With so much of our attention focused on Hackney and Bermondsey, West London is an often forgotten part of the UK's most active brewing city. It shouldn't be, it's home to Fullers, arguably the most important brewery in town and deservedly popular craft upstarts Weird Beard reside in none-more-west Hanwell. For now though it's still lagging behind, certainly in quantity but definitely not in quality.
It's a warm and sunny Thursday evening as I make my way to the newly refurbished George and Dragon on Acton High Street, home of the brand new Dragonfly Brewery. I'm struck by the sheer size of the pub when I enter. A relatively bright lounge area greets you as you walk through the doors and this extends into a cosy, candlelit wooden hall. 'Where the hell is the bar' I think to myself. It was a 10 minute walk from the Station and I've got a right thirst on. Soon my prayers are answered as I reach the back of the seating area. An old dining room houses a traditional square bar which is adorned with statues of Nymphs holding lights in their arms. At the back of this tall, spacious and airy room sits a modern brew kit, all gleaming copper and chrome. This is a truly bright and beautiful space.
I order a half of Redhook Long Hammer IPA and join my friends as this beers citrus nuances start to wash away the toils of the day. We discuss how the low lit interior of the lounge reminds us of the sprawling old pubs of York. This is a place I could quite happily sit in and while away several hours of my day. A plaque sits on one wall detailing the names of landlords as far back as 1759. This former coach house has a supposedly colourful past, apparently being frequented by dangerous highwaymen and robbers during the 18th century. Tonight instead of rogues and highwaymen (well, there were a few rogues present) the George and Dragon is playing host to food and beer writers.
The Dragonfly Brewery is headed by award winning Master Brewer Conor Donoghue and they are currently producing four different beers on keg and cask. Two O'Clock Ordinary is a cask only best bitter that reminds me of some of the top bitters produced in the South East. It's slightly sweet with flavours of ripe plums and golden syrup, it has a nice bitter finish with a drying touch of white pepper. I only had a half to taste but this is a beer that demands to be drank by the pint (Justin Mason was quite taken by this beer, you can read his account here.)
I move on to Early Doors an American style pale ale that's available on cask and keg. I start with the cask version and it's simply drenched with the classic grapefruit flavours provided by cascade hops. It's a little cloying on cask but the extra fizz and lower temperature of the keg version gives this beer a leg up. This is really good, so good in fact it reminds me quite a bit of Sierra Nevada Pale Ale at its best. It's pin bright and the flavours are clean and distinctive, this is my kind of beer.
Also available on both cask and keg is Dark Matter which is described to us as a dry stout with bite. On this occasion I prefer the cask version as opposed the keg version which is served under nitrogen for a classic, creamy mouth feel. It's got a decent amount of stone fruit and chocolate in the mix, it's definitely another good beer. Perhaps the nicest thing about Dark Matter is that Guinness has been shunned for a stout that's brewed in house so it'll be easy to switch fans of the black stuff on to this.
Finally I get myself a half of Achtung! This German style hefeweizen has soft notes of banana and clove with a distinctive prickly hop finish. I usually prefer my wheat beers to have more pronounced esters and less hop bitterness but this was still a decent drop. All four house beers were well made and in great condition, there wasn't a drop of London murky to be seen which will certainly keep the purists happy. In fact there's enough at the George and Dragon to keep the entire gamut of beer drinkers amused with draught offerings such as the aforementioned Redhook IPA, Lindemans Kriek, six cask lines and a good range of bottled beer. It's the house beer that'll keep people coming back though especially with the promise of a larger range of Dragonfly beers being available in the not too distant future.
The George and Dragon is an incredibly easy pub to relax and enjoy yourself in and that's the main reason that'll draw me back to this fantastic space. A great range of American style eats such as burgers and hot dogs is available as well as inspired range of bar snacks. I could have eaten the beer battered black pudding (made using the Dark Matter stout) until my innards had become fois gras. This brewpub that effortlessly fuses the vintage and the modern parts of the current British beer scene is certainly a very welcome addition to West London.
The George and Dragon and Dragonfly Brewery is now open and located at 183 High St, London, W3 9DJ. Many thanks to the staff at the George for hosting a great evening and to Anastasia at Kapranos PR for inviting me down. Original photography by Dianne Tanner.