Brewed on the premises – William IV, Leyton, London

The William IV is about 15 minutes walk from our house. We used to go there quite a lot. It was friendly and pioneered poncy beer like Leffe and Hoegaarden before they became ubiquitous. It also had its own beer, which was tasty and cheap. We stopped going around five years ago when (a) the microbrewery stopped producing (b) we were made to feel distinctly unwelcome by some aggressive locals and an indifferent barman. Its fall from grace corresponded with the opening of the Nags Head [sic], and we never went back.

When we were tipped off that the place had started brewing again, we should have been over there like a shot. The fact that it’s taken us a couple of months is testament to the fact that a bad customer experience can really put you off a pub.

Still, we finally got round to it this evening, and we’re dead pleased we did. There are three local brews on tap: an IPA, a mild and a ‘red’. The standout brew is the red. It’s intensely fruity and bitter — think burnt redcurrant crumble, in a good way. We could drink pints and pints of the stuff, and almost did (but got all grown-up and responsible and started thinking about work tomorrow). The mild has nice sour notes, and at 3.6% is a good session beer. The IPA is definitely on the hoppy side, but at 4% is also quite sessionable.

Can we wholeheartedley recommend it? Well, it’s a great Victorian interior, with some fabulous Truman, Taylor Walker and Ind Coope memorabilia inside. There’s a fire, and a cat. But they’d do themselves more favours if the barman was a bit friendlier, and the clientele is currently mostly single men watching the football or reading the paper. It’s definitely a typical white working class East London boozer, albeit one that happens to brew its own beer.

We’ll be going back, though, and bringing our friends.

The William IV is at 916, HIgh Road Leyton, E10 6AE (Beer in the Evening review here).  It’s a 15-20 minute walk from both Walthamstow Central (Victoria line) and Leyton (Central Line) tube stations, and there are frequent buses from both. If you’re going to the Pig’s Ear beer festival in December, it’s about a ten minute bus ride on the 48 and probably worth the trip.

License Brewed to Kill

Olga Kurylenko in a Bond tie-in Heineken ad
Olga Kurylenko in a Bond tie-in Heineken ad

Most critics have picked up on one major irritation in the latest films in the resurgent James Bond franchise: product placement.

This time round, with Quantum of Solace, we’re expected to believe that Heineken is James Bond’s beer of choice.

Heineken is a bog-standard, bland lager, readily available in every corner of the Earth, usually brewed under license. Is anyone convinced it’s the right beer for James Bond?

It makes about as much sense as his current penchant for Ford hatchbacks.

Edwin Taylor's Extra Stout

We’ve fallen out of love with the Pembury a little recently. It’s partly that familiarity breeds contempt, and partly that we’ve got bored with Milton’s so-so beer.

But last night, in a strange reversal of the usual situation, we ended up there because someone else had chosen the venue, and our faith in the pub was somewhat rekindled.

The cause of the turnaround? Between us, we managed several pints of Banks and Taylor’s superb Edwin Taylor’s Extra Stout. It was in fantastic condition, and suitably autumnal. We weren’t taking notes, so there’s not much we can say other than that it was black and tasted it.

Our pregnant and therefore nearly teetotal friend sat staring mournfully at our booze over the top of her J20 most of the night. When we weren’t looking, she would grab one of our pints, nurse it, and breathe in the aroma and say exultantly: “It smells soooooooo good!”

Edwin Taylor also stood up well to the bottle of Hercule Stout that we enjoyed near the end of the evening — no mean feat at half the strength (4.5% up against 9).

In other news, disaster was narrowly averted when we pointed out why Stella wouldn’t be a good name for a girl…

Dry hopping experiments

Our empty polypins, looking almost as rough as we did after the party
Our empty polypins, looking almost as rough as we did after the party

We’ve been experimenting with serving our homebrew from polypins for a while now. After some initial confusion, we’ve nailed the process and can now turn out pretty convincing “cask conditioned” beer at our parties.

At this weekend’s bash, we were able to go one step further and offer two variations on the same beer — one straight, and one with extra hops in the cask.

The result was remarkable, with the beers scarcely resembling each other. It helped that we added a good few handfuls of unsubtle cascade hops, which always have a pretty intense effect on the aroma and flavour of a beer.

Do any commercial breweries flog almost the same beer under two names using a neat trick along these lines, we wonder?

Polypins are easy once you know to (a) leave them be, even when they’re swelling up in a disturbing fashion; (b) put them somewhere cold for a bit so the gas gets absorbed into the beer and (c) tilt them so you don’t have to tip them at the end to get the last of the beer out. Thanks to everyone who gave us advice on this in the past few months.