Tuesday, 12 June 2012

London Olympics - Craft Beer Guide

With the London Olympics fast approaching I thought it might be useful to put together a guide for those visiting the city during the games. It should also be a useful tool for those seeking out new beer experiences around our capital. Things have changed greatly in the last year or two so even those who consider themselves frequent visitors might find some new venues to visit. I will do this in the form of an alphabetical list and a short paragraph about each place. The list is not exhaustive so please let me know if there is anywhere good I have missed.

The Black Heart, Camden (2-3 Greenland Place NW1 0AP)
Tucked away on a quiet alleyway the Black Heart is a small bar packed with character. Definitely more on the alternative side of things but don't let this put you off. The staff and clientele are friendly and the pub carries a good selection of keg beer and an impressive bottle list with offerings from brewers such as Mikkeller, Odell and Goose Island. Under a minute from Camden Town Tube, five minutes from Camden Road Overground.

BrewDog Camden (113 Bayham Street NW1 0AG)
For the sake of transparency this is where I work. It is a fantastic bar carrying a great range from BrewDog as well as guest draught and a great bottle list of over 170 beers. Also serving some of the World's strongest beers at 32% (Tactical Nuclear Penguin) and 41% (Sink the Bismarck.) Food has been designed by Masterchef 2011 winner, Tim Anderson so the burgers and pizzas really good but very reasonably priced.  The staff are knowledgeable and friendly and always happy to give recommendations. The selection can be daunting, don't be scared to ask for some samples to get you started. Also the Black Heart is around a 30 second walk away so you can enjoy a few beers in each and then the Euston tap (see below) is one stop on the Northern Line. A must visit! Under a minute walk from Camden Town Tube, five minutes from Camden Road Overground.

The Bull, Highgate (13 North Hill N6 4AB)
A palatial brewpub in beautiful Highgate. While only a few stops north of King's Cross Highgate does not feel like London, more like a leafy village. A short walk from the Tube station is the Bull (not to be confused with the Bull and Last on the same street.) A large pub with its own microbrewery on site producing good flavourful beers and a wide selection of guest draught and bottles. Also an excellent kitchen with a strong American influence, expect pulled pork and amazing ribs.

The Carpenter's Arms, Bethnal Green (73 Cheshire Street E2 6EG)
If you're near the always busy Brick Lane and need a break from the chaos, this is the place. A deceptively large pub it has a good selection of Belgian beers as well as some American craft beers both on tap and in bottles. Still has the feel of a traditional pub and is wonderfully relaxed on a quiet side street a stones throw from the madness of Brick Lane. Close to Shoreditch High Street Overground and Bethnal Green Tube. 

Cask Pub and Kitchen, Pimlico (6 Charlwood Street SW1V 6EE)
Tucked away in Pimlico this was one of the first places in London to truly embrace craft beer. Five minutes walk from the tube is Cask. As the name suggests there is an emphasis on cask but also lots of keg beer and an abundance of bottled beer. Expect knowledgeable staff and interesting beers. Voted the world's fourth best beer bar on ratebeer. Close to Pimlico Tube station. 

The Craft Beer Co, Clerkenwell (82 Leather Lane EC1N 7TR)
The sister pub of Cask, Craft is an amazing place to visit. A huge selection of both Keg and Cask and an amazing bottle list. This pub sells a truly exceptional selection of beer with extremely knowledgeable and passionate staff make it a pleasure to spend time there. A must visit for any craft beer lover coming to London. Voted World's best beer bar on Ratebeer.The house lager is made by Mikkeller, that has to tell you something. Nearest Tube is Farringdon or Chancery Lane.

The Dean Swift, London Bridge (10 Gainsford Street Butler's Wharf SE1 2NE)
Just south of the river and a five minute walk from Tower Bridge this is a small gem of a pub. Serving a good selection of both keg and cask with The Kernel (see below) being described as their 'local' brewer expect plenty of bottles and kegs from them. Otherwise a good selection of Belgian and American bottled beers to keep you going. Food looks good both in terms of fresh made bar snacks and full meals. Closest Tube is London Bridge or Tower Hill.

The Dove - Broadway Market, Hackney (24-28 Broadway Market E8 4QJ)
Broadway Market is great on a Saturday. There is an incredible selection of food to choose from. I particularly recommend Ca Phe Vien for a Vietnamese espresso and some ribs. In the heart of the market is The Dove. A good selection of beer on tap including Belgian beer. The real treat is the Belgian bottle list, from Tripels to Geuezes to Saisons this is one of the best Belgian lists in London. The pub has a tonne of charm and a great atmosphere. With plenty of space outside this is a great place when it is sunny but also good when the weather turns as inside is wonderfully cosy. To get here either take an overground train from Liverpool Street to London Fields or use local buses. 

