Drinking ALL the BEER: The Great British Beer Festival 2017

I know, I know, the GBBF happened several weeks ago in mid-August, but I’m only just getting the chance to write about it now. I’ve been rather busy with an animation project which you can read about here. But I made plenty of tasting notes to be able to recap the festival in all it’s glory here. Admittedly the notes became somewhat illegible and non-nonsensical towards the end….What? It’s a beer festival. I got over-excited.

But hey, we’ll figure it out. Let’s go.

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For those that don’t know the festival took place at Olympia, London, a f**k- off massive events space in Kensington. Now if you’ve ever been to Olympia before you’ll know it’s a very spacious, open, echo-y building. Now you know when you’re in a pub and everything starts to get a bit rowdy, someone drops a glass and a chorus of “wheeeey” immediately followed. Well that happened. A lot. You heard it begin from one end of the great hall and roll off the glass roof and through the crowds to the other side like booming thunder. It was beautiful and set the atmosphere to a T.

I’ve also got to give props so how well organised the festival was. Whenever a drink was dropped (not by my own hands, I’d never waste beer) someone appeared as if from nowhere, dropped some sort of green absorbent on it, swept it away and the party was good to continue. All the stalls were well spaced apart and well staffed, I never had to wait long in line for a beer.

The crowds were lively and friendly and it was great so see so many beer lovers coming together and nobody acting like a drunken buffoon. There were a few in costume, many running around dressed as Wally (as in Where’s Wally, Wally) I never figured out why and I’m not sure if I ever spotted the real Wally. ūüė¶

But coming to the festival on the Saturday, the final day of the festival, had it’s draw backs. I unfortunately missed out on a lot of the really interesting ones due to them selling out. Coconut rum stout (by Cerne Abbas) and Carribean Cocktail(by Gyle 59) are a few of the beers I’ll have to stick on the wish list, as they apparently didn’t last long at this festival.

Anyways, let’s have a quick run down of a few of the brews I did get to drink. I can’t include everything because there’s too many to write about and quite frankly, I was pissed by the end of it.

Colmers by Palmers bewing co – Naturally I just gravitated to one of the stalls closest to the entrace and grabbed a half of this to start. The tagline, “deliciously hoppy,” was a bit of a lie to be quite honest. I prefer my beer to back more of a punch when it comes with hops and this fell a little flat with it’s malty, only lightly hoppy flavour. That said, it certainly wasn’t bad, I’d drink it again.

Juicy by Tiny Rebel ¬†– I’ve actually had this beer before, in fact, when I got to the tiny Rebel cart I was a little disappointed (and secretly proud) to see that I’d actually tried all of them before. So ¬†I opted for a pint of Juicy, a gorgeous tropical Golden ale. I wrote about Clwb Tropicana as my first blog post here and this is basically the golden sibling of that. It’s got a smooth, sweet taste bursting with tropical fruits and minimal hops. Also worked as a good palette cleanser after all the hoppier things i’d previously drank. ūüėČ

Field Day by 5 Points  РAnother one I was previously a fan of, this is my favorite brew 5 points has EVER made. But this time I had it on cask instead of Keg. I must admit I preferred the kegged version, this beer just works ice cold, but the flavour was still all there. Zesty, hoppy and refreshing with citrus fruit undertones including lemon and grapefruit.

Squid Ink by XT¬†–¬†I really enjoyed this Black IPA bt XT. It was one of very few dark beers I tried that day and is probably up there in my favorites when it comes to black brews. I usually not the biggest fan of darker beers, which often remind me of coffee, (eerrugh.) ¬†but this one an nice earthy flavour with hints of bitter dark chocolate. Mildly hoppy but not over-powering, it went down very smoothly.

Ape Ale by Blue Monkey Brewery¬†– This beer was the absolute star of the show for me. I adored it and it’s probably my favorite cask ale I’ve ever tasted. Unfortunately this was the second drink I had on the day and everything else paled in comparison. It followed my usual formula for “beers-I-love” of hoppy and fruity and yellow in colour, but it was a unique combination of caramel flavors, dried fruit, citrus and herbal bitterness. It had a certain sweetness to it almost suggestive of melons and peaches, but a dry finish. It takes advantage of every taste receptor and I don’t think I’ve tried anything quite like it before. apeale

I think I’ll leave it there for today but you can see a few of the other things I tasted on my untapped.

