Yesterday I had an appointment to meet my fellow beer blogger Stonch. We had agreed to meet at the Old Mitre in Hatton Garden. I noted that I would have to pass the Castle in Furnival St, which I had visited before and liked. It is a neat, large windowed free house, owned by the Red Car Pub Company. At lunchtime it was pleasantly busy, the crush being alleviated by those drinking outside due to the unseasonably warm weather. Now for a little bit of social commentary; I am always amazed that lunchtime drinking in London is as intense and popular as it is. It scarcely exists elsewhere, with puritan American work ethics wiping it out, but here is goes full tilt, with suited lads and attractive lasses, knocking it back for fun.
Back to the pub. There was a fair range on offer, but I observed that contrary to our Northern free houses that are dominated by pale and hoppy beers (hooray), the dominant feature here was brown and boring. Well that's on the face of it. In fact of the three beers I tried, one, Empire Longbow, was not very pale, but was hoppy and very clean. A good beer. Not so the Hampshire Taste of the Dragon which was brown with an odd smoky taste which I'd normally assume to be a brewing fault, but given the beer name, was probably intentional. Let me tell you this Hampshire - it doesn't work. The beer was awful. Lastly I tried Harvey's Porter. This had slight liquorice and was malty sweet. Not a bad beer, but no classic.
The landlord who was a pleasant sort had a chat with me. I remarked about the lack of pale hoppy beers. He pointed out that I hadn't tried one which was on - I hadn't as it was a beer I knew - and of course it was a kind of luck of the draw thing. Forthcoming beers were more to my taste.
Overall I rate this pub quite highly. It is well run, is very clean and it has a good choice of well kept beer. I'll be back.
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