De Moor's Top 25 London bars takes us to the William IV, on High Road Leyton. After a bracing walk (the pub is a good 20 minutes from the nearest London Underground station), we found the pub to be unassuming and quiet on a Thursday evening. Kitted out like a old-fashioned local, but with an unusually large floor space and a huge bar running the whole length of the building, there were bare tables, mismatched chairs and threadbare carpet. (And a bar billiards table, which we didn't play but the mere sight of took me back to an earlier generation!)
I mention that there was lots of space in the bar both because it was nice to be able to find a quiet corner to drink in, and because despite the quiet evening, the bar seemed to be understaffed. In fact they had to close the kitchen half an hour early (after we asked about the last food orders only 40 minutes before), so sadly we're not able to review the food available (although the menu looked nice).
On to the important part: the beers.
Beach Blonde: (I neglected to write down the brewery who produced this ale, and it's a pretty common name.) This is a very light blonde ale, slightly cloudy and almost watery-looking, with a very mild green apple odor and almost undetectable first taste of sweet apple or pear, quickly swamped by the sharp sappy aftertaste, which is dryly bitter, like old wood. The beer offers a strange mix of promisingly strong flavours, but disappointingly this pint felt like it was really watered down.
Rudgate Ruby Mild: This almost opaque, pitch dark red ale had a very creamy head that dissipated slowly, and an old, slightly musty smell, peaty and savory almost like caramelized onion. There's a smoky and slightly rancid first taste, leading to a sweet and malty swill, with bready notes, like toasted sourdough with mushroom pâté, and a very subtle aftertaste of chocolate or creamy coffee. This is a very nice beer indeed, but not a session ale, so I only had the one.
Brodies Amarilla: A light gold, lager-coloured ale with a big-bubbled head, hints of melon in the aroma, sweaty and slightly tangy, like a dry cider. Refreshing sip, but fading to a ridiculously mild swallow. We didn't get much definition from this beer at all; it's definitely a front-loaded tipple.
Dark Star Summer Meltdown "Hint of Spice": A very interesting ale, satisfying from smell to swallow, with a smooth, lager-like complexion and very clear flavours of cardamon and star anise. Easy to drink, and a complex blend of rich flavours adding up to a most refreshing pint.
We ended the night with a small glass of the mighty (over 12% abv) Brodies Romanov Empress Stout: this beer was black as tar, both body and soft frothy meniscus clinging stickily to the glass, with a syrupy molasses aroma and over-ripe fruity undertones. On the sip this is deceptively sweet, reminiscent of sweet cherry liqueur, creamy and smoky with notes of coffee and liquorice cough syrup; in the mouth it's sappy and sickly, bitter and sweet at the same time. Almost chokingly cloying on the swallow, I could never drink a pint of this, but a thimbleful at a time is quite lovely.