TL;DR: Great festival, but go on one of the earlier days so you have your pick of the full selection. Ape ale is the Sh*t.

 

 

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My First Brewery Tour @ Camden Town :)

Finally I’ve popped my brewery tour cherry as a special Christmas treat (yes. I know it’s July, long story…) for The Perseverance staff. And where better place to start than the legendary…

Camden Town Brewery!

Founded in 2010, this once micro-brewery quickly became a London favourite. Our Tour Guide (Cheers Jamie!) gave us a little history lesson on the place, telling us how the founder, aussie-born Jasper Cuppaidge, was in London visiting friends when he missed his flight back to Oz in the mid 90s. Stranded and penniless, he took a job collecting glasses in a London boozer and worked his way up the business. In the mid 2000’s he took a gamble and bought a run-down, derelict pub in Hampstead, worked his magic and reopened it as his own.

It was in that cellar where Cuppaidge brew his first batch of beer, in honour of his Grandfather, trying to replicate one of his beers from Australia. (oh yeah, did I mention his pops ran an Aussie brewery from 1910 – 1960? Must run in the family) It was a hit with the customers and he soon began selling it to other pubs. He must’ve realised he’s pretty good at it, as he decided to pack in the pub management and take up full time brewing.

That’s when he rented the brewery’s current location; the railway arches under Kentish Town West station, where the first official Brew, Camden Hells Lager, was born.

7 years on it’s bigger than ever, having sold¬†out for a wopping 85million to the biggest brewing dogs out there,¬†¬†Anheuser-Busch InBev. (In case you were wondering, they own Budweiser, Corona, Stella, Hoegaarden, Beck’s..to name a few.)

But they certainly haven’t forgotten where they came from..

 

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Stay Real Camden Brewery

The place is quaint, cool and friendly with relaxed vibes. We felt welcome instantly and were allowed a moment to dote over their nicely decorated bar area – complete with classic Donkey Kong arcade rig, and then we let the tour commence. I won’t bore you with the technicalities of the brewing process because A) I’ll probably get it wrong, and B) you can just google that yourself. Instead I’ll just share with you some snaps and tid bits from our tour.

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Great Barrels O’ Beer

Just to give us an idea of the sheer scale of the amount of beer that’s brewed here, our tour guide, Jaime, ¬†started us off with a little bit of maths. Pointing to the enormous silver barrels that towered over us he asked us, ‘if you were to drink 4 pints a day, how long would it take to get through one of these monsters?’

After umm-ing and Aaah-ing and pretending we had some sort of logical format for working this out we hazarded a few guesses. “4 years?,” “7 years?” “5?” “6?”

After sniggering at the answers we’d just pulled directly from our behinds he gave us their answer. 17 YEARS. 17 years, at 4 pints a day, to drink through one of these barrels. Now let’s do some actual maths. 4 pints a day for 17 years equals around 24820 pints. Now times that by the 7 barrels in the photo equals 172740 pints.

Challenge accepted. 

After that we were walked around to the room I call the¬†Hop-House, (not it’s technical name) where the magic begins. We got a try a little taste of the hops¬†(not so nice pre-beer form) and get a good oogle around at the machinery. At this point I was pretty much just a kid in a candy shop, running around snapping pics and inhaling the sweet smell of fresh booze, so no, I don’t remember what these giant silver tanky things did…. But it was probably important. I’ll just leave you with this.

 

After that we got to return to the bar for some tasting. Admittedly I’d already tasted most of their permanent range, so most of this part was really just a recap for me. But certainly needed. It’d been a while since I’d had a sweet zesty glass of Camden Wit and on a beautiful summers day such as today it really hit the spot. Seriously, I’d forgotten how much I love this beer, if you’ve never tried it go out and get some, a wheat beer with a twist.

We also got to try the Unfiltered Camden Hells, which I didn’t know existed until this day. Coupled with a glass of regular Hells for direct comparison, the Unfiltered was only subtly different, but definitely a welcome larger to an ale advocate like me. It was a little dryer, a littler cloudier to look at and a more full bodied flavour over all. I certainly preferred it over the Hells, however like I said, the differences were subtle. It’s very much like having a pint of Hells.

And Finally, we got a taste of Inner City Green, a seasonal Summer larger. Now this was my kind of beer. It’s a safe session option at 3.9%, which I haven’t often seen in lagers, and the flavour was right up my street. Slightly hoppier than you’re usual lager, with elements of zesty fruit and herbal aromas. I really enjoyed it and will be keeping an eye out for it in my future pub endeavors. Seeing as it’s Summer and Summer means lager season for me, I’ll be looking out for the best craft lager, and this is certainly the first contender.

