London Drinker – June/July

London Drinker JuneJNow I like the London Drinker, it’s very CAMRA, low production values and basic artwork but it is a good read with interesting content, and as we all know, content is king. Nevertheless, it does provide a few giggles.

TH writes that young people are asking for dimpled mugs and that these are common in Antic pubs. He then goes on ‘If young people are drinking beer…’, well yes they are TH but you never see them because they are drinking modern beer made in ways that CAMRA does not recognise as real ale.

We learn that GT ‘reacts badly’ to Cascade hops, yet professes to like hoppy beers, though it sounds as though this does not include dry hopping.

The price of a pint rears it’s ugly head when RC visits Tap East (makers of the brilliant Coffee in the Morning) and has to pay £6.80 for a pint of porter. Although he recalls it saying four pint something on the tablet I can only see their Smokestack Porter at 6.5%. Well that’s why they tell you the price before pouring it, and RC declined. Products sell on quality or price or a combination. Without trying it or understanding the ingredients and brewing process it went through I can’t see how he could possibly comment on the price. Pssst RC, don’t go to The Rake! Isn’t it amazing how all these pubs selling expensive, modern, innovative beer are doing so well and the ones selling the same old best bitters at crucial price points are struggling?

BL went to Colombia and discovered the Bogotá Beer Company whose beers ‘were certainly better than the normal ones available in Colombia but they were not a patch on real ale’. That’s a relief then.

On microbreweries you just have to read the whole BO letter and RP rebuttal, this why people turn away from CAMRA (or love it).

MC is confused. ‘I have no interest in going to pubs which only sell beers from microbreweries and having to drink beers I’ve never heard of and no idea what they are like even if they are LocAles. This also applies to some CAMRA beer festivals. In short I want choice’. OK, so that’s a choice of beers that you know what they taste like from large breweries that you have heard of, simples. I’m sure he didn’t mean to imply that the bar staff were unable to tell him what the beer tasted like or too mean to give him a sample.

Ealing, Oxted and Wandsworth Beer Festivals

The last three beer festivals I’ve attended are Ealing, Oxted and Wandsworth Common/LBA.

Compare and contrast as my school exams always used to say. Beer festivals, tap takeovers, meet the brewers, there are so many events, which do you choose? In my fair handed, even way, I’d like to say they all have merit, it depends what you like.   Continue reading

DS of Chelmsford

June (bonkers) and July (sensible) both saw published letters from DS of Chelmsford. But there is a lot more to the man than his ability to get letters published in What’s Brewing.

If you like reading about “craft beer….bizarre and unpalatable to all but the most deluded and culturally-alienated drinker”, “ridiculous hop levels, often accompanied by outrageous alcoholic potency”, and comparing aspirations of craft beers to the Pope, the Queen and Gay Pride marches then here is a stonking good read. Turn to page 12. Do you think they put an ad for a beer festival with live music next to his piece just out of devilry?

For the record, I too was at Craft Beer Rising. It was hipsterish, music was loud in places but some of the beer was astonishingly good. Lactic Armageddon from Sharp’s living up to it’s name admirably. Not cheap but a must on the beer calendar.



London Brewers’ Market at Old Spitalfields Market

London Brewers MarketIt’s a hybrid of a beer festival and market, and jolly good too. Old Spitalfields Market is one a of a zillion cool venues around London now and the Brewers’ Market is held in conjunction with the Independent Label Market. Music and beer, you won’t find DS of Chelmsford here.

You get all sorts here from the ‘have you got anything similar to Stella Artois?’ types (correct answer, ‘no, it’s all much better than that’) through ink sleeved Hackney hipsters to professional beer geeks (no, not me). It was also an event for my Meet-up chums of the Craft Beer Collective.

There was a nice selection of beer from some of London’s finest but the best thing about this event is the stalls are manned by the brewers so you can have a pleasant chat with them over a beer – and then buy more to take home. What’s not to like? (Ed: Overused phrase?).

Favourite beers? You won’t normally see much about lager on these pages so let’s startunfiltered_vienna_lager off with Signature Brew’s Unfiltered Vienna Lager. Vienna lagers have more malt character and this one is also unfiltered. Most intriguingly there is a hint of smoke, which I always loveWe are talking flavour. This is still a beautiful refreshing drink but not bland, fizzy and tasteless. Signature Brew’s schtick is beer/music collaborations (I don’t understand them, but hey ho, if the beer is good…) and so you will see something remarkably similar under the Doctor’s Orders label too.

crate-logo-largeBest beer on show (imho, natch) was Crate Brewery’s collaboration with the Norwegians called Imperial Stout vs Nøgne Ø. 8.3% of thick, heavy treacle, roasty, toasty dreaminess as my companion put it. “Apart from pizza the best thing Crate have been involved with” was another comment.

Also on show and selling well were the Beavertown cans, Hop Stuff’s new Arsenal Pale Ale, new By The Horns offerings such as Bastard Brag and Sour to the People and Windsor & Eton’s Republika lager. There, two mentions of lager in one piece.

Jaded with ordinary beer festivals? Want to drink and take home too? This is the place for you. Check when the next will be.

Venue:                         8/10
Beer selection:             7.5/10
Beer quality:                 8/10
Atmosphere:                 7.5/10
A good night out:          8/10
Total score:                   39/50, 78%

What’s Brewing, July 2014 – Agony Column

Whats Brewing July 2My helpful advice to the troubled writers to What’s Brewing. Now I have to admit, CAMRA have given me much less to play with this month and published some quite sensible letters…

So first of all, hats off to NG of Southport and DS of Chelmsford for the voice of reason.

Now, NW of Needingworth, this is an intriguing thought, beer pricing according to colour could be the way forward. The Irish might disagree of course. But anything that brings down the price of Brooklyn’s Sorachi Ace, witbier and numerous IPA’s can only be a good thing.

RJH of Southport, shout louder! We can’t hear you. Frankly, I’m too busy on my smartphone to pay you any attention anyway. Addressing the chemicals and hops issue, whatever next! Big manufacturers using synthetic ingredients shocker. Get yourself down one of the other 1000 or so small brewers in this country.

BH of Tewkesbury, omg, you have opened a can of worms now! It will surely not have escaped anyone’s notice that the Indian sub-continent is poorly represented at CAMRA events. India alone has 22 official languages. And having joined using your Welsh application form – how many publications are you able to read? (Don’t bother asking if the website has application form or content in Welsh).

Before we start laughing at the Welsh though, let’s note that the modern craft brewer Tiny Rebel picked up gold at the Champion Beer of Wales. Congratulations! All the Tiny Rebel beers I have tried have been excellent. You won’t see a brewer like that winning anything from CAMRA in England or UK wide.

Meet the brewer – Beavertown at The Gun

Coolest Brit brewer?

Coolest Brit brewer?

And so to The Gun in Docklands for a ‘meet the brewer’ and talk about beer in cans. Lovely old pub on the river with the O2 Arena directly across the river and Canary Wharf rising behind us. Lovely summer’s evening. Great beer in a great cans. Logan Plant of Beavertown. What was not to like? Continue reading