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Blythe Hill Tavern, Forest Hill

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user reviews of the Blythe Hill Tavern, Forest Hill

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

A Tuesday night visit to watch football on the tv with a pal. It’s been a couple of months since I’ve been in but I was greeted like an old friend by Con the landlord on arrival.

We stayed until close and I can report that the Darkstar Hophead is still a perfect drop of ale.

As per my other postings this is a cracker of a pub, in fact it’s a proper pub.

lezford - 9 Nov 2016 18:15
A lovely pub that reminds me of how pubs used to be. Good selection of ales and ciders, Harveys Best particularly good, and well maintained Guinness which is not a given these days. Friendly and helpful staff and great garden. I have been frequenting along time, demographic is changing as Catford is overrun with developments and regeneration.. Definitely more beards about but that's the way it goes. An excellent little boozer nonetheless.
pubspy99 - 20 Oct 2016 15:13
3 visits in the last 3 and a half weeks on Wednesday nights & Saturday afternoon to watch the football on the tele.

Extremely well kept and poured pints of Darkstar’s Hophead always go down a treat and is the only ale I drink when I’m here…it’s that good I don’t need to try anything else.

Quality service from the bar staff, good quality ales, good banter all in all the Blythe really is a cracking pub.

lezford - 2 Jun 2016 14:57
A lovely old pub which is genuinely Irish ,full of sporting memorabilia.Three distinct bars and a pleasant garden. They have quite rightly won many awards for their beer and cider.As well as quality ales a warm welcome is always given.Slightly more big and medium brewery beers on the bar than I would like but I must admit that is a minor quibble.9/10.
slerpy - 9 Feb 2016 20:50
I'm not sure what I was expecting of the Blythe Hill Tavern when I ventured in there yesterday. But I knew that it was currently rated number 3 in the UK on BITE. But having visited for the first time, I can see why it's rated so highly. I was the first in at 11am yesterday. I remained in the small bar at the front, which has a narrow passage between the bars through to the other room/rooms. It almost looks as if you're going behind the bar itself to get through. There were 3 guys working the bar. At least 2 were Irish and all were very friendly and seemingly keen to chat to this first time visitor. It's not often staff take such an interest. So top marks where welcome is concerned. The interior is very cosy. The front bar is decorated with a golf theme and there are plenty of mentions of Ireland. There is a small TV in the corner, where horse racing was showing. If I am to be critical, the ale range could be wider. Yesterday they had Dark Star Hophead, Brockley Red Ale, Courage Best, Sharps Doom Bar & Harveys Sussex Best. But being a cider drinker, I was very happy to see a good and varied selection - Millwhites Rum Cask & Hedgleyer, Lilleys Bee Sting Perry, Sandford Orchards Devon Mist, Turners Russet & Elderflower & Westons Old Rosie. What better way to start a long day of drinking than an 8.5% cider (the Russet). Whilst others came close, the Blythe Hill Tavern gets my vote for my favourite pub of the day in South East London yesterday. Thanks very much to the owner for giving me a copy of CAMRA's London's Best Beer Pubs & Bars book - plenty more ideas for places to visit now. If only this was my local......!
blue_scrumpy - 8 Nov 2015 17:04
Until very recently I hadn’t been in the Blythe since mid 2010 and even then it was a flying visit on a Saturday night.

In the last 4 weeks I have used this pub regularly along with a pal of mine who uses the pub at least twice a week.

Things to note about this GBG entry friendly Irish pub :-

There are 4 ales & 4 ciders on cask with the Darkstar Hophead being extremely good.

On every visit I have made recently the pub is busy and gets even busier after 5pm.

The landlord (Con) is a top bloke and greets everyone like a long lost friend. The rest of the bar staff are also very friendly.

The ale is pretty cheap even for this part of South East London.

Sport is shown daily, whether it’s Rugby, Football, Snooker or the ever popular Horse Racing

A mixed clientele with not everyone being a local, this adds nicely to the mix & creates a nice relaxed atmosphere.

