As we mentioned the other week, this summer it’s the 40th birthday of the Wac Arts Centre on Haverstock Hill – and their newly launched Belsize Beer Gardens has instantly become our go-to for a post-work pint.
This seasonal pop-up occupies the strip of land to the north of the imposing red-brick Old Town Hall, now bedecked with astroturf, bierkeller sharing benches (a little wobbly, mind) and a stripy deckchair or two. It’s surrounded by trees and plants for a hidden-away feel.
Wildly popular Wine Rack aside (the budget shop-bar just opposite) there is unbelievably still not much choice on this stretch to sit outside in a laidback pubby, rather than restaurant, environment. So the Belsize Beer Gardens useful on many points – at least until the cold descends.The pleasantness factor is mostly the work of tattooed, beardy beer sommelier James Kellow, who chalks up the boozy specials on a small blackboard: on our last visit these included Hackney’s Five Points IPA (a whopping 7.1%), Gipsy Hill Hunter Hells lager (a less hefty 5%), the fruity Jupa pale ale, and a Nightbird Cider.
This being Belsize Park, nearly all the customers were schlurping down buckets of Aperol Spritz through sustainable straws, but there are also pre-mix cocktails, prosecco and other wines too.
And of course there’s streetfood: Kerb fave Bian Dang’s baos and Taiwanese bento boxes have been in situ on our visits, but seafood BBQs are the mainstay on weekend sessions.
Best thing of all? Every drink you buy “unlocks opportunities for young people to experience the transformative power of the arts”, say the Wac Arts organisers. By which, when pressed bit further, they clarified as an impressive 50% of drinks sales.
So there’s really no excuse to lend a little libational support. Hic.
Main image: Dominique Murphy-DeNeef