Restaurant with almost good beer


Once again, last week we found our­selves in a restau­rant which had made a bit of an effort with the beer, but not quite enough.

On the up side, there was one of each colour – Hoe­gaar­den (yel­low), Guin­ness (black) and Innis and Gunn (brown).

Sad­ly, the Guin­ness was the wid­getised draught bot­tle (fair­ly bland) and Innis and Gunn’s beer is nowhere near as good as their mar­ket­ing.

It wouldn’t take much to improve the beer offer here, with­out get­ting too geeky. Non-wid­gety Guin­ness Orig­i­nal isn’t bad; Hook Nor­ton bot­tled Dou­ble Stout or Fuller’s Lon­don Porter would be even bet­ter.

And why not replace Innis and Gunn with… well, almost any bot­tled ale?

We guess the own­ers are buy­ing what they can get at their cash-and-car­ry of choice, or through their wine sup­pli­er. We’d be inter­est­ed to hear from any­one who knows how this works, and what would need to change to improve things.

The restau­rant was the oth­er­wise very good Eat 17 in Waltham­stow, Lon­don.

Un-skunked bottled lager

The cap from a bottle of Augustiner lager beer

In a crap pub, a bot­tle of Bud­var is often the last refuge for the beer geek. Sad­ly, those lit­tle green bot­tles are almost always past their best – stale and flavour­less.

It was nice this week to be remind­ed that it doesn’t always have to be that way with bot­tled lager, though, when Augustin­er Lager­bier Hell (our beer of the week) trans­port­ed us to Bavaria with one sip.

There were ver­i­ta­ble hops, sweet malt and – hooray! – no off flavours.

It also helped that it was served in a nice­ly shaped and prop­er­ly brand­ed glass. That shouldn’t mat­ter, but it does.

Berliner Weisse in London


Cask, a nice­ly refur­bished pub in Pim­li­co, Lon­don, con­tin­ues to impress. This week, we noticed that their range of Ger­man bot­tled beers includes a Berlin­er weisse, which is a style we’ve been want­i­ng to get our hands on for a while.

We have had it before – on a trip to the city of its ori­gin in 2002, when we knew absolute­ly noth­ing about beer, and sub­mit­ted to hav­ing it spiked with bright green fruit syrup.

So, drink­ing this 3% abv wheat beer straight, we were very impressed. It more than makes up for a lack of alco­holic kick with plen­ty of sour­ness and grainy flavour, and is cer­tain­ly some­thing we’d like to have around at our next par­ty or bar­be­cue.

For bal­ance, we should say that Ron Pattinson’s not a fan of this brand – he con­sid­ers it “dis­gust­ing crap”.

Hot weather no good for beer geekery


These days, it nev­er seems to be the right time to tack­le a strong or quirky beer. Maybe it’s the weath­er – we’re crav­ing cold lager or, like Knut, wheat beer. Ron’s of the view that there’s noth­ing bet­ter in the heat than a chilled Guin­ness For­eign Export, but we’re not con­vinced.

So, the Brew Dogs, the Bel­gians and the bocks sit gath­er­ing dust in the ‘cel­lar’ while our recy­cling bin fills up with emp­ty bot­tles from beers like Svy­tu­rys (con­tains rice) and Franziskan­er (con­tains no real hops). We’re also slow­ly work­ing our way through our oh-so-small stash of home­brewed lager.

Maybe this week­end, we’ll tack­le our recent­ly acquired Lou Pepes. They ought to be refresh­ing and worth tak­ing notes on.

Hop extract but no hops?

We’ve noticed this week that a cou­ple of bot­tled Ger­man beers on sale in the UK – includ­ing Franziskan­er wheat beer – list only malt, yeast and hop extract in their ingre­di­ents lists.

It’s quite com­mon for even decent beers to con­tain hop extract as well as hops to add a bit of pep, but is it going too far to use noth­ing but?

It makes us feel a bit uneasy.