes the Claret stand out from its peer group.
slerpy - 11 Apr 2008 20:40
Claret beer festival will be at the end of May. Over 30 beers, the CAMRA members that I was drinking with were agog at the rare beers being mentioned by John, many of them will be available for the first time in London.As usual a good choice of ciders will be on offer. At the last Festival (November 2007 ) Thomas Sykes 10% was �2.00 !
slerpy - 31 Mar 2008 18:44
John came back on Thursday this week so most of the problems will vanish, simply Croydon's best real ale pub.The range , variety and quality of the real ale is just superb. food runs to a cheese roll or maybe a corn beef roll on Saturday lunchtimes.
slerpy - 14 Mar 2008 21:02
Great ale range (though wish more milds were regularly on), and atmosphere has improved since the smoking ban. However the "betting shop" ambience still prevails, and indeed a recent Six Nations showing on the big screen was aurally obscured by some of the regulars turning up the racing coverage on the small TV to a decibel level approaching last night's earth tremor. Moan over though - because of its ales the Claret is a must in the Croydon area.
Dartitis - 27 Feb 2008 15:02
Excellent place, right next to Addiscombe tram stop.

Palmers Best, Spitfire, Dark Star Porter & Hophead and Hogs Back HBB & Hop Garden Gold. Most normal strengthe beer is �2.30 - �2.40 and even the Porter at 5.5% was only �2.50. They have a board with a comprehensive list of what's coming up, around 20 or so including beers from Westerham, Cottage, Cairngorm and Nethergate.

Friendly atmosphere, thoroughly recommended.
GuideDogSaint - 3 Feb 2008 13:37
Not a good place to go if you are a woman. (Was really out-numbered.)

But I will give it a second visit before I make mind up properly.
Arnaud - 20 Jan 2008 22:02
Enjoyable visit, and a great Xmas Ale on tap... was only going to try it for one, but me and my mate decided it was worth having 3 times

Quite packed by regulars I would guess

My only slight criticism is the barman acknowledging the customer ritual that left me and my mate waiting a bit while he was yapping to one of his regulars... could have asked what we wanted then continued the conversation as he poured... just you can see your hands rolling up into fists and the feeling of walking out coming on, as countless other ignored patrons have done before...
the_original_rawnsleys - 27 Dec 2007 11:08
An excellent real ale bar, much more amenable now that the smoking ban is in place. One of the few places where Palmers' beer is normally available. Will become even more popular following the imminent demise of the Beer Circus.
beerlover666 - 13 Nov 2007 12:24
A selection of 6 ever-changing cask ales taken from across the country is the main draw at what would otherwise appear to be a fairly average sort of venue from its external frontage. Also, one has to say that in this location, the last thing one expects to find is a cracking beer pub! So this lends all the more credit to the Claret for its efforts, and justifies the many local CamRA awards it has won in recent years (the soon-to-be-defunct Beer Circus is the only venue nearby besides Wetherspoon pubs that can compete for beer range).
All in all a decent little local that is convenient for passing pedestrians and tram travellers alike.
TWG - 12 Nov 2007 13:03
Good selection of beers always available. Only permanent outlet for Palmer's in London. Now smoking ban is in, this place is comfortable although can be cramped when busy (which it tends to be Thu/Fri/Sat evenings). Recent beers have been from Whitstable, Eccleshall, Westerham, Dark Star & Cottage. Adjacent Addiscombe tram stop.
Beertiful - 22 Oct 2007 21:55
The Claret is a far more interesting prospect now, in the non-smoking era! Great selection of ales - many from smaller breweries - good to see beers from Hepworths and Surrey Hills brewery. Also good range of 'real' cider. And all at decent prices. The pub is very convenient for the Tramstop. My only criticism is the lack of beers below 4% and the rarity of milds.
weakbeermonster - 23 Jul 2007 10:20
Continues to be a top pub, and worth the journey down to Addiscombe for the beer range and atmosphere.
lad_newton - 14 Jul 2007 19:48
Good beer - quick service in a packed pub. This'll do me.
realmeerkat - 11 Jul 2007 22:56
Excellent pub for a wide selection of excellent beer and civilized conversation.
AnneOnymous - 8 Jul 2007 18:59
I've had some lovely beers here but it's just too smokey for me. Roll on the ban.
76501 - 9 Apr 2007 17:58
Exterior presents a wine bar-like facade and I wasn't keen, either, on the corridor-like layout inside, but approach the bar and you know you'll be here for more than one pint. Five(six?)polished handpumps displayed real ales which were all new to me, none of which I can relate to you now as this was later in the day, although prev reviews mention Palmers and Westerham & those ring some sort of bell. Suffice to say I sampled four of them and enjoyed 'em all. Sad that Dark Star wasn't amongst them as HopHead is one of me favs, but good alternative selection and I can live with the decor which obviously helps keep the burberry boys at bay. Tiny tv showed the racing, & plasma at far end showed footy results. I'll be back.
trainman - 20 Feb 2007 15:15
Excellent session last Saturday night. The Dark Star HopHead was replaced immediately on expiry by another superb beer from the same brewery, and the Palmers' Original IPA was on "moreish" form. Pub buzzing with friendly conversation, atmosphere perfect!
lad_newton - 11 Dec 2006 20:12
Like beer? Head into The Claret and take your choice from the ever-changing range of hand-pulled cask ales served here. Never had a duff pint in here in 10 years of regular drinking. Perfect!