So we enjoyed our free pitchers of beer in the sun and the lovely people at Camden Brewery were even kind enough to share some of their staff meals with us. Can’t thank them enough, we had an amazing time and will definitely be returning to the bar for some casual drinks.

Bottom line: Camden Town Brewery is awesome. Get yourselves down there for a tour or just to enjoy a few drinks at the bar. Prices are reasonable, staff are friendly and the venue is beautiful.DSCF0656

Dessert Beers! :D

Who needs candy when you’ve got beer?

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Last week I received a rather sweet gift in the form of a bottle of Tiny Rebel’s Stay Puft porter and a tinny of Darkstar’s Creme Brulee. I do love me a weird¬†beer and¬†these two didn’t disappoint.

creme Brulee.pngLet’s start with the creme Brulee. Self described as “ADessert in a Can” and it sure¬†does what it says on the tin. The smell is gorgeous, dark and malty topped off with caramel, and vanilla. I didn’t find the taste as lovely as the smell but it was still pretty damn good. There was a slight sharpness to it that I wasn’t fond of,¬†which I felt didn’t compliment the sweetness, almost made it a little sickly. But all in all it went down pretty smoothly and I’d certainly drink it again.

It’s apparently a stout, which I didn’t even realise as I was drinking it,¬†for a dark beer the flavour was extremely light. At 5.9% it’s a little strong for me, but it’s not really the kind of thing you’d drink can after can of so that’s okay. Over all I’d give it a 7/10.

On to my favorite of the two, Tiny Rebel’s Stay Puft. Can I start by giving a nod to the bottle art, Tiny Rebel always¬†smash it with their branding. If I hadn’t been drinking it on a park bench (I know, I’m classy) I’d have kept the bottle.tr_kegclip_staypuft-01

Now I’m not really a Porter kinda gal. I hate coffee and most of ’em taste like Coffee so it’s rare that I find one I’m able to finish. But this is not only my favorite Porter I’ve ever had but also up there in my top 5 beers I’ve ever had. This Marshmallow porter tastes…well, like marshmallows. I love Marshmallows and have been missing them since turning vegetarian last spring but this brew is suitable for vegans, giving me a new way to get my marshmallow fix!¬†There’s also a strong presence¬†of dark chocolate in the flavour with a hint of bitter so it avoids being as sickly as it could’ve been. I adored this so much I’m giving it a solid 10.

Finally! Beers I can drink with Dessert!

 

Brewdog’s Best: Elvis Juice.

I like Brewdog.

Who doesn’t? They’re one of the most well known craft breweries in the U.K. (Do they even count as craft given how big they are?) But I’ve never had anything from them that’s blown me away. Don’t get me wrong, everything I have tried has been more than decent, and I drink Punk IPA quite often (partly ¬†because there’s not much choice in my local tesco) but I’d rarely choose a Brewdog brew when out in a pub. (well…unless that’s the only craft option, which happens quite often come to think of it.)

But I’ve stumbled upon an absolute Gem in theform of Brewdog’s Elvis Juice.elvisjuiceI spent last week away in the country side with the significant other, and we stocked up on beers for the occasion. There wasn’t an amazing amount of choice in the Glastonbury Morrison’s, but I grabbed whatever craftys I could, including a handful of Glastonbury home-brews which I’ll write about later, but the Elvis Juice certainly left a lasting impression.

Let me start by saying it’s suitable for vegans (I’m not vegan but that info seems important.) This Grapefruit infused IPA is stronger than what I’d usually go for at 6.5% and I was a little nervous about trying it, expecting the flavour to be too heavy for me. But I was oh-so pleasantly surprised.¬†It has a sweet, malty body with an intense hit of American hops all undercut with a zesty grapefruit sour. The flavour is complex but not overly so. I loved that the citrus flavours from the grapefuit were just subtle enough to avoid this beer feeling like a sour style. It went down so smoothly I wish I’d bought more than one bottle. Will definitely be going straight for this should I ever see it on draught.

“An American IPA with a bitter edge that will push your citrus tolerance to the brink and back; Elvis Juice is loaded with tart pithy grapefruit peel. This IPA has a caramel malt base, supporting a full frontal citrus overload – grapefruit peel piled on top of intense us aroma hops. Waves of crashing pine, orange and grapefruit round out this citrus infused IPA.” – Brewdog

This or That: Orbit White Label #2 Vs Project Babylon Pale Ale.

