Month of Mild – Ron nails it

Just a quick one to say that, if any­one has any con­fu­sion what­so­ev­er about what mild is or where it came from, Ron Pat­tin­son has post­ed a very clear sum­ma­ry which, con­tro­ver­sial­ly, he bases on his­tor­i­cal evi­dence…

That post should be what comes at the top of the list when you Google “mild”, so every­one please link to it to make that hap­pen!

The Duke of Cambridge organic pub

The Duke of Cambridge organic pub's trendy blue barThe Duke of Cam­bridge in Isling­ton is a restaurant/pub which prides itself on its eth­i­cal cre­den­tials. Nine­ty-five per cent of its fruit and veg comes from the UK; every­thing, from the oil in the can­dles to the wash­ing up liq­uid, is organ­ic; every­thing is Fair Trade.

The place itself is all stripped wood, black ceil­ings and pot plants, but also full of sun­light and fresh air. The staff were friend­ly (we got a ‘Hel­lo!’ on enter­ing), even if they did make us feel rather lumpy and unglam­orous. The clien­tele is solid­ly mid­dle class – so much so, in fact, that they’d passed beyond suits and into expen­sive­ly scruffy design­er casu­als.

Bailey’s Dad wouldn’t like it, let’s put it that way.

In line with their eth­i­cal mis­sion, the pub’s own­ers get most of their beer from brew­eries in the south east of Eng­land, name­ly St Peter’s and Pit­field. We’d nev­er seen Pit­field beers on tap, but were very impressed. These beers do not suf­fer at all from being organ­ic!

The Pit­field SB (the first organ­ic bit­ter in the UK, appar­ent­ly) tast­ed a lit­tle sweet on its own, but with fish and chips sud­den­ly gained a new dimen­sion – dri­er, crisper and with more appar­ent hop aro­ma.

We also worked our way through Pit­field East Kent Gold­ings (Sum­mer Light­ning-like), Eco-War­rior (sweet and cit­rusy); St Peter’s Organ­ic; and Pit­field lager (fruity, malty, very pleas­ant).

But the real rev­e­la­tion was a bot­tle of Pitfield’s N1 Wheat Beer. Corian­der seed, orange peel and hops gave it a pro­nounced Bel­gian flavour, but dark­er malt made sure this was no mere Hoe­gaar­den clone. Poper­ings Hom­mel­bier sprang to mind, in fact.

In short, a love­ly place to go if you fan­cy a treat (it’s not cheap) on a sum­mer evening… of if you’re a tick­er miss­ing a few of Pitfield’s beers from your col­lec­tion.

The Duke of Cam­bridge is at 30 St Peter’s Street, ten min­utes walk from Angel tube sta­tion. The pho­to above is from their web­site.

Fruit beers in the garden

We were going to return to our quest for a decent Baltic Porter, as we’ve got a few await­ing tast­ing. How­ev­er, it was such a love­ly day yes­ter­day that we decid­ed to drink fruit beers in the gar­den instead.

To give some con­text to our tast­ing notes; nei­ther of us are mas­sive fruit beer fans, and we cer­tain­ly both pre­fer our fruit beer to be iden­ti­fi­ably *beer* first and fore­most, not an alcopop. I real­ly can’t deal with over­ly sweet drinks of any form, but I do have a bit of a “sour tooth”, where­as Bai­ley doesn’t tend to go for sour flavours.

Timmerman’s Kriek, 4%
Looks quite arti­fi­cial, with deep red colour and pink head. There’s a def­i­nite hint of sour­ness in the aro­ma though, which is promis­ing. The taste – Bassett’s cher­ry drops. The after­taste con­tains a blast of pure sug­ar on the end of the tongue which I’m not so keen on, but over­all, it’s not as bad as I was expect­ing, i.e. not as sick­ly sweet as Fruli.

Boon Kriek 4%

We had high hopes for this one, as it seems to be gen­er­al­ly quite rat­ed and is as authen­tic as you like. How­ev­er, it was a lot like the Timmerman’s – over­ly sweet and not very com­plex at all. It was a bit more but­tery than Timmerman’s, and had even less sour­ness.