There's a board showing the current selection, and also what's waiting in the wings - sometimes there's 30 plus names there, all from independent brewers. Palmers of Bridport IPA is the "house" beer.

It's a friendly place and you'll always find someone to chew the fat with if you go alone. The decor is brewers Tudor, but don't let that put you off.

Rolls (corned beef; cheese etc)are the only sustenance available, thank God.

Why's this place not yet in the top 40?
zjp - 6 Oct 2006 00:44
And now deservingly, a listing in Camra's Good Beer Guide 2007.
acebyte - 11 Sep 2006 15:08
As promised 18 months ago, 10/10. Now has DARK STAR HOP HEAD on quite regular. Drunk 4pts last Sat. Now open later than it did in Jan05. Pub much same as it were then. Mixed crowd in here, quite friendly.
andywalwyn - 27 Jun 2006 18:06
A pub for all tastes.6 real ales on tap and Kentish cider straight from the cellar.A very cosy pub,well worth a visit.From the outside it looks like a shop so dont miss it.
apa - 27 May 2006 17:04
Croydon CAMRA Pub of the Year 2006. Another win for this bastion of excellent beer. Presentation on June 7th. Dark Star and Westerham featuring strongly recently.
Alph_river - 25 May 2006 10:29
This is a quality little boozer. Landlord is an absolute legend who is always up for some banter and occasionally lays out a nice spread. You gotta love it when you get given plate of savoury bites. Good selection of random beers. Normally some great comedy characters that have popped out of the addiscombe woodwork in here as well. Great pub.
Orkon - 8 May 2006 13:04
good choice of beers (and a lot of real ale), but gets really smokey. Lacks ambience as its basically a converted shop unit, but staff always really friendly. Seems to get a regular clientele prob due to good quality ale. recommendedif you are a CAMRA type geezer.
pdavis500 - 9 Apr 2006 13:32
Yes, John the landlord is a proper gent. He lives in a small village near the Sussex coast and "commutes" up to the Claret around the middle of the week and goes back to the seaside after the weekend. It's a real "drinking den", yet civilised. Ales are always superbly kept and I love sitting in the corner whre I can gaze at an old photograph of a bi-plane coming into land at Croydon Aerodrome!
Rich66 - 8 Mar 2006 21:31
If/when I move away from Croydon I will look back at this place with fond memories. This pub has a character unlike any other I can recall. Maybe its the rickety chairs, maybe the tiny TVs, maybe the fact it only seemed to get working air con about a year ago and before that there were flies all year round, maybe its the fact that the landlord always wears a shirt and tie and is impeccably polite to all. Its definatly got something to do with the fantastic real beers that are always on tap.
I think its a bit like going back in time. Wonderful.
DanielG - 20 Jan 2006 13:37
Excellent pub, in an excellent position just a minute from the tram stop. A rare example of an old man's pub where young people aren't made to feel like criminals when they go in.
McDrunk - 15 Jan 2006 11:41
Great beer drinkers' pub. Small looking frontage opens out into a long rectangular room with the bar along the left hand side. Mock Tudor decor looks a bit tacky in a building that clearly isn't very old and the bar itself looks a bit like what you'd expect to find in the pool room of a nouveau-riche celebrity's Essex manor house (exposed brickwork with a rustic wood structure above). However, you go to this place for the real ales, which are excellent. Six handpumps: on my visit there was Shepherd Neame Spitfire & Late Red; Dark Star Festival & Porter; Westerham SPA and Palmer's IPA. Prices range from �2.20 for session beers to �2.50 for premium beers. I gluttonously dived straight into the Dark Star Porter (ABV 5.5%) without sampling the Westerham SPA or Dark Star Festival first, but I'm a cask stout/porter fiend and just couldn't resist - it was lovely. The walls are adorned with nicely mounted old photographs of Croydon and brewery memorablia. The Claret is literally within a few yards of Addiscombe tram stop and well worth a diversion to make a visit. Along with the Beer Circus (massive selection of continental beers) and Royal Standard (traditional boozer serving the Fuller's range) I'd rate the Claret as one of the best three pubs in Croydon and district.
Rich66 - 18 Oct 2005 17:58
Worthy indeed. Last time I were there, got treated to Palmers IPA and Palmers 200 (?) and both were nice.

