Archive for September, 2014

London Beer Factory Launch Party

Posted: September 21, 2014 in Uncategorized

Hi you groovy lot.

I’m sure you’ve heard me natter on about London Beer Factory a few times recently.  I did a beer tasting at the brewery in August where we blind tasted their Paxton Pale Ale against the Meantime Pale Ale.  The Paxton Pale was unanimously voted as the favourite, much to the surprise of those judging and the delight/relief of Ed and Sim the founders.

So this is just a quick note to say that their Opening Party is happening on 4th October and you are all invited! I can’t attend in person but it is a great place and there will be lots of fun things going on as well as the chance to check out one of London’s newest breweries.  Please kindly RSVP here: http://www.thelondonbeerfactory.com/rsvp/

Have a great time!

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Offered the opportunity to spend a week working in Poland, I naturally jumped at the chance to escape the monotony of office life in London. My prior research into the city consisted of Googling the location of the hotel and so I arrived armed with the misconception that Krakow is a bit grim and is mostly is a city favoured by large groups of English men out to get as lathered as possible on stag do’s. I vaguely hoped to track down a few tasty beers.
Luckily for me, I found that Krakow is currently experiencing a revolution in the Polish craft beer scene.  On the first night, according to a barman I got speaking to, I was drinking the first ever IPA brewed in Krakow.  I’m not sure how accurate this is or if the fact was somehow lost in translation but either way, I believe it’s a clear sign that new and exciting beer styles are now becoming more visible at the bar alongside the mass produced lager/pilsner styles which have which have traditionally been commonplace.
perfect pour

perfect pour

Krakow is a beautiful city and a fantastic place to discover some new beer. The Old Town is a easily navigated, surrounded by a city wall and centred around an impressive open Main Square.  The Main Square is the focus of the Old Town and is dominated by a huge Church, meeting hall/market hall and Clock Tower which act as an ideal compass point when you are wandering round the medieval streets of the walled city.
Like many other European cities, the square also acts as a central destination for cultural events and gatherings of tourists and is unsurprisingly flanked by hundreds of bars and restaurants.  Unlike other European cities you thankfully do not get hounded by waiters bullishly ushering you into their establishment.  There are four fantastic beer bars within the walled city (Multi Qlti, The Tap House, The House of Beer and Viva La Pinta) two just on the outskirts (Brewpub C.K. Browar and TEA Time) and a further two which I visited in the Jewish District (Omerta and Beer Gallery).  The Jewish district, favoured by the young of Krakow is only a short walk from the old town and here you will find a high density of eateries, drinking spots and some quirky beer bars.
The price also helps.  Beer tasting is extremely affordable pastime with benefit of the exchange rate.  A half pint of local micro brewed beer costs around 4-6 Zloty (80p-£1.20) with pints ranging from 9-12 Zloty (£1.80 – £2.40).  In one bar it was only 1 Zloty (20p) to ‘upgrade’ from a half to a pint! No Brainer.
I asked around and did a little research at my desk to I seek out the best beer bars in the city and I was delighted by what I found.  The RateBeer website was helpful, as was talking to locals since it seems some of these bars have literally only been open a month or two.  The language barrier and the fact the bar websites are pretty much non-existent does makes beer-discovery a bit of a tricky task.
Here is my list of bars in order of favourite:
Multi Qlti
Opened in August 2014
The newest and coolest. It’s a trendy urban hangout so naturally I got the vibe immediately.  Up a set of stairs onto the first floor which is unlike other bars in Krakow which which are predominantly ground or basement. The huge floor to ceiling windows are flown open so you can people watch and snigger at the people below who are clearly not as cool as you. Decked out with comfy retro chairs, an orange and grey colour scheme and 20 taps serving local beers, Lindemann’s Kriek and Brewdog and groovy chill out music, you can hang out there all evening.
The beer list at Multi Qlti

