Archive for October, 2013

Stuck at the bar,  quizzically scratching your forehead? So many decisions….pint or half, pale or dark, what ABV, malty or hoppy? Here’s my advice. 


Go local. Good pubs should stock a wide range of beer and the bar staff should be well informed about what the stock is and where it has journeyed from. Local beers have the advantage that they are most likely

1. Fresh – nobody wants stale beer

2. Undamaged goods – not emotionally but physically. The characteristics of some beer can change during poor transit 

3. Less likely to have been ‘lightstruck’ – sunlight can penetrate even brown bottles and make the beer go bad (skunky)


It is also great to sample a few indigenous brews from the vicinity because certain styles originate from particular areas due to things like water quality (Historically English IPA’s originate from Burton on Trent due to the suitability of the water for making this style of beer). You might just find your drinking the worlds best beer style or historic recipe unrepeatable elsewhere and unchanged for hundreds of years. That’s badass. 


There are thousands of micro breweries and small artisanal breweries around the world producing an unbelievable variety of beer beverage, often using interesting local ingredients. The scale of production is often limited to the brewpub or just a few carefully selected local establishments to peddle their wares. It is likely that the tap pump you see infront of you is not available where you live (yes, some beers don’t even make it to London). Big bragging rights for you for unearthing a great new tipple from [insert name of previously unheard of brewery]. 


The rise in popularity of real ale and craft beer and the growth in number of good breweries means that you are more and more likely to have a brewery on your doorstep. A good place to sniff out locally brewed beer is your local public house. Funnily enough. 


So next time, dont ooh-ahh at the bar and revert to homogenous lager. Please ask for the local! 




What I wrote earlier in the year after attending the Great British Beer Festival


So the Great British Beer Festival came to town last week. Exciting stuff! I had been before but this time I felt like I was approaching it with a little more tact and knowledge and it was all the more enjoyable for it.
Here follows a note for the uninitiated or those wanting to get the best experience from the day.
Find some friends interested in drinking beer. You should know one or two.
Do attend during the day if you can. I went this year after work and I felt a little rushed trying to get through the beers I wanted to enjoy and not chug down prior to last orders.
Locate a table or any flat surface  with chairs surrounding it. This may require imagination, flattery or bullying to acquire this but has obvious benefits.
Create a beer fund. Get your friends to pool cash together (£10 or…

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When frequenting a London drinking establishment this year or inadvertently getting drawn into conversation with a craft beer wanker, you might be confused as to what the deuce is craft beer?? Craft beers are here in London and are here to stay. This is a bloody good thing for your whole beer drinking experience.

Born in the USA 

The Craft Beer movement was born in the 80’s, conceived by our cousins in the States. Since the closure of most US breweries during prohibition in the 1920’s and early 1930’s the American beer market became plagued by the dominance of a few mammoth breweries peddling weak, tasteless, ‘light’ lager, marketed for refreshment over taste. The craft beer movement was pioneered by a few brave souls who began brewing traditional beer recipes on (often stemming from original British recipes) on a micro scale and chucked in extra natively grown hops and other tasty goodies.

Getting to the point

So although there is no overall definition of what really makes a beer ‘craft’ the guys at Brewers Association in the States have defined US craft breweries as:

Nice and small – Brewing less than 6 million barrels per year

Independent – Less than 25% of the craft brewery is owned by an alcoholic beverage industry member who is not themselves a craft brewer

Natural – 50% of its volume in either all malt beers or in beers which use adjuncts to enhance rather than lighten flavour.

Craft beer is also associated with:

Innovation – Craft brewers interpret historic styles with unique twists and develop new styles that have no precedent.

Proper ingredients – made with traditional ingredients like malted barley; interesting and non-traditional ingredients are often added for distinctiveness.

Community – Craft brewers tend to be very involved in their communities

Love their customers – Craft brewers have distinctive, individualistic approaches to connecting with their customers.

If you’re going to take one thing away, let’s just stick with well-made, interesting beer with great flavour, using quality ingredients especially no rice and corn!

Meanwhile in the UK….

The battle continued throughout the latter half of the 20th Century between traditional cask ales, full of flavour and complexity against the invasion of strong lagers from the continent, far detached from the flavoursome pale ales, IPA’s and Stouts which made Britain the home of the beer.

The cask ale never quite escaped its stuffy image reserved for the country pub drinker and continental lager was marketed effectively to the masses, promoting refreshment over enjoyment.

Until Now! 

Incredibly, in a city which used to supply most of the worlds’ beer the number of breweries had been reduced to merely TWO by 2006. The past few years have seen the beer landscape in the UK completely explode with craft breweries popping up all over London. The remarkable return of brewing to London is extraordinary with more than 40 independent brewers in existence at time of writing… And growing!

This is marvelous news for the already vibrant pub scene where we can now see pubs that specialise in craft beer (e.g. Craft Beer Co and The Draft House) with pumps being occupied by exciting and ludicrously tasty locally brewed beers. We are finally benefitting from our own brewing history as well as cashing in on the skills of our pioneering counterparts from America (American Pale Ales and seriously hoppy beer), Germany (try classic Bavarian Hefeweizen) and Belgium (literally hundreds of styles and flavours). The beers fermenting away in archways and industrial units across London are some of the tastiest beers around!

Don’t be surprised if discovering incredible craft beer turns you into one of those ‘craft beer wankers’.

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