Posts tagged ‘UK’

January 30, 2013

Guest Post: Meantime’s Brewers Dozen – American Quad

Those who’ve read Pub Diaries from the start (there were some I’m sure) may remember mention of Captain English. Not merely a figment of my imagination English was my trusty drinking sidekick and for the first and hopefully not the last time he gets his say. With my move to WA take this as a call out to anyone who wants to contribute to Pub Diaries, wherever you may be. Take it away Captain…

Recently I took a trip down to the Old Brewery in Greenwich, which is basically Meantime’s brewery tap. A place I’ve meant to go to for quite a while but somehow never got round to.
Years ago, I enjoyed the beers that they produced for Sainsbury’s Taste the Difference range. I was particularly keen on the Viennese-style dark lager, the Kölsch, and the Wheat. These beers were the first I’d heard of Meantime and were leagues ahead of any other supermarket-branded beers. However, it became harder to find in my local supermarket, until at some point Sainsbury’s and Meantime seemed to have ended the association. Since then Meantime beers have found their way across the capital to pubs both good and indifferent. In some respects Meantime had been a trailblazer for smaller London breweries but with increased competition in the London market from a new crop of hip, young, gun slinging craft brewers, how would they respond?

One response is the Brewer’s Dozen – eleven limited edition beers released once a month from December last year onwards, hence my trip to Greenwich to investigate. The Old Brewery is on the west side of the old naval college and has of an impressive dining room with brewing equipment at one end, and a slightly smaller bar. This bar is in the post-industrial style with exposed brick walls, uplighters and shallow vaulted arches. A mix of low and tall tables, chairs and benches, a collection of beer steins behind the bar, and a collection of bottles on one of the other walls. The bar top bristles with beer taps offering many of the Meantime brews and three hand pumps with guest ales. Being dark outside it felt like being in a big and airy bierkeller.

The first release of the Brewer’s Dozen was the Jasmine IPA, but that had already sold out on our visit. The month’s release was American Quad. From the name I had expected it to be some massively hoppy American IPA but actually it was nothing like that. Dark with a slight spiced prune flavour. Not even slightly sessionable but a good one to finish off with. The beer equivalent of a port at the end of a meal.

The third instalment of the Brewer’s Dozen will be the Cali-Belgian IPA (an IPA/Belgian beer hybrid of sorts) so I will be looking out for that in February and probably returning to the Old Brewery at some point as well.

September 12, 2012

Hiatus, Ham, Hackney & Hopster

So It’s been a while since my last post but as is the way, life takes over and something has to give. Namely this. I’ve always hated posts full of fake apology – as if my absence from the blogging space would weigh too heavily on anyones mind – but i’ll just say that preparing to get wed, planning months of travel, leaving your job, moving home and hemisphere all at the same time isn’t a recipe for having time on your hands.

That’s not to say that i’ve not had any chance to indulge, just that i’ve not had the time or mental capacity to string a sentence together. So as I ease myself back in after the short hiatas i’ll just list some of the highlights, which I may expand on in the coming weeks.

copyright: Friends of Ham

Friends of Ham, Leeds

If you follow on Twitter (@thepubdiaries) you may have seen a flurry of Ham related activity as I recently turned porcine fanboy. My visit to Friends of Ham, was much anticipated (bt me, not them). For months there had been talk of its opening and I watched at a distance through social media. The name intrigued me, the logo enticed me and when I finally got to visit the space and the people in it beguiled me. A craft beer bar, come charcuterie where Cheers style everyone knows your name (but maybe that’s @lordofthebeers fault for pre-tweeting my arrival). Quite simply the best bar i’ve been to in years.

Cock Tavern, Hackney

In between the planning, packing and honing wedding playlists, I have been doing more and more freelance writing. Pots of espresso at 5am have become the norm as I juggle deadlines (lets just say i’d never get a job in the circus) and try and remember what the hell i’m writing about. Many of these have been for View London and as much as I love to find a new pub to add to the beer drinkers equivalent of the Knowledge it can start to wear slightly. Until the assignment is the Cock Tavern in Hackney. It’s up there with Friends of Ham, which is why i’ve put the two together and you can read all about it here. It’s places like this that reinvigorate me and make me realise why I do what I do.

