With the announcement ‘Beer here’ emblazoned in huge black letters on its wall, it's clear from the outset what’s on offer at Hammersmith’s newest pub, The Draft House.
But it isn’t just a startlingly wide range of brews the two-week old venue in Shepherds Bush Road offers patrons. There’s also lashings of nostalgia.
For The Draft House, formerly The Laurie Arms, pays homage to the iconic Hammersmith Palais, which once stood next door, but has become a gym and flats following its demolition in 2012.
During its time, the once-throbbing venue hosted everyone from Glen Miller to The Clash, but The Draft House founder, Charlie McVeigh, was sad when the hall was left ‘disconsolate and empty’ after closing in 2007. He said: “I used to go to the Palais, it was one of the biggest venues in London, so there is very much a celebration of the Palais in the pub.”
Nods to its influential neighbour adorn The Draft House’s walls in the form of music posters and the venue’s slogans, such as ‘The Talk of London’ and outside in the beer garden a large replica of ‘Palais de Danse’ that still adorns the west wall of the Palais building.
“I had been wanting to come back to west London, because I love it here. I grew up in west London, in Kensington and Chelsea, but used to live in Hammersmith Grove, so I knew the area really well,” said Charlie. “West London needs to have more good pubs, so we were hoping to address that. It is really hard to find decent sites, so when they do come up, you have to take them very seriously.”
And Charlie did, making the former owners an offer they couldn’t turn down. Now the pub works in line with the rest of The Draft House brand – six other pubs and one bar - procuring the best craft beers from around the globe, and importantly, from London, with some 100 bottles on offer and 17 beers on draft.
“Selling a beer in London. Who would have thought it? But it is the future,” Charlie muses, revealing their most popular drink is Sambrook’s Wandle, made just across the river in Wandsworth.
And the allure of Charlie’s nectars, available in traditional thirds of pint measures, largely due to their strength, has already won a big following with Hammersmith’s workers, students and residents. Home-distilled cocktails are also available, served from traditional spirits optics as well as a range of hand-crafted pies.
So busy has the pub been since opening on February 26, Charlie is already looking into installing a second till to cater for the demand.
“The sort of people who live round here, or work round here are natural Draft House customers and I think that has been borne out by how busy we have been since we opened. The first week was mental. I thought it would take a few weeks to pick up, but it seems to have caught everyone’s imagination.”
For more information visit: www.drafthouse.co.uk.