Last week in London wasn’t just about the GBBF. It also offered an unrivalled opportunity to measure the state of the local drinking scene. Unrivalled because, with the country’s biggest beer festival in town, there could be no excuse for not putting on a good show.
Let’s accentuate the positive: Top of the tree and straight in at numero uno with a bullet is the new kid on the block, the Craft Beer Co. Situated on Leather Lane, it’s obvious that a lot of time, money, and effort has gone into this place. The result? 16 handpulls and 21 others on draught. All in a modern, stylish, but relaxed environment.
But it’s not just about numbers. The selection-of both cask, and keg, is simply the best in London. And quality; the most important factor, after all, was excellent. The guys are enthusiastic and seem to have a good game plan. They’re also taking a punt and opening on Saturdays. Which is just what is required for beer enthusiasts who can only make it on weekends.
Other heavy hitters were the Euston Tap and the Southampton Arms. The ET nailed us with a splendid pint of Stone Ruination. I was going to say an expensive, splendid pint, but as £8 is the new benchmark, £7+ seems piffling. The SA had 11 real ales and 5 ciders, all served in good condition, but I think they have to be careful with their selection policy. Eclectic doesn’t always equate to good.
I can’t go without mentioning the seemingly retro disdain for sparklers in some quarters. Greenwich, in particular, was guilty of this. Are they too posh to sparkle or what? I mean the Richard the First is a classic boozer, but get sparkling, folks. Even worse was the Greenwich Union where the staff claimed not even to have a sparkler to affix. Thereby infringing my human rights and denying themselves the ability to showcase their beers in the best possible way.Let’s finish on a high note. The lads from Steel City Brewing (actually just Gazza, I think) teamed up with Brodies to produce a hopbomb called Mental Hop Bastard. It does what it says on the tin. A great name for a great beer.