London Fields Brewery, Hackney

I am a late comer to the charms of this East London brewer, but have fallen for them in a big way. When I discussed the beer list for the wedding I wanted some relatively cheap bottles of well known beer for the guzzlers amongst the guest list. Asahi was the choice. We then had a mix of Meantime and the other usual suspects. It still didn’t grab me and while I was tempted to just let it go, Clerkenwell Kitchen’s manager Ciaran came through with a suggestion of London Fields. It fitted the bill in terms of being locally sourced and with a craft angle. There’s nothing better than looking round and seeing people eskew their normal habits, holding a big bottle of Hackney Hopster or Love Not War (apt for the event I thought) and more importantly enjoying it.

May 30, 2012

Beer and Bunting: The Alternative Jubilee

As the bunting is strung up and Londoners prepare for public transport meltdown, Pub Diaries is here to tell you beer drinking proles what else is happening in the capital this weekend. If your idea of a good day isn’t watching Her Maj’s booze cruise putter down the Thames here are a few alternatives which may float your boat.

Saturday 2nd June – The Euston Tap, Lager Party

A day of Punk and Hotdogs awaits at the Euston Tap’s Lager Party. Czech Pilsner, Bavarian Helles, local boys Camden and their Black Friday await. For fans of self styled beer punks Brewdog there will be an exclusive supply of Growler, a Citra infused lager. We’re told that they’ll be using the UK’s only Randall beer infuser.

Sunday 3rd June 13:00, The White Hart – Stoke Newington Literary Festival – Pete Brown’s Beer & Music Matching

Billed as Pete and his iPod I’m thinking this could go either way. After seeing him tweet Eurovision on Saturday night I’m hoping that I’m not subjected to an afternoon of Boom Bang a Bang. At £4 for a beer flight and the opportunity to hear the beery bard I’m willing to take the risk. Tickets are selling out so get in while you can!

All Weekend, The Cavendish, Stockwell

I’ve always been a fan of The Cav and they know how to throw a party. They’ll have events from Friday onward. Balkan Bebop, Burlesque, BBQ, Bingo and other letters of the alphabet.

Know of other events going on? Pop it in the comments… God Save The Queen

May 24, 2012

Q&A: Tom Byng of Byron

We mix beer and burgers this week as we have a chat with London’s true Burger King, Tom Byng.

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What is the Byng – Byron ethos…

Do a simple thing properly

First beer experience…

Nicking a couple of Double Diamonds out of my Dad’s fridge as a 10 year old and drinking them with my brother behind a bush in the garden. Terrible beer, but it tasted pretty good at the time.

Best beer find of the last year…

SKA beers, we managed to get True Blonde and Steel Toe Stout on to our latest list pretty much exclusive to us

What sounds are to be heard in the office…

I spend quite a lot of time in the restaurants so the sizzling of grills, bubbling of fryers and gentle tapping of ketchup bottles is ever present. In a nice way obviously.

If I wasn’t running Byron I’d be…

About 10kg lighter for sure

Before Byron…

I had a couple of restaurants in Notting Hill for 10 years. The rents doubled so I sold up and started Byron

Favourite thing about what I do…

Getting paid to eat burgers and drink beer is tough to beat.

What drew you to Camden Town Brewery to brew Byron Pale…

Camden not only supply Hells but act as a quasi consultant for the whole list. We have a great relationship, so having them brew our own beer was a no brainer. We wouldn’t have had anybody else do it to be honest.
What have you learnt from working with CTB and vice versa… They’ve pretty much taught us everything we know. We started out as enthusiasts with a relatively low knowledge base and in a year they’ve turned us into something approaching experts. From their perspective, they certainly know a lot more about hamburgers than a year ago! I think also having a big volume customer has been a good test for them in terms of how they set up their infrastructure to support growth.

