Truman, Hanbury and Buxton in the East End

Tru­man, Han­bury and Bux­ton were one of the biggest brew­eries in Lon­don in the 19th and ear­ly 20th cen­turies. They moved to Bur­ton in the 1970s, merged with Wat­ney Mann not long after, and then closed alto­geth­er. East Lon­don – the area imme­di­ate­ly around the old Black Eagle Brew­ery – is par­tic­u­lar­ly rife with small reminders.

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More after the, er, “more” link…

Con­tin­ue read­ing “Tru­man, Han­bury and Bux­ton in the East End”

92 Squadron

Did you know there was a Bat­tle of Britain Loco­mo­tive Soci­ety? No, me nei­ther. Can you work out from the name of the organ­i­sa­tion what they actu­al­ly do? No, me nei­ther.

The impor­tant thing is that they inspired the Bunting­ford Brew­ery Com­pa­ny from Hert­ford­shire to cre­ate 92 Squadron, one of the most deli­cious beers I’ve had in ages. It looks like a brown bit­ter, but has a shed­load of flo­ral, cit­rusy Amer­i­can hops in it (Amar­il­lo and Colum­bus) so tastes a bit like an IPA. High­ly rec­om­mend­ed.

The pump clip for the beer adver­tis­es the soci­ety, with a the weblink above. Nice idea.

Beer label design

Randy Mosh­er, a home­brew­er and com­mer­cial design­er, argues in his excel­lent book Rad­i­cal Brew­ing that a bad­ly designed label says to peo­ple: “I don’t respect my beer, so why should you?”

I think this is an inter­est­ing point. There are cer­tain beers whose labels I like almost more than the beer. A bad label can lead to a good beer being ignored; and a great label can make you try a beer you’d prob­a­bly oth­er­wise not look at twice.

There are sev­er­al dif­fer­ent schools of label design. Here are just a few.

1. Pri­ma­ry colours, gilt – “mod­ern but tra­di­tion­al”
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Fuller’s and Cain’s. This real­ly works for me. Some­how sug­gests qual­i­ty. Fuller’s car­ry this style of gold and enam­el all the way through their brand. Cains – a great brew­ery, I’m begin­ning to think, from the two beers I’ve had – do it even bet­ter. All the bet­ter for being entire­ly ersatz!

2. Antique, brown paper – “found in a crate aboard a sunken Napoleon­ic frigate”

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Guin­ness, Bur­ton Bridge Brew­ery and… er… us.

Anoth­er good style, and a good option for the skint brew­ery with no innate design abil­i­ty. Imme­di­ate­ly looks cred­i­ble, restrained and, again, sug­gests tra­di­tion. The down­side is, your beer can look like a jar of pick­le from a church fayre.

3. Quaint­ly ama­teur­ish – “my son is a tal­ent­ed design­er”

My least favourite school of beer label design, but often con­ceal­ing great beer. I’m not going to name names here, but you know the kind of thing I mean: cheap illus­tra­tions, names ALL IN CAPS; prob­a­bly in Times New Roman; pos­si­bly even clip art. OK, I will name one: Sier­ra Neva­da. The beers are great. The bot­tles even look nice – they’re at the top end of “ama­teur­ish” – but they look a bit cheap. Like maybe they were coloured in with felt tip pens.

If you’re brew­ing your own beer and want some inspi­ra­tion for your own labels, check out the Brew Your Own label design con­test win­ners, and also Randy Mosh­er’s own site.

What food should I serve with this beer?

Over on the Brook­ston beer blog they bring news of a four course meal themed around var­i­ous Schnei­der Weiss prod­ucts.

I real­ly rate Schnei­der Aventi­nus (not that orig­i­nal, I know – I seem to recall Michael Jack­son say­ing that if he had to pick a favourite beer, it would prob­a­bly be that), and I like the idea that it has inspired a chef to con­coct a menu to go with it.

It’s a com­mon rant of ours that hard­ly any restau­rants con­sid­er hav­ing a beer menu to go with the food, but hav­ing a food menu to go with the beer? Get me to Chica­go…

Brew Wharf – interesting idea, poorly executed

Hav­ing bought a load of fan­tas­tic beers from Uto­beer (see pre­vi­ous post), we popped over the road to Brew Wharf to see what the fuss was about.

Brew Wharf opened in Octo­ber 2005 as part of the Vinop­o­lis empire at Lon­don Bridge. This is a brewpub/restaurant with a cou­ple of house brews and some of the Mean­time range on tap and around 30 bot­tled beers from around the world. Sounds good?

Many oth­ers don’t think so. It is pret­ty much uni­ver­sal­ly panned on Beerintheevening.com and fancyapint.com for bad ser­vice and expen­sive drinks. It does­n’t seem to be pop­u­lar for its food either; the mag­a­zine Time Out called it “a bad restau­rant with very good beer”.

I have very mixed feel­ings about it – there are some strong pros and cons.

Pros

Goose Island IPA

  1. One of the Wharf brews (I did­n’t get which one, but it was either Wharf Best or Cen­tu­ry Ale) was very fresh and tasty. A pub with its own beer is shock­ing­ly rare in Lon­don, so this in itself is a plus point.
  2. Some­one had obvi­ous­ly put a lot of thought into the bot­tled beer list; there was a good range of styles, and some absolute crack­ers on the list. As well as Mean­time Choco­late and Cof­fee, they stock the excel­lent Goose Island IPAfrom Chica­go
  3. They have a good range of glass­es to match the beers. This may sound like a minor point, but we believe that the look of a beer con­tributes enor­mous­ly to the over­all enjoy­ment, and we’re always impressed when peo­ple make the effort to serve the beer in the right glass.

Cons

  1. The ser­vice is pret­ty poor; a cou­ple sat down next to us and then left after 10 min­utes of try­ing to get served at the bar. One of the bar staff tried to take my drink away before I’d fin­ished.
  2. The prices! They were charg­ing £5.65 for a bot­tle of Schlenker­la Rauch­bier. Now this is a nice beer, and per­haps used to be rare, but it’s not that dif­fi­cult to get hold of these days. The Pem­bury Tav­ern in Hack­ney does it for half the price charged here.
  3. I could see what the review­ers meant when they said it was soul­less. There was quite a nice atmos­phere on the ter­race but the pub itself would be pret­ty dread­ful with­out it.

Is this the way to get peo­ple into beer? Not sure. Despite the fact it was a brew­pub with a large beer list, I did­n’t get the impres­sion they were out to con­vert peo­ple. Most of the cus­tomers seemed to be drink­ing wine or Bud­var. Per­haps descrip­tions of the beers would help? This could poten­tial­ly be a good place to bring some­one you were try­ing to con­vert – but the Green­wich Union is much cosier and has a sim­i­lar (if not the same) range of bot­tled beers.

So would I go back? I can’t imag­ine hav­ing a cosy pint there, but it’s quite a good place on a week­end after­noon to pre­tend you’re on hol­i­day – pre­tend the prices are in Euros and that the ser­vice is just down to mis­un­der­stand­ing…

Boak