Tuesday, 30 April 2013

Beers Of London Series
29. Clarence & Fredericks - Best Bitter 4.1%

Today I ventured out of my comfort zone, and ventured outside 'Fortress Essex' into the Big Smoke. I boldy went in search of beer that I had never had before, which is basically what I used to do prior to my beer-blogging days. The precursor to my beer writing consisted of Facebook pictures of pubs and beers with a few 'interesting asides' included to help me remember tastes, sensations and trivia I came across. One of the destinations that provided a rich seem of beery mining was The Harp, and it's here I find myself now sampling another elusive London beer on cask.
Clarence & Fredericks is based in Croydon. Started in 2011 by Duncan Woodhead, formerly a brewer at WJ King, and hid partner Victoria Barlow, with the aim of 'providing uality real ales for local pubs', Duncan is an active CAMRA member. Sadly I missed the 'meet the brewer' evening at The Harp last night, but hopefully I'll find out a bit more at London's Brewing. The Best Bitter that I'm having today is made with three hop (WGV, Fuggles, Northdown) and four malt (Pale, Brown, Melanoidin, Black Patent) varieties. Let's see what this is like straight from the cask.
It pours a rich, dark cherrywood colour with some deep orange roots showing through, rather like the furniture in my surroundings, with a light and fluffy off-white head, unlike the surroundings - it's not a foam party! The aroma has hints of orange marmalade, but on closer examination it actually is the smell you get if you rip a jaffa cake in half. A hint of dark chocolate, lots of the big orangey bit in the middle and some sweet crumbly biscuit underneath. Slick, smooth and a little tart, the taste has layers of digestive biscuit spread with marmalade (no bits) and a crumbling of orange toffee sitting nicely on the tongue, bathing it and gradually soaking in, it's an odd but not unpleasant feeling. The finish has the sweet orange cream that you find in various chocolate assortment boxes, gradually drying to a slight oiliness. It's quite delicious.
Maybe you'll have one and fancy another, or maybe you won't. It's that sort of beer. You'll certainly enjoy the first one though.

Monday, 29 April 2013

Beers Of London Series
28. Meantime Brewery Company - Barley Wine Ale 8.5%

Twenty reviews ago I covered Meantime Brewing Company's Bourbon Barrel Aged Greenwich Ale, you can read about it here if you haven't already done so. After visiting the brewery we had the opportunity to do visit the shop, and when I say 'shop' I mean collection of things that you can buy in reception. These included this beer, the Barley Wine Ale, which at 8.5% is considered a little too strong and flavoursome for the UK and is only usually on sale in the US. In fact this is the brewery is the only place in the UK you can buy it at the moment, and that doesn't look like changing anytime soon. Mr. Sid Boggle also bought a bottle, but as he'll be hanging on to his for a little longer I guess it's up to me to open mine.
It pours a beautiful pale amber seemingly lit by an inner fire, it simply glows from within, with an off-white head that's like a light dusting of caster sugar. The aroma is rich and deep, with caramel, toffee apple, golden syrup and a hint of sweet over-ripe banana. It's quite sweet with a little of the alcohol evaporating immediately it hits the tongue into a pleasing syrupy vapour. It reminds me of Calvados as it has a definite boozy toffee-apple flavour, but there's some demerara sugar dissolved in it giving it an elusive buzzy sweetness. There's apricot and raw sugar cane too, all mixed up with some rum and raisin fudge with a thin layer of molasses spread over it. This desription does make it seem a little over-sweet but actually it all works rather well as there's a lurking 'shredded-wheat' base right at the bottom of the taste that knits it all together. The finish has golden syrup and gooey caramel which lingers like a good dessert wine, and this drink is best treated as such. Late night sipping is certainly the order of the day here.
This is a sweet beer but it has an undercurrent of fruitiness which lifts it nicely, although I can't help feeling that it would benefit for a year or two of cellaring just to see how the flavours develop. I need to get a few more bottles to find out.

Sunday, 28 April 2013

Beers Of London Series
27. Partizan Brewing - FES (Foreign Export Stout) 8.6%

Partizan have pretty much become my go-to London brewery if I can't get any Kernel, and that's certainly the case for my wife too. You see Partizan beers seem to be available in quantity whenever I want a good sharp and juicy Pale Ale or IPA (like this one), which is pretty much most of the time, but tonight  I'm going over to the dark side. And this one's a bit of a beast. It was also Partizan's first brew back in November last year, and therefore the first to be made available from Kernel's old kit so it has a decent pedigree. Let's see what it's like.
It pours the colour of engine oil, and that's oil that come straight out of an engine that needs it's oil changing as it has a frothy light brown head sitting on the surface. The aroma has serious amounts of coffee, and it's coffee of the big dark and thick Turkish variety, and bitter chocolate too, but there's also some tantalising hints of basil and grapefruit peel in there getting a bit lost in the dense bitter fog, and it took me a little while to pin them down. You might have noticed the word 'bitter' cropping up once or twice in this review already but when it comes to the taste it's written in capital letters. It's also slick, oily and a touch sweet too, and all of the flavour seems to be concentrated at the back of the throat. The best way to describe it is like a big slab of bitter dark chocolate that's been soaked in vodka served up on a few wood shavings, it really does kick like a mule but theirs also a taste in there that reminds me of nothing more that pencil shavings. The finish has a fleeting creaminess, before more of that coffee/chocolate bitterness dries out the throat but it sure is good, particularly is you like your coffee big, strong and boozy.
Did I mention it was bitter?

Saturday, 27 April 2013

Beers of London Series
26. Weird Beird Brew Co. -  Mariana Trench 5.3%

Here's another beer from a brewery that I've previously covered, back in number 14 of this series. Miss The Lights is the second highest viewed of my beers so far, so I'll play to the crowd and choose another from this highly sought-after new brewery. Some of you may know that I work very close to Ales By Mail and it was interesting to witness the feeding frenzy that erupted online when the Weird Beard beers came in a few weeks ago. They're back on sale as I write so if you're quick I'm sure you'll be able to get some.
Mariana Trench is a transpacific pale ale brewed with Pacific Gem and Citra, named after the deepest part of the world's oceans. It was originally supposed to be brewed with Pacific Gem and Nelson Sauvin, however as it became impossible to get sufficient quantities of the Nelson Sauvin it had to be replaced. Time to crack open this bottle-conditioned beauty.
It pours a honeyed amber colour with some lovely rising carbonation and a fluffy off-white cloud of a head. The aroma is a force in it's own right with high notes of mango juice, grapefruit peel and passion fruit, a good mid-range of pine sap and right at the bottom there's the big suet-like aroma of a fruity summer pudding. I have to confess to pouring the yeast sediment into a shot glass in order to concentrate the smell of this beer and the yeastiness therein is probably the major contributor to the pudding-like nose, but seeing as I love a good stodgy dessert then it's right up my street. Soft, sharp, fresh and juicy over the tongue with a light carbonation caressing the tastebuds, there's a huge surge of mango and grapefruit with lots of lovely bitterness as you might expect after the big aroma but this is balanced nicely with some plain biscuit maltiness however this is a biscuit that's been dunked in satsuma juice. Oh yes, this is a fruity zesty beer indeed. The finish is deliciously oily with all of those wonderful sharp fruity flavours evident before dribbled and drizzled in super-concentrated form and lingering for a long while.
The amount of hops piled into this beer (remember, they are 'never knowingly underhopped') is reflected in the big flavour and aroma it exhibits even with an alcohol by volume of only 5.3%, putting even some big boozy US double IPAs to shame. You've really got to try these beers if you get the chance particularly if you're a fan of big hop character. Let the feeding frenzy commence.

