Beery Highlights of a Week in London

Brew by Numbers Cucumber and Juniper Saison.

Spending more than a week in London, we set out to drink things that we rarely see in Cornwall. These were our highlights, in chronological order.

1. At the Lon­don and South East Craft Brew­ing Com­pe­ti­tion, where we took part in judg­ing some excel­lent home brew along­side more expe­ri­enced tasters, we were espe­cial­ly impressed by (a) the over­all win­ning beer, Josh ‘Evening Brews’ Smith’s black IPA (a super-clean com­mer­cial-qual­i­ty prod­uct) and (b) Lee Immin­s’s strong scotch ale.

2. At Brew­Dog Cam­den on Sun­day 22 June, we were pleased to final­ly try a beer served through a ‘Hopina­tor’ (Ran­dall). We think that what the IPA gained from being fil­tered through Cas­cade hops at the point of ser­vice was a fresh raw veg­etable note (cel­ery, car­rots) – nicer than it sounds, per­haps. It tast­ed as if it was good for us, is what we’re say­ing. A gen­tly per­fumed Jas­mine IPA was also intrigu­ing enough to war­rant more than one round.

3. We took two pass­es at Brew By Num­bers Cucum­ber and Juniper Sai­son, the first at the Three Johns, Isling­ton, and the sec­ond just down the road at the local branch of the Craft Beer Co. It’s an odd beer, but we found it absolute­ly charm­ing – not a ‘stunt’ or ‘nov­el­ty’ beer, but a classy, refresh­ing brew with well-inte­grat­ed flavours.

4. Young’s Bit­ter. Yes, real­ly. We first enjoyed it a decade or so ago when it was already ‘not what it used to be’. Then, in recent years, with the move to Bed­ford, it seemed to have become brown­er, stick­i­er and duller, slow­ly mor­ph­ing into Courage Best. Hav­ing not tried it for some time, we were delight­ed to note that both beer and brand appear to have been spruced up. Paler than we ever recall it being, it was also tru­ly bit­ter, with a lemon-zesti­ness that left our mouths dry. It’s not one for hop­heads, but we’d cer­tain­ly be hap­py to have a ses­sion on it.

5. West Berk­shire Brew­ing Bruce’s Orig­i­nal Dog­bolter – the Kings Arms in Beth­nal Green not only host­ed our com­pact and bijou book launch ‘do’ last Fri­day night but also acquired a cask of this recre­ation of recent brew­ing his­to­ry. CarsmileSteve, who drank Dog­bolter back in the Firkin days, declared it con­vinc­ing. We, used to drink­ing Blue Anchor Spin­go, found it very enjoy­able, though very much a beer of its time (the 1980s) – brown and hearty, or, in Steve’s words, ‘twig­gy’.

2 thoughts on “Beery Highlights of a Week in London”

  1. Good notes and the descrip­tion of Young’s does recall the beer as I first tast­ed it in the 80’s. The spe­cial was brown­er but very good too though. I think the gen­e­sis of brown would be inter­est­ing to explore, and it may come down to crys­tal malt.

    Inter­est­ing term, twig­gy, I think it is get­ting at the Fug­gles hop (not the cit­ric Gold­ing) which has been the work­house of clas­sic Eng­lish bit­ter flavour. May it long reign.


  2. I judged some home­brew for the North­ern Craft Brew­ers at Saltaire Brew­ery back in may, and found it the most enjoy­able judg­ing expe­ri­ence I’ve had in a long time! The qual­i­ty of the beer was amaz­ing and, with the ‘twist’ on this com­pe­ti­tion being ‘Mys­tery ingre­di­ent’ , there was some real inven­tion. Despite the many, many flavoured Sai­son entries (to be expecte,d in today’s climes, I guess!), the win­ner was a spiced tripel-style beer, with porters and stouts also show­ing well – those old warhors­es of flavoured beer. So I share your sen­ti­ment!

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