Mort Subite Kriek (orig­i­nal) 4.5%
This we liked a lot. It’s a much less lurid pink, and the flavour is a great bal­ance of sweet and sour, with a nice dry refresh­ing fin­ish. Def­i­nite­ly a lot more going on with this one than Timmerman’s or Boon. The dif­fer­ence is in the after­taste – where­as with the above two we got sug­ar, and not a lot else, here you get a crisp fruiti­ness that lingers on the palate.

Mean­time Rasp­ber­ry Grand Cru 6.5%
Bit of an odd one out in this ses­sion (rasp­ber­ry, not lam­bic, British) but it’s always been a favourite, not least because it’s beer first and rasp­ber­ry sec­ond, with a good bit­ter­ness that you don’t tend to get in fruit beers. That’s what we remem­bered, any­way (see a review from Decem­ber 2007 here). It always tastes slight­ly dif­fer­ent from batch to batch in the Union, their brew­ery tap, and we’ve not­ed that in the last few years it’s become less pink and less obvi­ous­ly rasp­ber­ry-flavoured.

How­ev­er, this incar­na­tion (and it is the stronger “grand cru” ver­sion) seems to have for­got­ten the rasp­ber­ries alto­geth­er. There’s a gener­ic fruity taste, a bit like a nice Koelsch, but unless some­one told you it was rasp­ber­ry, you wouldn’t know. The refresh­ing tart­ness makes it a pleas­ant drink, but I think would be a dis­ap­point­ment to peo­ple look­ing for a fruit beer, and at 6.5%, this is not one you want to quaff much of in the sun.

Dis­ap­point­ing – I know this can be bet­ter.

Can­til­lon Kriek 5%
We bought this when we vis­it­ed the brew­ery back in August 2007, so it’s been in stor­age for around nine months, in addi­tion to the time it’s already spent at the brew­ery.

You have to have the courage of your con­vic­tions when you drink this beer. If you gin­ger­ly sip it, all you get is SOUR, but if you take a big gulp and let it cov­er your tongue, there’s a pleas­ing explo­sion of apple, cher­ry, pink grape­fruit and straw­ber­ry, with red wine / sher­ry notes in the fin­ish.

I’d be lying if I said I want­ed to sip this all day long; even in the sun it’s hard work, although the cham­pagne body and bub­bles gives it a pleas­ing deca­dent feel.

All in all, Mort Subite was the sur­pris­ing win­ner for both of us.

For more tan­ta­lis­ing beer on grass action, check out Beer Nut’s post on wheat­beers. He’s got a big­ger gar­den than us though.

For more on fruit­beers, here’s a Ses­sion post we did back in August 2007 on the same top­ic, includ­ing notes on our own black­ber­ry beer.


End of the line pubs

Here’s a thought that occured to me as I was nego­ti­at­ing the night-bus net­work home last night.

There are lots of parts of Lon­don named after pubs, which helps lend the place a cer­tain exoti­cism, and per­haps under­lines the impor­tance of pubs in our cul­ture. Angel and Ele­phant & Cas­tle are a cou­ple of famous ones, but there are loads more, par­tic­u­lar­ly in the sub­urbs, where they act as land­marks / ter­mi­nus points for bus­es.

Some of these have long since been demol­ished, although that doesn’t nec­es­sar­i­ly stop them hav­ing a review on Beer in the Evening (eg the Crooked Bil­let in Waltham­stow, which despite being knocked down well over twen­ty years ago still achieves a 6.3 rat­ing).

Any­way, as I got boot­ed off the bus next to the Swan, in Tot­ten­ham, which has a cer­tain infamy, I whiled away the time try­ing to think of any of “land­mark” pubs which are both (a) still in exis­tance and (b) any good, i.e. that you might actu­al­ly choose to go to.

I’m still strug­gling.

Inci­den­tal­ly, is nam­ing areas after pubs just a British thing? Can’t say I’ve noticed it in oth­er coun­tries, but I am pret­ty unob­ser­vant.


Pic­ture of a Lon­don night bus cour­tesy of Alis­tair Rae on Flickr.