Friday, 26 April 2013

Beers Of London Series
25. Brew By Numbers - 01 02 Saison Amarillo & Orange 5.4%

Twenty-five beers into this series and I've hit a bit of a watershed, albeit a temporary one. You see, I currently don't have any beer in stock from London breweries that I haven't already included in this series right at this moment. Next week I shall be venturing into the capital from my perch high above the London Basin here in sunny Essex to remedy that situation to sample beers from a few of the other twenty-or-so other breweries therein. I'll also be at London's Brewing for the evening session on Saturday 4th, so if you happen to be there then please stop me and say hello.
I have to confess that actually I'm not too worried about not having any new breweries wares to sample this evening as it gives me a chance to sample another beer from Brew By Numbers. I took a look back at which of my posts in this series had been the most viewed thus far, and the winner by some margin, and to be fair it was number six, was this one. Brew By Numbers beers are intriguing to me. I mentioned their labels before, but it was the use of Amarillo and Orange in this one that had me salivating as soon as I saw it. The Amarillo hop is well known for its distinctive orange aroma and citrus flavour, several breweries have used it in a single hop beer for exactly that reason (Mikkeller, de Molen and Crouch Vale spring to mind), so combining it with orange (whole or otherwise) gets my pulse quickening just thinking about it. The more eagle-eyed of you will have spotted that this is numbered 01:02 and follows my previous review of 01:01. They're called Brew By Numbers so it's only fair that I drink them in numerical order, well certainly on this occasion if not the next. Time to open that bottle.
It pours a pale and cloudy lemon colour that reminds me of white gold with a beautifully light and fluffy bright white head. The aroma is astonishing. It smothers you like a juicy floral pillow with a huge bouquet of elderflower and orange blossom combined with peach juice, mango and crushed coriander seed. It fizzes pops and bursts over the tongue with little pockets of juicy flavour appearing here and there followed by a sharp dry rasping bitterness at the back of the throat. Up front flavourwise there's the sharp bitterness of grated orange zest folowed by a wash of freshly squeezed orange juice mixed with orange pips and coriander seed, it's almost bordering on the bitterness you associate with Curacao, before in comes some floral peachiness, filling the nose with a heady fragrance and leaving a slightly oily but delicately and deliciously juicy film on the tongue. The finish is big with orange blossom and even though it's quite dry it still leaves a lasting impression of just having eaten a bowl full of satsumas.
This beer promised orange and it delivered it in all its varieties, from bitter laraha through to juicy sanguinelli, all wrapped up in a zingy floral saison package. I'm absolutely convinced that it must be one of my five a day. Delicious.

Thursday, 25 April 2013

Beers Of London Series
24. Adventure Brewery - West 1834 Porter 5.8%

I have to confess that I only came across Adventure Brewery because of their inclusion on the Craft Beer London app that I mentioned in an earlier review. Based in Chessington in the Royal Borough of Kingston upon Thames they are the second furthest from where I live, and started brewing in Jamuary 2012. Heritage beers from breweries closed and forgotten are a driving force and a big influence however, with the names of the beers being taken from points of the compass, they are given a slight twist. For example, their East is based on an 1861 London IPA recipe but made with hops from New Zealand and West, the beer I'm having this evening, is adapted from an 1834 recipe from a Norfolk brewery but made using westward-looking 'sharp and satifying American hops'.
It pours an oil-slick brown like a 'black' coffee with a thin dusting of a beige head. There's a big waft of coffee coming up from the glass but it's tempered by the intriguing aroma of freshly baked chocolate brownies and an odd 'sweaty sock' thing going on in the far background which is a little strange. Silky smooth over the tongue at first, it comes back with a biting bitterness surging forwards from the back of the throat leaving a little tannic astringency that's not in the least umpleasant. There's some nice bitter black coffee that moves through liquorice to concentrated blackberry with some dark chocolate shavings. The flavours are pretty intense and direct, punchy and strong, it's a porter that means business and isn't prepared to compromise on taste. The finish is bitter and chocolatey at first but falls off a little too quickly into a powdery coffee flavoured dryness for my liking, and while it lingers a while I just get the feeling it's lacking another dimension. Perhaps I was expecting a little more from the 'sharp and satisfying American hops', and maybe I was expecting something along the lines of a Porter/Black IPA cross whereas they were actually contributing to the intensity of the flavour. I guess that I'll just have to try a few more of their range just to see how they use the New World hops in other beer styles.
This was another beer that I picked up from Ales By Mail and I'd like to thank them for coming to my rescue with this one and the previous two beers when I needed a little help with acquisition. Cheers guys.

Wednesday, 24 April 2013

Beers Of London Series
23. Little Brew - Porter 5.4%

'Brewing Since 2012' it says of the Little Brew logo, which gives you more than a little clue as to when Stuart Small started his one man, one barrel operation. Three years in the planning, Lord Alephant first put in an appearance in 2011 when the brewery was established as the keys to the brewhouse in the London Borough of Camden  were handed over during the Christmas period of that year. With near neighbours Brewdog Camden showcasing their Scottish-brewed 'Beer for Punks' and Camden Town Brewery (see number 20 in this series) 'Brewmaster Stu' has set up a Bespoke Beer part of his business whereby you can work with him to design a beer to suit your special occasion or event, with at least 6 weeks notice and at least 400 bottles to make it viable.
All the beers are available in 330ml bottles, and the range consists of Gold (a golden ale), Pale (an English Pale Ale), Pale Extra Tusk (a stronger Pale Ale), Ruby (an ESB) and Porter brewed with Pioneer and Whitbread Golding Variety (WGV) hops, and it's this that I will be drinking tonight. It pours a dark brown with a glowing lighter brown, almost amber, edge and a dense creamy-beige head. There's a big hit of steely-edged rich coffee on the nose, but with some freshly picked blackberry leaf and blackcurrant cordial right at the bottom of the aroma like an olfaction of purple juiciness. Slightly tart and bitter at the back of the tongue, it has the taste of blackcurrant wine gums served with a black coffee laced with a little port and an 'amuse-bouche' of Black Forest gateau. The finish is soft and sweet, like sucking on a maraschino cherry, and some oily dark chocolate.
This is an astonishingly good Porter with some flavours that I haven't come across in a beer for quite some time. Seriously, it really is very good indeed. When I opened this bottle I really was expecting nothing more that the usual coffee/choclate combination that you would expect to find in such a beer, but the tart fruitiness gives it an unexpected and delightful extra dimension. It is simply superb.

