A Pint of London please!

Brewers spend years perfecting recipes when maybe they should spend years perfecting names. The power of marketing, eh?

Timothy Taylor renamed one of their old beers Boltmaker and immediately it becomes Champion Beer of Britain. Does anyone really believe it is the champion beer of Timothy Taylor even? That sort of thing really degrades the title imho.

London PrideIn London of course, London Pride is well established and it’s a case where the beer popularity has grown in age before super saturated marketing. It’s a good beer, that’s made and sold in London. Any tourist arriving in London won’t be disappointed if they want to try a typical, local, London beer.

Best pubco in London?

Best pubco in London?

London Pride used to be a fixture in the Taylor Walker pubs, part of Spirit Group. Now, for a relatively large pubco, Taylor Walker pubs are some of the best in London. They are proud of their brand and have a great estate of good old fashioned pubs in Central London. This is not a pubco that hides it’s brand, tries to entice customers with promises of real ale and continental lagers (that’ll be Doombar and Heineken then). They also usually have a couple of craft keg lines and the Spirit ‘bible’ includes a number of microbreweries who can deliver direct without selling their soul (and profits) to national distributors. Notwithstanding a few bulk drops and head office deals, the publicans generally like to support local micros and have ‘something different’.

So, Greene King acquire Spirit. Greene King and Fuller’s are competitors.All of a sudden,



London Pride is ripped out, London Glory appears (no, don’t, I’m serious) made by Greene King natch. Now, London Pride probably does a few sales from tourists but there are a lot of core Pride drinkers out there. Faced with no London Pride they will go with the next best, established bitter that they know. Isn’t that obvious? Well not to the GK marketing department obviously. But to many wry smiles, the word on the street is that selected Taylor Walker pubs will be ‘trialling’ London Pride soon.

Little Tenderness from my beloved Little Beer Corporation is a great beer. A 5.4% American amber, it’s got a great big malty body lifted by clean, fresh tasting American hops and gentle carbonation. But people try it first because of the name.

Make a good beer yes, but if you want people to try it then get the name right.

Wandsworth Beer Festival at Le Gothique

Beer_Festival_Halloween_2014I’m in an old orphanage that was converted to an interrogation centre in WW2 and it’s Halloween. Scariest of all I am in the company of ‘Lord Battersea’! It must be the Wandsworth Common beer festival again!

These, in my humble opinion, have been the best beer festivals in London for the past year or so at least. Always something new, rare or collaborative and this year a London debut for my beloved Little Beer Corporation.

Dredged from the extensive ‘draft archives’ at a time when there are more beer festivals than ever this is one that I look forward to more than many.

Why? Well ‘Lord Battersea’ aka Mark Justin is an opinionated guy with a great venue and the energy to make it happen. Whether you agree with him or not (me? often but not always) he is entertaining and knowledgeable company. Many festivals rely on beer either being ‘supplied’ (via a distributor say), or ‘sold’ (breweries wanting their beers at the festival) but at Wandsworth they are curated and sought. Breweries are approached in advance to brew something special or rare, sure Mark has some favourites (step up Sarah Hughes) but you can be sure that there will be an interesting selection. Not 300 variations on 3.8 – 4.5% bitter (CAMRA take note).

If I’ve a gripe then it’s the dominance of cask over keg, I’d like to see a balance. They had an unfortunate experience the first time they tried to have a lot of keg, warm day, underestimation of power required, blown electrics etc.

Beer lovers and alcoholics will love the ‘preview night’ fixed sum and free beer. A nice idea that doesn’t end in debauched drunkenness

Venue:                   8.5/10
Beer selection:       8.5/10
Beer quality:           8/10
Atmosphere:           8/10
A good night out:     8/10
Total score:            41/50, 82%