Green beer – good gimmick?

Green beer by Stringberd at FlickrNo, I’m not talking about environmental issues for once. During the recent spell of hot weather, I ended up in Dogget’s Coat and Badge, by Blackfriars bridge. With around a fifteen minute wait to get to the bar, I told my friend to get me the first ale she could see.

She came back with Sign of Spring, by Stonehenge Ales. It was very green.

I’ve had green beers before, most notably Berliner Kindl-Weiss mit schuss, and something Polish with some additive in it. I expect green beers to taste of something other than beer, so it was quite confusing to my senses to realise that this beer was just a normal, rather pleasant, ale. Trouble is, I was so focused on it not tasting green that I can’t really remember what it did taste like.

The advantage of colouring your beer green is that it attracts attention – at least two people asked me what I was drinking, and a few more were staring at it. So perhaps it’s a shrewd marketing gimmick. On the other hand, as with silly names, any kind of gimmick with beer automatically makes me think the beer itself won’t be any good. For example, Andreea reviewed a green beer on her blog recently, where the only point of interest seemed to be its colour.

So is it a good gimmick? If I’d known the beer was green, I probably wouldn’t have ordered it. Then again, at least I remembered it.

Boak

Dogget’s Coat and Badge is right next to Blackfriars bridge and has fabulous river views. I’d always assumed it would be awful, for some reason, probably to do with the queues, but actually, it’s pretty decent. They had at least three real ales on (not your usual suspects either), and Fruli on tap. It’s made me decide to (re)visit all these riverside pubs that I’d written off in the past.

Stonehenge Ales seem like a very interesting lot. I’ve had their Danish Dynamite before and thought it was lovely, although I can’t remember many details about it. (Pale and hoppy?) Unfortunately, their website appears to be malfunctioning at the moment, so I haven’t included a link, but you can read Adrian Tierney-Jones on Stonehenge and other small West Country breweries here. UPDATE: they’ve fixed the site, which you can find here.

Photo courtesy of Stringberd at Flickr, under a Creative Commons license.

German beer festival at Zeitgeist

What better use of a day’s holiday than to pretend you’re in Germany? And how much easier when someone has gone and laid on a German beer festival for you, complete with many beers dispensed Franconian-style out of little wooden barrels.

This excellent little festival was brought to us by Zeitgeist, a great German pub in Vauxhall, Stonch’s beer blog, and Bier-Mania, who organise beer trips to Belgium, Germany and beyond.

This won’t be a detailed review, as we drank too much to remember many details — as did everyone else, by the sound of it … there are now no more festival beers left.

We remember a large range of beer from the Bolten-Brauerei from outside Duesseldorf, with their Alt being particularly nice. Hofmann Export Dunkel Lagerbier was a great example of the complexity that Franconian Dunkels can deliver. Our stand-out favourite was a Dunkel-Rauch by SternBrau-Scheubel which had a gorgeous Maerzen-like malt flavour and amber colour, with a hefty hoppiness and a subtle but complex smoke taste.

We thought the mix of people and the atmosphere was great – some tickers, some trendies, some locals, but everyone getting into it. It was the kind of place you could bring non-beer geeks to (we did) without worrying about whether they’d have a good time.

Also, the excellent range of Brotzeit really helped line the stomach – Obatzda is an acquired taste, but I love the stuff, and they make it well here.

This was easily one of my favourite festivals of all time. Do it again, chaps!

Boak

For another perspective, see Allyson’s write-up on her Impy Malting blog.

Ron Pattinson blogged about Hofmann here.

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.

Pub quizzes – good idea?

In theory, a pub quiz can help boost midweek trade.

Trouble is, they can rather take over the place, and if it’s not a quiz you’re interested in, it’s a lot more intrusive to your drinking and conversation than any music could ever be. It’s also difficult for quizmasters to strike the right balance between charismatic and annoying.

Then there are the pub quiz professionals. You know — the humourless groups of individuals who absolutely kill the mood, not so much by always winning, but by the fact they’re a group of people whose sole purpose for coming together is to win a pub quiz, not to enjoy each other’s company or the atmosphere of the pub.

Landlords and ladies — if you are going to have a pub quiz, make it short and sweet, and ideally limited to one area of the pub.

Boak