Tag Archives: london

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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Tinnies – Part Two.

 

Beavertown recently celebrated their 4th birthday. They threw a much discussed birthday bash, and brewed their latest addition to their Barbarian Series – a collection of limited edition double and triple IPAs. A collaboration last year with Boneyard resulted in the first beer of this collection, Power of the Voodoo: an outstanding triple IPA, and one of my favourite beers of 2015. Naturally, I was very excited to get hold of Double Chin, a double version of Neck Oil, their very first beer.

I know I’ve said it several times, but the can is literally a piece of art. It’s a beautiful vessel for a beautiful beer. The complex blend of 7 different hops lends it a tropical, fruity flavour and at 8.5%, it packs a punch. It’s a wonderfully balanced brew, and I’d highly recommend it, if you can get hold of a can. Two wishes for Beavertown: 1) Make this is a permanent addition. Actually, throw Voodoo in, too, while you’re at it. 2) I want this as framed artwork.

Fine. I’ll stop talking about the damn can now…

Moving on.

Mosaic hops are my favourite, and so I chose a can of Bibble by Wild Beer Co. purely for that. It’s a session IPA, coming in at an easy 4.2%. “Bibble” apparently means “to drink regularly” in Somerset, and I can see where they’re going with that. It’s not a statement beer by any stretch, but one you could knock back without trouble.

Grapefruit. Seems to be everywhere. I tried the Magic Rock offering in the form of High Wire Grapefruit a little while ago. Lovely, as can be expected from Magic Rock, but subtle. I picked up a bottle of Siren‘s Pompelmocello, which was nice, but the grapefruit lending more of a sourness to the IPA than really hitting home. I’ve always liked Brewdog, and so was intrigued by their take on it: Elvis Juice.

My God. The smell of the stuff. It’s amazing. There’s certainly no question about the grapefruit notes. I personally like it, but then I love grapefruit. It’s more about the fruit than the beer itself, which I think is where it would be unfavourable to some beer drinkers. It’s certainly refreshing, and stupidly easy to drink. At 6.5%, that could start being a problem for some. As for the name? Who knows.

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Beer in Brightontown.

img_7836All across the UK, the craft beer industry is blossoming: the number of breweries is currently at the highest it’s been since the 30s. I had been living in London since 2012, spoilt for choice with the incredible breweries and dedicated craft beer pubs. I remember a couple of years ago, dragging my friend up to North London to the Queen’s Head near King’s Cross (one of my absolute favourites in the city, do visit if you’re up that way) because I’d heard on the hopvine that they were selling Dark Star’s Hophead. They were, and the pint was beautiful. It is, of course, found all over the place now. The same friend was also my drinking buddy for the many nights I spent at Cask in Pimlico, the subsequent visits to all the other Craft Beer Co. pubs, and then to many other pubs we liked the look of. I wondered how Brighton was going to compare.

Brighton does, of course, have it’s own Craft Beer Co., and the fairly recently opened Brewdog, which I still haven’t paid a visit to. It also has the birthplace and home of Dark Star, and another of my all-time favourites, The Evening Star. Nearly every pub across the city has at least a few cask ales on, but I’ve found plenty of decent places to stock up on bottles. The long-established Trafalgar Wines down on Trafalgar Street has been selling bottles of the good (and hard-to-find) stuff for years. The unassuming exterior is home to a plethora of beers from all over the world, including a large selection of locally sourced brews. I’d recently been recommended to try out Bison Beer, a bottleshop (with four draught taps for in-house sampling and takeaways), who in less than a year since opening, have Crowdfunded to open the Bison Arms just across the road from the shop, beating Burger King in the process. I popped in today to restock my beer supplies, which I’ll talk about another time. Directly opposite, renovations are underway for the East Street Tap to open on Thursday 3rd March: a homage to NYC with mainly American breweries on the bar.

Brighton has always been a great place to go out, but it looks like it’s only going to get better, and I’ll drink to that.

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