beer reviews london real ale

At the end of the learning curve

Barrels outside Brodie's Beers brewery, from their website.

When we heard in 2008 that brewing had begun again in the small set up at the back of the William IV pub in Leyton, only a few minutes from our house in Walthamstow, we were very excited. We were only more excited to discover that Brodie’s planned to brew a wide range of beers, from traditional milds through to fruit-flavoured beers, via imperial stout. At that time, London breweries were few and far between, and this was right on our doorstep.

In those early months and years, however, we were painfully aware that these were brewers on a learning curve and others (see the comments on that article) agreed. When James and Lizzie Brodie kindly sent us a box of beers to review, of the ten or twelve provided, only a handful were really impressive. The others hinted at greatness but had too much of the plastic-bucket homebrew about them — too much yeastiness, muddy flavours and, er, variable conditioning. (Beery carpets. Joy.)

Well, it seems safe to suggest that, now, three years on, they have reached the end of that learning curve. We keep reading breathlessly admiring comments on their beers on Twitter from all kinds of discerning people, and the pint of their Citra (3.1%) we had at Cask in Pimlico last week was as good as any pale and hoppy beer we’ve had from any other brewery. Crisp, well-defined, clean flavours; sparkling carbonation; and all at barely any alcoholic strength at all. A real knockout.

If you’ve been wary of Brodie’s having been a disappointed early adopter, it’s time to give them another go, and see what all the fuss is about.

13 replies on “At the end of the learning curve”

I’d totally agree with you on this – I had a couple of pints in their pub in soho 2 weekends ago, and the Amarilla and the LF pale were really good beers.


Try their peanut butter mild. 😀
Brodies, together with Redemption are leading the London microbrew renaissance. I hear rumours that expansion plans are in the works. I hope they don’t move too far from here. (When O’Hanlons decided to expand they moved to Devon!)

They’re probably going to win the Boggle Award this year. The beers have been excellent across all forms of dispense and packaging.

I don’t believe they were planning to move the brewery, just try and squeeze in some extra capacity. Jamie has some idea they’re the most productive brewery per square foot in London…

Alex — glad to hear it’s not just in the craft beer bars where they’re up to scratch.

Dan — can’t quite imagine peanut butter mild. Is there really peanut butter in it?

Sid — from the start, they had the attitude, the ideas and the brand — sounds like they’ve now got the beers to back it up. Great news. Makes us wish we still lived in Walthamstow.

I agree! The beers are getting better and better and the variety is really interesting, from low abv to really big and hoppy. You never quite know what you’ll get with a new beer and I like that!

I’ve only tried their Hackney Red – they still haven’t quite got a foothold up in Yorkshire – and was thoroughly, thoroughly impressed. I know what you mean about learning curves though – and I’ve had a similar experience recently. Over a beer with a friend (who works at well-loved Leeds beer retiailer) we got talking about Wensleydale Brewery, whose beers I hadn’t really enjoyed in the past. He asked when I had thier beer last, to which I responded ‘about three years ago – and I haven’t touched them since’. he laughed, and said ‘try them again, they’ve much, much improved’. And I did. And He was right. We sometimes forget, in an age of instant gratification, that brewing is a learning curve – I was searching for the right term and it’s spot on. We can be too harsh sometimes, us beer enthusiasts. I wonder how many other breweries I’m missing out on due to old prejudices.

I had my first taste of Brodies beers last Friday and for the most part they were excellent. I can’t remember ever having seen one before, but they were practically everywhere I went that day. I think that tells you all you need to know…

Leigh — what Brodie’s did well, I think, was to be quite transparent about the size of their operation and their inexperience. They earned goodwill and patience, at least from us.

Bob — glad to hear it. A couple of years back, it was just the William IV and a couple of other pubs in London, but they’ve certainly flown the nest now…

I think one of their beers recently won a Beer Of The Fest award at a northern beer jamboree. They’re moving some of their stuff outside London, and it’s getting noticed. Rightly…

I rank their Romanov Stout as one of the best imperial stouts out there, now the champagne effect has been sorted it is even better. Like you I am impressed by their honesty and their learning curve, their Bunny Basher festivals just show how far they have come and the sense of adventure they have in brewing.

Now, I’m wondering if they sell bottles of their Elizabethian ale, that was unbelievable!

If anything the Brodies are brewing too many different beers. There are one or two that I like very much, but even in the Old Coffee House or The Cross Keys, one rarely finds them for two weeks in a row.

MFB: I asked them to think about putting Elizabethan in nip bottles. B&B: You should ask Jamie & Lizzie to send you some of the bottled stuff. I think it’s ace…

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