Sebright Arms Homebrew: Pure Evil Black IPA

Press releases and brewer collaboratians are often yawn inducing litter in my inbox. The collaboration was once something of interest but more often than not strikes me as jumping on the band wagon. Whack a collab tag on it and it’ll sell. But now and again I’m not in cynical mood and there’s something that doesn’t go straight to the trash. Something genuinely interesting.

The Sebright Arm’s has carved a bit of a name for itself in terms of Lucky Chip, live music and now: Sebright Arms Homebrew. They describe it as: a nomadic, collaborative type of brewing. This ‘nano-brewing’ allows for beer to be brewed in very small batches, inviting experimentation and encouraging brewers to create more niche brews.

Best label you’ll see all year? Pure Evil IPA

The launch brew is a Black IPA with nearby Redchurch Brewery. To add to this already interesting mix you’ve got Pure Evil; a local street artist who has worked closely with the team to produce Pure Evil Black IPA and probably the best label you’ll see in a long while (for those who have a label fetish). Launched at The Sebright Arms on 25 April; the beer will be in short supply, so get it while you can. You can book tickets here. Hot on the heels of Pure Evil they’ll be teaming up with Vagabond Tattoos and creating Black Milk, a dark milk stout. It adds a nice twist to the crowded collaboration scene in both the team behind it and the design elements. A little too hipster for some perhaps but for me enough not to press delete.


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.

Guest Post: Meantime’s Brewers Dozen – American Quad

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.

Hiatus, Ham, Hackney & Hopster

Q&A: Marky Market

This week we speak to Marky Market – a link between Londoners and the twilight world of the meat and fish markets.



My name’s Mark and I started markymarket a couple of years ago. Basically, people get hold of me by hotmail, phone, text or twitter. They tell me what they’d like from Smithfield and Billingsgate and I’ll get up at 2am to get it for them; I don’t hold any stock, I buy to order. I just get the freshest meat, fish and shellfish I can find, then deliver it to you around town using my trolley, chiller boxes and the tube. I’m your man at the market.

First pub experience…

First time I went into a pub was when I started college in Liverpool, I was maybe 16. I didn’t have a clue about what I should drink or any sort of pub etiquette, so when the barman asked me what I wanted, I panicked and asked for “the usual”. My first pub experience lasted precisely thirty seconds.

Best pub find if the last year…

The Euston Tap stands out because of the variety of proper beer and the enthusiasm of the staff. Markymarket deliveries take me all over town though, so I’m always discovering new places.

Sounds to be heard as you work…
The terrible MOR 1960s music from the radio that is always on in the Blue Posts.

Tell us about your office…
My Soho office is the Blue Posts on Berwick Street, at the end of the market. It’s where I gravitate towards after I’ve done my deliveries and has become my office because it’s a great old boozer that makes the minimum of concessions to the 21st century. Bill, the landlord, won’t even do food, just maybe a grudging pack of pork scratchings. The Adnams is good though, and it’s pretty central too, so any markymarket customers who need to meet me to collect their orders can get there easily.

Pub heaven…
Proper beer, from a pump. I’m not particularly fussed about any particular one, but I do like Bass, and Adnams, and Ubu, and, IPA, and Doombar, and Pride, and Speckled Hen… I also like a pub where I can get a seat, barstaff that remember me and they don’t mind my trolley shoved in the corner.

Pub hell…
Barstaff who think beer is just fizzy draught lager.
Favourite local…
The Hemingford Arms on Hemingford Road in Islington. It’s run by Una, the best landlady you will ever find. I don’t want to analyse why it’s the best pub in the world, it just is. Once you go there, you’ll realise that it’s very difficult to leave without promising yourself that you’ll be back.

Favourite non local…

Probably the Blue Posts, but the Cross Keys on Endell St in Covent Garden is good. Then there’s the Globe on Bow St or the Kings Head on Upper St; it’s difficult to choose one.

What’s on the horizon…
I want to carry on with the balance of customers that I have, so I can still get all this fantastic food for individuals and a few independent restaurateurs. Hopefully markymarket will become increasingly successful. I’ll still go to the markets to choose and buy the things that customers order, but I’ll have a few minions to take care of some of the deliveries. Which will give me more time to enjoy a beer.
Q&A: Marky Market

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

Beer and Bunting: The Alternative Jubilee

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.


