de Moor Top 25 Pub brought us to the Dog and Bell on Prince Street in Deptford. Although only a five minute walk from the train station, this pub is squirreled away at the far side of a quiet estate, and it's hard to imagine you'd happen upon it by chance. But what a chance it would be if you did!
On a Thursday night it was quiet in the Dog and Bell, unlike many of the over-hyped pubs in de Moor's list; a cluster of regulars chatting around the bar and a couple of small groups at distant tables. We found a quiet corner and we undisturbed all night. Music was playing unobtrusively, and at one point a football match came on the television, but neither caused us to have to raise our voices.
There were three guest real ales on tap, on which more below, in addition to the LocAle-labelled Fullers taps. The barstaff were polite and helpful; we ordered a bowl of fries which were very good quality for pub grub: cooked in relatively fresh oil, served hot and brought promptly to the table. We didn't try anything from the rather traditional pub menu, but by that evidence it's probably pretty decent. All in all a very pleasant evening; as out of my way as the Dog and Bell is, I'm pretty likely to go there again some time.
The guest ales tonight were:
Slaters Bitter: a bright, amber gold ale with a hint of grapefruit in the citrus/hoppy aroma and mild, tangy first taste. A green woody bitterness evident on the swill, and a resinous, almost tarry aftertaste. Slightly more smoky and malty than expected from such a light, hoppy beer. A very pleasant opener to the evening.
Crouch Vale Citra: clear, light gold beer with the slightest hint of watery orange colour and a very soft citrus smell. A rather clean bitter first taste with a hint of tangerine, followed by more robust hoppiness and then an earthy, bittersweet aftertaste. This was the beer I chose to drink more of after we'd tried everything once. It's complex and satisfying; a winner.
Westerham British Bulldog: the darker of the three ales on offer, the Bulldog is a soft brown colour, almost completely flat with very little head. The subtle odour has hints of apple blossom and spring pollen, certainly less hoppy than the others. The first taste is dry and sweetly sour fruit, smoothly transitioning into a more sappy bitter notes and ending with a chewy maltiness. Not a bad beer, but didn't live up to the light ales that dominated the evening (although saying that, it was the one ale that the lager drinker among us could tolerate).