Around Town with Amateur Drinker

Mikkeller Bar, Shoreditch

October saw the much-anticipated Mikkeller Bar opening in London’s Shoreditch. Like any sentient being, I passed on the Friday opening, featuring impromptu concerts from co-investor Rick Astley and free give-aways. The stories of failed kegs and pictures of queues on social media rather justified that decision.

The Editor and I went the next day, which also saw an interview with founder Mikkel Borg Bjergso published in the Weekend FT. However, this was no puff-piece and ended by observing that actually an idiosyncratic gay pub had been replaced by a multi-national bar-chain, whose outposts spanned every major continent, especially pertinent as I read it in a bar which looked similar to every other Mikkeller bar I have been in.

Ridiculously they had two unisex toilets with no urinals, which meant that there were queues throughout a quiet, pleasant Saturday afternoon. What on earth would it be like on a Friday evening, especially with the refuelling pastime for which the area is renowned?

Card-only payments was similarly on-trend, but annoying. However, all of this paled into comparison compared to the eye-wateringly expensive prices for beers that, in late 2018, were neither particularly rare nor hard to get in the UK.

We did not stay long and I have not been back since. Later in the month they tweeted about an Arizona Wilderness TTO Board, in which an IPA was over £25 a pint. As regular readers will know, I am a great fan of Mikkeller’s MBCC in Copenhagen. However, this experience in an area of London that I have lived in for 15 years has actually made me question whether the festival’s prices that I attributed to a different city and the exchange rate are also not just a rip-off?

Brewdog Collabfest

Brewdog’s CollabFest 2018 was the sixth anniversary of this generally excellent project, in which small brewers collaborate with their nearest Brewdog bar, with the results served throughout the chain. This year 51 beers were produced around the world, which meant, for the first time not even Shepherds Bush branch could have them all on together! I visited the relatively new Tower Bridge bar on the Thursday, and it is as big as has been claimed, and then Clerkenwell, with the Editor, on the Saturday.

As I have written before, the way to enjoy this event is to treat it like a Festival, try as much as possible, and tolerate the duds that will appear. York & Turning Point Chip Hazard Mint Choc Chip Pale Ale, though at 7.4% I’d have called it an IPA, won on Untapped, closely followed by Newcastle Wylam Heaton Mess Eton Mess Kettle Sour w/ Lactose and which I much preferred.

Siren & Reading Brut Romance Strawberry & Rose Brut IPA took the next logical step for this controversial genre. Cardiff & Crafty Devil White Raspberry Stout was a good example of an under-brewed style. Overall this is a wonderful annual event, and leads to a genuine festival of small, independent brewers, so hats off to Brewdog.

Brewdog Collabfest stare

Unfortunately, October also highlighted  dreadful corporate-Brewdog, with a press release publicising “Europe’s first fully refrigerated beer warehouse after purchasing the 129,000 square foot Vertex building at Eurocentral, which is one of Scotland’s largest industrial estates, located near Motherwell.

Brewdog struck a deal with Muse Developments for the site, which it has dubbed the Hop Hub. It has fitted a full refrigeration unit into the Vertex distribution operation”. This was news to both Jolly Good Beer and The Bottle Shop who both already have Cold Chain, and the mistake was pointed out on many mediums. Brewdog then retracted, saying it was a mistake. The polite word for this is bullshit.

Regular readers will know I am an Oakland Raiders fan and I attended the game versus Seattle at Wembley. The Official Raiders pub was The Admiralty, a Fuller’s bar in Trafalgar Square. Great atmosphere, and Fuller’s cask is miles better than the beer at most official sports events, and certainly better than what will be served when the stadium, at which the game was originally scheduled at, finally opens.

Disappointing news as Liverpool’s Mad Hatter brewery went bust. Most controversially, they had announced a Crowdfunding campaign to grow the business on July 18 and went bust only three months later on October 28. Crowdfunding is presently either a rip-off or a fraud depending on this site’s legal department. Anyone who invests in a brewery through it, after all the evidence I have regularly referred to, desires to lose money.

The Kernel at The Bottle Shop event- unfortunately Evin was ill and couldn’t make it – showcased its latest Bierre de Saison (previously its sour), one of the best beers made in the UK. On keg were Chardonnay, Crab-apple, Apricot, Honey, a collab with Off Colour, a Galaxy and a Centennial, of which all were superb. My beloved Damson was in a bottle, as the keg was still too lively.

The same venue welcomed Jester King. Prices were high, around £8 per third for the real top stuff. Obviously, this included all three variants of Spon’s, their famous spontaneously fermented beer. Each variant, a Grapefruit, a Raspberry/Cherry blend and & Pitaya, a cactus fruit, were all gorgeous. Detrivitore, a farmhouse ale with spent cherries and Sin Frontera a  collab with  Crooked Stave & Brasserie Troise Dames, a wild ale BA in sherry and cognac barrels, were also excellent.

Bohem had a TTO at The Bottle Shop Arch to celebrate the launch of its new cans. I’m biased but the beers tasted fantastic. Mother Kelly’s American Wild Week featured Jester King, Oxbrow , Crooked Stave and The Bruery. It was very crowded, but excellent beers.

The King’s Arms hosted a Mikkeller Baghaven MTB with Ehren Schmidt. This is the barrel-ageing project that sits on the outskirts of Copenhagen. I enjoyed Rubus of Rose, a raspberry wild ale, Granadilla, a BA Danish wild ale and Nodrlund’s Field Blend aged on Danish wine & grapes.

Northern Monk Eternal at GNRT


Last, but most definitely not least was the Northern Monk TTO at GNRT. The highlights were Eternal on cask and the very boozy Dark City 2018 imperial stout on keg. It is a bit of a trek for me (it’s actually about two miles away! – ed) but this is the Editor’s Local, and it is a truly fantastic pub.

Reporting from the front-line – Amateur Drinker manages to get along to all the beer things you’d like to but couldn’t. If you see this man and are tempted to buy him a drink think of the consequences.