Category Archives: Pubs

Fuck Lager: This Is Beer.

To Øl. Those brilliant Danish brewers with an affinity for unusual concoctions and fantastic branding. Chances are, if you have to pick up the bottle to see who it’s by, it’s likely to be one of theirs. Previous bottle artwork has included: hamburgers, rainbow watercolours, and the Ryugyong Hotel in Pyongyang. That’s right. The North Korean monstrosity features prominently on their Fuck Art: This is Architecture bottle.

I’ve been unable to write anything substantial recently due to my ridiculous 7 day working week. However, I’m having a much needed break this weekend to Copenhagen, where I will absolutely be paying a visit to the new To Øl brewpub. So, in honour of that, here’s a little write-up of three of their badass brews I had recently.

First up, with a 100 rating on RateBeer, is Black Malts & Body Salts. This coffee IIPA is a heavy hitter at 9.9%, although I found it very drinkable and not heavy at all. It’s got a big coffee aroma, with the hoppiness coming through underneath. Full-bodied, and the right amount of carbonation. Really gorgeous stuff.

On the opposite end of the scale is Berry White: a white ale brewed with blueberries and blackberries. At 5% it’s very easygoing, for me, and this was lovely and tart rather than sweet, which I was happy about. It’s a beautiful pour, and it was like I was drinking some sort of mildly alcoholic raspberry juice. Although I have to be in the mood for a beer like this, I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Lastly, but certainly the least, is the Sur Citra. There’s a range of their sours, and this is, rather obviously, the citra edition. At 5.5%, it was again very drinkable. It’s a fantastic example of what a sour beer is like, and the wonderful citrussy notes coming through prevent it from being too overpowering. It’s super sour at first, but finishing with the hop flavour. As the weather gets warmer, I’m definitely having more of these. Really thirst-quenching, and better than knocking back the DIPAs…

Black Malts & Body Salts and Sur Citra should still be in stock at Bison Beer, where I got them from, along with a whole bunch of other To Øl beauties. The Berry White was from Trafalgar Wines, who have recently got the Sur Mosaic in stock. That’s definitely one on the wish list.

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When The Kernel took over Brighton.

On Thursday April 14th, the beerilliant The Kernel took over the Craft Beer Co. in Brighton with 15 taps of deliciousness. It’s pretty well established that Kernel are one of the very best breweries in the UK right now, which is saying something considering the strength of competition. Excellent beer is turned out, one after another. And, of course, no two batches are the same. Different hops are used, and different brewers produce each set. I’ve had countless Kernel pale ales over the years, from a tiny village in Wales to one of the top restaurants in London. The consistent fantastic quality of them all are what sets them apart from the rest.

There are certain beer trends around at the moment -everyone seems to be dabbling in the beer du jour: the double or even triple IPA. I have no complaints whatsoever about this, naturally, but Kernel haven’t seemed to announce a similar brew. I got talking to one of the brewers about what to expect next, and I was amused to hear that no, they will continue to tread their own path as to what they brew and not base it on current trends. So, sadly, don’t expect a mindblowing Kernel DIPA coming any time soon. However, with the likes of Cloudwater and Kernel neighbours Brew By Numbers coming out with some of the best beers I’ve ever had in the form of their DIPAs, I’ll settle. Instead, Kernel will apparently be focusing on saisons, and judging what was on offer at the takeover, I have no problem with this whatsoever. Of course. We spoke briefly about their famous Table Beer, and how flavoursome it is for a beer with such a low ABV. I’m pretty sure I haven’t come across a beer like it that is so unanimously liked by everyone who tries it, and that in itself is something special.

Sadly, the beer that I first asked for, the Pale Ale Galaxy/Mosaic/Simcoe/Centennial had just gone. As anyone I’ve ever had a remote conversation about hops knows, I ❤ Mosaic. It’s just got a beautiful tropical fruit quality to it. No such luck, so I went for the IPA Citra/Nelson Sauvin/Galaxy instead. I wasn’t intending to go headfirst into a 7% beer before I’d had anything to eat, but this seems to be an unintentional trend of mine. Anyhow. Super hoppy, with a beautiful citrus flavour, obviously, from the Citra. It went down very easily.

