56 Farringdon Road,
London EC1R 3BL
Tel: 020 7253 4285
Disaster-style situation. That's what today is. The London Metropolitan Archives are closed until January 21st. How the hell am I supposed to fill the six hours until the beer hacks' dinner starts? Let's think . . . . . art gallery? . . . Shopping on Oxford Street? . . . . British Museum? . . . I know - what about a pub?
I've just been in the dismal Wetherspoons on Farringdon Road. No more about that. At 11:35 the Betsey Trotwood didn't look very open. So I went to have a look at the site of Reid's Griffin brewery on Clerkenwell Road. It was demolished soon after Watney, Combe Delafield and Reid merged in 1899. There's not a lot left. Nothing, to be more exact, but what I assume was the brewery tap, the Griffin. It's some sort of strip joint, so I didn't go in. The rest of the site is a huge complex of Edwardian flats.
I wonder if the Betsey was a Reid's house? After the merger, the Reid's name lived on as Watney, Combe, Reid's Stout brand. All three breweries had been big in the 18th century Porter trade, though the Stag Brewery (Watney) had gone through hard times at the early 1800's.
"Since 1851, the year of the Great Exhibition, light pake beers had ousted other brewsin the popular taste. At the Wood Yard Brewery Combe, Delafield & Co, quickly adjusted their methods to meet the new demand, brewing ales similar in colour and flavour to those of Burton ale which had become the rage. At the Stag Brewery the tradition of brewing Pimlico oe pale ales had survived the kong ascendancy of porter and although - together with stout - this was still brewed, paler lighter beer represented the bulk of the barrelage. Reid & Co.at the Griffin Brewery, with their established reputation for stout, catered almost exclusively for that market."
The Red Barrel: a History of Watney Mann, by Hurford James, 1963 , pages 118-119
Why am I burbling on about this? Because I'm drinking Shepherd Neame Porter. It's not bad and makes a real change from endless pints of Bitter. Liquorice and Roast. I'm not up to a more precise description today. I'm still gutted that the London Metropolitan Archives are closed.
I wonder which will be the next nationality to staff London pubs? It used to be Aussies in the far distant days when I lived here. Now it's Poles. Maybe Cambodians will be next.
Only four and a half hours to go. I've almost finished my second pint. I can't get too carried away bewcause of the piss-up tonight. Two pound eighty a pint the Porter costs. That's around four euros. Last Saturday a half litre in the train to Cologne only cost 3.80 euros.
As an added bonus (what a generous bloke I am) , here's a Reid Porter log from 1837: