When I go to a theme bar I like it to be as authentic as possible. Before I left Santa Monica for my trip to Sweden I stopped by one out of many (I assume) British bars in the Los Angeles are. The name of the bar is Ye Olde Kings Head. A friend of mine told me that 20+ years ago it was the hang-out for British celebrities and expats and the only place where they could get a good beer. The interior is just as you would imagine a country pub in Weston-super-Mare, North Somerset or Rhosllannerchrugog in Staffordshire, dark wood panel, dark wood furniture and dark wooden bar. Soccer flags and team shirts cover the ceiling. The place is pretty big. There are several rooms were you can have Lancashire Lamb Pie, Shepherd Pie and Fish and Ships. The walls have autographed pictures of British Celebrities like Huge Grant, Sean Connery, John Cleese and Roger Moore. They also have Daily Mail to pick up for free. Right beside the pub is a British shop where you can buy everything British like candy, tea pots and biscuits (and it ain’t southern biscuits), frozen puddings, curries and pies and of course thee. This would be the heaven for a British if it weren’t for the lack of good beer. The only thing interesting at the pub was Fullers London ESB and Pride, Newcastle Brown Ale and Gunnies. I spotted a hand pump and asked the bartender (a Britt of course) what he had on cask. He told me that it was Fullers London Pride. Any beer lover would start getting suspicious here. Cask Ale is none pasteurized, none filtered ale served from a cask through a hand pump our gravity poured. It’s living beer that is really gentile and doesn’t travel well. Would a cask of Fullers London Pride make the trip from England all the way to the US west coast? I ordered the Pride and as he poured the beer I looked for the cask. Under the hand pump I saw a keg but not a cask. He also served my Pride in a frosted glass, which is very un-British. I understand that it’s hard and expensive to have a wide variety of British beer shipped half the way around the world. But if you want to be a bearer of the British tradition you need to put some effort in to it. I didn’t see any Porter on tap, which I think is a pity. The Kings Head have Fullers products and I know that their Porter is available. If there isn’t any British beer available there are plenty of local and regional breweries in California that brew authentic British style beers.
I can’t say I’m impressed by Ye Olde Kings Head. I didn’t get the British feeling that I get at White Horse or Nags Head in London and I can go to my local Whole Foods to get more interesting British beer than at Ye Olde Kings Head. This beer bar doesn’t pass my quality standards for a good beer bar.