Greatest achievement to date…

Byron Pale Ale becoming our top seller within 2 weeks of launch. For it to outsell Peroni in a chain restaurant environment was as satisfying as it was unexpected. For Byron generally I think we’ve been instrumental in instigating the burger revolution which has swept London in the last 5 years, the result being that if you like hamburgers there is a now plenty of quality options available irrespective of taste and budget

Brewers I look up to…

Camden Town Brewery, Kernel and Brewdog in the UK. Sierra Nevada, Bear Republic and Lagunitas in the US

Pub heaven…

Big range of craft beer on tap and in bottles with some decent food coming out of the kitchen

Pub hell…

Wetherspoons

Favourite local pub…

Anglesea Arms, Wingate Rd, W6

Favourite non local pub…

Craft Beer Co, Hatton Garden

Advice for an aspiring startup…

If you’re not shitting yourself you’re not being brave enough. Back yourself and go for it.

What’s on the horizon…

We have 5 more restaurants to open this year (including our first out of London in Oxford), a new burger van for street food events, a full summer festival season for our Shack, a Chilli Queen burger special for the Jubilee and a new beer list for September.

Next week the Q&A takes a techie turn with Greg Avola, the beer brain behine Untappd

April 22, 2012

Crown & Anchor, 246 Brixton Road, SW9 6AQ

I was the subject of an intervention recently. English sat me down, placed a pint in front of me and laid the bare facts out. There’s been too much frippery of late. Too much fluff, or to be more accurate: Popcorn. In pretty cups. I was taken to task on the lack of pubs talked about here and in particular the lack of London pubs. It seems English doesn’t care to know what’s happening in Perth.

Now I could have said it wasn’t a problem. I could have got angry. I could even have told him to write his own blog; which he’s talked of writing, has a half decent name for, but to date hasn’t put finger to keyboard on (hands up who wants English to write his own blog?). I didn’t do any of it. Instead I took it on board, gave it some thought and went to the pub – in fact I went to 10.

Where better to start than just round the corner from the intervention and the newly reopened Crown & Anchor.

Copyright: Urban75

Brixton and Stockwell have long needed an injection of craft beer. They have boozers of note but none that has ever delivered as a destination solely for the beer. From the owners of the Jolly Butchers comes the answer with the refurbished Crown & Anchor.

I’m often accused of a dourness bordering on being sullen. A street artist once asked me to smile and when I obliged said it was cruel and twisted, which in recent years has meant that I don’t smile as often as people would want. As I walk into the Crown & Anchor I’m beaming like the Milky Bar Kid, without any hint of the crooked or cruel. A pub that can do this has to be good right? It’s a large open space, with 20+ beers on tap and packed out. It’s the opening day and the mix is locals and others. As I stand at the bar there’s confusion all around as people can’t make the decision of what to have. Choice like this hasn’t been seen in these parts. Bar staff advise the bemused punters and it makes for a great atmosphere of people trying something new, both pub and beer wise.

Copyright: Urban 75

What I particularly loved was the local feel. Gentrification has become a dirty word as often it’s for the benefit of outsiders and excludes or at worst forces out the locals. As I look round the bar there’s an old man shuffling through. He takes a seat and looks out with a look of shock and happiness combined. My guess is that he’s been drinking in this pub since he was old enough. Back in the 50s his kids may have come here as one of the first rock n roll joints in the UK. As he sits inside others peer open mouthed through the window.

Stepping outside to make a call I look down the road and see what a surprise it would be. The guy smoking next to me explains that it used to be a “right old kip” and hopes it will do ok. He points out it’s between tubes and isn’t sure how it will go for custom. I tell him that they’ll come for the beer. He thinks a moment smiles and gives me an approving nod.