The Euston Tap, Euston (190 Euston Road NW1 2EF)
Situated directly behind Euston Station many times this has been a haven  for me when waiting for many a train back to Warrington. The building is one of the two remaining lodges at the back of the station engraved with the names of the towns to which departing trains went. A great bar with over 20 keg, 8 cask and over 150 bottles this is a truly excellent selection. Expect a great variety from both sides of the Atlantic. Often crowds spill onto the pavement as the bar itself is not that big but this is great in the summer. A relaxed atmosphere and a convenient location make it a great place to meet friends. 

The Jolly Butchers, Stoke Newington (204 Stoke Newington High Street N16 7HU)
Tucked away in Stoke Newington, this pub, and the area itself, are well worth a visit. A stand out in the Jolly Butchers are the staff. They are knowledgeable, friendly and engaging. The pub is large and open plan and the bar boasts a great selection of beer on keg, cask and in bottles. One of my favourites in London, they have a great Sunday lunch which is really one of the best you can get outside your mum's kitchen. Easiest way to get here is an overground train from Liverpool Street or local buses

The Kernel Brewery, Arch 11, Dockley Road Industrial Estate (SE16 3SF)
The new brewery that has been blowing people's minds for the last year or two. Spectacular beers in stylish, understated bottles packed with flavour. The brewery opens each Saturday from 9am-3pm where you can buy the freshest beer possible directly from them either on draft on in bottles. This is a perfect way to start a weekend and is walking distance from Borough Market and the wonders of Utobeer (see below) and the Rake (see below). Closest Tube is Bermondsey.

Kris Wines, Camden (394 York Way N7 9LW)
An unassuming off license slightly outside the centre of Camden with a surprising bottle selection. Kris often provides surprises from the US, the UK Germany, Belgium and around the world. A 15 minute walk from Camden Town Tube this is well worth a visit to pick up an awesome bottle or two at very reasonable prices.

Mason and Taylor E1, Shoreditch (51-55 Bethnal Green Rd E1 6LA)
Very close to Shoreditch High Street Overground is Mason and Taylor. A good beer bar with an interesting selection of beer on keg, cask and bottle. Don't be fooled by the look of a restaurant from the outside, this is very much a beer bar. Also very close to Brick Lane, well worth a visit for some great liquid refreshment.

The Rake, Borough Market, London Bridge (14 Winchester Walk SE1 9AG)
Owned by the same people as Utobeer (see below.) A bar situated on the outskirts of Borough Market. Very small with a larger beer garden. A selection worthy of the bottles shown in Utobeer and an ever changing, yet small, selection of beer on tap. A great atmosphere, great staff and a really fun place to be. Check out the autographs on the wall for all the awesome brewers who have been through this place. Nearest Tube is London Bridge, not Borough!

The Southampton Arms, Kentish Town (139 Highgate Road  NW5 1LE)
A pub still maintaining the style of an old North London boozer. Bare wood floors, communal tables, open fire, man occasionally playing the piano. There is a small yet excellent outdoor area to the back of this long, thin pub. The beer selection is ever changing and hosts a variety of London's best cask ales from producers such as Brodies, Redemption, Sambrooks and others further afield such as Summer Wine and Thornbridge. This pub also has, arguably, the best bar snacks in London. Home made pies, sausage rolls and picalilli are an amazing accompaniment to the excellent beer. The pub is a very short walk from Hampstead Heath so bear that in mind. Closest to Gospel Oak Overground.

Tap East, Stratford (7 International Square, Westfield Stratford City, E20 1EE)
The sister bar to The Rake in Borough Market. This is a far larger site tucked, slightly strangely, inside a giant shopping centre. Not only is this a bar but also a microbrewery. You can see the brewery as it is only enclosed by a pane of glass from the bar itself. The selection here is excellent with fridges packed with great bottles from around the world and a good selection of cask and keg beers including a selection from the microbrewery on site. Of the pubs and bars on the list this is the one closest to the Olympics meaning excellent transport links, very close to Stratford station and with excellent local buses.

Utobeer, Borough Market, London Bridge.
Arguably London's best beermonger. This market stall come shop is pretty incredible with around 2000 different bottles to choose from with 700 on display at any one time. It is open from Wednesday to Saturday and is usually very busy along with the rest of Borough Market. There is a great selection of bottled beers from the UK including; BrewDog, Thornbridge, Harviestons. They also stock a great selection of Belgian, German, Dutch and American beers as well as speciality magnums, books and glassware. 

