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.


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

Welcome to Sheffield

My reaction to Sheffield. Who Knew? Well quite a few people it seems but it’s taken me a while to cotton on. Having family in Leeds it has always been a place I passed through – a marker on the M1 that said almost home. Somewhere people told me to visit but until now I’d ignored. With Lou attending the annual Doc Fest it seemed like a good opportunity to finally visit and added to which, the thought that she may get to the Sheffield Tap before me was truly horrifying (er, i meant the thought of a weekend without her truly horrified me… Did i get away with that?).

As my coach pulled into Chesterfield, a couple of miles down the road, I have flashbacks of Friday nights in a Northern town. It’s just after 10pm and post football jubilance is overspilling into the streets. Quite literally, as a swaying punter urinates against a phonebox. I get a text to say that Lou will be at an industry thing (read party) and that I should make my way to the hotel. As I head out of the bus station it’s unclear what the quickest way is and I go with my gut feeling, which within minutes sees me facing the Sheffield Tap – fancy that!

This is a pub I’ve coveted for some years. It may sound sad to covet a pub but I’ve heard people talk of it with a glint in the eye which was more than a half cut glaze. It must be credited with introducing countless travellers (it being in Sheffield train station) to great beers beyond their normal experience.

As I sit at the bar it’s rich pickings for a seasoned people watcher. From the beer geeks drawn to the Pondhopper (Thornbridge / Odell co-brew) or the two brash mockney lads who saunter in fresh from the train. The brasher of the two tells his mate “goin for a slash geez, get me the strongest fing they got”. This raises a smile from those in the know. Looking down the bar the lad looks in need of help. Turning to me, devoid of any previous swagger, he asks whether they do Stella. I point him in the direction of the Bernard and he looks visibly relieved. As his friend returns he tastes, looks at the pump and delivers his verdict: “it ain’t Stella but it’ll do”. Smiles turn to slight shaking of heads and rolling eyes.

As I drink my way down the taps – chatting with the staff and observing the oohs, aahs and puzzled faces – I can see why this place has a special place in many people’s journeys and why for some this is the reason for the journey itself.

I head for the hotel before I’m in danger of the morning after regret of staying for another; wondering that if this is a welcome to Sheffield what else awaits.


Welcome to Sheffield

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: Greg Avola, Untappd

The Q&A comes this week from Greg Avola, the NYC based coder and beer geek behind Untappd


Living in the craft beer haven of New York City, I’m the backend developer for Untappd. After experiencing Rare Vos for the first time, I instantly fell in love with craft beer. While some people enjoy reading books or watching movies, my passion is to coding.

Your ethos…

Passionate, Funny, Controlled, Outgoing, Humble

Beer epiphany…

The truth of the matter is that I, nor my co-founder Tim Mather, were ever in to beer before Untappd was made. We saw a potential with the social media industry to connect the dots on something that is very socially, but never had that represented in a social network. I first tried Rare Vos about 2 years ago and fell in love with Belgian and craft beer. Once I did that – I never looked back.

Best beer find of the last year…

My favorite beer is Pliny the Elder and I had a chance to have it draft when I was last in San Francisco, CA. It’s an amazing beer that tastes 100% different on tap than in the bottle.

What sounds are to be heard as you work…

Typically I listen to a lot of techno music when I’m working on Untappd. When coding, I like the repetition of the beats which helps me code better, believe it or not. Most of the time I use Spotify to deliver that music.

If I wasn’t coding I’d be…

Great question – because coding is my hobby and my passion. If I’m not coding, I’m most likely sleeping, eating or hanging out with family. I would say I code about 75% of the time.

Before I was coding I was…

I was in school studying how to code and build computers. I used to build a lot of custom computers for friends and family and was really into all the technology specifications of motherboards, video cards, and hard drives.

Favourite thing about what I do…

My favorite thing about what I did is the ability to help people solve problems. Nothing gives me greater joy to hear feedback from a user about how they used and liked the service. At the end of the day, we’re not really saving lives, but we are making lives easier for some people and that’s what it’s all about.

Brewers you look up to…

For me – it’s Shane Welch from SIxpoint in New York. I think his vision and direction for the brewery and industry as a whole is very fresh and new. He has passion for beer and making a quality product is something that I strive for in my work with Untappd.

The app I wish I’d come up with…

I think the logical answer is Instagram, because I love photography and the app allows anyone to fill that void. Of course the fact that it was just bought for 1 billion dollars helps too.

Pub heaven…

A pub that has a great beer selection with tie integration with Untappd, meaning that when someone check-ins to a beer at that bar, their face would appear next to the beer. That would be an great interactive element for a beer list.

Pub hell…

My biggest peev is incorrect beer names, as it causes people to create beers on Untappd. For example if a bar calls Nugget Necter, Troeges Necter Red, that causes issues with your Database.

