Review: Art & Craft CR0 bar, Surrey Street

By - Tuesday 5th June, 2018

Good beer and cool art come to Surrey Street

Photo author's own.

Photo author’s own.

They say that good things come in small packages. This certainly applies to the new bar in Surrey Street, Art & Craft, a very welcome addition to the pub and bar scene in Croydon, situated in the former Croydon Advertiser building – whose original sign they hope to restore.

The bar is owned by Tom Talbot and Bradley Ridge, who founded the The Inkspot Brewery in Streatham along with three craft bottle shops, and is managed by Kev McNally, who featured in the BBC’s documentary series The Sheriffs Are Coming.

You will not find Stella, Carling or Fosters here, nor any other mass-produced beer. Instead, four of the eight keg taps dispense beers from breweries such as Moor, Magic Rock, Beavertown and, of course, Inkspot, whose lager I enjoyed (as someone who does not usually drink lager in the UK). Its fuller flavour and gentle hoppiness distinguishes it from most of the lagers available in this country.

Don’t get me started on why beer shouldn’t be drunk from a can or a bottle

A craft cider is available on draft, and the other three taps dispense red, white and sparkling wine.

There is also an interesting collection of cans and bottles, and those I have sampled have always been served correctly, i.e. with a glass. My favourites so far have been by Brew By Numbers, Five Points and, again, Magic Rock. Don’t get me started on why beer should never be drunk from the bottle or can – that’s a discussion for another time.

The unique selling point is the selection of art on the walls, including an original Banksy and works by Damien Hirst and Lucas Price.

There’s a good vibe on warm days

It is not cheap, but good beer is never cheap. I love the outside space, in the area by the stairs that lead up to the high street. I like the industrial feel, and the great views of Kevin Zuchowski-Morrison’s painted air-conditioning units, and some more street art on the side of and on the staircase itself, though I am not sure what the expletive aimed at the Shanghai art collective Birdhead is all about! With the market behind, there is a good vibe on warm days.

Art & Craft complements, but does not compete with, the Green Dragon and the Dog & Bull, and is far enough away from the Cronx Bar not to detract from each other’s trade. Since its opening it has been consistently busy, thus disproving those who say that there is no demand for good beer – a mantra only repeated by pubs whose imagination does not stretch beyond mass-produced products.

One minor plea – please go easy on reserving spaces. It is only a small bar, so space for casual customers would soon be used up. So next time you’re in the high street and fancy a good beer, walk through the arcade and take the stairway to beer heaven!

Steve Thompson

Steve Thompson

I have been a Croydon resident for over 30 years, and have recently retired from a career in banking. Whilst appreciating many aspects of the regeneration of Croydon I do have a number of concerns about its effects. My main interests are rock music, walking, travel, and last but not least, good pubs and quality beer!

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