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Brighton Beer Blog Visit The Green Dragon, Brighton

A descriptive, beer-by-beer account of our visit…

Date: Thursday 31st March

Beers:
Beavertown Neck Oil

 

Early on a Thursday evening after filling our bellies with some Happy Maki down the road, a friend and I stopped off at The Green Dragon Brighton on Sydney Street.

This pub retains fond memories for me and my first few years in Brighton living in the North Laine. Many a happy winter eve was spent in this pub with new groups of friends, and as we drank into the evening the condensation from the steamy heat of a busy pub would mist up the old windows, shielding you from the cold night outside. Back when it was called the Office it was a really buzzy place with a decent Thai menu that used be popular with the after-work crowd as well as generally packed with locals on a Friday and Saturday night.
Having been the Office under Pleisure pub group for so many years it has reverted back to an earlier moniker which dates at least back to the 50s. Now part of the Stonegate portfolio, who run pubs as disparate as The Railway Bell and Popworld on West Street, we were prepared for anything.

 

As we entered, any concerns that this location has lost it’s identity as a fun pub evaporated rapidly, the pub was about half full with a few couples and a large table of what look like post-work revellers having a raucous time, another table of what look like students enjoying a few pints, while another chap on his own propped up the bar. You get the feeling this pub attracts a varied cross section of clientele and that it can stay buzzing right up until people are being asked to leave.

A variety of electro pop was being pumped out at the perfect volume, loud enough to raise the level of conversations and inject energy, without being oppressive. Posters and boards scream encouraging slogans such as; 241 cocktails ALL DAY, EVERY DAY, 10% off student deals, 2 bombs for £5 and shots of baby guinness for £2.50. I thought this was a bit of a rip off at first, then I realised it has no Guinness in whatsoever. Go figure.. I used to love a black Russian stout but never had one of these.. but being a school night shots were not on the cards.

 

We were sat in the front windows on some very comfortable leather bench seats that run the width of the pub and are surrounded by tables and chairs. Leather bench seating runs along the far wall opposite the bar surrounded by more low tables and chairs. There’s also some high seating against little bar partitions and standing alone as islands.
It feels quite busy with furniture here, yet there’s still plenty of floor space, and it all seems to provide flexibility for groups to push tables together and get loud, or for couples to have intimate conversations in corners beneath the noise.

There’s also a back yard area which looks as thought it’s had a recent, much-needed paint and refresh. For a small enclosed yard it now looks like a pleasant enough space space to hang out in the summer, whether on the raised decking section or under the leafy pergola.

 

Scanning the bar there are plenty of options but mainly focussed at a global lager brands, your Amstel, Peroni, Birra Morretti plus typical Guinness option. I might have opted for one of the 2 cask ales offered, Spitfire from Shepherd Neame and Seafarers from Fullers/Asahi, but it felt like a night for carbonation.

I probably would have gone for a Camden Hells if it wasn’t unavailable. According the bar-lady, they are struggling with severe supply shortages, and I’ve heard this at another pubs around so I wonder what’s going on there? In researching this I discovered that Camden Hells is now fully integrated into AB InBev and brewed by Budweiser, something I didn’t know, and will now put me off this brand given Anheuser-Busch’s almost century old, despotic legal attempts to wrestle the Budweiser name from it’s original Czech brewer Budvar.

 

At least there were a couple of mass market craft pales on the bar, but with only the supermarket brands of Tiny Rebel and Beavertown on offer we went for the least sweet and fruity of the 2 options, a Neck Oil. As a beer blog I have to point out the disappointing lack of any local beer across the whole bar and the options suggest The Green Dragon is not a location aimed at beer aficionados.

I’ve had pints of Neck Oil I’ve enjoyed, but unfortunately my friend and I both agreed we’d had much better than this. The citrussy hop flavours were really astringent, normally it has a mellower balance and at least some hint of malt sweetness, but even when the beer warmed up (it was served icy cold) it never regained a balanced character. Not sure if this was a badly balanced batch, a compromised line, or some ageing has occurred, but it wasn’t right.

 

With time to peruse the boards and Menu’s we noticed that the pub now offers an assortment of 5 different Pies from Pieminister plus some managers specials, and a ‘£10 pie and pint’ deal seems to run on certain days though it’s not clear when, maybe always..?  We also noticed the vast array of Gin’s behind the bar, so copious they’ve labelled it their ‘Ginventory’, which harks back to The Office’s previous niche as a Gin location. Anyone else remember reading the history of Gin timeline that ran across the upper walls?