Favourite local pub…

It’s a tough one but I would have to say The Pony Bar in NYC. $5 craft beers all day / night long is something you can’t beat.

Favourite non local pub…

The Stone Bistro Gardens in CA was my favorite in the country so far. Amazing beer, food and views.

Advice any aspiring brewer / app developer / tech startup…

Never give up and keep pushing yourself. Users want to be part of something that they feel part of, so always interact with your users and make sure they feel welcome. I love meeting Untappd users because I want to thank them for being part of the community.

What’s on the horizon…

We have a lot of great stuff coming up soon as we try to make Untappd the best product for beer and bar discovery. We also want to focus our efforts on making a better recommendation engine. If I told you – where would the fun be in that?




Q&A: Greg Avola, Untappd

Blogging not Blagging

I joked on a few occasions this week that I feel like I was “coming out” – as a blogger. Some, but not all of my friends and family know that I write a blog. My initial reticence to talk about it was borne out of wanting to develop my style of writing without the self conscious thought of what people would think. It’s been over two years since my first post, I’ve had work published elsewhere or pending publication and I feel happy with the way I write and the reception it gets. So it seems like the time to be a bit more forthcoming, get out and meet folks who I read and communicate with via Twitter. You may be in my position or considering writing a blog yourself. I hope my random thoughts on a very random week hit the spot.

First there was the European Beer Bloggers Conference in Leeds. When I told people that I was going to a beer bloggers conference they looked at me with an expression half between amusement and bemusement. “Beer Bloggers. Have. A conference?”. usually followed by “but what do you do at a beer bloggers conference?”. I’d tell them it was educational, which draws a wink, a nod or a full on belly laugh. “Ohh it’s a piss up”. I may sound like I’m protesting too much and won’t deny that there was lots of beer but what I took from the conference was more than some Spiegelau glasses, that infamous Pilsner Urquel shirt (sorry, an in joke, but ask me nicely and I may model it one day) and free beer. I took some great advice from figures who I look up to (Adrian Tierney-Jones, Zak Avery, Mark Dredge, Stuart Howe) and to sound terribly new age, the energy of a room of people who were all on the same page but writing it in different ways.

On Wednesday I attended a food matching dinner at The Parcel Yard at Kings Cross. The dinner was hosted by Fullers Head Brewer, John Keeling and around the table were bloggers, journalists and entrepreneurs. I’ll be posting about this later in the week but mention it as again it offered some valuable insight. A theme from EBBC was around blogger ethics and how Brewers and Publicans react to social media and the blogosphere. It’s obvious from Fullers’ approach that they are relatively adept at this, having a small dinner rather than large event. Doubtless this wouldn’t be the only such event they hold but it was slick without having the air of corporate PR and there was a real feel that they know they’ve got something special in The Parcel Yard and intend to keep it that way.

Thursday saw the Zagat, 30 Under 30 awards held at The Gilbert Scott, St. Pancras. Marcus Wareing canapes (and the anti-Ramsey himself walking the room), cocktails and a who’s who of young food and drink talent. This wasn’t the place you’d expect to find a beer and pub blogger but i’d been invited as I’d given some advice on engaging with beer bloggers – doing my bit to dispel the beard and sandals image and as I’ve demonstrated above I seem to have become partial to a freebie! Blagger more than blogger could be the accusation this week. As I planted myself at the bar the small space was full of familiar faces who I’ve tweeted over the years but never met in person. Nerves overcome I tapped Niamh (of @eatlikeagirl) on the shoulder and introduced myself. Lou stood to my side said later that she wished that she had filmed the reaction. A puzzled look (as anyone would be if a perspiring man taps you on the shoulder) to start and then a smile of recognition; while I just looked relieved that I’d not made too much of a fool of myself. I think if this week has taught me anything it’s that you need to be less concerned about nerves and face – and just get out there, introduce yourself and be unapologetic of being a blogger or having a lack of knowledge. The point is to meet people, ask questions and learn.

I’d be interested to hear your thoughts whether blogging or not. You know where the comments box is.



Holborn Whippet, Sicilian Avenue, WC1A 2QH

As a Yorkshireman I’m used to the jokes about flatcaps and whippets. I’ve owned the former but unfortunately never the latter, though I can now enjoy a pint and ponder names for my imaginary mutt in a bar named after (Yorkshire)mans best friend at the Holborn Whippet.


Currently trialling in soft launch mode the service is slightly frantic (but very friendly) and there was a distinct lack of a staple IPA on my visit. It’s very early days and these are issues which I’m sure will get ironed out. Williams Bros Profanity Stout and Black Isle Porter hit the spot on my brief visit and I’ll definitely be back for a further visit once the kitchen is up and running; which promises Pizza and a Charcoal Grill.

Holborn Whippet, Sicilian Avenue, WC1A 2QH

Holborn Whippet, Sicilian Avenue, WC1A 2QH

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

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.

Q&A: Kelly Ryan