And best of all the pub is just over a 10 minute walk to my house!

A cracking pub with good ale and a great friendly welcome…a must visit!
lezford - 27 May 2015 13:51
Congratulations to the BHT - SPBW London Pub of the Year 2015. Con and his staff give you a real welcome and the beers are always excellent.
ed.spbw - 11 Dec 2014 14:18
This small Irish pub(not themed,genuine) extends a warm welcome to all,it is clad in old dark mahogany style wood( a lovely worn patina) throughout.The beers on yesterday were a 6% from Bee Brewery ,Sheffield,A Locale, Courage B.B. and Hophead. From the handpumps clips that decorate the walls and ceilings it is fairly obvious thar many different breweries beers are sold, not least of which are the Dark Star monthly specials. The walls have Guinness and horse racing memorabilia. Not the right time of year but I espied a decent garden. A strong contender for the best pub in South London.A pub like this is so much nicer than a pop up pub .10/10
slerpy - 29 Oct 2014 11:02
Lovely down-to-Earth Irish pub which serves a couple of good real ales. A draught of the warm South (London) indeed.
rainlight - 28 Jul 2014 06:35
I love this pub, I would go as far as saying it's the nicest pub I have ever been in. Everyone is incredibly friendly - the staff and the regulars. It is spotlessly clean, has a fantastic selection of beer (and ciders in the summer) and the best Guinness outside Ireland. There are three bars and a big garden with a mini adventure playground for kids. I would tell you about the snug and it's open fire in the winter but I like sitting there and I don't want you nicking my seat....come and have a beer in the Blythe you'll love it too
thirstyoakpark - 23 Nov 2013 22:38
I haven't posted for four years to my shame. Still the best pub in SE London and spot on Catbert.

I wasn't tarred and feathered when I found out and shared that my forefathers had been Anglo Irish (protestant land owners in the South)
baggydave - 22 Nov 2013 13:12
Unlike prettymolly, I'm not a MASSIVE RACIST, and I enjoyed a good few beers here recently, including some rare ones, so a good rating from me.

Excellent service, btw. I barely had to raise an eyebrow and a fresh beer was in front of me. The smart dress was a nice touch too.
catbert - 11 Nov 2013 02:35
Maths not my strong point either but come on whats the chances of two people in such a short space of time commenting? the Irish mafia...
prettymolly - 11 Jul 2013 22:11
Oh look two people have commented within a hour , two barflies from this pub perhaps?
prettymolly - 11 Jul 2013 22:07
randolf7. Lighten up. ( And brush up on your punctuation ).
Tuna - 26 Jun 2013 23:36
Molly, try and sober up - this is a pub/beer site. (And learn to spell).
randolf7 - 26 Jun 2013 22:15
Most Sundays i would walk my dog Monty along the streets of Catford sometimes veering upwards to Forest Hill and this public house would catch my visual space . I had early indications of it being a predominantly Irish pub through the music played and some of the advertising adorning its exterior for some sort of hurling game between the Irish. For some unearthed reason i decided to drop Monty home leaving him treats and head back up and have my first pint of the black stuff in the Blythe Tavern. On entering the pub i had the option of three bars and also a beer garden after hearing a fiddle being played in the main bar and some kind of Clannad type singing i was drawn away from the main bar to what i believed would be the solace of the smaller bar where a dart board was situated, how wrong was i as for the next five mins i had to listen to a Wolfetone ditty that lets just say Brendan Behan penned coming out of the clearly soused Irish couple behind me. Having already bedded in i decided not to chance the third the bar and ordered my pint hoping to be cheered by a smile on making the transaction instead i struggled to comprehend the Irish barman in the broken English he presented to me on giving back my change . Sitting back down i was given the third verse of this odious song by the couple who were now joined by "friends" and the near tone deaf squealing of this historically wrong song was at all time high annoyance level. Deciding upon getting a breather i veered through the throng of the main bar who were fixed on the laughable sized TV screens watching a hurling game between two Counties from Eire i had never heard of, thinking i might have a relaxed fag and a sup of my pint that thought was taken away within minutes as i was subjected to coarse haired children in velvet dresses fresh back from a dance comp doing a little show for the beer garden, the tapping and jerky head movements from the children made me walk further up the path where i could hear the family members whinging in what appeared broad northern Irish accents about their Gaelic named children only coming and third and the outrage that non Irish dancers had stole the crown. After finishing of my pint the choice of staying or going home was made easier when on going to the toilet i was subjected to someone in the toilet cubicle weeping to themselves and only stopping as a coughing fit took over, leaving the toilet i said my goodbyes to the near mute bar staff and made for the door where outside i felt sense of relief and British identity .
prettymolly - 26 Jun 2013 21:34
@bringmethebeer - it's CAMRA you bellend.
catbert - 20 Mar 2013 23:28
I have drunk in loads of pub across London and I can safely say that this is one of the best of them. The landlord and staff are friendly, they run a great bar and manage a great cellar.

