BY BILL LACY
The Sultan is fairly modest to look at it – a 1950s red-bricked building that suggests a fairly ordinary, typical suburban pub.
It is located in between rows of terraced houses. I’ve been to such pubs before – decent enough community hubs with a good atmosphere, where everyone knows everyone, but you wouldn’t go back there unless you had a reason to be in the area.
The Sultan is different. It still has a bit of a locals’ feel, but it is a superb pub that has won awards for its ale.
The house ale on offer is from Wiltshire-based Hopback Brewery, one of the pioneering microbreweries of the 1980s.
The iconic face of the Greek god of wine Dionysus stares back at you from the pumps, beckoning you to drink.
I find it so recognisable that I can tell where I was when I last had a pint of Hopback cask ale. Its golden ale, Summer Lightning, was recently included among 11 beers selected by CAMRA showcasing the best of British brewing.
Complications of travelling around and securing pub tables has encouraged in me a new and probably unsustainable habit of taking cabs everywhere.
In this case it was a good idea, as The Sultan is a little off the beaten track.
I turned up to find a fairly empty pub, a revelation.
I had phoned The Sultan beforehand (a refreshing change from a faceless online booking system), but I needn’t have bothered, although I was still required to enter and exit using strange one-way systems, at one point leaving the pub just to go back in it through a different door.
I had the best seat in the house, near the heater and under a covered area.
The back of the pub is modest but attractive and tidy. It felt a little odd drinking a pint of Citra, a citrusy pale, golden beer, while wrapped up in two blankets, but I’m not complaining.
This is the only Hopback pub in London so I made my way through the beer list.
A pint of Hopback’s Entire stout was a slightly better accompaniment to the cold.
The Sultan also has guest ales to complement an excellent real ale offer.
Food was unavailable, but the pub were happy enough to allow you to order food in.
Using modern wizardry, we succeeded in bringing in some Japanese food from a mysterious “dark kitchen”, and was brought over to us by the staff, so I didn’t even notice that it didn’t come from the pub itself.
As the evening drew to a close, a group of people who were obviously regulars and led by a gentleman who may have been a colonel, lent some colour and atmosphere to the evening with their cheer and conversation.
This is a little treasure of a pub. The Sultan 78 Norman Road, Wimbledon, SW19 1BT
Please make cheques payable to “MSI Media Limited” and send by post to South London Press, Unit 112, 160 Bromley Road, Catford, London SE6 2NZ
Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick has encouraged everyone in the country who can afford to do so to buy a newspaper, and told the Downing Street press briefing recently: “A free country needs a free press, and the newspapers of our country are under significant financial pressure”.
So if you have enjoyed reading this story, and if you can afford to do so, we would be so grateful if you can buy our newspaper or make a donation, which will allow us to continue to bring stories like this one to you both in print and online.