Saturday, 26 February 2011

Mason and Taylor

The day started promisingly, but late. I took a stroll back to the Dean Swift for another drop of Kernel Citra. The same friendly barman greeted me and asked what I thought of the temperature, explaining that there had been cellar problems. It was just still that touch too warm, but tasty. The pub was busy with lunchtime drinkers and was very jolly, though why the music was quite so deafening is a mystery, though in fairness the mostly young customers seemed quite content to yell above it, which made for a livelier atmosphere than one might otherwise have anticipated at a quarter to two in the afternoon.

Then a walk to the Rake for a couple of quick halves and a quick chat to Glyn the manager,who was preparing for his Welsh Beer Festival. No problems with temperature or condition here, but I wasn't taken with the over sweet Williams Brothers Tayberry, nor with Dark Star M&M, which had rather too much peated malt for my taste, though if you like smoked beer, you'd have lapped this up.

I have heard good things about the improved beer range at the nearby Horniman at Heys, which is rather a nice place to have a drink.  Modern, but with plenty of distinct drinking areas and the happy buzz of a dozen languages, I was greeted by a veritable array of handpumps, but was immediately attracted to two. Thornbridge Jaipur needs no further introduction and my half was fine, as was my White Shield, though unusually I'd say the beers complexity is shown off better in bottle.  The cask version to my palate seems just a touch yeasty.

I like going to a new pub. That sense of mystery and anticipation never leaves me. I love looking at the dynamics of a place, at how it operates and what makes it tick.  Thus I looked forward to our visit to Mason and Taylor, just a touch off Brick Lane and again, an easy walk from our gaff. Set on a busy corner on Bethnall Green Road, this offers a somewhat Janus like appearance, with a rather sophisticated looking exterior and a far more modern and eclectic interior.  Inside it is rather narrow and fairly dimly lit, with large picture windows looking out on the street, a decent sized bar and a downstairs area which we didn't visit - the place was too busy for wandering about. The customers were mostly young - think mid twenties - and trendy. Not as trendy looking as the staff though, who were at first, until you worked out who was waiting on and who was a customer, pretty indistinguishable from the customers, but absolutely brilliant in their friendliness and helpfulness. The place was busy, busy when we walked in around 8 p.m., with a good mix of diners and drinkers, but a table was immediately found for us, we were asked if we were eating and if we wanted table service, or just wanted to order at the bar.  We were attentively asked from time to time if we needed more drinks and generally made to feel welcome. Fantastic.

What of the beer? Plenty to go at and a good mix of keg and cask. Keg features Brooklyn Brewery, Camden, Westmalle, Chimay and more, all at pretty hefty prices. Cask offerings were Dark Star Hophead and (astonishingly) Pictish Little Gem on handpump, with Brodie's Citra on a cask on the bar - never a wise thing in my view and all the less so for a 3.1% beer. Bottles abound, with something for everyone and not too badly priced in the main. It was hard to discern what the favoured drinks were given the crowd at the bar.   We tried the Hophead and the Pictish which were average and lacked the edge that perfect cask conditioning gives and were, predictably, slightly too warm.

Overall, even though we bumped up the average age of the crowd by quite a bit, we'll be back. We liked it. but will visit a bit earlier in the day and week to get a different perspective on the place.


Boak said...

We went past this place on a bus last week, almost got off but we had a date in the Dove instead. Definitely have to fit it in before the great move west.

Jonathan said...

Agree about the cask being a bit too warm. Camden Hells and Pale Ale were stand outs for me on my first visit.

Tyson said...

Yes I found the Camden the best of the Keg on offer. Need to try that again.

"Eddie Rowles" said...

We made out first visit to M&T a fortnight ago - totally agree about the cask on the bar - Marble Ginger was on when we were there and it was far too warm, positively tepid...