That lead quickly onto the Biere de Saison Barrel #30. I was too busy talking while drinking it to note down much, but this was a lovely saison: lemony without being too tart. More of this from The Kernel is nothing to complain about.

They’re not only experts in producing beautiful pales, as proven by their Export India Porter. It’s a lovely beer: dark and rich with roasted coffee notes, but not heavy like a lot of dark beers. Exactly what you’d want from a porter.

I finished on an India Pale Ale Simcoe. It was outstanding, and I wish I didn’t have to down half of it to run down the road to make the bus home. 7.1% of hoppy, tropical fruit deliciousness.

To conclude? Kernel produce amazing beers. No surprises there. They will continue making pale ales that really set the standard for others, in my opinion. Everything about The Kernel is simplistic: the name itself -a kernel is a piece of barley, in a very simple sense; the label did just used to be a stamped piece of brown paper and now still looks the same; the pump clips were and I believe still are pieces of cork; and the head brewer/founder Evin O’Riordain doesn’t like the term “craft beer”, which is somewhat amusing for someone widely regarded as a purveyor/leader/guru (rightly, I’ll add) in the industry. But when you’re making beers this good, you don’t need to be anything else.

 

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7 days of beer.

The coming week is playing host to a number of beer events (tap takeovers all over the place) that I thought I’d preview briefly here.

Today, Thursday 7th April, sees Siren land at BrewDog Clerkenwell for the next in line of their Tap Takeovers. I am so, very jealous of anyone going to this. Siren are one of the top UK breweries, and the tap list is spectacular. Without a shadow of a doubt, the Siren x Cigar City collab, Caribbean Chocolate Cake (on nitro, no less) is going to be absolutely phenomenal.

Meanwhile, Wylam take over 8 taps at the Brighton Beer Dispensary, proving there’s a whole lot more to Newcastle’s beer scene than Newky Brown. Brews on offer include Little Fluffy Clouds, the Wylam x Mad Hatter collab, a lemon meringue pie beer that I sampled last week; a refreshing session strength IPA with a lovely lemon tang on the finish. Also on tap is the fantastic Jakehead IPA and the luxuriously thick stout, Club of Slaughters. I’m hoping I’ll get the chance to swing by, and if I do, I’ll beeline for the Wylam x Yeastie Boys collab, WxY IPA.

Friday 8th to Sunday 10th April sees the Brighton Tap Takeover. 10 pubs, 10 breweries. My personal highlights: The Mash Tun will be hosting Cloudwater, who are launching their DIPA v3 (hands up, who’s excited), which is surely going to be
mindblowing. Northern Monk have collaborated with their hosts, Hope and Ruin, and brewed a Tuaca and Orange Stout, based on the venue, and probably Brighton’s, favourite shot. Worthy mention to the 822 DIPA they’re launching, too, which I’ll be getting my hands on. Last, but absolutely not least, the new version of Bison’s APA: See Side Citralicious and Two Tribes’ new launch, Supersonic Saison will be over at East Street Tap. I’ll do a little write up afterwards, and I’m sure there’ll be something totally random that I fall in love with. The whole beer list, event schedule and other general information is over here.

I was seriously considering making a trip to Huddersfield, but the good people over at Craft Beer Co. are saving me the hassle by bringing the 4th annual launch of Magic Rock’s Un-human Cannonball Triple IPA to Islington on Wednesday 13th April. Magic Rock consistently turn out some of the best beers around, and this will not be an exception.

Back in Brighton on Thursday 14th April, The Kernel will be bringing their best to Craft Beer Co. Brighton for a tap takeover. I’ve been informed that the full beer list will be released soon, and it’s definitely one to watch out for.

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A late, late review.

