The Porterhouse used to be good. The other side of a UK ‘craft beer revolution’, and of a pandemic, does it still have what it takes?
Last week I was in London for work and wound up in Covent Garden with a couple of colleagues looking for somewhere to have a drink.
The Porterhouse leapt to mind, mostly because at the moment it’s really difficult to guess where will be busy and where won’t, and The Porterhouse is, if nothing else, enormous.
We also haven’t been for a very long time, and I couldn’t resist the urge to check in and see if this relic from our early beer ticking days was still doing its thing.
It’s interesting to compare my notes with what we wrote almost 15 years ago. Even then, we were describing it with warm nostalgia.
We first drank there in the early noughties, no doubt also for some work do or other, and kept going back.
It was one of the few places in central London you could get German and Belgian beer and we were trying pretty hard to tick Michael Jackson’s 500 Great Beers.
It was ways worth fighting through stags, hens and lads to get to the bar. As we wrote:
…it’s a beer-centred venue which could survive perfectly well if it didn’t bother dishing up any decent beer at all.
And now? Well, it really is much the same – a party pub with a beer list that’s better than it ought to be.
It’s been updated to reflect current tastes. There are a lot more British IPAs, for example.
There are now two lager options, Temple Lager and Hammer Pilsner, both of which are more characterful than Chiller ever was. More importantly, they’re also branded to look like they might have been made by a medium-large British craft brewery from about four or five years ago. If you like Camden Hells, you might also like…
I only had limited time, so I skipped the various pale ales and went for continuity. Plain Porter (4.2%) is a really great example of this style – a slightly smoky, easy drinking, toasty beer with a hint of bitterness for a finishing flourish.
Oyster Stout (4.6%) is a little mellower, with a subtle sweetness that suggests richness rather than being cloying.
It takes a lot of work to make a central London business stick – it changes constantly, and always has. But now The Porterhouse has made it past 21 years, perhaps it’ll be there as long as its neighbour, which was founded in 1798.