The beer is excellent - Guinness is perfect. Lots of regular guest ales. They won CAMERA Pub of the Year for south east London again last year.

Thursday night is good when lots of musicians huddle down to play traditional Irish music around the fireplace.
bringmethebeer - 5 Feb 2013 15:14
Excellent community pub, very well run, highly efficient staff. Beer's top class as well, Hophead most of all.
ed.spbw - 13 Oct 2012 18:53
It's the sort of place where you go in for 3 and finish with 7 (Dark Star Hophead when I was last there). A great old-fashioned pub which thankfully has not gone open-plan You will get a choice of TV sports to watch (they like racing but you can also see football or cricket as well). Not to be missed and convenient for the trains---if you can stagger down the steps!
16jamesdoc - 3 Sep 2012 20:21
This is a great pub only 5-10 minutes from the Catford stations. Superb garden area which is very family friendly. Some lovely old photos on the wall ranging from golf, racing and Irish Sports and the superb Guinness memorabilia. Shows different sports at the same time, football in one part of the pub and rugby in the other, three bars. Great banter, people very friendly and the bar staff are 10/10. Order your drinks and the staff will bring them to you. Went over Christmas and didn't have to pat for a round. A truly brilliant pub, individual, homely and friendly. Nice fires also, when it gets a bit cold. Wish I could visit there more. It is always busy when i get there but they could show off a bit more, what with their CAMRA award because I hope this stays as it is for many years to come
toneym - 29 Jan 2011 18:08
The Blythe is an excellent local pub for Forest Hill. Has a lovely, charming interior. Reasonable prices. Friendly service. Strong pours. Excellent place to pop in walking home from Catford Bridge Station. The only seasonal request for improvement I would like to make is that they need to stop serving more than one Winter/Christmas ale at a time.
WikiPints - 30 Nov 2010 16:40
Can't find a fault with this place other than the football was only on one TV and made it pretty squeezed. Other pubs could learn a thing or two from this place. Will visit again, top marks.
ShelfStacker - 26 Nov 2010 14:31
Just posting to put 10 out of 10 to get the score even higher
baggydave - 5 Nov 2010 19:35
One of those pubs you go by but haven't tried.
My mistake, an excellent boozer.
4 beers on handpump - (Pride / Dark Star/ Adnams / and ?
Only tried the Broadside and it was spot on.
beer123 - 29 Jun 2010 16:20
This place is a gem... ! Just like many Irish pubs across London used to be 20 odd years ago...
likestradnonsmokeypubs - 7 Mar 2010 18:19
This is one of the better London pubs that I have encountered on my travels. JohnBonser said I would like it, and he was right. It�s still a three-room pub, each with their own door to the outside, although they are now interconnected. As others have said, this pub has thankfully remained a traditional style boozer. There�s the Public Bar on the left; what must be the Saloon Bar on the right, with another comfortable connected room at the back that I guess would be the Lounge Bar. There are mock beams on the ceiling, which seems to be a feature of inter-war pubs. I sat in the Saloon Bar, where there was a flatscreen TV on the wall showing the racing. I also spotted a couple of one-armed bandits, but the one in the Saloon Bar was thankfully switched off, or possibly broken.