The White Horse- Parson's Green (1-3 Parson's Green SW6 4UL)
A long time beer lovers mecca. Situated on the beautiful Parson's Green very close to South Kensington. This is a pub with a history of excellence and probably the best pub in London to get a true appreciation of good English cask beer. A really big pub with a great outdoor area which overlooks the green itself. As well as great cask beer there is a good selection of beer on keg including offerings from some of America's best craft brewers and a bottle list which includes a good list of Belgian Trappist and Abbey beers. Extremely close to Parson's Green Tube station. 

There are a couple of places I have been hearing great things about but haven't managed to get to yet. I have been reliably informed they're really good so check these two out as well. 

King William IV, Leyton (816, High Road, Leyton E10 6AE)
The Red Lion E11 (Leytonstone E11 3AA)

I hope this list means people manage to avoid a lot of the terrible beer dominating London at the moment. The last couple of years have been an amazing time for beer in the capital and it seems set to continue, enjoy!

Black Heart, Brew Dog, Euston Tap and Tap East pictures via www.travelwithbeer.com much appreciated.

Kernel Beer- the picture is from Pete Favelle at www.petedrinks.com - much appreciated.

Thursday, 7 June 2012

Amsterdam - Beer Paradise.

In the past few months an opportunity for me to regularly visit Amsterdam has arisen. My girlfriend has moved there for six months and this allows me to visit around once a month. Mainly to see her but also have lots of time for beer related activities. I think perhaps I was being Naive but I wan't expecting all that much from Amsterdam in terms of beer or anything else for that matter. I think the images of stag parties, legalised drugs and prostitution had given me a pretty jaded impression of the place. I couldn't have been more wrong, both about the beer scene and the city in general. I have fallen completely for the place.

The variety, quality and availability of beer was amazing. I did not drink a bad beer in the eight days in total I have spent there so far. Here's where I went and where you should go!

De Bier Koning- this absolute treasure trove of a beer shop is just a short walk from Dam Square. Friendly and spectacularly knowledgeable staff and beer arranged by nation. I picked up a bottle of Pliny the Elder here which was under two months old and some great Lambics. Bottles of Westvletern casually hanging around as well. Just a must visit shop.

The Beer Temple- the American Craft Beer bar in the heart of Amsterdam. This place has around 20 taps and an amazing bottle selection. Draft was a delight of American Breweries such as Flying Dog and Clown Shoes, also offerings from BrewDog, Evil Twin and Mikkeller. The staff here were amazingly friendly and had a genuine love for talking about beer. Bottles of Dark Lord in the fridge would have been a decadent treat but alas too expensive for me. This place also stays open until 3am on Fridays and Saturdays. Contrary to what I was told this is not owned by the same people as De Bier Koning, they just have a close working relationship.

't Arendsnest- the sister bar to the Beer Temple. A bar that serves only beer from Dutch microbreweries.
I only had around an hour here before catching a flight so asked the bar man for great recommendations. He did not disappoint. His name was Thomas and he gave me three awesome beers. One from De Molen, the Vuur and Vlam. Unfortunately I can't remember the other two breweries. I know I had a double IPA and an imperial stout aged in oak casks. Both were great and really opened my eyes to the diversity of the Dutch beer scene. Definitely need to spend more time here.

Brouwerij 't Ij- The brewery in a windmill. What a place, a microbrewery in a windmill, in Amsterdam. The tasting room is open daily from 2pm-8pm. A selection of beers in a Belgian style with names like Natte and Zatte. Their Struis is a strong Belgian which is spectacular and widely available in off licences around Amsterdam. They have also brewed their first IPA but it had all been drunk when I was there, so hopefully next time I'll catch it.

One of the best things was the availability of good beer everywhere. Almost every cafe I went into had Duvel or La Chouffe on tap or bottles of Westmalle Dubbel and Tripel in bottles. It was so easy to enjoy good beer anywhere. Off licenses also carried a great selection, often having a couple of Geuezes and a good selection of Belgian beers as well as often stocking Dutch microbreweries.

So go to Amsterdam, the food is great too, people are friendly and the city is relaxed and easy to navigate. It's so much more than legalised prostitution and drugs and groups of men and women from the UK behaving badly.

I'm sure there are plenty of places I have missed out, I am in no way an expert so tell me where else I should go. 

Has being a beer geek ruined my enjoyment of the pub?

