Posts Tagged ‘London’

It’s watching a new religion being born.

I have sung the praises of BrewDog over and over again. Their latest stunt is to take over London. Last weekend saw the White Horse Old Ale Festival, where they had four BrewDog ales on cask, including the new Isle of Arran and Smokehead, both imperials touts aged in whisky barrels. I have told y0u about the fine quality of the bottled versions before.

The Pig’s Ear beer festival in East London also had a special beer from BrewDog in their programme, bit it was not on when I was in on Tuesday evening.

But the real event for followers of the Scottish maverick brewers has been going on at the Rake in Borough Market. As you can see, they have offer a broad range of cask beer, including two new ones. the Zephyr and the Rake Raspeberry Smokehead.

I arrived on Monday with my mate Tom, and were firstly met with a rather dismissive message that they did not have all the beers on at a given time, and that we should settle for the Speedball and the Smokehead, which were the flavours of the day.

Well then. They had the full range of bottled beers from Aberdeenshire as well, but, still.

We started chatting to the man in a black leather hat at the end of the bar, who seemed to be associated to the pub. It turned out that this was Tony, the assistant manager, and Tom’s Scottish accent convinced him that he should step down int the cellar to bring a few samples.

Now, the Zephyr is a13% India Pale Ale (IPA) matured in a grain whisky cask for 18 months with 30kgs of fresh strawberries, no less. It is vinous, very dominated by the whisky aroma, there was not much fruitiness to discover. Not a bad beer at all, but all their experiments cannot be stellar, can they? It will possibly eveolve into something more sophisticated over time.

But the Rake Raspberry Imperial Stout is a new version of the Smokehead, a 10% stout aged with fresh strawberries. I sniff. The aroma is mostly smoke, as with the regular Smokehead. A small sip. The smooth body of the stout, belying its alcohol strength, the strong smokiness filling in the picture – and, to top it all, a wonderful strong fruitiness, not too sweet, that matches this perfectly. This is there best so far. There are rumours about a limited bottling of this, but is surely not a product that will be available on a large scale. If you get any opportunity, get your hands on a glass of this brew! And, if you are in London, there is still a chance they have a few drops left this weekend!

Tony and Tom

Tony and Tom

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Boak and Bailey beat me to it. Sometimes you save a photo for a rainy day. I was thinking about a blog post giving the news about an Austrian cafe in Lodon with draft beer and a rotating range of bottles.

It is even a place for coffee and a piece of torte or strudl.

I was happy to boast that this had slipped under the radar of the London beer bloggers. No more.



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Great writing


…… I’ve drunk beers literally from around the world I’ve sipped the most expensive and strongest ale, gingerly sipped bottles of IPA from 1860’s, I’ve supped beers fresh from the Brewery with the guy who made it and they were all interesting, tasty and enjoyable but when the skies flat grey and the taxi lights are playing in the cut glass windows and bouncing of the nicotine stained plaster cherubs somewhere near Soho and your is hair damp from” that fine rain” and you’ve sat through 2 meetings what is the most perfect way to mark the change from work to the rest of your life than a pint of bitter, in my case Pride. …………….


From the Living for pleasure alone blog by BLTP, a mate of Pete Brown’s

A London pint

A London pint

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A different brew

One type of beverage I haven’t covered on my blog is sake, the Japanese fermented rice brew. Technically, this is a beer. It is made by fermenting a cereal, isn’t it?

Well, I have not gone deeper into the nuances of sake, but you don’t have to go to Japan to try them out. thisislondon.co.uk has a feature on the best saki (?) bars in London. One of them even lets you buy a sampler, letting you taste six varieties if there are two of you.

Wikipedia has more on sake if you’re interested.

And if you are looking for cider, it seems like the Green Man is your place.

I’d rather have a pint of bitter, please.

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I am scraping the barrel for London pub reviews now, but I had to give a mention to the Chesham Arms in Hackney. This was a bit tricky to find, hidden snugly away in a back street, but it is not far away from the busy main streets.

This is an old fashioned pub without being scruffy. One corner had enough noise from the TV and a gaming machine, but there was plenty of room elsewhere. The menu seemed to be pickled eggs plus a Sunday roast. Happy hour between 5 and 7 means a pint of real ale at £2, which is very decent.

The pub was run by an elderly couple, the recruitment of young and bored Russian ladies has fortunately not reached here.

4 Nethergate ales plus two others on hand pumps. The best one I sampled was the Red Santa, a lovely bitter with an edge of fruit. A little pleasant yeastiness, long lingering dry bitterness with some sour cherries, or, rather lingonberries. This would have been wonderful with rich Christmas Food.

What else? Probably the cleanest loos in London, there should have been awards for that, too!

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It was Stonch who sent me to this one, in a comment to an earlier post he told me there are two good pubs in Hackney, East London. (I’ll get back to you about the other one).