Tuesday, 23 April 2013

Beers Of London Series
22. Windsor & Eton Brewery - Canberra 4.0%

Those of you familiar with the Greater London area will have spotted that Windsor and Eton Brewery aren't technically a London brewery, however they are included here as they are members of the London Brewers Alliance and they're included in the Craft Beer London app. If it's good enough for them, then it's good enough for me. They are also the furthest brewery in this series from where I live in Essex, 41.76 miles apparently which really isn't that far at all and just goes to show how many breweries have sprung up in what is a relatively small area.
Opened in April 2010 with the aim of making Windsor as famous for brewing as when Burge's Brewery closed it's doors for the last time in 1931, bringing to end a 300 year old tradition of brewing in the town. Building a brewery from scratch in just seven weeks their ambition is to 'make great traditional cask ales and have great fum on the way'.
Canberra was the third of the beers brewed by Windsor and Eton to celebrate Queen Elizabeth II's Diamond Jubilee. Inspired by ingredients from the Commonwealth, Canberra is brewed with Galaxy hops from Australia, Nelson Sauvin hops from New Zealand and a little Canadian Maple syrup. Canberra, as well being the capital city of Australia, was the name of the plane that flew the footage of the Coronation to be shown in Canada in 1953, hence the connection. Incidentally, I first encountered this beer in Ales & Tales in Twickenham after the England - South Africa match last year and tonight's beer I got from Ales By Mail, who were able to provide me with this today as I wanted to showcase another great 'London' brewery. Similar names but opposite sides of the Capital, both very friendly and linked by a love of good beer.
It pours the colour of maple syrup, a glowing reddish brown with the thinnest of off-white heads, but it's the aroma that's truly captivating. Sharp prickly pineapple, fresh grapefruit, passion fruit, lime zest and peeled pine bark shavings leap up the nose, it smells vibrant and alive. Fizzing and bursting with flavour on the tongue, it's just as if a big peppery caramel, pineapple, grapefruit and maple water-bomb has exploded in the mouth, throwing juicy pine sap droplets in random directions all over the place. This is a seriously juicy beer, with a finish makes the mouth water with all the gorgeous tropical fruitiness dripping and drying on the tongue.
I really had forgotten what a fabulous beer this was, but after tonight's reacquaitance then I think I may well be buying an awful lot more.

Monday, 22 April 2013

Beers Of London Series
21. By The Horns Brewing Co. - Prince Albert 5.5%

By The Horns is another brewery based in Wandsworth, rivalling Hackney, a borough almost diagonally opposite it on a map of Greater London, for breweries in the capital. In 2011, Chris Mills and Alex Bull, in their twenties and reformed fizzy lager drinkers (but let's face it, aren't we all) who had developed a taste for good flavoursome beer. It's a familiar story but, to cut to the chase, they put in the work, did their research and are now the owners and operators of their own 5.5 barrel brewery. They are trying to brew flavoursome beer to please all drinkers, both novice and enthusiast alike, and from what I've tasted of their output then they've succeeded. They also have this sensible attitude, and I'll quote directly from their website here: 'We enjoy beer whatever beer machine it is served from, be it Cask, Keg, Bottle or Boot!', and let's face it, in the end it's all about good beer.
Prince Albert, named after Queen Victoria's Consort, and not a genital piercing, was originally brewed to celebrate the (current) Queen's Diamond Jubilee in June 2012, a good excuse to brew a Munich Dunkel and tie it in with a little royal heritage. It was re-brewed as a pseudo-Oktoberfest beer in October, using British, German and New World hops, and German ale yeast. It pours a dark reddish-brown, very much the colour of Tawny Port, with a creamy, dense beige head, with an aroma of chocolate, burnt toast and warm rubber. Initially smooth and creamy over the tongue, a bite of bitterness and carbonation follows sharply behind. The taste of dark chocolate covered thinly sliced green apple is supplanted by some burnt toast scrapings and a sprinkling of crushed walnuts. This beer is punchy, rough and soft all at the same time. The finish has a little bitter chocolate with some almond milk notes, a slight vinous quality and some lovely date stickiness.
This is a rather tasty little beer, and I'm rather delighted by it. I've had a few Dunkels and they can be quite thin and lacking in flavour but this is a little cracker, look out for it, even if you have to wait until October until you get some.

Sunday, 21 April 2013

Beers Of London Series
20. Camden Town Brewery - Camden Pale Ale 4.0%

Here's another 'brewery under the railway arches', in fact this is such a common theme that perhaps a series of 'underneath the arches' beers is due from somebody. Around the country and further afield there's probably enough breweries to fill a good-sized book about 'sub-rail ales' (you read it here first!).

Camden Town Brewery proper dates back to 2010, when a brewery producing 'Mac's beer' (from Mclaughlin - Patricia McLaughlin inherited a brewery in Australia in the 1960s, but sold it as she was unable to run it. One of her children, Jasper Cuppaidge moved to London and re-created the beer in his pub for his mum's 50th birthday) moved from the cellar of the Horseshoe Pub in Hampstead to an above-ground location in Camden. The brewery bar itself opened in March 2012 and has become a bit of a must-visit venue for those that like to take a tour London's breweries, or just those in search of a  decent beer.

Camden Pale Ale is brewed with Cascade, Columbus, Amarillo, Simcoe and Citra hops, three different malts and wheat but has a lower abv than you might associate with other American-style Pale Ales. It pours the colour of spun gold with nearly-white carbonated head. There's an aroma of sugary sweet pineapple and mango chewy sweets, but with hints of crisp apple and lemon juice too. It glides over the tongue with the faintest prickle of carbonation, with little flavour dabs of lemon zest and grapefruit peel but these are faint, wishy-washy and brief, as in rolls a big crushing wave of Rich Tea biscuit maltiness, showing who's boss and dominating the palate. The finish is nicely dry and sweet, tingling with more biscuit crumbs and draws you back to the beer for another gulp.

This is a very good beer but can't help feeling that there's been a compromise flavour-wise (certainly where the hops are concerned) to keep the abv down. This isn't an old brewery by any standards but I feel that the 'core' beers are starting to taste a little tired due to the sheer volume and quality of competition out there now, particularly in London. Having said that though, their beers certainly well worth drinking and if you wanted to introduce someone to the merits of good, tasty beer then this would be bang on the money.

Saturday, 20 April 2013

Beers Of London Series
19. Brodie's - Dalston Black IPA 7.0%

Leyton in the London Borough of Waltham Forest didn't used to be an area of London much visited unless you were going to see the Orient play at Brisbane Road. It was home to the headquarters of Essex County Cricket Club until 1933, and still hosted regular matches until 1977, twelve years after it was absorbed into Greater London as the border of Essex was pushed further eastwards.
Thirty one years after the last match Essex played there, in 2008 Jamie and Lizzie Brodie took over the abandoned Sweet William brewery, right next door to the King William IV Hotel and Bar, and Brodie's Beers was born. It has now spawned over 150 different beers, many experimental and adventurous, and the King William IV regularly has up to 16 on tap, as well as hosting regular beer festivals.
I first encountered the Dalston Black IPA at the Great British Beer Festival in 2012. It had caused quite a stir amongst the beer drinking community and was more than one blogger and tweeters beer of the festival. I had it on cask then and have to say that the hype was well deserved. I picked this particular (bottle-condtioned) bottle up at ales by mail fairly recently, where I believe it's still available, but usually it's found on Key Keg only.
It pours a deep dark dark ruby red, almost a deep dark brown, with a big beige head. The aroma is sweet bitter chocolate, roasted pineapple, whipped mango mousse and pine with coffee grouts in the background. Rippling over the tongue with a prickly bitterness, the flavour up front is all pineapple, grapefruit peel and a drizzle of mango juice. In sweeps some black coffee, strong, dark and bitter, followed swiftly by some fruity dark chocolate, flecked with a touch of black cherry. The finish is dry and rough, sharp and bitter, juicy and sweet, all covered with a decent crack of black pepper.
This is an extra-ordinarily good beer, and one could make a good argument for it being one of the very best black IPA's. It's fitting then that it's this beer that I happen to be reviewing for my 100th blog post. I absolutely love it, a decent way to celebrate my century, apt as this review even includes a cricket reference. Result.