Also special mention has to be given to effort put into the Easter bunting and decoration. As a religious festival it’s not normally something you see pubs celebrate, but there was more effort on the decoration here than I’ve spotted in local supermarkets.
Poker nights, Quizzes and weekend DJs all add to the sense of destination and festivity that I’ve always found this location possessing when I first moved to Brighton.

 

Whilst we managed to finish them, we didn’t fancy another Neck Oil, or risking any of the other mass market keg options available, so we opted for the safety of a Sailor Jerry and coke and the lady offered us a decent value double up option.

Alas, a flat-as-a-pancake coke took the shine off what should have been a nice refreshing end of the night drink. I didn’t complain to anyone about the drinks tonight, mainly because I was tired and wanted to focus on a conversation with a friend and not with bar staff about the quality of their drinks. Maybe I was just unlucky, but 2 unsatisfying drinks out of 2 and you start to get a feel that this pub is more focussed on churning out shots and bombs to revellers, than ensuring the quality of product going into glasses.

 

Despite the drink disappointments we did enjoy our visit to the Green Dragon, Brighton. The pub feels nicely bedded in now and it was very easy to settle in here, though it’s not somewhere I’d go a quiet contemplative pint. Being a centre of town pub you’d expect to find a good level of atmosphere most nights of the week, and whether it was the music genre mix or the just loud enough volume, it was just spot on and created the kind of energetic atmosphere that makes it either a great place to hang out as a group, or a good pre-drink location before heading into town.

 

However, when you weigh-up a visit to the Green Dragon Brighton to the many other pubs the North Laine has to offer, overall it’s hard to see where it stands out. It’s bested by The Albert for keg, the Basketmakers for cask, the Great Eastern for charm and I’d consider The White Rabbit a more obvious student destination.
Sure, they offer a niche Pie menu and have plenty of student and spirit deals going on, but it does feel very much part of a chain aimed at the mass-market, and there’s literally nothing to get excited about for beer fans.

2 Comments

  1. ZRH

    I use to work at the office back in the day. It’s a real shame to see what was a fantastic little gin bar with outstanding Thai food and great cocktails become a chain pub with next to no atmosphere. The refurb was much needed but the soul of the Office is gone. A real shame and Loss to the north laine.

    Reply
    • Dave (BBB Founder)

      Yep. Nothing we don’t agree with there ZRH

      Reply

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Your email address will not be published.

Date: Thursday 31st March

Beers:
Beavertown Neck Oil

 

Early on a Thursday evening after filling our bellies with some Happy Maki down the road, a friend and I stopped off at The Green Dragon Brighton on Sydney Street.

This pub retains fond memories for me and my first few years in Brighton living in the North Laine. Many a happy winter eve was spent in this pub with new groups of friends, and as we drank into the evening the condensation from the steamy heat of a busy pub would mist up the old windows, shielding you from the cold night outside. Back when it was called the Office it was a really buzzy place with a decent Thai menu that used be popular with the after-work crowd as well as generally packed with locals on a Friday and Saturday night.
Having been the Office under Pleisure pub group for so many years it has reverted back to an earlier moniker which dates at least back to the 50s. Now part of the Stonegate portfolio, who run pubs as disparate as The Railway Bell and Popworld on West Street, we were prepared for anything.

 

As we entered, any concerns that this location has lost it’s identity as a fun pub evaporated rapidly, the pub was about half full with a few couples and a large table of what look like post-work revellers having a raucous time, another table of what look like students enjoying a few pints, while another chap on his own propped up the bar. You get the feeling this pub attracts a varied cross section of clientele and that it can stay buzzing right up until people are being asked to leave.

A variety of electro pop was being pumped out at the perfect volume, loud enough to raise the level of conversations and inject energy, without being oppressive. Posters and boards scream encouraging slogans such as; 241 cocktails ALL DAY, EVERY DAY, 10% off student deals, 2 bombs for £5 and shots of baby guinness for £2.50. I thought this was a bit of a rip off at first, then I realised it has no Guinness in whatsoever. Go figure.. I used to love a black Russian stout but never had one of these.. but being a school night shots were not on the cards.

 

We were sat in the front windows on some very comfortable leather bench seats that run the width of the pub and are surrounded by tables and chairs. Leather bench seating runs along the far wall opposite the bar surrounded by more low tables and chairs. There’s also some high seating against little bar partitions and standing alone as islands.
It feels quite busy with furniture here, yet there’s still plenty of floor space, and it all seems to provide flexibility for groups to push tables together and get loud, or for couples to have intimate conversations in corners beneath the noise.