The beer list at Multi Qlti

Omertà
Very good choice. 2 bars serving local and foreign pints. Good vibe and clearly a place where people come if they enjoy good beer. Nothing stuck or hung up about this place, just rock up and discover some great beer. Served Arbor and Brewdog from UK).
Viva la pinta
Tap room for the Pinta brewery. The space is cave like, with arched curving white washed walls. Decent tap selection, spacious outdoor area, nice staff who speak good English and are happy to recommend beer and give (multiple) samples. Really laid back and friendly place. Arbor Ales from England on tap and Brewdog bottles (noticing a theme developing here?).
The House of Beer
This literally does feel like a house or your front room, with sofas, carpets and  wooden coffee tables scattered about and The Beatles playing on repeat. Lovely friendly staff as well as an impressive ‘wall of beer’ proudly displaying their current bottle list.
C.K. Browar
This is a Brewpub with beautiful copper Kettles built into the back of the bar and lots of fermenters lined up neatly just visible behind the bar. Basic but tasty food. Great atmosphere once it gets going (world Volleyball champs on TV), nice range and good quality beer served in sample sizes or up to 5000ml tubes. Classic fun, great for groups and bit of novelty with the beer tubes towering over the tables.
scarily tall

scarily tall

disceptively small

disceptively small

The Tap House
Also opened in August 2014
Uber cool, minimal, Scandinavian and hipster. White washed walls with clear, wooden tables. It reminds me of a Mikkeller bar in Copenhagen. Couldn’t stay for long to taste all the beer but it has about 15 I think from memory. This probably deserves more of a mention and should potentially rank higher but I just didn’t have the opportunity to give this one more of a chance.
Beer Gallery
Bit of a strange one, dark and gothic feel on the inside, we were the only people there on a Thursday evening. Was recommended an 8% Sahti, a style I’ve not encountered before which was a collaboration between local brewery Pinta and Pracawonia Piwa.
Tea Time.
By the time we arrived at Tea Time we had already been to numerous establishments, reviewing my notes on this place, they seemed very harsh! I’ll say It’s a nice little spot with communal style tables and exposed brickwork. It’s got a great atmosphere to drink in but I was a little disappointed by the beer which they brew on site.
Look out for beers from:
Brouwar Lwowek Slaski (Jankes American Pale ale is incredible)
Brouwar Amber (tasted their Bock which was superb)
Pinta (the most available local brewery, Imperium Atakuje [imperial IPA] was brilliant)
Pracawonia Piwa (their collaboration with the above brewery called Happy Crack was the first Sahti style I’ve tasted)
Mango, pine nose with gorgeous sweet mouth with pleasant hint of hops bitterness.  Sharp carbonation balances the sweetness and ends clean.

Mango, pine nose with gorgeous sweet mouth with pleasant hint of hops bitterness. Sharp carbonation balances the sweetness and ends clean.

What, I hear you ask, is the best drink pairing for Mexican food? Surely the categorical answer is beer!

 

Mexican food is all about comfort, satisfying big flavours, rich melt-in-your-mouth slow cooked meats, spices that blow your skirt up, varieties of textures from crispy tacos to sloppy guacamole and getting messy!  Meat juice running down your chin, messy.  I wouldn’t fancy a glass of pinot blush with my tacos.

 

The great thing about beer with food is the variety of flavours, colours, textures and aromas that can complement as well as stand up to seriously flavoursome food.  Dark, caramel flavours with spice or meaty dishes. Light, delicate beers to make the food sing and a bubbly texture to cleanse your palate ready for the next bite.

 

On 15/16/17th September I’m partnering with YaDa Chef for a 3 day residency where we are presenting a delicious 10 course Mexican tapas menu paired with 4 superb beers chosen by myself (naturally).  There are only 30 tickets for each night so I really hope you can join us. Tickets £40 (including drinks) here.