Friday, 19 April 2013

Beers Of London Series
18. Redchurch Brewery - Great Eastern India Pale Ale 7.4%

I first reviewed a Redchurch Brewery beer back in September 2012 when I compared their Hoxton Stout with Magic Rock's Dark Arts. This has been my single most viewed post with over 600 views, which will probably have un-surprisingly increased as you read this as I've linked to it in the previous sentence. Founded in 2011 this is another brewery situated underneath railway arches, not too far from London Fields, just off Cambridge Heath Road in Bethnal Green not far from Bethnal Green tube station. You can buy their beer, all of which have associations with the East end of London in their names, directly from their website and from many of the excellent beer shops in London.
Their Great Eastern India Pale is brewed with chinook, columbus and nugget hops by the bucket load and I'm assuming (I hope to be corrected if I'm wrong) that it's named after the Great Eastern Hotel that lies immediately east of Liverpool Street station, terminus of most of the East end's overground lines (the Great Eastern Railway), and not the SS Great Eastern which was built at Millwall. You can have a drink in the former ball-room of the Great Eastern hotel today if you wish as it's now a J D Wetherspoon pub called Hamilton Hall, named after Lord Claud Hamilton, chairman of the Great Eastern Railway Company from 1893 to 1923. Thinking about it, it's probably named after the railway, but either way the history of an area I know well is an interesting diversion.
Back to the beer.
It pours a translucent golden orange that almost glows, with a tight cream coloured head perched on top. The aroma has lots of wood sap, orange zest and grapefruit, but there's also some peppery damp leaves and a touch of sweatiness here, but this isn't in the least unpleasant, in fact its rather exciting in a perverse kind of way. It scratches the edges of the tongue as it goes down, sharp and with a little acrid bitterness at the back of the throat. The taste has grapefruit peel, pineapple, orange and lemon zest, mango and peach, all bound up in a sticky caramel sauce. It's lip-smackingly delicious. The finish is tongue-tiglingly dry at first , but then there's wave after wave of sweet and juicy tropical fruits bursting in perfect little pockets all over the tongue. I'm finding the back end of this beer much more flavoursome and yummy than the front but, like the origin of the name of this beer, either way it's all good.

Thursday, 18 April 2013

Beers Of London Series
17. Tap East - Coffee In The Morning 5.2%

I've never been to a brewery more times than I have to Tap East, and if I never realise my dream of having my own brewery some day then I don't suppose that I ever will. You see it's so convenient for me. I live in Brentwood in Essex, and can get a train from Shenfield station that will get me there in under twenty minutes. Situated in the Westfield Stratford City shopping centre right next door to the Olympic Park in Stratford, East London, it has been open about a year and is the sister pub to The Rake in Borough Market. It's a regular stopping-off point for me on the way home from a day out in London either by myself, with the family (my children actually ask to stop off there so they can have a burger, a pork pie ,or a pizza) or with friends. The staff are friendly (in that East End miserable/friendly sort of way) and knowledgable about the beer they have on sale, either on the sixteen taps (six cask, ten keg) or in the admirably stocked bottle fridges. If you like beer then they'll find something to suit your palate. It can seem quite a sterile environment when you first enter (incidentally it's right opposite Stratford International station, in the Great Eastern Market part of the shopping centre) particularly if it's not that busy. The big glass windows almost make you feel that the place is outside but after a chat and a few beers later, particularly as it fills up, you'll forget all about that. You'll also notice the brewery in the right hand corner of the bar as you enter, again behind a big glass window, and brewer James Wilson, formerly with Brentwood Brewing Company, can often be found there, or you may catch him in the bar for a quick chat about his latest beer.
Coffee In The Morning is a coffee (but you worked that out anyway) porter brewed with coffee grounds from the Grind Coffee Bar which is also in the Great Eastern Market area of Westfield.
It pours a very dark brown, exactly like a black coffee, with a tight rich creamy beige head.The aroma reminds me of damp wood and leaves, and is punctuated with spikes of used coffee grouts and a little smokiness. It curls around the tongue like the tail of a cat before digging its bitter claws in at the back of the throat. There's lots of bitter coffee in the flavour as you might expect, and this is mixed with a little tobacco ash to give the sharp smokiness you get from a cigarette rather than a bonfire. A square of high cocoa solid chocolate desolves on the tongue just before the finish which is dry and bitter like the dregs from a cafetiere. This is a coffee porter that means business.
For my money, and as a self-confessed coffee addict, this is the best of Tap East's beers. It delivers exactly what it promises and smacks you round the chops like your first coffee of the morning. Superb.

Wednesday, 17 April 2013

Beers Of London Series
16. Sambrook's Brewery - Pumphouse Pale Ale 4.2%

The London Borough of Wandsworth gets its name from the confluence of the River Wandle with the Thames at Battersea. Famous for its Dogs & Cats Home and a now decommissioned Power Station, it is also the site of Sambrook's Brewery. Founded in 2008, the story goes back to 2006 (incidentally the year that Young's ceased operations in Wandsworth) and the Great British Beer Festival with Duncan Sambrooks and two friends unable to find a beer for sale brewed in London other than those by Fuller's. With a plan to bring brewing back to the heart of London they persuaded former brewer and Managing Director of Ringwood Brewery to help them, and the first pint of Wandle Ale was ready by November 2008.
Pumphouse Pale Ale is the brewery's summer seasonal beer and the first to use non-British ingredients, with New Zealand Hallertau and Celeia hops providing the aroma, flavour and bitterness. It is named after the beautiful old pump house building that stands in Battersea Park.
Pouring a pale amber colour, it has around a fingers- worth of tight white head that lasts all the way down the glass leaving some fine 'lacing' behind. The aroma is big with dry biscuit, but there's some honey tones with orange and lemon zest dancing across the top. It surges over the palate like a scarifier on a big wave of prickly carbonation, and sloshes around, tasting for all the world like a big liquid hob-nob biscuit. There's a little orange marmalade, honeyed lemon and soft vanilla too from the hops but these seem to accentuate the pale malt, pushing it to the front and giving it a big brash confidence. The long finish has more of the biscuit flavour, as you might expect, but it's much drier and quickly superseded by some sticky orange marmalade and warm hay which is very welcome, and far more apparent here than at any other point in the drinking.
I initially thought that I wasn't going to like this beer too much when I opened the bottle. From the aroma I thought it was going to be too honey-sweet and 'rotting hay-loft' for me. I'm pleased to say that I quite enjoyed it and while I wouldn't drink pint after pint it was pleasant enough while it lasted. The hops very nearly balance the malt towards the end of the taste which is nice, but possibly it's just a little too 'safe' for my jaded palate.