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…


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

Q&A: Tom Byng of Byron

The Night Mayor: London Elects

London elects its next Mayor today. In reality it will be a choice between Boris or Ken which for those of you unfamiliar with London politics is a choice between left and right, between red or blue, and if you are to believe the media a choice between the newt lover and the buffoon.

I’ve been debating which way to go for a couple of weeks and I’ve flipped between them both and the LIb Dem candidate Brian Paddick. For me there’s no choice of whether to vote, it’s something I feel strongly that everyone should do; even if the expression of the vote is a spoilt ballot. My frustration is that I’ve felt uninspired by the candidates from the 3 main parties, with a sense of deja vu. Strictly speaking I’ve always been a Lib Dem but feel a disconnection with them at a National level and aren’t inclined to vote for a reality TV contestant for London Mayor. So what to do?

Having read about all the candidates – which includes the Greens’ Jenny Jones, the independent Siobahn Benita and the other two (who I really dont feel inclined to discuss) I was a little closer. Benita as with most independents interested me but watching her campaign video doubts crept in. With the words “urban foxes” I mentally crossed her off the list.

I tried the Guardians Mayor Machine which is useful to gauge where you fall on the issues, but I seemed to create a mutant mayor choosing policies pretty equally between the main four candidates; what the Machine branded a Night Mayor.

And then I watched this and instantly my mind was made up. I had been leaning this way but just needed the extra push. It seems that all these years I wasn’t actually Yellow but a closet Green.

Some may say I’ve been swayed by some cool kids and slick marketing or that it’s a wasted first preference vote. How else do we ever move away from a politics of polarisation if we don’t change our habits, vote with our conscience and not our perceived allegiance? I’m stepping off the soapbox and normal service will now resume.

The Night Mayor: London Elects

Powder Keg Diplomacy, 147 St Johns Hill, Battersea,SW11 1TQ

Faux Victorian vibe with a subversive edge has the makings in my mind of an epic pub failure. I am not generally one for themes or gimmicks, as I find they often fall short of their intention or have limited shelf life. Looking at the website for Powderkeg Diplomacy in Battersea I was already half way to a judgement but my interest had been grabbed by their beer list and positively beer soaked Tweeting.

The all important first impression is being greeted by a barman in a top hat, the furry fella below and his mate, a boozy Racoon. I don’t think there’s many places that can top that?


The beer selection which originally hooked me in doesn’t disappoint with Bristol Beer Factory and Rooster on the bar and a great bottled selection.

Our first visit is fleeting, with reservations at Bens Canteen across the road but I’m sold in this short 15 minutes. We head back after lunch to a busier Sunday afternoon crowd. We are seated by a waitress and given the beer list. It’s well stocked and thoughtfully divided, the Trade Winds selection including Mountain Goat and Bear Republic being my tip.

Anywhere that I can get a fix of Bear Republic and boozy Racoons is OK in my book and proves that I should abandon my preconceptions when the beer is calling.

Powder Keg Diplomacy, 147 St Johns Hill, Battersea, SW11 1TQ

Powder Keg Diplomacy, 147 St Johns Hill, Battersea,SW11 1TQ

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

Crown & Anchor, 246 Brixton Road, SW9 6AQ

Cannonball Run Returns: Hop Shoot Festival


There’s less than a month until the inaugral London Hop Shoot Festival and if you haven’t heard of it yet you’re in for a treat. This isn’t just another beer festival. It’s a collision of town, country, social media and hops with the spirit of Cannonball Run thrown in for good measure.

The Draft House team in action

The weekend of 27th April will see an assorted group of hop heads picking Kentish grown hops on the farm of Chris Lilliwhite. Crop picked and bagged they will divide the harvest and head back to London. From Trafalgar Square the race to get the hops onto the table then begins as teams from venues signed up race to serve up the first dishes. You can follow the build up and action throughout the festival on Twitter through @londonhop and #londonhopfest.

Possible venues participating are from across London so if you’re in the Capital you are unlikely to be disappointed. They include:

The Draft House (Battersea, Clapham & London Bridge), Old Red Cow (Smithfield), The Clifton (St Johns Wood), Crown & Anchor (Chiswick), White Swan (Twickenham), The Botanist (Kew), Ben’s Canteen (St John’s Hill), The Bull (Highgate), The Euston Flyer (Euston), The Victoria (Bayswater), Duke’s Brew & Que (Hackney), Horseshoe (Hampstead)

It’s another innovative initiative from the beer and food community of London and I for one can’t wait to see what’s served up.

Cannonball Run Returns: Hop Shoot Festival