Around Town with Amateur Drinker


Greg Koch, founder of Stone, at Three Johns

June’s highlight was Beavertown’s Sour Solstice festival. Whether it was because of the style, or the fact that it was a Sunday, the place was relatively empty, chilled and relaxed.

The beers were fantastic and included very limited quantities of the exceptionally rare Tommie Sjef Druif, a sour wild ale fermented with Kekfrankos (the Hungarian for Blaufränkisch, a dark-skinned grape) and which they poured rationed thirds out of 12 bottles. It was gorgeous and funky.

Cloudwater brought their spicy MF Grisette El Dorado and Grapefruit Sour, which completes a truly outstanding trio of citrus sours along with Bergamot Lemon and Seville Orange. The hosts had on an excellent range, including Tempus Cowboy Lightning, a bretted sour, and Tempus Aquavitza, an aquavit barrel-aged wild ale, both new. Other notables were Geuze Tilquin, Burning Sky Saison and Wild Beer/Firestone Violet Underground.

Logan Plant, co-founder of Beavertown, was talking of making this an annual event, and I hope that proves the case as it was excellent.

Stone taps at Three Johns

Three John’s hosted Stone, who brought serious big-hitters over in the form of co-founder Greg Koch and CEO Dominic Engels, to promote their new production facility in Berlin. They also flew over two special beers from San Diego, which were therefore wonderfully fresh. The Tangerine Express IPA was bitter and adult, whilst the Enjoy By 7/4/17 DIPA was initially confusing as the absurd American date order meant it looked like it was two months past the sell-by date! It was truly magnificent, although a very dangerously deceptive 9.4%!

To Ol took over 20 taps at Brewdog, Shepherd’s Bush. I have been very critical of the behemoth at the corporate level, but must compliment excellent service at the branch: I had called them earlier and they had incorrectly told me that the beers would be ready at 16:00. Upon arrival, it turned out that it was 18:00. However, they remembered the call, acknowledged the mistake and served me anyway, which saved a wasted 40-minute journey

The beers were predictably superb: I enjoyed the Mochaccino Messiah Brown Ale, Shock Series IPA and its very (too?) boozy older brother TIPA, whilst it was great to re-taste the two MBCC poured Lemongrass Gose and DJuicy, a Vermont DIPA, a fine example of the style

Get your dates sorted!

Talking of annual events, Tau day (28/6 as the silly US dates system rears its ugly head for the second time in this column) was again marked by the re-release of the Hawkshead/ Crooked Stave Key Lime Tau (2 Pie, from both sides of the Atlantic, geddit?). This is the third version of a beer that was originally brewed for the 2015 Rainbow Project. It’s fair to say that it is the most successful child of all the projects and I loved it at the King’s Arms.

Honest Brew organised a superb pop-up in Old Street station. A good selection (250+) of bottles and cans, along with a couple of taps, which were taken over by the likes of BBNo, Siren, and the Kiwi Beer Collective. They closed with Wiper and True, with whom they collaborated on a Sicilian Lemon Sorbet Pale Ale. I am addicted to lemon sorbet so unsurprisingly found this delicious, crisp and refreshing.

As always, notable evenings at The BottleShop: Mikkeller led to MBCC-reminiscing with the Spontanyuzu and Spontandryhop Mosaic, a fantastic Lambic. Amsterdam’s Oedipius is a new brewery for me, but their concentration on saison and sours suited the weather- Swingers grapefruit Gose, Mannenliefde lemongrass Saison and Polyamorie, a Berliner Weisse/ Pale Ale blend that worked better than it sounds!

The last day of the month saw Brewski (Barbarian NEIPA and Pangol IPA) and Cloudwater, confusingly having renamed all their MBCC DIPA’s (London was sensational) share the taps. Unfortunately, it was also the evening where we found out that Edd would be leaving his role as general manager of the Druid Street shop/bar, which was a pity as he has been passionate and efficient, the perfect retailer’s combination.

Amateur Drinker yet to be fully charmed by Tom Oliver

King’s Arms hosted a cider evening with Tom Oliver of Oliver’s Cider from Hereford and Ryan Burke from Angry Orchard, owned by The Boston Beer Company. I’m not a huge cider fan, but those that are have told me that these are some of the best cider-makers (Is there an equivalent word to brewer? I couldn’t find one…) around. I wasn’t fully converted, but did enjoy Angry Orchard’s bittersweet Understood In Motion.

Finally, the month ended with the strange news that Carlsberg has bought London Fields, presumably just for the name. The press release stated, “London has one of the most thriving craft beer scenes outside North America”, which is true and “London Fields is certainly an established and popular part of that”, which is clearly nonsense. However, at least that meant that no-one was up in arms about it on Twitter!

Reporting from the front-line – Amateur Drinker manages to get along to all the beer things you’d like to but couldn’t.