Tuesday, 16 April 2013

Beers Of London Series
15. Crate Brewery - Lager 4.8%

Based in Hackney Wick, on the other side of the Olympic Park to Tap EastCrate Brewery is situated on the canal-side in a former print factory. Not only is it a brewery and bar there's a pizzeria on site too, with the price of a stone-baked Margherita starting at £8 to a Middle Eastern Lamb pizza at £12. They also open at 9am to serve breakfast. Opened by the people behind the nearby Counter Cafe in late July 2012 and coinciding with the London Olympics, many of the materials used in its construction were reclaimed locally. I'm aware that this review is sounding a bit sterile. I could tell you that they also offer a range of bottled beers as I've read this elsewhere however I've yet to visit the place much to my shame. I shall remedy this by the time I review another of their beers and I'll probably have lots of jolly pictures too. For now though I'll just focus on the beer I have in front of me which is another I picked up from Ales By Mail.
An amber lager, it pours a light golden colour with a nice even carbonation in the glass and a billowing off-white head. You'll have to excuse my picture as it's magnifying the red from the brickwork behind but I'm sure that you've all seen enough light coloured lagers to be know what I mean. The aroma is clean and crisp, grassy and floral, with a little lemon zest and malted-milk biscuit playing quietly in the distance. Soft and smooth over the tongue, with that carbonation prickling a touch as you drink it, the taste is clean and crisp too. It's all warm dry hay and a whisper of lemon that been diluted in a thin sugar solution. This doesn't sound too appetising I know but I assure you it is, much better than some of the fizzy sweetcorn juice offerings that masquerade as lager on supermarket shelves. The finish is a touch creamy before drying with a crisp grassiness but this fades quickly leaving a residual iron taste right at the end.
It's not the best beer I've had but it's certainly not the worst by some way. I've seen it compared to the iconic Brooklyn Lager but it's not quite in that league in my opinion. It is, however, a decent enough lager that I imagine goes very well with one of their pizzas by the canal-side on a warm summers day. Hopefully by my next review of a Crate beer I'll be able to confirm if that's true.

Monday, 15 April 2013

Beers Of London Series
14. Weird Beard Brew Co. - Miss The Lights 5.9%

The name Weird Beard first came to my attention at the end of last year when they started following me on Twitter. Intrigued I immediately followed them back. Looking back now I see that their first 'tweet' was on 23rd October 2011 and reading forwards I found it incredibly interesting to see a brewery coming to fruition, from prototype brews to a visit to a hop merchants, from a delivery of fermenters to finalising the bottle cap design I was absorbed. There's also a blog on the website that is a very worthy diversion. Established in Hanwell in the London Borough of Ealing by two aspiring home-brewers Gregg Irwin and Bryan Spooner who wanted to 'take their passion for drinking and creating great hand-crafted beers out of the kitchen and beyond the garage'. Having met both Gregg and Bryan (although blissfully unaware of their Weird Beard venture at the time) I found them both friendly and fun ( and sporting facial hair), and if read their beer labels (which remind me a little of those of Jolly Pumpkin ) you'll find this comes across rather well. I won't spoil it for you by quoting any of them, you'll just have to buy some for yourself. One thing you'll find immediately apparent is from the blog and website, before you've even tasted the beer, is that these guys love hops. Hops are used to provide flavour, aroma and bitternes and you can be assured of all three of these in their beer.
Miss The Lights is a bottle-conditioned IPA brewed with Target and Aurora hops then dry hopped with the same again, laid down on an English malt base. This is another beer that I was lucky enough to get from Ales By Mail. They're selling out fast but I'm told more is on the way soon.
It pours a deep cloudy orange but with a pale yellow layer at the bottom of the glass, like some spooky beery tequila sunrise, and an off-white head. The aroma is resonant of warmly mashed barley, all warm and sugary, but this one has plums, apricots and pineapple floating on the surface releasing their beautiful fruitiness inviting you into the glass. This is a beer that you could spend an age just taking in the fumes coming from the glass, it's intoxicating. There's a sharpness here that's like a blunt knife being drawn across the tongue, and it has a full mouth-feel, sticky too. The flavour is peppery, gooey pineapple and apple fritter soaked in a delicious toffee caramel. It is absolutely delicious. The finish leaves my tongue feeling that it's been lightly grated then had a thin layer of molasses draped over it like a comforting blanket. There's some nice tea bread cakiness in there too, and this is the flavour that emerges and stays with you long after the last sip.
You might be thinking that I like this beer but you'd be wrong. I absolutely love it. I have three more of their beers to try in this series and I have to admit that I'm positively salivating at the thought of drinking them.

Sunday, 14 April 2013

Beers Of London Series
13. Pressure Drop - Wu Gang Chops The Tree 
Foraged Herb Hefeweisse 3.4%

The Euston Tap is a bit of a breeding ground for talent as it turns out. It is widely known that Masterchef winner Tim Anderson used to work behind the bar there, but so did, from what I can gather after some (reasonably) extensive online trawling, the two chaps behind Pressure Drop. There is no website (yet) but having heard some decent things about their beer I was anxious to try it. Based in Stoke Newington, the lables on their bottles are a wonderful mix of under-stated minimalism and home-made chic. I really like the pale green and cream colouring. I managed to pick up four different bottles from those excellent people at Ales By Mail who are located rather conveniently close to where I work and are incidentally where you can get quite a few of the beers featured in this series should you so wish. I shall endeavour to find out a bit more about Pressure Drop before I review another of their beers, however as I just couldn't wait to try one, and as a certain Slayer-loving friend of mine asked me about them I thought I'd open one now.
The name of this bottle-conditioned beer is a strange one however if you look it up you might find this entry which could give a clue to at least one of the herbs here. I don't recall ever having a beer that contains Bay leaves, if indeed they are in here. There's only one way to find out.
It pours a murky pale lemon colour with a bright white head, this beer has a steady stream of bubbles rising to the surface. Ginger is by far the biggest aroma here, but it's edges are slightly rounded with hints of Sweet Gale and Lemon Balm adding a more mellow depth. This beer slips over the tongue with barely a whisper, just tickling the edges slightly as it passes on its way. There's ginger here too, which isn't entirely unexpected. A little coriander seed, lemon and white pepper appear and maybe, just maybe, this is where the Bay is. There's a feeling of glossy leafiness which might just be imagined after the reading about the figure from Chinese folklore, and as I focus on the flavour it becomes a little more defined and definite. All the flavours here are muted, light and delicate save for the ginger which presides over everything wearing its spiky crown, smiling benevolently down. The finish is a little milky with ginger and straw under the surface and this lasts for a surprisingly long time considering its low abv.
This is quite unlike any hefeweisse that I've had. There's little of the grassiness that you might expect from this style but I guess that's the point. I'd love to know which foraged herbs were used in the brewing, and indeed where they were foraged from. As to whether I like this beer well I can't say that I'm entirely sure. Not quite.

