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Manchester, United Kingdom
Tyson is a beer hound and cheese addict living in the beery metropolis paradise known as Manchester
If the people are buying tears, I'll be rich someday, Ma

Tuesday, 21 August 2012

A Day In The Life: London Brewers

Your mission, should you choose to accept it, get round five London breweries in one day. It was going to be three, but then you meet some brewers and you know what it’s like...you end up “down the rabbit hole” of brewing.

Camden Town Brewery
A well established London outfit, In fact, so well established that they have now outgrown their current home and are having to move on. The bar itself is a tidy little setup that gets packed on Friday evenings. On Saturday, however, we had the place to ourselves.

Hells Lager, not their best beer in my humble opinion, apparently accounts for 80% of sales. Far better is the crisp, refreshing bite of their Pale Ale. Luckily there was also some 1908 still in stock for us to try. This is a Pale Ale based on a recipe from the original Camden Brewery who produced it to commemorate the 1908 Olympics.

Luckily they had a brewer’s recipe book to guide them and, with a little bit of pixie dust from Ron Pattinson, they had a pretty good idea of what to aim for. The result is a 5.5% brew based on Goldings hops and the same American variety as in 1908: Cluster. I know not if it’s anything like the 1908 version, but this was floral and had a good spiced hop bitter edge to it.

I also picked up a good tip for Italian dining in Brixton. So top marks all round.
Dukes Brew & Que
This is a charming little place on Downham Road, Hackney. Home to the Beavertown Brewery, the bar offers their own beers alongside guest beers on cask and keg. Neck Oil Bitter was the pick of their own and was pleasant enough, if undemanding. A work in progress.
London Fields Brewery
I’d heard mixed reports about this one, so was keen to try it for myself. Another “railway arches” brewery, they certainly have a good setup. There’s a popup bar adjacent to the brewery and stalls and music all add to a party like atmosphere.

Beer wise, there’s quite a selection to choose from. The kegged unfiltered lager was sadly, as many of these often are, a pretty mainstream affair. The single hop IPAs were more promising and the Galaxy was a tasty appetiser. However, as every CAMRA member knows, the real test is how do they fare with cask beer?

On this showing, they have nothing to fear. The Hackney Hopster at only 4.2% had plenty of citrus and gooseberry flavour coming from the New Zealand hops contained within. The best beer on offer. One (big) disappointment for me was the cheapo plastic glasses we had to use. Yuk.

The Cock Tavern
Hackney seems to be the place in London at the moment. For this seemingly inconspicuous corner street boozer has been transformed into a veritable beer cornucopia that will delight and astound the cerevisaphile lurking within you.

Brought to you by the team behind the Southampton Arms, it boasts 16 handpumps and several fonts dispensing that craft beer stuff that seems popular at the moment. Oh and of course it boasts a brewery: Howling Hops.

They did have three own brand beers on offer, but my tasting notes are made redundant by the fact that Ed, the young gentleman brewer, only starts today. So we will have to see what a self-confessed “malthead” makes of it all. But any brewer who doesn’t drive is OK in my book.
This place is currently just under the beer radar, but not for much longer, I’d wager.

Crate Brewery
You can’t but be impressed with this place. It might as well have “chilled out” written on the side. Positioned by the side of the river, it offers a good selection of beers, various, er, crates to sit on and, hallelujah, pizza. Yes, London* finally seems to be stepping up to my challenge of delivering quality pizza. And you couldn’t get any more local; with beers such as Hackney and Trumans adorning the bar alongside their own.

Now I don't want you to think it was all work, work and more work. I did manage to fit a few pubs in as well. Well, visiting breweries is a thirsty business...

First mention should go to the Fox in Hackney. Seeing their board outside advertising craft beer, I was somewhat sceptical as to what that would actually equate to. But I needn’t have worried; it looks to be another great addition to the London pub scene.

Having heard good things about the Holborn Whippet, I was keen to give that a go. The place seems very nice, is in a good location and I will return. However, on this occasion our party left disappointed. No bottles means you are at the mercy of the draught selection and, with the sun cracking the flags outside, there was simply nothing pale and hoppy enough on offer.

Unlike Craft which kept us entertained with some single hop beauties and the compulsory dose of Kernel. Then it was off to marvel at the wonder of the Parcel Yard, Fullers superpub at Kings Cross. Beer fatigue then setting in somewhat, we scorned the Euston Tap and went for some refreshing cider instead.

Well done London. Keep this up and perhaps one day people will be referring to you as the Manchester of the South.  

*Camden Town Brewery are also on the ball with this.

11 comments:

Tandleman said...

Sounds like a mixed bag. What was given as the reason for the plastic glasses?

Tyson said...

"They have to." Apparently.

Anonymous said...

its a shame you didnt rate the crate and howling hops beers as i am interested in what you thought of them.its a shame you couldnt praise London without having a dig. i suppose its a Northern thing. cheers john

Tyson said...

There was only one Crate beer on: a quite smooth, easy drinking blonde beer IIRC. I thought I explained the Howling Hops situation plainly enough. However, since you asked. We (not just me) found the IPA to be heavy with diacetyl, but the Pale Ale was good with a nice, crisp hop bite.

Dig? What dig? Just honest opinion here. Must be a Southern thing.

Tandleman said...

The problem is that London still has a long way to go, but wishes it hadn't.

Too many readers of blogs seemingly don't want to hear what the blogger actually experienced, but what they wish they'd experienced.

Anonymous said...

It was the Manchester of the south comment.you got the better of the 2 Crate beers the ipa sadly lacked hops.the Howling hops ipa was a disaster and im not surprised they have got a new brewer.tandleman-i got plenty of kak beer last night in London but a month ago i got similar in Manchester but it was a lot cheaper.honest opinion was what i wanted hence the query on the brewpub beers. cheers john

Anonymous said...

It was the Manchester of the south comment.you got the better of the 2 Crate beers the ipa sadly lacked hops.the Howling hops ipa was a disaster and im not surprised they have got a new brewer.tandleman-i got plenty of kak beer last night in London but a month ago i got similar in Manchester but it was a lot cheaper.honest opinion was what i wanted hence the query on the brewpub beers. cheers john

Tyson said...

It had been pointed out to me that it was perhaps the Manchester of the South comment that had caused offence. However, I was reluctant to believe it, as I was sure most readers would get the tongue-in-cheek, humorous refernce. But, I hold my hands up, I was wrong.

Tandleman said...

Tongue back in cheek again!

Francis said...

Southerners are like Americans, they don't do irony.

Anonymous said...

close guess Francis.im actually a Scotsman but have lived in London so long im now classed as a jockney.cheers john