Pub 2 on my tour de pub Snorbans was the King Harry on an early Tuesday evening. The pub’s situated on King Harry Lane on a busy double roundabout as you enter St Albans from the south side. The junction is a bit of a bottleneck and at one point the council were trying to knock the pub down to improve the junction, a lorry hitting it nearly did the job for them a few months later and the pub was closed for some time.
The King Harry was originally on the other side of the road until it moved into the current building, that was two cottages knocked through, opening sometime in the 1800’s. It’s the only pub in the St Stephens district of the City.
I used to drink here when I first moved to St Albans, as very good friends lived on the estate adjacent. They were married in St Stephens opposite the pub, the occasion of which the bastards had asked me to do their wedding camcordering. There was so much light flooding into the church I couldn’t tell whether the damn thing was on or off and therefore had to nip into the King Harry to calm my nerves, worried that I had missed the vital shots. At that time the pub had a large Benskins sign on it, a pool table in the back bar and didn’t have half the choice of beers it has on today.
On Tuesday I got quite excited when I first saw the cask pump clips as the offerings were mainly Thornbridge beers, certainly one of the highlights of the new 21st century breweries. Thornbridge hail from Derbyshire and their beers are gorgeous, but alas like the proverbial Actress to the Bishop, the beers were”coming soon!”
The only Cask beer on was Doombar which seemed to be very popular in the pub. I have decided to ask people I meet two questions; what do you like in a pub? and what do you like about this pub? So I ordered a lovely milk stout on keg from Thornbridge called Ena and wandered over to talk to a bloke called Paul who looked like he could be a local. Now I love beer, and I will do anything for love, but like Meatloaf I won’t do Doombar (we all know that’s what the big guy meant!) Paul was a local who told me he comes into the pub most days, he used to drink in The Duke Of Marlborough down the hill but that closed a couple of years ago to make much needed funds for property developers.
The Duke was an after work pub for me briefly, and once I recall being so desperate for a pint I stopped my car outside, opened the car door and a lorry promptly took it off. I blamed the lorry driver who didn’t stop and the fact I had named the car Lucifer after the letters in its number plate. Lucifer was not happy as I had agreed to sell him three days before. It was an expensive pint!
Paul likes a pub with a great pint of Doombar and says the pub serves “the best pint of Doombar in St Albans”. He also likes a pub where the staff are friendly. The staff in The King Harry are “like friends”. Paul was waiting for his grand children who really like the Fish and chips served, he is St Albans born & bred having been to St Julian’s school just up the road from the pub. ( Now called Marlborough School) and has lived on the estate not too far from the pub all his life. Whilst chatting to the assistant manager about Doombar another punter agreed the Doombar was the best in St Albans so I decided to get a half …
of a “I Love you will U Marry Me”, a hoppy slightly sweet strawberry beer which was OK but not really for me. The Camden “Other Pils ” was much more to my tastes although tasted more like a hoppy pale ale to me. Thornbridge have had a tap take over at the King Harry and it has been so successful that going forward the pub is going to have one permanent Thornbridge line on. The 8 week takeover,which is happening in over 100 M&B Castle pubs ends on the 17th March.
The picture below shows Lulu looking for a new Pink Brewdog Punk bottle as she feels by drinking that it will empower her and lead to the end of pay inequality, but then again she has a brain the size of a walnut like some of the dudes in Aberdeen.
I then spoke to Joanna and Kaylee. They like the King Harry as it’s local to them and they can sit in the small bar looking out the window at the traffic. Joanna likes the ambience in a good pub and particularly likes the Peahen in the centre of town whilst Kaylee likes a pub that does a good Sunday Roast! The King Harry has one very small room with a small bar but no pumps on it, the main area which includes a small eating area, and a large snug at the back of the pub.
Now Paul was correct about the staff here, the assistant manager John is a lively fellow from Wexford and his very knowledgeable barman Jamie is great lad to chat to also. I can see from them why the locals feel at home here. Jamie was teaching me about the importance of Patagonian yeast in Lager and how to use my camera correctly.
With the warm welcome received I will try to visit again soon, I will go later in the week when they are more likely to have more than one cask on, but I’d always rather they have just one cask on than a few past their best like some pub serve on a Tuesday. I ‘ll strive to make that visit whilst the pub is still named after Henry V and not as is a possibility in the future The King Harry Markle-Windsor!
Ps Elvis and Lulu didn’t fancy the walk home on the dark Alban way, so my wife picked me up and found this is the third pub in a row we have been to that doesn’t sell her favourite tipple – sherry!