Saturday, 13 April 2013

Beers Of London Series
12. The Kernel - Pale Ale Amarillo 5.7%

You may find this hard to believe but I really wasn't sure when to review a Kernel beer in this series. I figured that most of you would have had a few of their fabulous beers by now and so this might be a review that wouldn't be read that much. I knew that I had to include some beer from the Kernel Brewery here, any omission would be practically criminal, but where to include it was causing me a tiny headache. In the end I decided that it didn't much matter when I put one in, it just had to be fresh if it was going to be a Pale Ale, and as I've had this one with it's Amarillo hop goodness for a couple of weeks then I couldn't wait any longer. Just knowing I hadn't drunk it yet got too much for me. I haven't reviewed a Kernel beer in this blog since this review back in August last year due to the simple fact that if you look online then you'll find that the internet is full of them. Everybody who likes good beer has wanted to drink Kernel beer since Evin O'Riordan started brewing it in September 2009, testament to the sheer quality of their output. A Kernel Pale Ale or IPA is my wife's default beer setting, she says that she's never had a bad one, and she's right too. So, with no more hand-wringing or brow furrowing I'll just open the bottle and drink it!
It pours the colour of old gold, sunset orange fading to a pale yellow with big bubbly nearly-white head. The aroma majors in pine sap, with orange peel and grapefruit peel elbowing and jostling each other for supremacy just behind. Skipping over the tongue with little pops of carbonation, there's cart-loads of pithy grapefruit in the taste, all topped with a dusting of zesty orange peel. There is a brief lull in the intensity of the sharpness when you get a little wash of juicy satsuma but then back comes the grapefruit and orange peel, and it's brought some white pepper out to play this time too. The finish is pulped whole orange and grapefruit, all sharp, gorgeous and drying out with a slight spicy warmth right at the death.
If you like good tasty beer, and you like big, bold and juicy pale ales then you probably couldn't do much better. Just like my wife said, you can't go wrong with a Kernel.

Friday, 12 April 2013

Beers Of London Series
11. Moncada Brewery - Notting Hill Stout 5.0%

I almost had my first encounter with Moncada Brewery around a year ago when I discovered they would be supplying a few casks for the Chelmsford Beer Festival. I'd previously heard some good things about the beer, and the brewery was then just under a year old. Unfortunately I was unable to sample their wares as their beers were not available the day I went, which was to my considerable annoyance, so I had to make do with drinking Struise Tsjeeses instead (life is cruel, but then good again sometimes - thanks @tdtm82 ). Julio Moncada (founder in the autumn of 2011 of the eponymous brewery) had every intention of opening a delicatessen when, after attending a course on brewing, he had a change of heart and a change of direction. Born in Argentina, he had settled in West London, with premises around the corner from Portobello Road in Notting Hill (after which all the beers are named) and has attempted to source his raw ingredients within a 100 mile radius of London whenever possible. This information and much more is readily available on the brewery website which I'd recommend spending the time to take a look around if you haven't already.
Notting Hill Stout is the newest addition to the range, is of the oatmeal variety and is available in both 330ml and 500ml bottles both bottle-conditioned and with two different labels. It's the 500ml that I'll be drinking tonight, it's no different to the smaller version, it's just that I fancy a bigger bottle of beer this evening (been that kind of day).
It pours a delightful 'oil-slick' midnight brown with the thinnest white-coffee head, but this quickly disappears. The aroma is exactly like a good cup of quality coffee served with milk. There's a little bitter chocolate in there too, an a little tyre rubber (it reminds me a of the rubbery smell I encounter when changing the tyres on my mountain bike) but it's the coffee that's all encompassing here. Roughing up the tip of the tongue and the back of the throat, it's smooth as silk over the middle. Unsurprisingly there's lots of coffee and dark chocolate in the flavour, but it is only about half way down the glass that the hops reveal themselves with a whisper of dark prune and a mention of zesty lime smothered in chocolate. The finish is incredibly smooth too and, in amongst the bitterness, there's a faint weave of creamy fruitiness that steadfastly refuses my attempts to identify it. The words that spring to mind when descibing this beer are 'refined' and 'accomplished'. It is full of flavour with no trace of alcohol apparent and simply about as good as a stout can be. I don't really need to add any more.

Thursday, 11 April 2013

Beers Of London Series
10. Rocky Head Brewery - Pale Ale 6.5%

Of all of the beers produced by London's slew of new brews, possibly the single most discussed, recommended, tweeted about and reviewed is Rocky Head Brewery's Pale Ale. If you've followed me through this series so far, and if you've had around half of the beers I've reviewed already, then the chances are you'll already had at least one bottle of this beer, quite possibly more. Founded in 2012 the first Rocky Head Brewery beer appeared around August that year. They have so far released two beers. The one I've not had is an all-English IPA brewed exclusively for Selfridges in London and based on a 1909 recipe. The other, and the one that's caused all the buzz, is this big bold American-style Pale Ale, packed to the gunwales with New World hops.
Set up by a group of friends inspired by the US craft brewing scene, the brewery is in the London borough Wandsworth, once home to Young's but now more famous for Sambrook's beers - at least one of which is coming later in this series. 
Despite this being a much celebrated beer it would have been remiss of me to ignore it, plus I get the chance to have another bottle.
It pours a warm amber with a thin off-white head, and the wonderful aroma of honeyed crunchy peanut brittle, pine and grapefruit. Smooth over the tongue initially, those alpha acids really kick in and kick off at the back of the mouth in a riot of citrus bitterness. A mellow honeyed pine flavour is first to appear, sharp and a little biting, married to some grapefruit peel flopping and slapping around, throwing out a confetti of zesty lemon and lime with the merest hint of pineapple. The finish has a delicious sharp tropical fruit dryness, fading long into the memory.
This a marvellous beer, and if they set out they set out to make a beer along the lines of Sierra Nevada's Torpedo or Oscar Blues Dale's Pale Ale in unfiltered, bottle conditioned form then they have succeeded in spades. If you haven't had this then get some. You won't regret it.

Wednesday, 10 April 2013

Beers Of London Series
9. Hackney Brewery - American Pale Ale 4.5%

2011 was the magic year for Hackney Brewery. That was the year that two friends and former barmen, Jon Swain and Peter Hills, decided to turn their love of good beer into a brewing business. This is another brewery that has set up in a unit under railway arches, currently de rigeur it seems, and nothing wrong with that when you think about what is being produced in similar venues all over the capital at the moment. Their core range incorporates a 4.4% Best Bitter - available in cask only, a 4.0% Golden Ale - cask and bottle, and a 4.5% American Pale Ale - also available in both cask and bottle. It's this American Pale Ale that I'm having today. First produced in July 2012, this interpretation of the American style uses US hops for aroma and is described as having a richer malt base than some in this style.
It pours a clear polished cherrywood colour with a thin off-white head. The aroma is sweet with ripe mango, the smeel of the bloom you find on fresh peaches and juicy yellow plums. Popping and fizzing in the mouth, the hops here taste all green and leafy, chewy and juicy. Plum, apricot, lemon and lime Opal fruit sweets are all slightly subdued and overlayed with a thin streak of liquid caramel. The fruitiness swells in the finish. Pineapple becomes apparent, drenched in a gooey caramel sauce and some zesty lemon citrus right at the end. This beer is certainly a slightly different take on the style with the malts really coming to the fore, but not so much as to completely overpower those gorgeous fruity flavours. I really like this, there's something about its chewy sugary sweetness that appeals to my palate so I will endeavour to seek out the rest of the range and give those a try. They could be onto something good here.