I’ve been crazy busy and haven’t had a chance to actually get something fully written and edited, so this is a lot later than I wanted it to be. The beers I’ve chosen to write about weren’t exclusive, so it’s not entirely redundant…

Last, last Thursday saw the opening of the annual Craft 100 festival at Craft Beer Co. Clapham in London. I’ve been a loyal attendee since its inception, so duly went along.

The premise is simple: a varied selection of 100 beers, both cask and keg, from all over the world. The rare or hard to find brews are the ones I home in on usually, but there are always a few (often festival exclusive) from some of the best breweries in the UK. There’s always some kind of food on offer as well, and this year saw the return of the ridiculously good Philly cheesesteaks from the Liberty Cheesesteak Company. I had a half hogie, and went back for a whole one about half an hour later. Eh, sue me. It’s always sunny.

So, to the beer. I’ll mention a couple of what I had, partly because I stopped checking in to Untappd after a while, and without a proper record of them, I probably wouldn’t be able to do them justice.

Unintentionally, although I should’ve known, I went straight in with the strongest (by some margin) beer on offer, with the Evil Twin x Lervig collaboration, Big Ass Money Stout. It’s a 17.5% imperial stout brewed with pizza. Yep. That sentence contains no typos. I don’t think I can better the actual description on Lervig’s site because it’s bloody brilliant, so a direct quote:

This bold 17,5% ABV Imperial stout was aged in two 3000L foeders. We mashed in with frozen pizza, and we dry money’d it to poke fun of modern Norwegian culture. The beer itself has a velvety smoothness easy drinking body despite its huge alcohol content. It’s got some ass, it’s got some stout, and it costs a lot of money.

Food pairings

Cohiba Behike cigars, Iranian Beluga caviar, Kobe beef, Foie gras, Grandiosa microwaveable pizzas.

Malts

Pale malt, Roasted malts.

Hops

Aurora, Chinook, Cascade.

Aroma

Warming chocolate, brandy nose and freshly minted bank notes.

Serve in

Gold chalice, or platinum-plated hand-crafted artisan-inspired crystal flute.

Regardless of what may or may not have gone in it, it’s a wonderfully intense stout to drink. You can smell the alcohol in it, which I don’t think comes through as much in the taste. It’s full bodied, warming, and rich. It’s definitely a sipper, and I enjoyed it. I think this was my personal highlight.

On recommendation, I then went for the Breakfast Sour by High Water Brewing. I love a good sour, and this one was excellent. It comes in at 6.5%, and looks lovely. It’s got wonderful lemon, grapefruit and lychee notes, with a dry finish. Total tart.

I’m not sure whether it was down to the intense flavours of what I’d been drinking, but the Kernel x Jester King collaboration of Farmhouse Table Beer (Tettnanger/Centennial) fell a little flat. I think if I’d started with this 4.3% saison I would’ve enjoyed it a lot more, as it was light and refreshing. Anything by Kernel is going to be good, and I hope to find this again to give another go.

I do regret not going to the Outside Bar a little earlier, as the Clwb Tropicana (the w is a little homage to their Welsh heritage, which I like) by Tiny Rebel went out as I was ordering one. It was the first barrel to finish of them all, and was certainly lauded by those who had sampled it. Unfortunately, it was down as a festival exclusive, but occasionally these things turn up again.

Overall, it was another great CBC, and lovely to see familiar faces.

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The Beaster Weekend.

I’ve been a little busy of late and haven’t seemed to have the time to sit down and properly write about anything. Here’s a little of what I’ve been drinking, and what this long Easter weekend will consist of (lots of beer)…