The reason I went to Hackney was the Pig’s Ear beer festival in December, otherwise I would hardly have found my way there. It’s a bit out of the way, not being served by an Underground line, but there are trains and buses.

Judging by the facade, the Pembury Tavern has been there a long time, in a purpose built building. It is just five minutes from the railway station – actually I think it is five minutes from two railway stations.

The pub is bright and airy, so even if it’s been on the spot for a long time, it looks very new. (It says on their web site that it was completely redone after a fire, so that’s the explaination) It is bright and airy, not the place if you want stuffed kangaroos and framed photos from WWI and II. There is a lunch menu with lighter items and a very comprehensive evening menu, which implies that this part of London is moving upmarket, there are farmhouse cheeses, pigeon and four different gourmet sausages.

No music at lunchtime, a friendly and laid-back atmosphere. Free wifi, with several customers tapping away at their laptops while enjoying their pints.

8 cask ales on, which meant 6 beers from the Milton brewery and 2 guest ales for various micros. A large blackboard tells me about a fine range of Belgian and German beers, too, and there are even single malts at 3.50 per double measure, which is a nice deal.

I tried a Milestone Lion’s Pride, a beer with a pronounced hoppiness but not enough to lift it above the crowds. I only had time for one of the Milton beers, the Augustus. A full malty ale with a nice hoppy finish. A quite fruity beer – well composed and well balanced.

I don’t know if I will spend several hours to get to this pub, but if I am in the area, I will make sure to get there.

Ot their web site they say without modesty:

Since we opened in January 2006, we’ve sold beers from 3 Rivers, All Gates, Arran, Arundel, Batemans, Beartown, Belhaven, Black Country Ales, Blackfriars, Blakemere, Brewsters, B&T, Buntingford, Burton Bridge, Butcombe, Cairngorm, Caledonian, Carlow, Castle Rock, Clarks, Cottage, Crouch Vale, Cwmbran, Dark Star, Downtown, Elland, Evans, Everards, Exe Valley, Fenland, Fox, Front Street, Fyne Ale, Gales, Glastonbury, Grainstore, Great Oakley, Hampshire, Hart, Hidden, Highgate, Highwood, Hopback, Hydes, Iceni, Isle of Purbeck, Jarrow, John Joule & Sons, Lees, Marston Moor, Matthews, Mauldons, Milestone, Milton, Moor, Moorhouses, Nethergate, Northern Brewing, Northumberland, Nottingham, Oakham, Ossett, Otley, Otter, Potton, Robinsons, Rudgate, Rugby, Saffron, Saltaire, Shepherd Neame, Shugborough, Skinners, Slaters, Smiles, Son of Sids, Springhead, Stonehenge, Titanic, Tower, Tring, Ushers, Vale, White Horse, Woodfordes, Wychwood, Wyre Piddle, York.

I need to relocate! (Note: the bottom photo is from their web site, the others are mine.)

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I have almost run out of pubs to blog about from my December visit, but I have a few left: 

Close to the southern end of Putney Bridge, you’ll find the Bricklayer’s Arms. Turn to the right after the bridge, and you have the pub on the right at the end of a side street, it’s easy to see from the main street along the river. (Don’t do as I did and waste your time in following the signs from Putney Bridge tube station to “footbridge”, as it leads you slightly astray. But the Thames makes it easy to navigate, even if you don’t know the area.)

This is an old fashioned pub with an emphasis on ales. They specialize in Timothy Taylor’s range, while their flagship Landlord is widely distributed, the rest of their beers like Ram Tam, Dark Mild and Golden Best.

There was no food on offer, no noisy electronic entertainment –  just a few customers enjoying their late afternoon pint. The background music was vintage seventies progressive rock with long guitar solos – no drum solos while I was there, I’m afraid.

In addition to the Timothy Taylor’s beers, there is an ever changing list of guest ales, with two or three on at any time. I had a very good glass of Downton Glory, a rather modest beer that opens up with both malt and hops as you sip. A nice surprise was the one I saved for last, the Downton Chocolate Orange Delight. Not dissimilar to an orange flavoured chocolate bar, this blends wonderfully into the porter base. This is not a beer I would spend an evening drinking, but it was lovely.

I had a nice chat with Will behind the bar, who was interested in a beer trip to Norway, which I have sketched out in an earlier blog post.

I assume the pub is more crowded at other times, it was named Greater London CAMRA pub of the year 2007, which should bring in a few guests. There was a list in the loo (!) of upcoming guest beers, and there will be a Yorkshire beer festival there some time in February as well. Good beer, good atmosphere, and it easy to find a bus or tube back to more central parts of London as well.

And I imagine this would be a splendid stop on a riverside walk in the area. Say hello to Will!

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