London it seems to me, is the brown beer capital of the UK. Nowhere else is the old fashioned brown coloured beer so beloved of the former nationals and regionals, so obviously on display. Is it by some kind of popular demand this unending repetitive list of Greene King IPA, Wells Bombardier, Shepherd Neame, Marstons, Adnams, Theakstons, Old Speckled Hen, Courage Best, not to mention the brown and boring Fullers and the bland and inoffensive Youngs (though they at least have the excuse they come from London!) Even the guests seems to be brown. Brown, brown, brown, brown, brown! Only the odd pump dispensing the variable Deuchar's IPA seems to shine amid all this bloody brown, warm, malty beer.
What on earth is it with the people that run pubs here? Where are the golden, hoppy and bitter beers that proliferate up North? What about a stout or a mild? Give us some variety and some unpredictability please. I called into the Nicholson's run and very attractive Argyll, just off Oxford Street. This is a beautiful pub and an oasis of calm seconds away from the frantic shopping heaven. A long side corridor, three ornate rooms with a snug and a lot of brown beer. I tried the Cains Bitter - brown and flat and then went for Taylors Landlord which was just OK. I eschewed the brown Black Sheep and the Deuchar's IPA and the brown Abbot. I remarked to the barman that they were all a bit brown and samey. "Yes they are a bit mate " he said turning away. Cheers then!
I hopped on the 15 bus back to Aldgate, where though only minutes from home, I needed a pee. The Dispensary is one of my nearest pubs and used to be the Old Dispensary. I went in and lo and behold found Adnams Explorer, Hog's Back Tea, Deuchar's IPA and amazingly Dark Star Hophead. I had a half. OK it could have been conditioned better and could have been cooler, but it was golden, hoppy and tasty.
The pub was empty and the welcome could have been warmer - a "Hello" would have been a start, but I had another pint. At least it wasn't brown!
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