Evening Beer Bellies. Due to general craziness at work and in life I haven’t been able to give this blog half as much attention as I would like to. I promise I haven’t forgotten about it.¬†
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So a friend and I have a pretty aggressive competition going on Untapped, which brought to life this little unofficial ritual;¬†after we finish our shifts, we run to the Craft Beer co High Holborn to grab¬†two halves of something new just before they ding their last bell. Only the other night did I realise this is the perfect opportunity for a regular blog feature! Instead of oh-so-selfishly enjoying my beers and then heading off to Soho square with a few take-aways, I’ll briefly review my two halves, pit them against eachother and pick a winner. so, here’s to the first:

This or That?

Todays contenders:

Orbit: White Lable #2:¬†Citra Kellerbier(4.9%) VS Gun Brewery: Project Babylon Pale Ale (4.9%)gunbreweryvsprbitI’ll be honest, I wasn’t raving about either of them. Both were pleasant enough but neither would I buy again.

Let’s start with the Orbit brew: It pours a hazy dark golden colour, with a citrusy, slightly herby aroma. The taste is similar to the smell, but I felt it smelled nicer than it tasted. There’s alot going on here, citrus¬†fruits, wheat, bitters, bread and a light fizz. It’s quite dry on the palate which I do like but all in all I found it didn’t go down smoothly.

On to the Gun: pale golden/yellow colour, a lemony, slightly grainy aroma. Also quite dry on the tongue, the taste is crisp, with citric hops and hints of malt, also a light fizz. I found it to be quite refreshing but nothing worth blogging shouting about.

I think it’s pretty clear from my comments that the winner for me was the Project Babylon pale ale. Whilst I won’t be rushing out to buy it again, it was a tasty enjoyable brew, and went down much smoother than the Orbit.

Let me know if you agree!

 

 

Cursory introductory post.

Hello fellow beer bellies!

Again, apologies for the lack of pictures, I’ll update this post with snaps as soon as I have some. lack of phone camera is really slowing me down as I often forget to take my camera out with me.

Here is my typical but necessary let-me-introduce-myself post. I’ll tell you a little about myself, why I’m doing this blog, then a quick a rundown of a few of my favorite pubs and beers, some craft, some..”normal”.(Is there an opposite of craft?)

So… about me.

By day, I’m a pub chef at a nice little joint in Bloomsbury, Central London. When I’m not running around the kitchen swearing my head off and throwing ladles at colleagues,¬†I am working on animations, illustrations and other digital media, in the hopes of one day making a creative career for myself. Sometimes the pressure of creative work takes it’s toll, and that’s partly why I’ve started this blog. Because what do I do when I’m not working?

I drink. ūüėČ

I’m a self proclaimed beer belly. I love the stuff. Always have. I still remember my year 6 camping trip, when I snuck a six-pack of non-alcoholic Becks into my luggage, thinking I was the absolute shit. Since then I’ve left the Becks Blue behind¬†in favour of more crafty options.

I have my preferences; fruity, american-style keg pale ales are probably my favourite and I prefer weaker ales, at around 3.8% – 4.5%, as I like to enjoy a good session. But I have a place in my heart for all styles of beer and lately have been trying to taste more things outside of my comfort zone.

A few of my favourites…

I will be writing more in-depth reviews for a few of these but here’s few favourite beers and a few favourite pubs of mine, in no particular order.

Beers

Camden Pale Ale:¬†(4%) Camden Town Brewery (Camden) This is pretty much a staple drink for me. Reasonably priced(¬£4.50 – ¬£4.90 in central London) and widely available in¬†most places. Slightly citrusy, fruity hops with a sharp bitter after taste. (shout out to Camden Wit, which didn’t make this list but is a gorgeous wheat beer by the same brewers)

Neck Oil: (4%) This session IPA from Beaver Town Brewery (Tottenham) is a firm favourite of mine.¬†delicious both canned and keg, a smooth, cirtrusy¬†flavour with a hoppy finish. Price varies from around ¬£4.40- ¬£5.90 a pint. Cans are around ¬£2.99 in most shops. And I’ve got to give credit to¬†the awesome artwork on all Beavertown cans.