  • Ginspired IPA – Siren x Magic Rock collab on tap at Bison Beer Crafthouse. Being the first ever gin and tonic beer I’ve ever heard of, I wasn’t sure what to expect. It was lovely, but I thought that the gin notes were quite subtle. Maybe that’s just an indication of how I take my G&Ts… Good stuff, though. Highly, highly doubt there would be any left now.
  • Rakau – BBNo also at Bison. Hoppy, bitter, and exactly what you want from an IPA. Excellent.
  • Wheat Purple – Dark Star on tap at the Shakespeare’s Head. Blackberry wheat beer. Sounded promising, even if it was a wheat beer. Turned out to be a rare Dark Star blip. It was like a slightly alcoholic, weak Ribena. Didn’t try it anywhere else, so if someone has had a better experience, please let me know. It was only 4.2%, but I drank it like it was Ribena, and it therefore lasted about 10 minutes. The stout on (Idle Bo by Bartleby’s) was better with a lovely chocolate/burnt coffee taste, but the (famous) sausages and mash were the best thing about the pub. (PS: Shoutout to whomever used to drink my Ginbena (self-explanatory) with me on Fulham FC away days. When in Rome Sunderland.)
  • Craft100 returns to Craft Beer Co. Clapham on Thursday for the duration of the Easter weekend. It’s a handsome beer list, and I will be sampling many of these delights. Making a beeline for: Molotov Cocktail (Simcoe Edition) (DIPA 13%) – Evil Twin. I’m not sure anything could sound more appealing. Orange Haze (Orange IPA 6.4%) – Dugges. Interesting to see how it compares to Beavertown’s Bloody ‘Ell. BA Bearded Lady (Grand Marnier Edition) (Imperial Stout 10.5%) – Magic Rock. Every damn year I try to get to this before it sells out. This year, it will be mine. Oh yes, it will be mine. Peated Soul (Scotch Ale 8.4%) – Northern Monk x Soul Rebel. Whisky + beer = win.
  • Bison are celebrating their 1st Birthday this weekend, and are doing so by having the outstandingly gorgeous aforementioned Bloody ‘Ell on tap, and in cans. EXCITED.
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East Street Tappin’.

Something always seems to be changing in Brighton, and East Street is no exception. The Bison Arms will soon be opening, Geishas has become Dirty Blonde (where I recently had the weirdest Negroni ever), and The Fishbowl is now the East Street Tap. I decided to check it out on Saturday night.

It promised to be an East Coast American influenced craft beer joint. While it was a generally great bar, I’m not sure it’s really hitting the mark with its identity. I mean, the 8 kegged craft beers on tap included three from Brighton alone. The only American brews were the magnificent Falco by Evil Twin (unsurprisingly and unfortunately totally sold out), and a Brooklyn APA. Thinking about it, I’m not sure Evil Twin can even be classed as that, seeing as they’re originally Danish. Sure, they had a decent bottle selection, but from what I could see, aside from the pretty varied Flying Dog selection and the ubiquitous Brooklyn Lager, it was mostly British. As a side note, these are all in fridges behind the bar, and I don’t think there were any bottle lists, which would’ve been a good addition. There’s some fantastic stuff coming over from America at the moment, and I feel that they’re doing the Land of the Free a little disservice. No lite beer in sight which is, y’know, absolutely fine.

What I did have:
Two Tribes Nitro Milk Stout (5%) – I wanted to give this a go straight off, partly because I was drinking their Island Records Session IPA the other day, and partly because I love a good milk stout. Or stout in general. This was beautifully smooth.

Two Tribes Weekender Pils (5%) – Again, because of the brewery. I wouldn’t normally go for a Pilsner, but the honey notes of this make it very drinkable.

Bison Beer Beast Street IPA (5%) – solid IPA from the guys across the road. Hoppy, citrus notes, dry finish.

Time and Tide Calista IPA (6.1%) – Super-hoptastic! Haven’t ever had anything from these guys in Kent, but I would definitely keep a look out in future.

Flying Dog Raging Bitch (8.3%) – Belgian style IPA. The only American beer I had. Fantastic stuff from these guys as usual. Dangerously easy to drink.

Northern Monk New World IPA (6.2%) – This was a lovely, safe bet to end the night with. It’s made with some American hops. Maybe that half counts. Leeds is a long way from NYC, though.

I’d go back, for sure. The bar had a great atmosphere, the beers that were on were decent, the staff were lovely and it’s open til 4am. But it’s another nice beer place, not an East Coast homage.

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