Apologies for how late July’s round-up is, but as with most of my readers, the 1st half of August was spent in a drunken haze thanks to the fantastic London Beer City, a full round-up of which will appear next month- and I promise that will be more punctual!
July’s best event was the Brasserie de la Senne dinner, organised by Matt Curtis, and held at The Prince. Small plates from that month’s resident pop-up, The Bear BQ, were matched with Taras Boulba, a bottle of Bruxellensis, the Schieven IPA, the dessert with Jambe de Bois, and, then, finally a third of Brusseleir to finish.
Yvan de Baets, the co-founder was very friendly and interesting. He was very generous about the historical importance and inspiration that Britain’s cask heritage had given him, particularly noting how much more skill was required to put flavour into the low ABV beers that they generally produce. He regards hops as analogous to grapes in wine-making, and hopes that, in the future, there will be more attention paid to this in labelling and crucially general (not beer geek) consumer behaviour- certainly in the UK, grape labelling and recognition was not widespread before the New World invasion of the 1980’s. Finally, my favourite quote was “I love my yeast, it does all the work and is always the employee of the month”.
The following evening The King’s Arms had a Belgian showcase with those beers together with some from Siphon, notably the superb smoked Stinker and Damme Nation IPA.
I spent the first fortnight of the month in Ibiza. Their craft scene there is still in its infancy: so, thanks to Edd of Bottleshop, in almost his last act in that role, for shipping out a selection of their finest, which was very welcome. However, a beacon of hope remains the Ibosim Tap-room which I mentioned last year (http://beerinsider.com/around-town-with-amateur-drinker-11/). They are very friendly and passionate about beer. I particularly liked the new Blood Moon IPA, although I would have called it more of a red ale. I still strongly recommend lunch at Can Pujol and then an evening at their tap-room.
Unfortunately, this meant that I missed London Brewers’ Market, the Czech Beer Day at their Ambassador’s residence, and most galling of all, 50% off all week at Craft Beer Co. EC1 to celebrate their 6th birthday!
Northern Monk organised a UK tour (they subsequently went to Liverpool, Manchester and Leeds) for Portland’s Bissell Brothers, flying over the beers and serving them with their Patron’s Project. The 2 London events were scheduled for Mother Kelly’s and then The Hop Locker. Unfortunately, Customs problems meant the freight were delayed, and the initial night had to be postponed, whilst there was a nerve-wracking wait until they finally arrived at around 19:45.
Given the rarity of the beers and the unfortunate cancellation, Hop Locker was absolutely rammed with the capital’s beer geeks- indeed, it recalled George Orwell, or possibly Philip Toynbee’s comment that a bomb under the West car park at Twickenham would end fascism in England for a generation- any explosion would have set beer back in a similar fashion! The crowding was no-one’s fault and the staff did a fantastic job serving the beers.
The Bissell beers were worth the wait: Industry vs Inferiority IPA, Baby Genius a session IPA, Lux Rye Ale, Substance IPA, and the magnificent Northern Gold DIPA. In a great tribute, the Patron’s Projects beers did not suffer in comparison: most notably 7.02, a peach vanilla farmhouse ale, 7.03, a blueberry wild ale, both collaborations with Alefarm, and 8.01, a DDH lager with Vague.
Polish brewers Pracownia Piwa took over The Fox in Kingsland Road. Their Humcwot IPA was easily the best local beer I had in Warsaw last year (http://beerinsider.com/around-town-with-amateur-drinker-13/). The other beers, including a smoked lager, weren’t bad but it was bizarre to read that they are one of RateBeer’s Top 100 breweries… However, this is clearly just an attempt to have geographic diversity, as ludicrous as when Pele was ridiculed in 2004 for naming El Hadji Diouf in his top 100 greatest living footballers!
After every craft beer takeover, we are used to the pathetic sight of Brewdog bars posting images on social media of them removing the brewer from their lists and presumably pouring the beer down the drain, most egregiously with Ballast Point. It was therefore amusing to read in a scoop from Matt Curtis, who clearly had a good month, that Burning Sky were pulling their beers from Brewdog. Childish all round, but a classic case of The Biter Bit!
Mother Kelly’s new Vauxhall bar hosted the pre-party for London Beer City. This is a stunning venue, at least twice, probably 3 times, the size of the original with over 30 taps connected to a proper cool-room housing the kegs. The beer of the night was a juicy Brew By Numbers IPA ,specially created for Beer City. (I think it was 05/22 but am not sure).
Magic Rock visited Craft Beer, WC1. Outside of their core range, there were 2 cocktail-themed beers, Pina Mojito Vice, a Stillwater collab which was OK, a salty Margarita gose, which I much preferred, Common Grounds, a coffee porter, and the rarer Kentucky version, which is barrel-aged in bourbon from that State.
July ended with the news of the demise of Craft Beer SW4, which explains why Craft Beer 100 didn’t take place this Easter. It will now be called The Clapham Tap, although I confess I don’t know to what extent the ownership has changed. Craft Beer Co. also announced that they would be opening a branch in Old Street. This makes some geographical sense in that WC1, EC1, N1 anf the new branch are all walking distance, but Silicon Roundabout already has The Old Fountain, Three Crowns and a branch of Draft House so this will be yet another challenge for the scale of craft beer demand, although as next month’s report on Beer City will show, those challenges keep getting passed with ease.
Reporting from the front-line – Amateur Drinker manages to get along to all the beer things you’d like to but couldn’t.