Crown & Anchor, 246 Brixton Road, London, SW9 6AQ

Pictures courtesy of Urban 75

April 18, 2012

Q&A: Kelly Ryan

I think that this weeks Q&A will be a firm favourite across the beer world, as we catch up with possibly the busiest man in beer. Formerly of Thornbridge, Fyne Ales and Epic; and now moving onto new prospects, we hear from Kelly Ryan.

 

Your brewing ethos…

Passion, Pride, Fun, Flavour, Quality

Beer epiphany…

I don’t think I’ve had just one beer epiphany, but sitting in a Flavour Chemistry class with my old professor, Jean-Pierre Dufour (who was instrumental in the development of the brewing division of the Catholic University in Leuven, Belgium) here in NZ and tasting through Duvel, Chimay Red, Chimay White and Chimay Blue was definitely a big part of it. JP was ridiculously passionate and taught me loads about beer, brewing and fermentation science. It was his palate, however, that never ceased to amaze me. He inspired me to taste everything I could and to describe as much as I could. I still remember that first sip of Duvel. The effervescence and that Champagne-like mousse coupled with the delicate spice of the yeast. So damn good!

Best beer find of the last year…

Anchorage Love Buzz Saison – A heady mix of peppery goodness, the delightful tartness of the Saison yeast, a hint of Brettanomyces for good measure all tied together with an undercurrent of light oakiness from the French oak Pinot Noir barrels that it’s aged in. An elegant and fascinating beer and the type that should be served up to beer and wine lovers alike.

Sounds heard in the brewery…

If I’m mucking about doing trial brews, it could be anything from some good NZ reggae (Katchafire), Fat Freddy’s Drop (NZ Reggae/Dub/Jazz/Roots) or something a bit more out there like some crazy industrial Skinny Puppy or KMFDM or even some Tool, A Perfect Circle or Pink Floyd. A bit of everything really! The Beatles often pop up on the playlist.

If I wasn’t brewing I’d be…

Dead! Either that or teaching brewing :)

Before I was brewing I was…

A student on the road to being a brewer… I was studying Microbiology and Food Science degrees and got into a trainee brewer programme with a big brewery straight out of university. It was meant to be!

Favourite thing about what I do …

I think it’s probably similar to most brewers… I love recipe development. Envisaging a beer and a culmination of flavours and aromas. That mixing together of diverse and interesting ingredients and that point when it all comes to fruition and you taste the finished product. I love that.

Greatest brewing achievement to date…

A tough question! I enjoy the fact that people have had enjoyment out of what I do for a living. The odd award here and there is always exciting as well.

Things you miss about the UK…

This could be a long list! I miss being able to go to a local market or supermarket and get incredible cheeses for a decent price. I miss the snow. I miss foraging. I miss the pub we used to run and live in, The Coach and Horses in Dronfield. I miss Mark Taylor’s incredible food (the ex-chef of the Coach). I miss Loch Fyne up in Scotland where I started my UK brewing experience. I miss the Peak District. I miss our great friends. I miss the huge choice of beers that are available in the pubs of Sheffield. I miss Thornbridge Kipling. I miss the friendliness of the Yorkshire and Derbyshire folk.

What could we learn from NZ…

Be more proud of your local fare. It’s fantastic. I think the cuisine of the UK is awesome, so many interesting dishes and flavours beyond the usual roast meat and fish n’ chips.

Which brewers do you look up to…

Thornbridge (of course!), Dark Star, Hawkshead, Brewdog, Lovibonds, Fyne Ales, William Bros, Fullers, Adnams, Sharp’s, Brooklyn (US), Odell (US), Dogfish Head (US), Sierra Nevada (US), Russian River (US) Sprig and Fern (NZ), Feral (AUS), De Molen (NED), Birrificio Italiano (ITA)… in fact this list could go on forever!

Pub heaven…

That’s easy! The Coach and Horses in Dronfield. Surrounding by the hum of conversation by the locals and sitting down to a leg of rabbit done in a cider and mustard sauce and matched with a bottle of Maredsous 10 from the fridge. It would have to be snowing just a bit as well.

