BY BILL LACY
I cannot recall when I last visited The Mason’s Arms, but I know it was the first pub where I paid over £4 for a pint, so it must have been a while ago.
I remember being outraged and swore that I would boycott pubs and start bringing cans home.
Of course, that hasn’t happened.
Last week in central London I paid nearly £7 for a half.
It’s strange the level of detail one can recall. Last week I could not manage to correctly enter the password on my phone, but I do remember that first plus £4 pint being Peroni, which no doubt added to the disappointment.
There was no chance of such a generic order now.
The Mason’s is a Fuller’s pub, so offers the usual Fuller’s range, but it’s one of those Fuller’s pubs that feels slightly individualistic as well.
Part of this comes from the incredible choice – this truly is a craft beer lover’s paradise.
There are 23 draught lines serving a wonderful array of beers.
Apparently they have even teamed up with Mondo, a brilliant local brewery, to produce a beer specifically for the pub.
There are also US beers on offer, a nod to the giant American Embassy down the road.
I can only think of a few pubs in London that would match the choice available for thirsty and discerning beer drinkers.
In my excitement, I ordered some kind of tiramisu milk stout, a bit of a faux pas for opening drink.
I hadn’t remembered the pub being quite such a beery oasis, but then many things have changed in a decade.
Ten years ago, there were fewer than 40 breweries in London (today it is nearer 150).
A £4 pint now feels like a good deal. Corona meant a Mexican beer with a slice of lime in it.
The Mason’s has changed too – in fact it doesn’t look the same at all. It’s address is now given aspirational “Nine Elms”, rather than plain old Battersea.
A transformational refurbishment in 2019 gutted the old bar and repositioned a smaller bar nearer the front of the pub.
There are now white, butcher’s shops tilings. The outside has been painted turquoise.
It’s all very well done, but there’s always a risk than in ripping out old features you rip out some of it’s atmosphere too.
It certainly felt less like a local’s place and the atmosphere is now what 10 years ago we would have called a “gastropub”, less pubbish than before. But perhaps this is nostalgia creeping in.
The beer choice alone justifies a trip.
The Mason’s Arms, Battersea 169 Battersea Park Road Nine Elms, SW8 4BT