Around Town with Amateur Drinker

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Any review (albeit delayed by my day job) of a drinker’s month must concentrate on the marathon that was London Beer City. That involved a week of excellent well-organised events.

But I’m not going to start there. I’m going to begin with an event that unfortunately is not going to get off the ground – the ill-fated London Beer Carnival

Although I appreciate other views on the price escalation, I reckon £50 is not expensive compared to some wine dinners in London or even a ticket to the football and so I had bitten the bullet and bought a ticket for the event.

Clearly I was in a minority as I received an email cancelling the event and refunding the price. Obviously their American orders are not on sale or return, as Craft Beer Co., Clapham are now organising an event just for those called RouteCBC.

Given the fact that the scrum that is Clapham 100 would not look out of place at the ongoing World Cup, I have suggested that, as a gesture of goodwill, they let those who bought tickets, in for an initial priority access session. Others have proposed a hybrid event where the original buyers get a bonus.

They have promised to get back to me, but as yet there is nothing specific. Overall though, it is very poor form for a company the size of Craft Beer Co. to heavily publicise and advance sell an event and then just cancel it when the demand is not all there: They should absorb the losses and maintain their reputation.

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Enough of that, let’s get back to London Beer Week. I started the week at the King’s Arms, with a swift half of Stone and Wood’s Pacific Pale Ale, which felt very appropriate as the Ashes were being regained. Then, a short walk to the Opening Party at Mother Kelly’s, themed “Roll out the barrel” and featuring barrel-aged Siren and Kernel with the taps curated by FourPure. It was immediately clear that the week had captured people’s imagination as the venue was buzzing.

Monday afternoon saw a European Tap takeover at BrewDog in Shepherd’s Bush. This was a superb line-up with Birrificio, Jopen and Birra del Borgo amongst others. Given that I had saved the Edge for their special event the next day, the highlight was BrewFist with their Space Frontier and Spaghetti Western stout. The evening held a particularly special treat for me personally, as Moor, one of my favourite brewers, visited my local, the Old Fountain, an outstanding pub. It lived up to all expectations- Justin, the brewer, was as friendly as always, and amongst many very familiar tipples, the Slow Walker on Cask was a first.

Tuesday saw the Edge brewery, Barcelona’s finest, visit the King’s Arms. I loved their Hoptimista IPA. Many Spanish bars have exclusive tied-contracts to one of their big commercial brewers and only stock their particular mass produced lager. This is even more of a shame when there is brewing of this quality taking place.

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Pivovar @ GBBF

The following day I visited GBBF. As always, a quick Thank You for all the volunteers, without whom the event would not be the same. It is very gratifying to see how improved the British beer scene is due to Camra’s campaign, which has been described as the most successful consumer movement in history. Highlights included the Opat Grapefruit, Tyne Bank Cherry Stout, Lost Abbey Angels Share Grand Cru and many interesting American IPAs on cask, although my recognition of their names is now rather hazy!

After a well-needed day off, Friday saw an excellent Thornbridge tap takeover at Craft Beer Co, Clerkenwell.

Saturday meant Bermondsey. St Feuillien at the BottleShop, including their celebrated Cuvée de Nöel and the excellent, but powerful Triple, was followed by “Cerveza Fiesta” at UBrew, which had a really good vibe.

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Omnipollo @ LCBF

The week ended with the 3rd year of LCBF. As always, there is an excellent range of mainly UK brewers. The music and food also mean that it is not just a beer geek occasion. In 2013, there were specific tokens for each and every beer which was great for a connoisseur as you got to try everything, but did not give much variety for a more casual attendee. This year it was free pour, which worked really well and the measures were sensibly small. The quality of the brewers as well as the food and music make this a great way to introduce new friends into the beer world

And finally the last Saturday in August saw the end of an ear as Kernel stopped its fresh pour on site. I have discussed this before but thanks for all the beers and here’s hoping that something can be worked out so as to produce some form of re-opening….

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