Found it in Camra Good Beer Guide 2003 don't know if it's still in.
jamie.nakin - 16 Oct 2005 18:34
Again, B.I.T.E. spot on with its recommendations. A quality shop-converted pub on Bingham Corner by the tram stop. Palmers plus a dark star beer on regularly, and the whole atmosphere is relaxed. Don't be shy in asking for a taster if you are new to real ale, you will get something you enjoy here.

The staff are attentive, and customer-friendly, and I WISH I had a pub like this for a local.

Note: no food, except crisps, nuts etc.

Still, well deserving of a 10/10.
Phucough - 16 Oct 2005 18:30
Small, dark, one room pub with two small tv screens. Very much a small local boozer. Lacks character and charm, but is comfortable enough. Always has a nice crowd - never too noisey, friendly enough without being intrusive. The main attraction here is the range of real ales. Always changing, but at least one beer from one of Britain's smallest and least known family regionals - Palmers. In fact this is the only London outlet for Palmers beers. Every time I come here there is a choice of something like 6 different cask ales and four cask ciders. Turnover is quick so condition is always good. Nice.
SilkTork - 25 Aug 2005 12:36
I would like to congratulate this pub on its range of beers last night. Dark Star Hophead (3.8%) seems to have answered the commentary below (10/01/2005), and on top of this there was Palmers original (as standard) plus a premium bitter and an exquisite stout ("CRACKLE?") That is a good range by any stretch of the imagination, and it was well worth coming across London to quaff here. My personal rating for the pub is 10/10, and if Andy (below) were in the pub last night, he would be hard-pressed to give any rating below this! Well done to the landlord and the friendly staff, too, not forgetting the locals who made room for us!
lad_newton - 27 Feb 2005 14:30
This is a good pub and worth trekking out to find (next to the Addiscombe tram). Six beers on H'pump, but usually these start from 4% upwards. They could do with having a 3.7 or 3.8 session-ale on permanently there. I'd go more often if there was one, and leave a little more sober!

9/10, will change to 10/10 if this happens!
andywalwyn - 10 Jan 2005 17:24
My local hostelry and a great place for a few pints of an evening. The Landlord is very friendly as are the staff and the regulars. There is always a good atmosphere in there, probably helped by the excellent and well-kept selection of ales.
marc - 22 Jun 2004 16:26
in the good beer guide regularly .

2004 croydon and sutton pub of the year .

good range of beers.
family owned true freehouse
dan - 20 May 2004 12:31
A good pub, well kept beer and friendly locals. However no food in the pub. The chinese next door is always booked up at weekends so don't rely on it. Best eat elsewhere B/4 trammin it up to the Claret. It is worth makin the journey.

9/10 with this posting from Andy
lad_newton - 16 Feb 2004 21:22
A freehouse with a superb range of real ales. Local customers are very friendly and the staff are extremely good. The only problem with this pub is that it is very smokey.
Andy Perks - 27 Nov 2003 08:40
A genuine freehouse with a beamed ceiling and long narrow bar, keeping Palmers IPA as a regular, whilst five other handpumps serve a constantly changing range of interesting guests. Very friendly landlord and bar staff provide a welcoming atmosphere, and the pub often heaves with boisterous conversation. No music, but a quiet tv at the end of the pub for sport. No food, but crisps, nuts etc. A good Chinese next door. An excellent pub, right next to Addiscombe tram stop, easily accessible by tram from East Croydon.
Lee - [email protected] - 19 May 2003 11:36

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