Pub hell…

A cold, empty pub with nothing good on tap, a menu from a freezer bag and bar staff that spend all their time on their phones and glare at you icily when you order a drink.

Favourite local pub…

I’ve just moved from Auckland and am currently working out of a great craft beer pub in Hamilton called House on Hood. A good beer selection on tap and friendly staff, so it’s an easy one!

Favourite non local pub…

I’m a big fan of The Malthouse in Wellington. Awesome beer selection, knowledgeable staff and it’s nice and relaxed. The pizzas are pretty tasty as well!

What advice would you give any aspiring brewer…

Work hard, be prepared to start at the bottom, work even harder, clean everything that you can see or reach in the brewery and then work hard some more. When you’re not working hard, read everything you can on brewing, expand your horizons and taste as many foods and beverages as you can, build up your palate and your understanding of flavour and aroma combinations and never be afraid to innovate. Have fun along the way and talk to as many brewers as you can!

What’s on the horizon…

In New Zealand, usually the ocean (see what I did there!). Doing some brewery consultancy work at the moment which sees my go from NZ to Canada to NZ to Fiji, then off to judge at the World Beer Cup in San Diego and check out the awesome Craft Brewer’s Conference there. After that it’s back to NZ to install and commission a new brewpub in Hamilton that I’m going to be plying my trade as a head brewer. Exciting times ahead!!

Finally, can you tell us a joke about beer…

Did you hear about that brewer who didn’t like Brettanomyces in his beer? He said it tasted Orval! Yeah, I’m pretty crap at beer jokes.

March 21, 2012

Q&A: Sara Carter, Brewer, Triple fff Brewing Company

Pub Diaries Q&A this week comes from Sara Carter of Triple fff Brewing in Hampshire.

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Which 5 words sum up your brewing ethos…

Fun, Creative, Local, Excellence, Value

First beer experience…

I grew up in a pub in Yorkshire so beer flows through the veins! My first beer memory was helping my Dad check the beer after he had cleaned the lines from when I was about 10 years old

Best beer find of the last year…

Williams Bros – Profanity Stout
.
What sounds are to be heard in the brewery…

The steam boiler, pumps, Rammstein and baa baa black sheep… don’t ask.

If I wasn’t brewing I’d be…

Drinking too much, seriously!

Before I was brewing I was…

A live music sound engineer for BBC Radio 1 & 2

Favourite thing about what I do…

Developing new recipes, using ingredients that I haven’t used before, then the anticipation of the first taste.

Greatest brewing achievement to date…

From a personal point of view it would be winning Overall Champion at a London and South East homebrewing competition in 2008 with my Bombay IPA

Which brewers do you look up to…

Derek Prentice of Fuller Smith & Turner, who has such passion for the craft and is a fantastic brewer.

Pub heaven…

Warm and welcoming with a decent selection of hand pulled ales in top condition and there’s always a seat next to the open log fire. Beautiful view of our superb countryside. Oh and an old man smoking a pipe in the corner. I like a pipe.

Pub hell…

Loud music, loud locals, fruit machines, mass produced tasteless ales, no loo paper, hand dryer doesn’t work – oh and it’s Karaoke night.

What advice would you give any aspiring brewer…

Learn as much from the internet and books as you can then brew at home and enter competitions. Prepare yourself for more cleaning than brewing!

What’s on the horizon…

Triple fff ales finally in bottles and five new recipes planned for 2012

March 18, 2012

E-petition: The beer duty escalator

We British love a good petition. That simple act of putting your name to a cause which turns a whisper into a scream. All without taking to the streets and being all French about it.

I’ve recently signed the e-petition against the beer tax escalator and I would urge you to do the same.

The escalator increases tax on beer by 2% above the rate of inflation each year. Scrapping the beer duty escalator should ensure that pubs and consumers aren’t further squeezed. Take a minute and add your voice unless of course you want to pay more and more each year to HM Treasury?

