From the perspective of a keen amateur – or piss-head if you are being less polite – I’m here to give a monthly round-up of the scene (events, launches and tap take-overs) mainly in London.
Who is this bloke you ask? Well, I live in the capital and first discovered craft beer just over two years ago and have since enjoyed and been amazed at the variety on offer, for a fraction of the cost that a similar level of interest in wine or whiskey would cost. I still remember my long reluctance to spend £15-20 on a bottle of beer, until I realised how utterly irrational that was compared to what I would spend on a bottle of wine.
Concentrating on an excellent first few months of the year (and let us not forget that in that period in 2014 neither Bottle Shop nor Mother Kelly’s even existed)…
Thoroughly enjoyed Stevedores at the Oval Space in Bethnal Green, put together by London Craft Beer Festival, a weekly rotation of 4 beers each from 2 excellent British brewers (my favourite combo was Beavertown/Siren and Kernel/Magic Rock), combined with a bourbon & rye cocktail and shot bar, with enough attention to detail to the general theme that I half expected Ziggy Sobotka to appear with his pet duck.
Despite the trek, Siren put on an excellent birthday celebration, themed around Wood or more accurately barrel-aging. I don’t want to list all the beers here but overall all were excellent, the British offerings were at least as impressive as their foreign counterparts (To Ol, Cigar City & Mikkeller, whose Spontandoubleberry, in particular, went down very well)
Under the first appearance of the Sun in 2015, there was a pretty impressive set and finally the very high ABV of many beers was sensibly acknowledged by very small (1/3 or less even?) measures which allowed many more to be tried, surely the purpose of any beer event.
Honourable but brief mentions for some exciting launches (Beavertown “Bloody ‘ell” at their tap –room, Fourpure/Bear Republic “TransAtlantic Overdrive” & “Racer 5”@ “ThreeJohns”, “Weird Beard”/”Brodie’s” “Weird Bromance” @ “The Hop & Berry”, “Moor” “Return of the Empire” & Weird “Beard” et al ‘s “You Taste Better when you’re Scared” both at the “BottleShop”), well-organised tap-takeovers (“Moor” @ “Crown & Anchor”, “Wild Beer” at” “Craft Beer Company”, Covent Garden & “Mikkeller” at “BrewDog” Camden) and last but not least the “Jester King” beer and cheese event @ “The King’s Arms”.
However, all is not perfect and there are still some things to complain about:
- For festivals to claim that they are “Craft Beer” but have Guinness as a title sponsor
- The idea that in 2015 in London wristbands are required to sample great beer in the capital
- The pricing at Craft Beer Company: they have done a lot of good and their Clapham 100 festival is a lot of fun and attracts new people to the scene but they should no longer price as if they are unique. A recent Easter Bank Holiday visit to Covent Garden saw them charging 50% more (£9 vs. £6 a pint) for “Life is a Peach” than either the Old Fountain or Earl of Essex!
I’m very much looking forward to the rest of the drinking year. Hopefully it’ll bring:
- The continued rise of normal pubs which carry great beer as opposed to just specialist beer outfits
- A rise in different (smaller) measures to match the increase in ABV’s that has taken place
- Establishments taking advantage of the internet and consistently publishing menus of what is on at the start of the day (a simple photo online or use a service such as BeerMenus)
- Obviously more toilet-facilities everywhere in Bermondsey!
Let’s see what next month brings…