beer reviews london real ale

At the end of the learning curve

Barrels outside Brodie's Beers brewery, from their website.

When we heard in 2008 that brewing had begun again in the small set up at the back of the William IV pub in Leyton, only a few minutes from our house in Walthamstow, we were very excited. We were only more excited to discover that Brodie’s planned to brew a wide range of beers, from traditional milds through to fruit-flavoured beers, via imperial stout. At that time, London breweries were few and far between, and this was right on our doorstep.

In those early months and years, however, we were painfully aware that these were brewers on a learning curve and others (see the comments on that article) agreed. When James and Lizzie Brodie kindly sent us a box of beers to review, of the ten or twelve provided, only a handful were really impressive. The others hinted at greatness but had too much of the plastic-bucket homebrew about them — too much yeastiness, muddy flavours and, er, variable conditioning. (Beery carpets. Joy.)

Well, it seems safe to suggest that, now, three years on, they have reached the end of that learning curve. We keep reading breathlessly admiring comments on their beers on Twitter from all kinds of discerning people, and the pint of their Citra (3.1%) we had at Cask in Pimlico last week was as good as any pale and hoppy beer we’ve had from any other brewery. Crisp, well-defined, clean flavours; sparkling carbonation; and all at barely any alcoholic strength at all. A real knockout.

If you’ve been wary of Brodie’s having been a disappointed early adopter, it’s time to give them another go, and see what all the fuss is about.

breweries london

Brodie's Beers, Leyton

The Sweet William Brewery in Leyton

A while back, we were excited to discover that the Sweet William brewery in Leyton/Walthamstow had reopened. Last night, in search of a dartboard for Bailey’s Mum and Dad, we ended up back at the William IV (the brewery tap) and took the opportunity to try a few more “Brodie’s Beers” while they chucked some arrers.

The range of beers on offer is expanding. In fact, it’s getting silly. We’re full of admiration for their adventurousness (Jamaican stout! 7.2% porter!) although, like a lot of smaller breweries operating without state-of-the-art, robotically controlled, artificially intelligent equipment from Munich, they have the odd quality control issue.

In the case of their bottled London Lager, poor quality control created a happy accident — a sour, cloudy beer that should have been called London Geuze. Delicious.

The bottled wheat beer (called simply Wit) was the star of the night, though. It poured with a huge ice-cream-like head that lasted, and lasted, and lasted. We didn’t pick up particularly on Cascade aromas, but they perhaps created some of the authentically continental fruity aromas? It’s a real beer geek’s product — one for everyone who’s ever said: “I love German wheat beer, but I wish it was a bit more bitter.” We got through quite a few.

The photo above is from Brodie’s Beers’ website, which is another thing they’ve done a good job putting together.