Click here to sign

February 27, 2012

Q&A: Flo Vialan, Purity Brewing Co

Pub Diaries Q&A has a Gallic twist this week with words from Flo Vialan, head brewer at Purity.

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Your blurb…

I was born in Lyon into a family of butchers and the eldest of three children. I studied in France, starting with agronomy then finally graduating in bio-technologies and fermenting processes. After two years brewing in the French Alps I decided to spend some time in England for a change and new challenge. What began as a few months work experience brewing cask ale ended up with me staying for the past eight years. Along the way I met my wife Sarah, a beautiful Cornish lady, and we have two wonderful children. When I’m not brewing I play rugby for Stratford-upon-Avon – I’ve been playing rugby for the past 22 years. I’ve been the Head Brewer at Purity Brewing Co for 5 years.

Which 5 words sum up your brewing ethos…

Passionate / Focused / Perfectionist / Artistic / Craft

Beer epiphany…

I had some terrible early experiences with beer, but at the risk of sounding clichéd my most memorable beer experience was when I first came to England and had a pint of Timothy Taylor ‘Landlord’. It was a beautiful pint.

Best beer find of the last year…

‘Postman’s Knock’ porter from Hobsons Brewery – it is outstanding in its category.

What sounds are to be heard in the brewery…

Pumps, barrels banging and brewer’s whistling.

If I wasn’t brewing I’d be…

A farmer.

Before I was brewing I was…

A typical student. Beer, rugby, women.

Your favourite thing about what you do …

When the whole team comes together in a feat of harmony to brew the best beer we can.

Your greatest brewing achievement to date…

Mad Goose winning the gold medal in its category at the SIBA National Awards 2009.

Which breweries do you look up to…

Timothy Taylor and St Austell for their consistent, flavoursome beers.

Pub heaven…

Warm welcome, no music, a log fire and a good range of quality pints behind the bar.

Pub hell…

No real ale, loud pop music, flashy lights and fruit machines.

Favourite local pub…

The Hollybush in Alcester

Favourite non local pub…

The Merchants in Rugby

What advice would you give any aspiring brewer…

Listen to your customers and don’t cut corners.

What’s on the horizon…

Building a bigger brew house.

Finally, can you tell us a joke about beer…

A French brewer, a Scottish brewer and a German brewer are in the pub having a few beers. They all go to the toilet together. When finished, the Frenchman goes to wash his hands and takes lots of soap and paper towels proudly stating “in France we are very hygienic”. Next the Scotsman walks up to the sink, takes a tiny bit of soap and one paper towel and says “in Scotland we’re hygienic but we’re also cost efficient”. Lastly the German finishes and marches straight past the sink and out of the door saying “in Germany we don’t piss on our hands”.

June 6, 2011

Old Red Cow, 71-73 Long Lane, Smithfield, EC1A 9EJ

I stuck another pin in the London craft beer map on Friday. Heading to Farringdon via Barbican I stopped by the Old Red Cow on Long Lane. It’s been a while since I’ve last been in and the first since it joined the Dean Swift as a Local Beer House.

Smithfield and the surrounding area has always been one of my favourite places in London. As I’ve alluded to in past posts it’s where I spent my first years in London and still somewhere I can wile away a few hours at the Barbican or just a walk through the old neighbourhood. I usually head up St John Street to the Peasant or across to Clerkenwell Green. With 3 handpumps on the bar and 10 wall mounted taps behind the bar the old haunts have definite competition.

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Barbican

From the board we went for the Camden Town Pale Ale, a perfect start on a hot City day and already a firm favourite. The find of the day was the Redemption Trinity from the handpull. If there’s a beer for a Summer session this is it. Just 3% ABV, Golden in colour, I could just sit and watch the early evening light through it. That is if it wasn’t so damn tasty with its smack of Citrus and Hops. A lazy description perhaps but I’d just encourage you to taste it for yourself.

Old Red Cow, 71-73 Long Lane, Smithfield, EC1A 9EJ

Excelent pub photography courtesy of www.travelswithbeer.com

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