Tuesday, 9 April 2013

Beers Of London Series
8. Meantime Brewery Company -
Bourbon Barrel Aged Greenwich Ale 6.0%
Brewed Exclusively For Marks & Spencer

The Meantime Brewing Company seem to have been around for an awfully long time. As someone living just outside London their beers, in their unusual and elegant shaped bottles designed to promote beer in the same way as wine, have been readily available in supermarkets and off licences alike practically since they opened in 2000. I was actually surprised to find it was so recent, such has been their impact. I was fortunate enough to visit Meantime last week for the launch of their Californian Pale with my good friend Matt Curtis and take a tour of the brewery. You can read about that particular trip in Matt's blog here and while I was impressed by the size and scale of the operation I found myself disappointed and somewhat aggreived that Alistair Hook, founder and brewmaster, is yet to be convinced that the UK is ready for strong and flavoursome beer as found in the American market. Admittedly the Wheat Beer was on fantastic form at the brewery tap, possibly a new recipe but definitely a new malt supplier seem to have worked wonders, but the other beers were nice ... but sometimes nice isn't quite good enough. I managed to pick up a bottle of the Barley Wine made exclusively for the US market which I will be reviewing in this series but the bottles that are readily available, particularly those for Marks & Spencer are, by their own admission, 'watered down' versions of their regular beer range. I haven't been impressed with the 'Marks & Spencer range' previously so it was with more than a little trepidation that I opened the corked and caged 750ml bottle after removing it from its rather smart presentation tin.
It pours a deep rich brown with a tight beige head, so far so good. The initial aroma of leather and caramel is quickly replaced with a faint fruity vanilla prickle, but it's not the huge hit of Bourbon, or even a mild hit, that I was expecting from its barrel ageing. As I drink further down the glass however the true character of this beer starts to reveal itself. A cold tingle as it flows over the tongue leads to a flavour of vanilla fudge and dark plum skin with a pleasant but short-lived milk chocolate sweetness. the finish has the merest hint of Bourbon, but a cocoa powder sweetness quickly overrides this. Although it lacks a bit of body this is by far my favourite of the M&S exclusive range. The taste delivers all that it promised, rich creamy chocolate with a little booziness. Job done for me.

Monday, 8 April 2013

Beers Of London Series
7. Howling Hops - Smoked Porter 5.2%

Hackney has become a bit of a centre for beeriness recently. Alongside such aspiring newcomers as Crate, London Fields, Signature Brew, and Hackney BreweryHowling Hops, based at  The Cock Tavern on Mare Street is about as slap-bang central as you can get, situated as it is just around the corner from Hackney Central station. I used to work in Hackney back in the early 1990s and the Cock Tavern was just across the road from my office, in fact it was the only pub I could see from my desk. It was a dark and dingy place thick with cigarette smoke and with the seemingly permanent feature of pubs of that time (and some Wetherspoons now), four blokes and a dog mumbling into their pints of Guiness (obviously just the blokes were mumbling, the dog was often asleep). It basically wasn't very inviting and as there were many more hospitable watering holes nearby, it wasn't a regular haunt. It's different now. Stripped back and basic inside, it's the beer that's the star here whatever your favoured method of dispense, cask, keg or bottle, and the welcome is very friendly indeed with the staff, and brewer Ed Taylor, are always willing to swap stories and talk you through the beers on offer. This is unsurprising when you consider that it's big sister is the renowned Southampton Arms in Highgate. The range and style of house beers is impressive and well worth trying and I seem to find myself drawn there whenever I'm in London at the moment, it's just a nice relaxed place to drink and chat. The bottle of smoked porter that I'm reviewing was given to me just as I was leaving recently. There was no mention of me reviewing it, just a simple "there you go" as I was getting ready to leave. I really appreciated that. I felt like it was a 'thanks for dropping by' thing. Here's the review.
The beer throws a big beige head into the glass upon pouring. There's a smoky chocolate aroma with a slight rusty iron tang to it. The colour, when it all settles down, is a deep rich milk chocolate brown with a ruby red edge. It scrapes the roof of the mouth and across the tongue as you drink it, there's a bite of bitter liquid chocolate, a drop of espresso coffee and burnt toast, crisp smoked bacon rasher and the kind of woodiness than you inhale when standing too close to old oak panels. The finish has a hint of salty Frazzle crisps and a little cocoa powder. This isn't a beer for everyone especially as smoked beers, or more accurately beers using smoked malts, are an acquired taste but certainly one thats well worth persevering with.
If you're ever if the neighbourhood or want to head somewhere a little off the beaten track then I'd recommend a visit to Howling Hops at the Cock Tavern, but be prepared, your 'swift half' could last long into the evening.

Sunday, 7 April 2013

Beers Of London Series
6. Brew By Numbers - 01 01 Saison Citra 5.7%

From the first time I saw an image of the labels on their bottles I thought, I hoped, that BrewByNumbers might be a bit special. I was yet to taste any of their beer and so this was more than a little premature and probably a bit dangerous, but their minimalist and simplistic style appealed to me and a part of me just seemed to know that it was going to be good. Now I'm fully aware that you should never judge a book by it's cover but I'm pleased to say that I shouldn't have worried. If you'd like to read about Brew By Numbers and how they started you could do a lot worse than read this blog by one of my newest friends in beer and all round good bloke who goes by name of Sid Boggle.
Back to the beer. It pours a translucent pale yellow with that big bubbly white head that you'd expect with a saison. The aroma is fantastic. There's bucket loads of spicy coriander, lemon, satsuma and nectarine, all fruity, zesty and with a faint herby tingle. It skips lightly over the tongue whilst nipping at it's edges, although it's quite playful and soft unlike the more aggressive attack you get from a big hoppy IPA. The taste is all chewy fruit salad sweets, ripe galia melon and a few grains of white pepper leading to a lemon drop core surrounded by some wonderfully juicy peach. The finish has a crack of spicy Szechuan pepper seeds, warm and tinglingly spicy, followed by a finely ground white pepper and lemon dryness. This is an accomplished saison indeed, easily holding it's own against many of the others in what has become a very popular style of late. The numbers, 01 01, representing style and recipe respectively, would seem to indicate that this is their first commercial brew and if this is the case than they have certainly had an auspicious start. I have a good few more Brew By Numbers beers to review in this series and if this little cracker is anything to go by then I'm in for a real treat.