This is another of those special unpretentious pubs that seem to be getting rarer by the year, whose attraction is the feel of their very ordinariness � although I realise that that is something of a contradiction. It seems to be something of an �Irish� pub � the barman and the clientele when I was in were clearly from the Emerald Isle. Plus there was a superb Guinness mirror in the Lounge, as well as the iconic Guinness toucan poster above the TV in the Saloon Bar. Nothing wrong with any of that of course.

There were 6 real ales on when I was in last week, including General Wolfe 1759, from Westerham Brewery. Unfortunately I didn�t spot the General Wolfe until I�d ordered a pint of Dark Star Hophead � but it was a good pint nonetheless, and for under the �3 mark. The General Wolfe clip was there for all to see � but I missed it somehow! They don�t do food, at least not on a weekday lunchtime, but the barman was quite happy for me to pop to the caff a couple of doors down the road to bring a sarny back to the pub. This is a pub worth going out of your way to find, as long as you are someone who appreciates the traditional pub.
RexRattus - 6 Dec 2009 19:03
Have to check this pub fairly regularly to make sure it hasn't changed. And everytime I am relieved that it hasn't. Simply the best put in the area. And for a non Guinness drinker I am almost converted
baggydave - 5 Nov 2009 21:54
Best pub in London by a mile (and I've been to a fair few), friendly staff, fantastically kept beer, lovely garden and even the paper towels in the man bogs are plentiful in supply! It really is a gem of a pub, absolutely worth going out of your way to visit.

Downside I'd say the sport is a tad too loud on the telly in the smaller bars but nothing you can't handle and the locals anyway seem to want it that way (I'm just not much of a sporthead).

Come to this pub, it's fantastic, actually no don't, I want to keep it a secret a bit longer!
anonymous - 22 Sep 2009 03:36
An uninspiring looking exterior hides what is a real gem of a pub on the A205 South Circular midway between Catford and Forest Hill.

It's a former Courage pub - the cockerel high up on the wall outside is a bit of a giveaway - with 3 fine, wood-pannelled, carpeted rooms in an unusual interconnecting layout helping to create a cosy traditional atmosphere.

One of the 3 rooms has a golfing theme and another a horse racing theme.

The pub seems to be Irish owned, but there's a warm welcome for all.

There's a large outside drinking area.

No food is served, drinking and conversation being the main attractions.

It's been a Good Beer Guide regular in recent years.

On my recent visit ( last Saturday lunchtime ), the blackboard on the pavement outside indicated that Courage Best, Broadside, London Pride, TT Landlord and Westerham Black Eagle were the 5 real ales on, but inside I found ( and confirmed by the indoors blackboard ) that Harveys Best and Dark Star Hophead were on instead of the latter 2.

The Dark Star Hophead - � 2.70p - was a splendidly hoppy tasty pint. It's only a very minor niggle, but I would have liked to sample the Black Eagle as well.

I really took to this splendid pub - it's a pub-goers type of pub if you know what I mean and I think I fall into that category.

Highly recommended. I shall return soonish.

