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News, Nuggets & Longreads 17 February 2018: Koduõlu, Tmavé Pivo, Buck’s Fizz

Here’s everything that grabbed us in the world of beer and pubs in the past week, from inclusion to IKEA.

Before we start, though, here’s a reminder that other links round-ups are available: Stan Hieronymus posts every Monday (latest) and Alan McLeod has nabbed Thursday. Do take a look if our list below leaves you hungry for more.

Illustration: "Odd One Out".

First up, for Gal-Dem magazine Alexandra Sewell (@wehavelalex) has written about her experience of the British beer scene as a black woman, and explored the possible reasons more black women might not be involved:

Alcohol was never a feature in our family household. My British-born Jamaican mum never kept lowly bottles of brandy hidden in the kitchen cupboards and we weren’t accustomed to anything more than a non-alcoholic “Buck’s Fizz” at Christmas time. As a small kid, Sundays were for church. As a bigger kid, I was too preoccupied with school. And as far as I was concerned, alcohol was something that was out of sight, and therefore entirely out of mind. I knew of it; I knew other people that liked it and drank it, but the only education I had about such a big part of the culture I was born into was from those borderline hilarious Channel 4 documentaries about people binge-drinking and puking up onto the street.

beer reviews pubs

Where's me pilsner to, my luvver?


It may seem odd to go all the way to Bristol and then make Zero Degrees our first stop, given we have a branch of the same brewpub in London. The shameful truth is, though, that we’ve never been to the one in Blackheath,  despite hearing great things about the beer from bloggers and friends.

On this occasion, the decision was made for us when we’d dragged ourselves up the charming, Dickensian Christmas Steps and spotted that the place was opposite, just as we started to feel peckish and thirsty.

Despite the late-90s trendy warehouse look and aspirational dance-jazz soundtrack, the first thing that struck us was how many families were in, contributing to a German brauhaus atmosphere. The staff were extremely friendly, too, although that seems to be true of Bristolians more generally. We got a smile on approaching the bar; a “be with you in a minute”; a bit of banter during service; and some apparent expertise when it came to the flavour and manufacture of the beer. Impressive stuff.

We started out with the pilsner and one of the specials, continental blonde. The pilsner was bang on, if mainstream — something like tankova Urquell.

The continental blonde was fascinating and delicious. Despite the colour, we think it was actually a clone of a Belgian pale ale, but much fresher tasting than any example of the real thing we’ve had. It was spicy with hints of banana — an absolute treat.

The wheat ale was Belgian style and utterly delicious. Again, the freshness and condition was outstanding. The dark lager was also of a superior quality, as good as the wonderful Bernard Dark, with a besutiful balance of treacle and bitterness. It might almost be as good as U Fleku.

The prices, as Jeff has noted of the London branch, were very competitive for such an apparently swanky place, with regulars at £2.60 specials at £2.90.

A minor quibble, though: does the name refer to the temperature of the bar? Brrrrrr….