Twickenham Fine Ales have made it. From microbrewery roots 10 years ago they are now one half of the SW London duumvirate (Sambrook’s being the other) that has excellent distribution of cask ale, session beers throughout London. Both Twickenham and Sambrook’s have gone the cask ale, session beer route to create a sustainable, commercial business free of the vagaries of the latest trend to come out of Hackney. This doesn’t mean to say they make dull beer or uninventive beer. The main difference between the two is that Sambrook’s tend to be more malt based with English hops whereas Twickenham had American brewers early on and have always had more hop forward beers using more modern hop varieties. So, ten years old, let’s have a party! Twickenham Brewery have a bar that is open on rugby matchdays but essentially this is an unglamorous working brewery on a small industrial estate. No matter. Good beer, good company and a great atmosphere with the added bonus of nice weather made for a most convivial day. I reviewed some of the core Twickenham beers a while ago at a meet the brewer event. Here I had the chance to try some of the more adventurous offerings. First up had to be Decade, brewed for this event, a beautiful 5% IPA showing that the style is not the preserve of craft keg brewers. Beers like this could make the pub drinker explore the whole world of new beers out there. Honey Dark was a monthly special in March, it is a strong mild [sic]. Whatever it is called or is, it works well, the honey adding a lovely, not overly sweet, body. Autumn Red I found a little ordinary, lacking the spiciness I was hoping for. Having said that I tried it after a bottle of Hill 60, one of a small series of beers aged in wood and for people who know me will know me this is right up my street. I believe I had the last bottle on sale so here goes with an inadequate description of a stonking beer. It is a blend of an aged dark ale and a fresh strong mild, at first sip the first thought is ‘slow down with bombarding me with all these different flavours!’. It is complex, boozy in an oloroso sherry type of way with the complexity of molasses and dark ale. Ending with a lovely sourness which leaves your heart wanting more and your head saying ‘hang on, this is 8% ABV’. Hill 60 may be gone but if you are quick then you might still be able to get hold of some Oud Bruin, a similarly inspired beer. The most striking thing though about all the beers was how good they were fresh. We all know fresh beer in perfect condition is so much more exciting (especially the more hop forward ones) but we often blame the beer and not the pub when we have a slightly dull one.
Date: Saturday, 13 September 2014
Beer selection: 7.5/10
Beer quality: 8/10
A good day out: 7.5/10
Total score: 37.5/50, 75%