Wu Gang Chops the Tree: (3.8%) By Pressure Drop brewery (hackney), this is one of my favourite German style wheat beers.¬†A herby aroma with a sweet but not sickly flavour. It’s light on the taste buds and goes down like water. They have it in a lot of weatherspoons which is great as I can get a craft option for cheap. (¬£4) In more central locations it’s around the ¬£5 mark.

Pubs

The Chequers: (145 High St, London E17 7BX) I don’t actually live in Walthamstow anymore but I still consider this to be my local. Dubbed by Pokemon Go(It’s a Pokestop!) as the “hipsters with kids pub,” it certainly is a¬†live example of the gentrification of Walthamstow. But hipsters aside, it is a great pub, plenty of space, ¬†3 rooms, an open fire and(most importantly to me, being a smoker) a large heated beer garden dotted with fairy lights and bric-a-brac furniture. they have a huge selection of real ales, just a few craft beer options on keg and a few more in the fridges, as well as your standard beers for the not-so-crafty beer lover. DJ sets some nights and good music always. Oh and the food is¬†lovely for pub grub.

The Faltering Fullback:¬†(19 Perth Rd, London N4 3HB) Another regular watering hole of mine, this traditional irish pub is a real life Tardis.¬†From the outside, it looks like a small house with ivy climbing up the walls. you walk in to a large bar and what looks like not much space to sit…but wait… there’s a room around the right side of the bar…and another to the left…and what if we go straight through…Holy shit. Towards the back is a huge, dining hall style room packed with tables, a big telly and a pool table. But truly the best part of this pub is the beer garden. It’s the smokers utopia. wooden decking stretching up 4 levels, (maybe even 5??) with¬†some sections well covered from the rain. Heaters everywhere, ivy and plants thickly scattered about. Here you can find a big open space table for large groups as well as intimate little corners for those date nights. ¬†They only have one or 2 craft beer options on at a time and it’s never anything spectacular, but this pub is all about atmosphere.

The Perseverance: (63 Lamb’s Conduit St, London WC1N 3NB) Ok I’ll confess. I work here. I’m shamelessly self advertising. I was a bar tender for just under a year and now a chef. This pub might not look like much on the surface, the tables are wobbly, the chairs are falling apart, half the lights don’t work, but it really offers something special. The staff are the friendliest and most welcoming I’ve ever had the pleasure of working with. Seriously. I get annoyed when I go into other pubs and the bar tenders aren’t as lovely as us. You’ll always get a warm welcome here. 4 cask ales which change regularly, 3 ciders and 12 keg taps with craft and regular beers. Oh and the food is great…I make it after all.

 

So there you have it.

That’s me in a nut shell. upcoming on my blog expect to see in-depth reviews for beers and pubs, tasting tests, brewery visits and other beery thoughts.

Clwb Tropicana @ The Craft Beer Co

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I was planning to have a little introductory first post, so you can get to know me and my tastes, but last night I found a beer that had me weak at the knees and I just had to write about it.

During an unplanned visit to the Craft Beer Co, High Holborn, (A place I will write about later) I found my new favorite beer. I love me a fruity pale ale and Clwb Tropicana is as fruity as they get. The brew pours a gorgeous, cloudy, yellow colour, almost like orange juice, a look that I personally love. (Think Kernal pale ale or Beavertowns american pale)

The taste is smooth and hoppy with a huge burst of tropical fruit flavours like peach, pineapple and mango. This beer doesn’t feel strange like I find many peculiar/niche beers to be. It’s not like the chocolate larger you try for the novelty or the berry beer that’s nice but not drinkable by the pint. The flavours all work wonderfully together and whilst the taste is unusual, it’s not so far out of the box that you’d ‚Äúonly try a half.‚ÄĚ I could drink this all evening, every evening.

Bottom line, it’s like a party in my mouth and everyone’s puking rainbows and hula dancing.

It was surprisingly difficult to find anywhere selling it online.¬†A quick visit to the¬†Tiny Rebel brewery website tells me it was released February 2016. Could be that it’s a seasonal thing and I was lucky to have a taste this late in the year.¬†Please let me know if you know anywhere I can buy it!

  • Abv:5.5%
  • Style: Pale ale
  • appearance: Cloudy yellow, small white head.
  • Flavours: Peach, Passion fruit, Mango, slightly dry, hoppy finish.

Sidenote Sorry for the lack of pictures in this review. I didn’t take my camera out with me and my phone camera is broken. I’ll aim to have some snaps in future reviews.