My personal love for real ale began by accident at a CAMRA beer festival in St Albans. The concept of a micropub called Monks Inn was born in February 2018. The motivation stems from frustration truth be told. The lack of variety of quality cask beer in the established pubco or brewery pubs was the major driving factor. There are so many absolutely brilliant and skilled micro breweries around who still brew for love of beer. People who are passionate about what they do regardless of the fact that they don’t have umpteen pubs who are tied into them.
Our affiliation to the real ale and cider industry began in grass roots rugby with legendary landlords by the names of Karen and Craig Douglas. They owned a little pub in London called The Bree Louise. Sporting 24 cask ales and 11 ciders, it’s easy to see why I was so spoilt with quality and choice. The Bree was my only stop off on way home to Watford Junction where I lived, and also coached mini rugby at Watford Rugby Club. I was most perturbed by the fact that Craig, being an ex Harlequins player, had no place to take his then 10 year old son. Watford being 17 minutes away was an easy invite. Next thing I know we are running an annual real ale festival to raise cash for this tiny club.
Second thorn in the side was the flashing lights, questionable doof doof music (as I call it) and get drunk fast on cheap bilge culture. Inevitably an environment that invites xenophobia, racism, sexism, homophobia, intolerance as a whole. I was looking to emulate the ethos I found at the Bree with traditional roots. Drink beer the way monks invented it to be drunk. Serve it in the way it’s designed to be served. Uninterrupted, pure, blissful cask beer.
Committing to a pubco or brewery pub with no experience was a definite no no. My personal opinion is, this is a major contributing factor to the massive closures of pubs in the country. It is so difficult for a publican to make a living when they are restricted and tied to the mainstream companies. And the reason you drink the same beer in every other pub. It was not good enough for me. So, motivated by my cousin and brother Desmond Whitaker, we converted an old Jennings Bookie, got the right licencing approvals and opened our doors on the 9 th November 2018.
The pub was an immediate success with ‘Best Newcomer’ awarded to us by CAMRA after three months of trading. A year later we were awarded Best Pub by CAMRA Mid-Chiltern Branch and we are now in the Good Beer Guide. The 10 cask beers (five gravity and five handles), along with six still cider handles, a decent gin collection of around 30 gins was a big hit. There are no permanent beers on. We change it up every week and the selection is whimsical and random. It’s a beer festival every week. And everyone was welcome to our austere ‘monastery’. Bohemian hippies, gothic rockers, LGTBQ community, beer tickers and pensioners all converse and talk with each other. We champion charity causes with our neighbours The Salvation Army and we idolise the work our NHS Angels do. Policemen, Firemen and serving Armed Force members all enjoy special discounts, as does our pensioners and CAMRA members (outside of Covid Survival Mode). We have a tribe who call themselves ‘Monkonians’ and we are a family.
80% of our beer is sourced within a 30 mile radius we do bring in beer and cider from all corners of our beautiful country. You will find our products are proudly British with a hint of South African. We have a decent wine selection with Rum starting to creep in as the next Gin fad.
When permitted we hold very decent comedy and quiz nights with talented acoustic sessions on the weekend. Come and join our family. You will feel the love and serenity.