German beer festival at Zeitgeist, London

I’m sure it doesn’t need plug­ging from us, but in case you’d (a) some­how missed it and (b) are in Lon­don in the next few days, there’s a rather excit­ing Ger­man beer fes­ti­val going on at Zeit­geist in Vaux­hall, with loads of cool obscure Fran­con­ian beers.

Stonch has the details.

Our review of Zeit­geist from Feb­ru­ary can be found here. We still love the place.

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.

More Bottled Beer in Pubs, Please

goose_island_again.jpg We’re lucky in that we can get to the Pem­bury Tav­ern from our house in 20 min­utes, and two of our near­est pubs serve real ales in good con­di­tion (includ­ing a reg­u­lar mild). But last night, that just wasn’t enough for me – I want­ed to go to the pub, but I also had a pow­er­ful crav­ing for a strong, hop­py IPA1. That’s one of the few styles the Pem­bury doesn’t stock. Nor does any pub in our area.

Which made me wish that all pubs had as a min­i­mum:

1. A small selec­tion of cask ale in good con­di­tion – as much as they can turn over at a rea­son­able rate, but no more – ide­al­ly includ­ing a stout oth­er than bloody Guin­ness.

2. A Ger­man or Czech lager on tap.

3. A Ger­man or Bel­gian wheat beer on tap2.

4. A rotat­ing selec­tion of bot­tled beer in every style not rep­re­sent­ed on the pumps.

It’s not rea­son­able to expect every pub to have ten dif­fer­ent ales on tap, but bot­tles are sure­ly the best way for land­lords to offer choice with­out bank­rupt­ing them­selves. Bot­tles last a long time; they don’t cost much to store; and they allow pubs to offer odd­i­ties which might only appeal to a small sec­tion of the mar­ket.

It would be nice if I could drink rauch­bier, strong IPA, impe­r­i­al stout, lam­bic and oth­er ‘acquired-taste’ beers with­out get­ting on a train or bus, when one of these uncon­trol­lable crav­ings over­takes me.

Yes, I guess I’m spoiled. I should just get off my arse, or drink what’s on offer. But I can dream, can’t I?



1 We’d been brew­ing a strong, hop­py IPA all day – I always want to drink what we’ve been brew­ing.

2 We were in a pub on New Year’s Eve that had Franziskan­er, Paulan­er, Schnei­der and Erdinger wheat beers on tap. Seri­ous­ly, one brand is enough!

Curry and beer

The British Guild of Beer Writ­ers reports on a recent “tast­ing event” at the Bom­bay Brasserie in Lon­don. Emi­nent beer experts got togeth­er for a cur­ry and tried to work out which beers went best with spicy foods. Their rec­om­men­da­tions are here.

Rupert Pon­son­by, co-founder of the Beer Acad­e­my com­ments:
What this tast­ing hope­ful­ly shows is the poten­tial for Britain’s 8,500 cur­ry restau­rants to look seri­ous­ly at devel­op­ing beer lists to inspire their cus­tomers and to match with their cui­sine. This is a fan­tas­tic com­mer­cial and mar­ket­ing oppor­tu­ni­ty for them. Top Miche­lin-starred restau­rants such as Le Gavroche, Le Manoir aux Qua­tre Saisons and Aubergine have already tak­en the lead in cre­at­ing inspired beer lists, and it will be won­der­ful to see top Indi­an restau­rants doing the same.

On a vis­it to the Cin­na­mon Club last year, I was appalled to find that the only beer they had avail­able was Cobra lager. Cobra’s OK – nicer than you’d expect, is what I mean, for a mass-pro­duced lager made in Bed­ford – but sure­ly not any­where near as posh as the food, the wine or the wait­ers? Ms. Boak vis­it­ed one of Gary Rhodes’ restau­rants in the City of Lon­don last year, too, and was sim­i­lar­ly dis­ap­point­ed by the lack of any beer, nev­er mind a beer list.

Of course, my local cur­ry­house, which is very cheap and cheer­ful, is run by Sri Lankans, and they sell won­der­ful Lion Stout. It’s not a per­fect beer to drink with a cur­ry, but it’s a great one to have as a dessert. So, posh­er isn’t always bet­ter for beer lovers.