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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.

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beer reviews

West country beer tasting

We were down in Somerset for Bailey’s Dad’s birthday a couple of weekends ago and, as always, scheduled a visit to Open Bottles, the West Country’s premier eccentric beer shop.

The owner has had trouble getting some of the nationally known brewers to ship to Somerset but the result has been good for the shop. He’s now stocking many more local beers, including some real obscurities with homemade labels and “quirky” branding. Here are three we enjoyed:

Cheddar Ales Gorge Best

Gorge Best! Geddit? Geddit? Like “George Best”, the famous alcoholic, only it’s made in Cheddar with its famous gorge.

The branding on this one, dodgy puns aside, is pretty impressive, latching onto an essential truth: Gill Sans or variants thereof + screen printing = Britishness.

The beer itself is dark gold in colour, bottle-conditioned, and bitter as Hell. In a good way. Very cask-ale-like from the bottle and, all in all, an excellent beer.

Whistling Bridge, by Ringmore Craft Brewery (Devon)

It boast spices, cranberries and curacao orange on the charmingly amateurish label (sadly, no photo). We weren’t expecting this to work, but it did. It’s a pale colour, with a good head, and tasted fruity and refreshing. It also went surprisingly well with the roast dinner we were scoffing at the time. We’ll be looking out for more of their stuff.

Quantock Stout, by the Quantock Brewery

This was a very satisfying milky, creamy stout. Didn’t take any more notes on this one, but we liked it.

Open Bottles is at 131 Taunton Rd, Bridgwater TA6 6BD. It looks like any other offy from the outside, with megadeals on rubbish lager advertised in on bright paper, but it really is worth a detour if you’re in the area and want to sample stuff from local microbrews. You’ll have better luck there than in any of the pubs in town, sadly.

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beer reviews london pubs

Brewed on the premises – William IV, Leyton, London

The William IV is about 15 minutes walk from our house. We used to go there quite a lot. It was friendly and pioneered poncy beer like Leffe and Hoegaarden before they became ubiquitous. It also had its own beer, which was tasty and cheap. We stopped going around five years ago when (a) the microbrewery stopped producing (b) we were made to feel distinctly unwelcome by some aggressive locals and an indifferent barman. Its fall from grace corresponded with the opening of the Nags Head [sic], and we never went back.

When we were tipped off that the place had started brewing again, we should have been over there like a shot. The fact that it’s taken us a couple of months is testament to the fact that a bad customer experience can really put you off a pub.

Still, we finally got round to it this evening, and we’re dead pleased we did. There are three local brews on tap: an IPA, a mild and a ‘red’. The standout brew is the red. It’s intensely fruity and bitter — think burnt redcurrant crumble, in a good way. We could drink pints and pints of the stuff, and almost did (but got all grown-up and responsible and started thinking about work tomorrow). The mild has nice sour notes, and at 3.6% is a good session beer. The IPA is definitely on the hoppy side, but at 4% is also quite sessionable.

Can we wholeheartedley recommend it? Well, it’s a great Victorian interior, with some fabulous Truman, Taylor Walker and Ind Coope memorabilia inside. There’s a fire, and a cat. But they’d do themselves more favours if the barman was a bit friendlier, and the clientele is currently mostly single men watching the football or reading the paper. It’s definitely a typical white working class East London boozer, albeit one that happens to brew its own beer.

We’ll be going back, though, and bringing our friends.

The William IV is at 916, HIgh Road Leyton, E10 6AE (Beer in the Evening review here).  It’s a 15-20 minute walk from both Walthamstow Central (Victoria line) and Leyton (Central Line) tube stations, and there are frequent buses from both. If you’re going to the Pig’s Ear beer festival in December, it’s about a ten minute bus ride on the 48 and probably worth the trip.