I’m lagging behind a bit on the cronicles of my days in London, so I won’t go into details about my return to the Pig’s Ear festival and the liquids consumed there. English licencing laws (and probably also the practicalities of organising festivals with volunteers) made sure we all had a fairly early evening, which meant I was quite early for my appointment in the Market Porter with John and Ally.
For elevenses I was munching a wild boar pie from one of the mouth-watering stalls in the Borough Market, looking at the beers on display at Utobeer while contemplating if I could squeeze another bottle into my suitcase. John came by, still having some space in his backpack, and bought some nice stuff to take home. I had already had my pick from both the Fuller’s brewery shop and the bottled beer stand at the Pig’s Ear.
The Market Porter is only a few steps away and we almost had the place to ourselves. This place gets packed every evening, and on market days you’ll be lucky to find some space at lunchtime as well.
As far as I can decipher my notes, I had an Acorn Lubeski IPA, a single hop beer with lots of lemon and lime.
A few minutes, Ally appeared and joined us at our table. there were other beer writers coming in as well, including Mark Dredge, still on a cloud from winning the New Media award at the British Guild of Beer Writers the evening before, and Mark Fletcher.
We had some pubs to cover during the day, so we walked on to the Rake, where there were even more beer celebrities, including Melissa Cole. I had a Bear Republic Race 5 IPA, an American beer they available on keg. A seriously grapefruity beer with a crisp finish. My friend Tom, who is the assistant manager of the Rake, had a special treat for me, the BrewDog Nanny State. This barely fermented hop juice drink is way beyond what you expect of a beer, but far out there is an uneasy balance between the mostly unfermented malt and the herbal hops.
Luckily our next stop was a bit further away, giving my palate some time to rest before the next assault.
A short walk to London Bridge station and twenty minutes on the train, then another ten minutes or so by foot. Destination: Greenwich Union. This is the brewery tap of the Meantime brewery,whose reputation is spread far away from the meridian. Time for lunch - I had a very nice rabbit dish. Their London Pale Ale on cask did not get anyone very excited. A large bottle of London Porter to share was much more like it.
By now we were joined by Mark and Mark, who downed their drinks quite a bit faster than us. The next leg of our journey took us via London Bridge to Old Street station, through busy streets and housing estates to a London beer destination I’ve known about for ages but never gotten around to visiting on my own.
This is an old fashioned pub. When I started coming to London there were many of those spread around. Threadbare carpets, cobwebbed bric-a-brac on high shelves, locals who seem to have spent all their waking hours in there for decades. But there is a dwindling number of these pubs. The Magpie and Crown in West London was probably the last one I saw.
But this one is still thriving. In addition to the locals, who made the place quite crowded at about four in the afternoon, this is a beer destination because of its ever rotating range of beers, no ties to any particular brewery here. My notes are getting blurry at this point, but among the beers consumed were Shake, ramble and roll, Looney Tunes and Spearfish.
Westwards again, now by cab, to the Gunmakers, which was by now quite packed with the after work crowd, Jeff being very busy at the bar. One more beer blogger to meet, Woolpack Dave. Beers included Sharp’s Nudelik and Harvieston Haggis. Ron Pattison was propping up the bar, pint in one hand, single malt in the other.
At this time the Fellowship disintegrated, without anyone getting caught by orcs. John had a plane to catch, Ally had left us at the Wenlock for another appointment. There were proposals to go to the Pig’s Ear. I decided to call it a night. I had a morning flight the next day, and there was still the logistics of getting all the beers into the suitcase..
So, to everyone involved, a big thank you. It was so nice to be able to meet up add chat over a few beers – which is what this hobby is really all about. Hope to see you all next eyar!
I am nicking Mark Fletcher’s photo from his post here, as it’s got all of us in it.