There’s also a back yard area which looks as thought it’s had a recent, much-needed paint and refresh. For a small enclosed yard it now looks like a pleasant enough space space to hang out in the summer, whether on the raised decking section or under the leafy pergola.

 

Scanning the bar there are plenty of options but mainly focussed at a global lager brands, your Amstel, Peroni, Birra Morretti plus typical Guinness option. I might have opted for one of the 2 cask ales offered, Spitfire from Shepherd Neame and Seafarers from Fullers/Asahi, but it felt like a night for carbonation.

I probably would have gone for a Camden Hells if it wasn’t unavailable. According the bar-lady, they are struggling with severe supply shortages, and I’ve heard this at another pubs around so I wonder what’s going on there? In researching this I discovered that Camden Hells is now fully integrated into AB InBev and brewed by Budweiser, something I didn’t know, and will now put me off this brand given Anheuser-Busch’s almost century old, despotic legal attempts to wrestle the Budweiser name from it’s original Czech brewer Budvar.

 

At least there were a couple of mass market craft pales on the bar, but with only the supermarket brands of Tiny Rebel and Beavertown on offer we went for the least sweet and fruity of the 2 options, a Neck Oil. As a beer blog I have to point out the disappointing lack of any local beer across the whole bar and the options suggest The Green Dragon is not a location aimed at beer aficionados.

I’ve had pints of Neck Oil I’ve enjoyed, but unfortunately my friend and I both agreed we’d had much better than this. The citrussy hop flavours were really astringent, normally it has a mellower balance and at least some hint of malt sweetness, but even when the beer warmed up (it was served icy cold) it never regained a balanced character. Not sure if this was a badly balanced batch, a compromised line, or some ageing has occurred, but it wasn’t right.

 

With time to peruse the boards and Menu’s we noticed that the pub now offers an assortment of 5 different Pies from Pieminister plus some managers specials, and a ‘£10 pie and pint’ deal seems to run on certain days though it’s not clear when, maybe always..?  We also noticed the vast array of Gin’s behind the bar, so copious they’ve labelled it their ‘Ginventory’, which harks back to The Office’s previous niche as a Gin location. Anyone else remember reading the history of Gin timeline that ran across the upper walls?

Also special mention has to be given to effort put into the Easter bunting and decoration. As a religious festival it’s not normally something you see pubs celebrate, but there was more effort on the decoration here than I’ve spotted in local supermarkets.
Poker nights, Quizzes and weekend DJs all add to the sense of destination and festivity that I’ve always found this location possessing when I first moved to Brighton.

 

Whilst we managed to finish them, we didn’t fancy another Neck Oil, or risking any of the other mass market keg options available, so we opted for the safety of a Sailor Jerry and coke and the lady offered us a decent value double up option.

Alas, a flat-as-a-pancake coke took the shine off what should have been a nice refreshing end of the night drink. I didn’t complain to anyone about the drinks tonight, mainly because I was tired and wanted to focus on a conversation with a friend and not with bar staff about the quality of their drinks. Maybe I was just unlucky, but 2 unsatisfying drinks out of 2 and you start to get a feel that this pub is more focussed on churning out shots and bombs to revellers, than ensuring the quality of product going into glasses.

 

Despite the drink disappointments we did enjoy our visit to the Green Dragon, Brighton. The pub feels nicely bedded in now and it was very easy to settle in here, though it’s not somewhere I’d go a quiet contemplative pint. Being a centre of town pub you’d expect to find a good level of atmosphere most nights of the week, and whether it was the music genre mix or the just loud enough volume, it was just spot on and created the kind of energetic atmosphere that makes it either a great place to hang out as a group, or a good pre-drink location before heading into town.

 

However, when you weigh-up a visit to the Green Dragon Brighton to the many other pubs the North Laine has to offer, overall it’s hard to see where it stands out. It’s bested by The Albert for keg, the Basketmakers for cask, the Great Eastern for charm and I’d consider The White Rabbit a more obvious student destination.
Sure, they offer a niche Pie menu and have plenty of student and spirit deals going on, but it does feel very much part of a chain aimed at the mass-market, and there’s literally nothing to get excited about for beer fans.

2 Comments

  1. ZRH

    I use to work at the office back in the day. It’s a real shame to see what was a fantastic little gin bar with outstanding Thai food and great cocktails become a chain pub with next to no atmosphere. The refurb was much needed but the soul of the Office is gone. A real shame and Loss to the north laine.

    Reply
    • Dave (BBB Founder)

      Yep. Nothing we don’t agree with there ZRH

      Reply

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published.