Words & Photos - Matthew Curtis
This week I had to pursue an activity that most men like myself dread, I had to head into town to go clothes shopping. Next month I have the pleasure of attending a couple of weddings and I required a new shirt and some new shoes. I tried to do the sensible thing and order the damned things online but eventually realised that I needed to try them on and so I jumped on the Victoria line and headed into the belly of the beast, or Oxford Street as it is more commonly known.
The thing about Oxford Street is that it’s exactly the same as every other High Street in the United Kingdom so naturally visitors from outside of London feel comfortable there and so are attracted to the safe high street brands like flies to shit. I was sensible, I didn’t try and rush and force myself past the droves of tourists, I paced myself, elegantly ducking in and out of people and after a short while I had acquired the items I required.
The Sarson's Oude Gueuze didn't compare to the Hackney Red
As chance would have it I finished my shopping around lunch time and as I was in the area I thought I would pay a brief visit to The Old Coffee House which lies in Soho to the south of the nightmarish Oxford Street. The Old Coffee house is part of a small clutch of pubs owned by the Brodie family, the very same Brodie family that brew Brodie’s Fabulous Beers in Leyton and as they have already won my heart with brews such as Dalston Black IPA I was desperate to sample a wider range from their portfolio.
As I turn off Regent Street and duck down Kingly Street I breathe a sigh of relief as I leave the crowds behind, after a short walk I turn onto Beak Street and soon see the pub standing before me. From the outside The Old Coffee House looks to be as unassuming as any other central London boozer, a small sign states that their own micro brewed beers are served within but there is no Brodie’s imagery to indicate the delights on tap to be found inside. I saunter up to the bar and next to a small keg font offering commonly seen beers such as Amstel and Guinness is a huge line of hand pumps each with a different Brodie’s cask beer on offer plus another keg font which had five of the stronger Brodie’s beers available, these were the beers I was raring to get my teeth into.
I order a Hoxton Special IPA and as luck would have it the keg blows as soon as the Barman starts the pour, however the array of Brodie’s Beers on offer is quite simply stunning and I decide on a Hackney Red IPA within seconds. As my beer is being poured I quickly peruse a menu, the food on offer is traditional old school pub grub, don’t expect any gastropub nonsense here with choices ranging from ham, egg and chips to fish and chips, in fact I think everything on the menu comes with chips. At only four pounds and seventy five pence I couldn’t turn my nose up at a quarter pounder (and chips) and with my total order costing less than seven quid I had to stop and check I was actually in a Central London pub, the prices are very reasonable indeed.
It was a Friday afternoon so the pub contained a mix of regular barflys, Londoners who had bunked off work early for a beer and a few families grabbing a bite to eat. The atmosphere was relaxed, a total contrast to the busy streets only metres away. At one end of the pub Sky Sports news was excitedly hammering out the latest football transfer deadline day deals and at the other the third one day international between England and South Africa was on display, I chose the cricket and sat down to enjoy my beer.
I was blown away with the freshness of the Hackney Red IPA, thick, resinous pine and grapefruit grabbed me by the tongue and wouldn’t let go. I would have seriously considered it as one of the best beers I’ve tried all year but for some reason it was almost but not completely flat and as such didn’t retain any head and didn’t have quite enough zing to help those flavours mingle. It still contained a stunning amount of flavour though and as I enjoyed my bargain burger and watched England skittle the Proteas I couldn’t have been happier.
After I’d finished my meal I thought I’d stay for one more beer and watch a bit more cricket, I decided on the very confidently named Awesomestow IPA and was happy to see more bubbles and a nice tight off white head form on this beer as it was poured. It was delicious, lively flavours of lemon and lychee combining with biscuity malts, it takes a lot of balls to describe a beer as both fabulous and awesome but Brodie’s confidence is well placed in Awesomestow IPA, it’s another knockout beer. I had one small problem, the resinous Hackney IPA had screwed my palate and I could still feel the bitterness clinging to the roof of my mouth before I had taken my first sip of my second beer but it still tasted, well… Awesome.
I could have sat in The Old Coffee House and whiled away my entire afternoon but my sensible side thought better of it. I left the pub with a big smile on my face and rejoined the throng of bodies as I made my way back towards the Underground. I was more than pleasantly surprised by the Old Coffee House, with it’s amazing array of beers and old worldly charm, I’ll be back with friends soon one evening to check out it’s livelier side and I would highly recommend it as one of the best watering holes in the West End. Brodie’s continue to impress, could they be the cream of the constantly expanding and evolving London brewing crop?