Wednesday, 22 December 2010

Samuel Smiths

I love the time when a group of people come into one of these pubs and say “I’ll have a pint of Ste…..” which trails off as they realise no, they can’t. The only goods sold in these pubs are the Samuel Smiths brands, even the spirits, crisps and soft drinks are all branded to this brewery. I believe the only brewery to do so in England, in America I see Goose Island have an own range of soft drinks but I bet they haven’t got this far in the branding.

Not everyone’s pint of beer but I rarely find a bad one of their pubs, just recently London pubs have been having a bit of tart up and a new lick of paint. Unlike many other breweries when this company do up a pub there is no danger of it becoming a wine bar affair rather than a pub. The Crown near Tottenham Court Road has fairly recently been done and it now a very nice place to wander into for a drink, many have commented on the work done to the Princess Louise in Holborn which is frankly stunning.

The brewery pubs do have a soft place in the hearts of those who go to them, each pub in unique and many with unusual and beautiful features that the Brewery takes care not to lose. The London pubs have been the focus of many a pub challenge, this one is one of the best detailed maps for finding their pubs. Good Beer guide is useless for these as brewery’s beers are not considered real beer under CAMRAs guidelines sadly.

Pricewise they only usually put up their prices when duty goes up and when by the same amount which is unusually fair in this day and age. Bottle beers are more expensive than pump but not to a ridiculous point, the range is good too. Taddy Porter and the Oatmeal Stout being personally favourites and they are especially lovely on a cold winter’s day in front of a warm fire in a pub accompanied by a book and my mobile switched off so I can’t disturbed by the Husband who has probably realised I haven’t gone shopping but will be in a pub somewhere. Bliss.

Brewery Webpage:
And yes, it is a webpage not website; they may have joined the 21st century but only just.


  1. Old Brewery Bitter is widely available in cask form although perhaps rarely in the London area. A number of Sam's pubs have featured in the Good Beer Guide over the years, although in the current climate CAMRA branches don't tend to favour them as they only offer the one real ale.

    I agree that Sam's pubs are almost invariably "proper" pubs and also nowadays offer some of the keenest prices around.

  2. It's all "tesco value" stuff re branded, apart from what they brew themselves. Some of which is okay, some of which is muck. The Old brewery bitter, Sovereign keg bitter & pure brewed lager are neckable. The wheat beer is sour and nasty. It's mainly cheap, so it gets a thumbs up.

  3. In Whitby last year, I called into the Three Jolly Sailors on the harbourside and had a pint of Old Brewery Bitter for £1-41. I then crossed the river and went to the Shambles where I had a pint of Copper Dragon for £2-80, near enough double.

    Sam Smiths not being real ale - is that a London thing? Because it's hand-pulled wherever I've seen it here in the North.

  4. I haven't seen a Sam Smiths in a good beer guide book but I will admit that could just be me not spotting it when flipping though. However, my partner has got the iPhone app on his phone and it has never come up with one of their pubs when we use it to search for a pub to go to if we are looking for a swift drink using the 'near by' option on the guide.

    I haven't seen a hand pulled beer yet, all the taps are like the ones on lagers at other pubs. But as I am tempted to do the Sam Smiths Challenge I will surely come across one in London. :)

    @ Cookie... I doubt it seriously! Oatmeal stout is divine but Wheat Beer is not my idea of a drink either. Just not a wheat beer person I guess.

  5. Not a lot of Sam's pubs in the GBG, but three I can find in the current edition are:

    Angel & White Horse, Tadcaster (p 625)
    Shoulder of Mutton, Bradford (p 542)
    Olde Murenger House, Newport (p 573)

    A problem can be that they rotate their managers fairly rapidly and so pubs may struggle to build up a track record.

  6. I have a bit of a soft spot for Sam Smiths, and enjoy visiting their London pubs whenever the opportunity arises.
    Particular favourites are the Chandos (just off Trafalgar Square), the Princess Louise, and the Olde Cheshire Cheese. All offer hand-pumped Old Brewery Bitter, at a very reasonable price.
    I would also endorse your comment that their bottled range is extremely good.
    btw. Their webpage caught me out, especially when I was unable to explore further what I initially assumed to be a website!

  7. They have pumps at The Princess Louise, Cittie Of Yorke, Cheshire Cheese, Cock, and The Angel. I like the Cheshire Cheese the best of their London estate (especially on a sunday) However, I'm boycotting Smiths at the moment because of the needless grief they're causing the Cropton Brewery over use of the Yorkshire Rose on their branding. ( if you'd like to know more)

  8. Their eccentricity was confirmed when they made a policy decision in 2004 not to apply for any of the new music licences that "New" Labour was introducing. During Whitby Folk Week, the Plough, a large pub that backs on to the harbour, used to be packed with up to 4 different music sessions going on, two inside the pub, one in the function room upstairs and one in the beer yard outside. The pub was heaving, with the staff struggling to keep up with demand - think of the Xmas rush then double it. Casks seemed to be running out every few minutes. Ever since that decision, the pub has been almost empty during Folk Week and what it has lost in any one year since 2004 would have more than paid for the licences for the entire Sam Smith's estate.

    Fortunately for us folk types, there were other pubs in Whitby only too willing to take up the slack.


  9. £1.43 a pint for Old Brewery Bitter in the Boar's Head on Stockport Market Place yesterday. Not surprisingly, it was heaving.

  10. The ones in London tend to be full most of the time as well. Mainly students admittedly, but they keep pubs going which is good.

  11. The clientèle in the North-West, at any rate in the more urban ones, tends to be predominantly older working-class blokes, i.e. the sort of people who used to go in Holts pubs before they went up-market.