JohnBonser - 21 Apr 2009 13:28
A proper traditional pub. Brilliant pint of London Pride. Best in South London I'd say. Very large garden with nice well looked after flowers. As it's an Irish pub you will always get a bit of horse racing on the telly, but not a big problem. Bogs could do with some work as a bit old and smelly. I always like to pop in here if passing and usually stay longer than I intended with is a good sign. Best tradition pub in SE London.
JustCallMeH - 26 Mar 2009 17:51
outstanding local boozer, one of the few remaining gems in south london. can always guarantee a good selection of beers and charming regulars. the staff are amongst the best i've ever been served by, quick-witted and ever-helpful. definitely worth a visit.
jonnyjohnson - 15 Oct 2008 18:11
Very friendly pub which, like previous reviewer, I checked out following its CAMRA success. A proper locals pub full of old boys and tracksuited geezers watching the golf. The sort of place you could easily while away a day in, particularly with the beautifully kept pints of Freedom ale and Hophead.
JonW999 - 21 Sep 2008 09:25
Having lived in the area for years and walked past the door without going in ever, I was intrigued when it won our Camra Branch pub of the year. I can see why; lovely garden; unspoiled interior; beers in top nick (Landlord, Harvey's Best and Westerham Summer Perle when I last went) but what gets it for me is this is topped off by first class SERVICE. A pub not to be missed if you are in the SE23/SE6 borders.
Camraboy - 13 Sep 2008 17:37
This is a brilliant old school Irish pub. I come here every Thursday after 5-a-side football and the welcome is always great. The impecably polite barstuff wear shirts and ties and remember what you do and what you drink. Musicians come and play every Thursday too.
Good-sized screens showing football when it's on.
Landlord buys drinks at Christmas.
If you buy a big round and there's Guiness in it then they bring the Guiness over to you, even if you're sitting outside.
A wide range of drinkers from young to old, geezers sitting there reading books.
Pubs like they used to be and how they should be.
Brockleydrinks - 29 Aug 2008 15:26
Huge garden at the back.

In full bloom with plenty of seating. No side access so people may not be aware of this.

Plenty of character - a proper pub.
ArhurPint - 5 Jul 2008 19:14
Beautiful unspoiled interior with golf-themed d�cor. Staffed by gentlemen in shirts and ties serving fine Harveys and Westerham beers when I visited. A proper London pub, well worth a visit if tradition means anything to you.


Alph_river - 29 Jun 2008 13:13
Aargghh - dont wish to steal the limelight but meant to say: in all the pubs I go to and have been - you would not believe the banter in this place (even if you can't understand all of it - sorry Chris). Seriously, its second to none. By the way, if you play flute, penny-whistle, fiddle, bodhran, spoons, squeezebox etc - join in the T'ursday session! Never see accoustic guitar!!
operationmindcrime - 3 Jun 2008 18:18
Absolutely! I've been going for...what...2.5 - 3 years or so. Spent 1/2 of that trying to get the rest of our tribe (SelCamra) there. I do Geoff - live locally that is! Year well done guys. Always a Westerham on - ALWAYS in top form (told W'ham never to stop the supply chain here). Lovely old 3 barred, dark wood walled, cosy, interesting ex courgae pub ran by a team of exceptionally friendly Irish gents - the old way! Lovely guys (even Chris!!). Big garden too! Slap on the S Circular/Stanstead Rd literally 5 mins west of Catford. Long may they rein. (thursday night is fiddles night! Not stupid prices!!
operationmindcrime - 3 Jun 2008 18:01
Very nice pub, welcoming bar staff with an excellent manner and a good bunch of upstanding regulars. Selection of beers isn't bad, though not real ale standards. Would happily make it my local.
iddleyiddle - 11 Sep 2007 21:38
An absolute GEM and I try to pop in every time I am in the area. Traditional pub and great atmosphere. The London Pride tastes great.
JustCallMeH - 15 Jul 2007 12:16
A cracking little pub. Good beer, friendly landlord and locals. It's also a tremendous survivor, still retaining three separate rooms with fittings that probably going back to the 1920s. My only regret is I don't live locally.
(A little curiosity is that you can walk straight across the serving area from the saloon to the lounge at the back).
g.brandwood - 26 May 2007 11:17
An okay pub, But a bit too clicky and the locals are not very inviting.
anonymous - 16 Jan 2007 21:46
Cleanest pint ive had in the area the beer is obviously weel kept. Friendly staff as well.
birdnhandroger - 16 Jan 2007 14:04


12many - 6 Jan 2007 14:53
There was a time when it was a given that all pubs would have plush chintzy seating, frosted windows, separate bars and smoking would be compulsory. Then, one day, somebody who carried a clipboard for a living said: "I know, why don't we turn most of the pubs into restaurants and make much more money. Only let's pretend that they're still pubs but sneakily stick cutlery and menus on every table so that the customers feel uneasy if they're not eating. Oh, and while we're at it, let's knock down all the walls and turn them into great big open spaces and put in clear windows just to really intimidate the poor sods".

