There are no less than four Samuel Smith’s beers in The Book—an honour shared only by London’s Meantime brewery—so it seems like it might be time to try another one. I sampled old Sam’s Imperial Stout a little while ago, but wasn’t completely blown away by it. Nor have I been truly impressed by the several other beers that I’ve tried in the brewery’s pubs.
This one though, the 5.0% ABV Taddy Porter, is really quite famous, and is very well regarded by those in the know. It also makes for the perfect excuse to seek out a pub that I’ve heard a lot of good things about.
The Anchor Tap is tucked away in London’s Shad Thames neighbourhood and wears its long history with pride. As its name suggests, it was originally the brewery tap for the Anchor Brewery, which was situated on the banks of the Thames next to Tower Bridge, but has long since been converted into apartments that you and I will never be able to afford.
The pub these days is operated by Sam Smith’s, and remains an unashamedly unreconstructed oasis of authenticity despite being besieged by gentrification and tourism. It’s a rabbit warren of tiny wood-panelled rooms, darts and pork scratchings, and even has a devoted cadre of working class locals, although goodness knows where they actually live.
And conveniently enough, it has Taddy Porter in Sam Smith’s characteristically generous 550ml bottles.
From the bottle, Taddy Porter pours a sumptuous deep brown, almost black, colour with a gigantic tan head thicker than some of the accents in the main bar. There’s an immediate waft of chocolate, black coffee and dark, bitter malts.
And it’s good. It tastes like the quintessential porter, with bitter and sweet flavours in perfect balance. Taddy Porter is smooth, deep and dark, and thankfully avoids the slight wateriness that can plague lesser porters.
This is probably the best porter I’ve covered on the blog so far, and one of the best I’ve ever tried. Given that porter is the most London of beer styles, it’s both impressive and refreshing to see this idiosyncratic little brewery from Yorkshire show the London boys how it’s done.
If I’ve been slightly disparaging of Sam Smith’s beers in the past, this one has given me a newfound respect for the chaps from Tadcaster. This was a cracking beer in a cracking pub.
Facts and Figures
|Samuel Smith Old Brewery, Tadcaster, North Yorkshire, England
|Porters and Stouts
|The Anchor Tap, Horselydown Lane, London SE1