Saturday, 6 April 2013

Beers Of London Series
5. Partizan Brewing
- I P A : Columbus, Cascade, Bravo 7.4%

In my last post I mentioned the impact that London Fields Brewery had made over the last 18 months, but that makes them relatively old and established compared to Partizan. Based under the railway arches at 8 Almond Road, Bermondsey, South London, @PartizanBrewing released it's first brew in November 2012 using the brewing kit that Kernel outgrew, offered for free and was gratefully accepted. If you want to visit and buy beer direct from the brewery then you can, but only on a Saturday between 11 am and 5 pm. I was fortunate enough to visit Andy Smith @Partizansmith at his one man operation on a dull Tuesday morning in late January arranged by the excellent Cotteridge Wines and although he was clearly very busy brewing he made time to welcome me and talk about beer. I found him friendly and enthusiastic, particularly about the saisons that he had brewed but weren't quite ready for sale. These have since been released and if you get hold of them or indeed any beer from Partizan then you'll be in for a treat. Just look out for the fantastic artwork of London based illustrator Alec Doherty, a member of the Puck Collective, and you won't go wrong.
Brewed with Columbus, Cascade and Bravo hops (the clue's in the name), it pours a translucent deep warm orange colour with a thin off-white head and revels in it's big aroma of grapefruit peel, soapy pine and over-ripe pineapple. Prickly carbonation over the tongue and a sharp astringency heralds the arrival of an explosion of oily pine-sap, grapefruit, mango, lemon zest and grassy peach juice from a sweet spot right in the middle of your mouth. The finish is like a scattering of dehydrated, crumbled up tropical fruit , dry but juicy all at once, and it lasts along time. It's seriously good and similar, but not the-same-as Kernel, which isn't surprising considering the equipment used and the beer brewed. The comparisons with Kernel are inevitable, but as you'll see from beers that I'll review later in this series, Partizan and Andy Smith are definitely heading in their own direction.

Friday, 5 April 2013

Beers Of London Series
4. London Fields Brewery - Delta IPA 6.0%

London Fields Brewery is just over 18 months old but its beers have certainly made an impact. It's fresh grapefruit and lemon tasting pale ale Hackney Hopster, and the caramel and pear drop flavoured red ale Love Not War, first brewed whilst the London Riots raged nearby, have earned rave reviews.I plan to visit their Tap Room soon, but will have to settle for a bottle of Delta IPA this evening.
Part of their single hop series, the Delta hop is a cross between Fuggles and Cascade. It has an aroma of caramel toffee sauce, and woody apple, it's rather delicious. Initially light and soft over the tongue, there's a surprising late kick of sharp citrus to the roof of the mouth that catches you a little by surprise. A crisp basil leaf taste comes first and possibly a little rosemary, but it's very brief, before in crashes some pineapple but that's not there for long either, as it's immediately dislodged by liquid lemon lozenge and sour apple. The finish has sweet and juicy watermelon with dry sherbert fading off into the distance. This is a fine IPA but all the flavours here are slightly muted, as if spread over a damp log. I'm assuming that this is a characteristic of the hop's parentage which is interesting, and as Delta is a relatively new hop (it was first used by Harpoon Brewery in 2010) it isn't much used as yet. That's a shame as I find it rather intriguing.

Wednesday, 3 April 2013

Beers Of London Series
3. Beavertown - Imperial Smog 9.0%

Since I last reviewed a Beavertown beer, 8 ball, at the back end of October last year, the breweries star has continued to rise with rave reviews from all quarters. I covered their history previously so if you want a little background just read my last review.
Imperial Smog (now called Imperial Lord Smog Almighty) is an amped-up version of their excellent smoked porter - Smog Rocket. It, like it's older (if weaker) brother is brewed with Magnum and Chinook hops but is a whopping 110 IBU's compared to Smog Rocket's 23 (statistics from brewery website).
It pours like black treacle with a tight beige head, but it's the aroma that hits you full in the face here. It's a smky bonfire of cocoa, coffee and bitter chocolate with a slight iron edge to it. It roughs up your tongue as you drink it, stamping, punching and elbowing its way to the back of your throat. An intense explosion of liquid bitter chocolate occurs slap-bang in the middle of your tongue. This is quickly followed with sweet milk chocolate and cocoa powder flowing around it, cooling and soothing before in comes the smokiness like a smouldering Cadbury Flake log. Flooding the mouth with singed chocolate all covered with a light dusting of vanilla flavoured sugar, it is simply delicious. The finish is like a dry cocoa rub on barbecued chicken that has dripped onto the ot coals, intense, warming and wonderful.
Another superb beer from the Beavertown stable, whose portfolio of outstanding beers continues to grow. If you haven't tried their beers (although by now I'm guessing most of you have) then don't delay. You won't regret it.

Tuesday, 2 April 2013

Beers Of London Series
2. Brupond - Tip Top Hop 6.0%

In contrast to yesterdays post, here's a beer from a new brewery - Brupond. If you follow the link to the website you'll find that there's lots of stuff there, but it required a little searching and sifting to find the out something that I could actually put down here. From what I can ascertain the brewery is based in the Leyton (E10) area of London and started brewing in either December 2012 or January 2013. It was set up by David Brassfield from Colorado Springs, Colorado, USA who raised finance for this venture after pitching to Crowdcube, an online investment organisation designed to bring entrepreneurs together with investors in exchange for a stake in the business.
Tip Top Hop is a continually hopped IPA, made by adding small amounts of hops (Perle, Hallertau, Willamette, Goldings and Celeia) continuously for 60 minutes during the boil. There is no 'best before' or 'brewed on' that I could find on the label or bottle which would give me some idea how old it was, or even a batch number.
It's very lively out of the bottle, throwing a big bubbly white head. The colour is a thin orange, and, while this may not be the most tasteful analogy, it reminds me of nothing more than dark urine. The aroma is really very promising, there's peach, pomegranate juice and elderflower in abundance here, it's really rather fragrant. Unfortunately, as I top up my glass lots of brown lumpy yeast muddies the liquid, making it a rather murky soup. The taste doesn't live up to the promise of the aroma as sadly it's all soggy cardboard which is never a desirable flavour in beer and basically says one thing - oxidation. This is a real shame as there is clearly a problem here and I hope that they can sort it.
After I posted my initial findings on Untappd I received comments on twitter confirming my findings, but also some saying what a fantastic beer it is. I hope therefore that I had a bottle from an early batch and these issues are now resolved. I've also heard nothing but praise for their Ain'Cho Mum's Porter which I'm anxious to try.
Should you wish to find out for yourself, the brewery is having it's 'Opening Event' this Saturday, 6th April at 1.30pm. Details on their website. It might be worth a look.

Monday, 1 April 2013

Beers Of London Series
1. Fuller's - Black Cab Stout 4.5%
No review of London's beers and breweries, however much one wanted to dive straight into the new and the trendy, can really not begin without one of Fuller's beers. Fuller, Smith and Turner PLC to give the company it's proper name, was founded in Chiswick in 1845 on a site where beer had been continuously brewed for over 350 years. It's acknowledged throughout the world as a brewery of the highest order, so I'll launch straight into the beer. 
It pours as black ... well, as black as a black London taxi, with a frothy, fluffy tan head. The aroma has huge amounts of milk chocolate and espresso, and I mean huge amounts, it's quite heady. Slick, silky and creamy flowing over the tongue like a river of chocolate and bitter coffee, this oozes down the throat leaving you all smiley and warm, you know you're drinking a well 'crafted' beer. The finish is delicious frothy coffee, bitter sweet and wonderfully satisfying.
I've used this as my first beer for 'Beers Of London Month' on purpose. It's not the most adventurous or ground-breaking of beers but that's precisely the point. It's extremely well made and it knows exactly what it is, happy that it's the best it can be. This beer is tradition in a glass, superb.