Beergeek in London: Crisps, Nuts, Cracklins, and other Pub Snacks

Snacks are ubiquitous in pubs in the UK. And rarely is a round bought that doesn’t include a pack or two of snacks. Crisps (potato chips) are the most common with great flavors like Cheese and Onion, Ready Salted (just salted in the US), Salt and Vinegar, and Sweet Chilli (as best as I can guess an Thai influenced savory flavor). Other snacks include various forms of peanuts, pork rinds, and the ever famous Bacon Fries.

Another interesting note, snacks are almost always shared among those you are with. The containers are split open on table like you see in the photo above. Converting the bag it comes into as some sort of a dirty bar table proof bowl.

Let’s look at some of the better pub snacks.

Crisps — there are loads of these, and are always available at a pub. Piper Crisps are the best I’ve ever had. Great unique flavors like Chorizo and Spicy Tomato in addition to the favorites Cheese and Onion and Salt and Vinegar. These are very much hipster chips you can tell by all of the added adjectives in the names. But they are some of the best.

Monster Munch – Oh my, by my book this is the greatest snack in the world, but second best bar snack. The Pickled Onion flavor is just undeniably the best snack known to man. There’s one problem, these go better with food than with beer. But beer is food. Conundrum.

Either way, they are great. Light potato / corn snacks bursting with flavor and personality. Made by UK snack giant Walker/Pepsico, these are rare in bars, but pretty easy to find in grocery stores. They come in three flavor, Roast Beef, Picked Onion, and Flamin Hot (not hot at all). Oddly, available on Amazon.

Nobby’s Nuts – And that brings us to what I consider the kind of pub snacks, Nobby’s Nuts. Not just any nuts, but the Sweet Chilli coated nuts. They are mega salty, go great with a pint, and just taste great.

It must be said though that Nobby’s Nuts without a pint are less than stellar. They are just too salty. So remember kids, always have a pint nearby.

Pork Cracklins – Not for the faint of heart. These pub treats are sort of like Pork Rinds in the US, but not really. Usually smaller pieces of super thick pork skin, badly cleaned, and really not that great. They last forever though, so every pub has at least a couple dusty bags sitting around. Caution, some cracklins come with free hairs still attached.

Bacon Fries – Not good, don’t taste like bacon — US or UK version, salted cardboard.

For pubs it makes sense to serve these snacks. All of these snacks are loaded with salt and that makes for thirsty patrons. It also wards off, if even just a little bit, drunkenness. Enjoy the snacks, and a pint.

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In addition to snacks, most pubs also serve food. Bangers and Mash, Fish and Chips, and assorted (pot) pies usually. Some more artisanal than others. Some just microwave them I’m sure. Check Yelp and Trip Advisor for the better pub food locations. But you can also generally use your gut feeling by looking at the menus and people around you. Meal time and no one there is eating, food may not be that good. One unique thing I had at the Holborn Whippet, a newer craft beer pub, this amazing Currywurst (see above). Fantastic!

Aaaah-ooooo! Beergeek in London.