 

Joseph from YaDa chef is offering some amazing discounts such as

  • Buy 4 tickets get one completely FREE
  • Buy 10 tickets and he will donate 50% of the ticket price to a charity of your choice

 

Have a look at YaDa Chef online and see some of the super yachts he has worked on, catering for the rich and famous in glamorous locations all over the world! http://www.yadachef.com/

 

 

Menu below

  • Cold Avocado Soup (gluten free)
  • Fresh Made Mexican Flour Tortilla (slightly thicker than
  • store bought)
  • Mexican Fish Tacos with Cabbage/Jicama Slaw
  • Pork Carnitas with Mole Sauce (gluten free)
  • Chicken Mole (gluten free)
  • Braised Short Ribs with Posole Pasilla (gluten free)
  • Mexican Sliders
  • Empanadas
  • Tamales
  • Concha/Mexican Wedding Cakes (a sweet bread sort of thing)

Tickets available here: http://www.edibleexperiences.com/p/164502077/YaDa-Chef

yada

August went down in a jiffy.  Like a swift, gloriously satisfying cold beer after an uncomfortably sweaty walk on a summer day.

 

Like many of my fellow beer bloggers and enthusiasts, it was a hectic month with tastings, trips, tours and festivals to fit in and similarly, we all seemed determined to make the most of all the incredible opportunities to taste some great beer and mingle with like-minded individuals… or just drink as much beer as possible!

 

What I managed to squeeze into just over 2 hectic weeks:

  • Pete Brown Music and Beer Pairing
  • James Watt (Founder of Brewdog) beer tasting
  • Great British Beer Festival
  • London Beer Factory Tour and Tasting – by Indie Ales
  • Beer and Brewery Tour of East London – given by Indie Ales
  • Dress Down Thursday – Bar Takeover of Paper Dress Vintage by Indie Ales

 

I’m still not convinced of the decision to launch London Beer City in the same week as the Great British Beer Festival AND the London Craft Beer Festival but I can say it was a great occasion and a privilege to be involved.  The variety of events on offer all around London was a fantastic tribute to our beer scene which now must be considered one of the most exciting and influential in Europe.  Events were staged for all levels of interests and experience was from educational tasting sessions, to historical walking tours to the more traditional real ale events and the more hip and progressive.

 

I do love the GBBF.  I’m a big fan of real ale and love trying all the beers from smaller breweries around the country.  I spoke to a few people who were disappointed by the quality of some of the beer this year but this wasn’t obvious to me.  What really annoyed me was even by 7pm on the first day, many of the award winning or recognisable beers had gone, including 90% of all the cask ale over from the US.  I’m not sure if they were holding some back for visitors later in the week?

 

The busy schedule meant I had to bypass something this August, which was unfortunately the London Craft Beer Festival.  The feedback seems to have been hugely positive with the organisers stepping up the food offer, demonstrating beer’s awesome capacity to be paired with gourmet food and by all accounts the brewers really upped their game as well with fruit infused and barrel aged beers. These demonstrate the real leaps and bounds the beer scene is undertaking with experimentation and collaboration… pushing the boundaries of what we perceive as ‘beer’.  Gutted to miss these!

 

I read an interesting article from a food blog (http://www.greatbritishchefs.com/community/london-craft-beer-fest-review) highlighting the rightful appreciation of beer as an alternative to wine which I completely agree with:

‘People are almost looking and talking about beer like they do wine, looking at colour, smell, texture, everything. And the fact is, they want to know the story behind the beer. With the ever-increasing access to information, people want to know what goes into their food and drink, they are aware of what goes into the average can of lager and they are not prepared to put that in their bodies anymore.’

 

All these events can only help heighten the appreciation of your average beer drinker which means growing the market to encourage the great breweries we have in this country to brew even more outstanding beer.  All this fun and games is also bringing great beer to more people.  That why I initially started Indie Ales; to inspire and help people discover fantastic beer, so it’s great to see.  To steal a line from Chris Hall ‘ If you think London’s ‘beer ego’ is already so big it can be seen from space, then I’ve got bad news for you. We’re only just getting started’.

 

Charlie

 

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