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Archive for the ‘UK’ Category

Sorry.

No time for writing up any comprehensive blog posts on pubs, beer shops or the general feeling of being back in London in December once more.

It was a nice unpretentious weekend with two mates, and, while we tried to cover quite a few pubs, we did not aim for a maximum number of beers or breweries. The choice is staggering compared the London I used to know, perhaps I’ll try to come back and cover it better in the future. And our Facebook friends got live coverage the weekend we were there….

So, just a few highlights:

The London Fields brewery tap.

After passing two pubs that did not open until four in the afternoon, this was a great place to end up. Nine beers on tap, including some one-offs, and you get 1/3 pint samplers at a reasonable price. Industrial/punk style, concrete, glass and plywood. There are windows between the tap room and the brewery. Relaxed on a Friday afternoon. Good beers, we particularly noted that the quality was consistent across the range. Impressive from a newcomer.

A return visit to the Cask Pub and Kitchen, good food and a great range of beers. A Saturday evening  visit to the sister establishment, Craft Clapham, which was quite insane. It was the night after opening, and it was packed with Christmas partying. The beer was, however, excellent, with inventive brews far beyond what English beer used to be . A Berliner Weisse from Magic Rock is a good indicator.

Some good Fuller’s pubs in West London, the highlight being the canal side Union Tavern.  If you didn’t know this was a Fuller’s House, you would not guess it. It is really a sign of the changing times that there is a fine range of beers from several London breweries available. And the setting by the Grand Union Canal must be spectacular in the summer. Just a few minutes from Westbourne Park tube station.

CASKdec2013

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Alejandro Lovera is an MBA student of the University of Westminster and is currently working on his dissertation project. He tries to measure how responsible drinking campaigns, organic products and other factors can influence the buying decisions of beer consumers.

He needs people to fill in a short online servey, which only takes a few minutes.

http://edu.surveygizmo.com/s3/985615/77a10541dfc0english

I’ll ask him to pass along the results when they are ready. Help him out, please.

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If you thought the British beer scene was all quiet pints and cobwebbed pubs, you obviously do not follow Melissa Cole’s blog.

She did not like what BrewDog has to say about other british brewers in a recently published book, feeling that BrewDog owes the industry as a whole a bloody enormous apologyy. It wasn’t exactly a big surprise that they don’t feel the same way.

Looks like James is able to stock up on new anecdotes to use when doing Meet the brewer tours.

Favourite quote? 

And we also don’t work for Satan.

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There used to be one good pub at Euston station, the Head of Steam, featuring beer from a range of breweries. This was later taken over by Fuller’s, renamed the Doric Arches and the ale range has gradually shrunk. It is probably still the place to go if you want to have a proper meal before or after your journey, and there is nothing wrong with a pint of London Pride.

When it comes to the beer range, you don’t have to go far to find a world class bar. Sure, you can call it a pub if you prefer, but in this tiny building, which looks like an old gatehouse for the station, they have crammed in a range of beers from around the globe that would impress the most spoiled beer drinker, but there is not much to associate with a traditional English boozer.

Dozens of cask and keg beers from breweries like Thornbridge, BrewDog and Otley plus interesting Continental and US beers. And if that isn’t enough, there are fridges full of temptations. The bottles are available for takeaway, too, so your journey does not have to be boring, despite delays.

It is very tiny, but there is seating up some rickety stairs and even some places outside. I went on a Sunday lunchtime when it was blissfully quiet, but I assume this place is packed on weekday evenings.

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Time I summed up my London impressions from last month, right?

In Kentish Town, easily accessible by Tube, though you have to walk for ten minutes if you don’t want to figure out the bus routes, lies a small but charming pub, the Southampton Arms.

Their aim is to sell only beer and ciders from small UK breweries, so you’ll be sure to find something interesting here. A dozen cask ales, almost as many ciders. Keg beers from Camden, too, a pils and a wheat.

It is a small one room pub, with additional seating out back. Laugher and friendly conversation. I did not make a real estimate of how many customers it can seat, but with 30 it would be rather full.

Cash only, no phone, no nonsense. The menu is a range of pork pies and other snacks, though I find the notion of a vegetarian Scotch eggs a bit weird.

On offer when I visited: Thai-Bo, a lemongrass beer from Otley. Hardknott Atomic Narcissus ( a fairly conventional bitter, despite the name), Titanic Last Porter Call and Buxton Black Rock.  There is even a “Suggest an ale” scheme, where you may nominate your favourites.

My favourite of the day was the Dark Star Saison. Fantastic flavour, apricots and oranges, some funky yeast character, dusty hops.

Despite the stiff competetion nowadays, this is firmly in the Top Ten of London pubs. Don’t miss it!

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The Publican reports on Brains of Cardiff, who have stopped brewing their  45 lager because of dwindling sales. 

Arfur Daley of CAMRA Wales has an explanation:“It is not really a surprise – it wasn’t a very good beer.”

What if other breweries did the same and focused on their good beers instead?  Some of them do – Fuller’s don’t bother brewing their own lager for example.

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This is everywhere now, but I want to join in the chorus. For any beer lover, it is worth a few minutes of your time!

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Circumstances beyond my control has prevented me from visiting London for a year or so, meaning I have missed out on some of the new breweries popping up all over. Pete Brown has an enthusiastic overview in the Publican.

Maybe towards the end of the year.

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A guest post from my friend the Ulster Scot again:

There are quite a few breweries in Shropshire.  Being in Ludlow for the weekend it seemed right to try the very local from The Ludlow Brewing Company.  
 
 
On offer at The Church pub close to the market was Gold, one of four beers from the Brewery. The Ludlow Brewery says it keeps its ingredients simple, and this beer certainly provided a clean and hoppy ale, not at all sharp.  At 4.2% ABV it is a sensible lunchtime drink that doesn’t compete with food for attention. It has a pale golden colour and a delayed and pleasant not sharply bitter aftertaste.
 
Made with: Maris Otter pale malt, Fuggles & Goldings hops. The other beers from the Brewery are: The Boiling Well, Ludlow Best and the most recent Black Knight.  Some happy lunchtimes ahead on the occasional visits to this charming and very English town. 

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Sometimes you read press releases, reprinted by trade publications, that show you

a) why the macro brewers still haven’t got a clue about what to do about declining sales

and

b) that the professional paid for media often are there for unintended amusement rather than for critical journalism.

It is a short piece, so I’m happy to reprint it in full:

Molson Coors is set to launch a new range of beers in the middle of 2011 aimed at the female market.

 Molson Coors is hoping to bring more female drinkers into the beer category
In a briefing today Molson Coors chief executive Mark Hunter said the new range would be available in both the on and off trade from mid 2011. The UK business is “trailblazing” the range for the company as a whole.

He will be unveiling details of the range early in 2011 and admitted “we are talking to a number of major on-trade players”.

The company has been researching the female market for 18 months though its BitterSweet Partnership initative.

The new range of beers will be made from a recipe which fights the concerns women have around drinking beer such as bloating, weight gain and taste.

Wow. We are talking about true revolutionaries here.

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