So what happened then was that all the people who enjoyed drinking and smoking and having a convivial chat with the folk sitting on the opposite side of the snug and eating nothing more than the occasional packet of crisps while doing it had nowhere to go. This was very nearly the end of civillised life as we knew it.

But before you all leave for somewhere with a decent drinking culture - Holland or northern Belgium for instance - note this: a plucky group of renegades has banded together and is holding fast the barricades at the last place in London that understands what going to the pub used to be about. So if you like drinking good beer, smoking a lot, talking convivially with strangers and having the occasional chese and onion toastie this is the place for you. But then you knew that already didn't you?
ToffeeJim - 4 Dec 2006 00:38
Agree with all the previuos postings. This is a lovely little pub full of character. A real old fashioned gem that you'd thought would've disappeared yonks ago. Can be a bit smokey but well worth the visit.
anonymous - 25 Nov 2006 02:03
great atmosphere, great staff, charming landlord. cannot fault this place.
localbloke - 17 Nov 2006 14:11
Surely the most authentic boozer in SE23. Walking into here is like stepping back in time. Three characterful rooms all served by a central bar. The small public bar is a little gem of dark wood panelling and unpretentious eating, and you almost feel like you are back in the 1950s. From here, rather uniquely, you have to walk through the serving area to get to a second room. This room is another magnificently traditional place, dark and cosy, with small tables definitely designed for drinking and not eating, each with several little stools beside them � just as it should be. Compare this with all the dreaded gastro-pubs with their high, square tables and straight-backed chairs. Follow the bar around a bit more and you reach the third room, a brighter area with plenty of stools alongside the bar � compare this with Wetherspoon�s and all the rest, who won�t allow any stools at the bar for fear of a bit of smoke getting up their employees� noses.

Three real ales were available. I had a London Pride in great condition. SPA (Special Pale Ale) from some Kentish brewer was also on. I forget what the third one was; it may have been Courage Best.

A superb pub and I will definitely be going back. I hope this place never changes.

karloff - 5 Nov 2006 13:05
This is my husband's local - he's Irish and this is an Irish pub: not a plastic Irish place like some of the chain pubs. It is certainly cosy - I sometimes find it almost too small but I appreciate it for its good atmosphere and courteous service. There is live Irish music once a month. I did go to the quiz night once a year ago - fortunately, didn't hear any sick humour; hope tat is thing of past?
spincat - 19 Jun 2006 06:55
i think this pub is great, the staff are so friendly and always rememeber you and what you drink even if its been ages since you've been there.this is a proper PUB, which is a nice change from all the trendy bar-pubs that are opening in forest hill. if you want a good knees up in a boozer, this is the place to go. nice garden
smokie_tearz - 29 Jan 2006 17:07
i really like this pub for a good old cosy sunday next to the warm fire. drinks are cheap, only problem is the smokey atmosphere accumulates a bit too much.
pachabelle82 - 29 Apr 2005 13:36
Excellent local, cosy on the inside, friendly staff, excellent beer. If you can't take the odd joke during a quiz I dont think you should be in ANY pub, staff at home and watch BBC1.
John - 28 Jun 2004 02:13
Nice and cosy, but beware the casual racism, which sometimes rears its ugly head on quiz night. If there's been a tragedy involving ethnic minorities that week you can be sure most of the teams will have sick names inspired by the event. It's a shame because - blokey Enoch Powell tendencies aside - it's a nice, traditional pub, run by friendly and courteous staff. And any hostelry where Guinness is poured properly and brought to your table once its settled is definitely worth a visit.
mark - 29 Feb 2004 19:53
This pub is about as irish as my arse! overpriced small and not good
Ian - 22 Jun 2003 23:55
Friendly Irish run local, football on especially Celtic. Pub Quiz in winter months. Not at all intimidating.
Kate Blatherwick - 4 Jun 2003 23:52

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