In the words of the band James- 'If I hadn't seen such riches I could live with being poor.' This is sometimes how I feel in relation to beer. Previous to my conversion into a full blown beer geek I was happy to go to almost any pub, drink almost anything and enjoy the company of my friends without much worry. Now I constantly judge the pub on what they have on tap, in the fridge, what people around me are drinking. I fear I fail to take into account the atmosphere and ambience of the pub so caught up am I in what is to be imbibed.

Tomorrow I plan to meet an old friend from University who I haven't seen in a while. We want to go and watch the first couple of games of the European Championship somewhere around King's Cross. In order to make it enjoyable for me I've managed to slip a visit to BrewDog Camden in first. Partly for some good quality, good value food but also to get that good beer fix before moving onto, in all probabilities, bad lagers. Even having arranged this the worry is now that the lager will taste even worse than normal having to follow awesome beer.

Is it the pubs who need to catch up or me who needs to readjust expectations and confine beer geekery to places where it is appropriate?

NB: If anyone knows of a pub around King's Cross which shows football and has good beer, PLEASE TELL ME!

Tuesday, 27 March 2012

ferdiesfoodlab + Beer = Awesome

So Saturday was a pretty special day for me, not just because it as St Patrick's day (nod to Irish heritage) but also because it was mine and the lovely Jane Cai's four year anniversary. We decided to celebrate by revisiting Ferdie's Food Lab. We attended the opening weekend sometime last summer for my 25th birthday and enjoyed it so much we knew we would be coming back, all we needed was the right occasion. ferdiesfoodlab (www.ferdiesfoodlab.co.uk) is a supper club run by Simon Fernandez, formerly of Fernandez and Leluu. The dinner is hosted at the beautiful Toynbee Hall in Aldgate East. This is really convenient for me as it is about a fifteen minute walk from my house, happy days. 

Despite the title of this blog the event did not need beer to make it awesome, the food was excellent, beer was a happy companion. On our original visit I had a (slightly drunken) conversation with Simon about potentially doing some beer matching for his menus in the future. When you attend you already get wine matching suggestions for the dinner and I felt beer could be a welcome addition. Nothing came of it after the first visit due to my lack of action. Since then my beer knowledge had improved and I have moved into actually working in the beer industry. I now cook at BrewDog Camden and am very happy doing it. This gives me access to a huge amount of beer and beer knowledge from my colleagues and customers. 

I came to the dinner on Saturday with only a vague idea of what would be on the menu gleaned from some tantalising tweets from Simon. I knew we would be treated to popcorn ice cream and ribeye steak in some form. What we were treated to was a six course feast of beautiful food. 

Here's what we had; 

#Sweet Potato Tortilla w/ Oyster Mushrooms Noisette and Rosemary Bread (V)
These came elegantly presented on a slate platter portioned into generous triangles for each guest. Served with beautifully crisp rosemary bread and an additional sweet potato sauce in handy bottles overall it looked great. The tortillas were thick and sweet balanced well with the earthy richness of the mushrooms. On the night I drank a Kernel Pale Ale, Nelson Sauvin Simcoe with this. It went well the tropical flavours from the Nelson Sauvin working well with the sweetness of the tortilla. If I were to eat this again I may match it with something slightly lighter flavour wise to allow the food more room on the palate, probably something like a Brooklyn Lager or a light IPA like Bengal Lancer from Fullers.

Yum Salaad - Cambodian Inspired Chorizo & Celeriac Salad

This dish was light but packed with huge amounts of flavour. Tangy and sharp with lemongrass, shrimp and paprika and a crispy chorizo. I loved this course, partly because I was seated with a few non pork eaters and so got a load of chorizo, but more because it was well balanced and interesting and extremely tasty. I still had some of my Nelson Sauvin/ Simcoe mix from the Kernel. It worked really well with the citrus from the hops and the citrus in the salad really working well together. The beer was an enhancement rather than a contrast and it was great. if i were to do this again I may bring a single hop Simcoe from Mikkeller or an IPA with a  lime profile like Punk from Brewdog. 

Bacon Swirls and Invisible Tomato (V: Cheese Swirls)
Sorry no picture of this one, but to describe they were pastry swirls of bacon and cheese. The invisible tomato was a tomato and basil consomme served in a shot glass on the side. It was perfectly clear but packed a massive punch flavour wise. This made me smile and laugh and get really excited.  It was loads of fun to try the consomme and feel your brain get slightly confused. On the night I drank the newly launched Kernel Red IPA (anyone getting the feeling I went by the brewery that morning?) and it was an amazing companion. The stronger malt flavour in a red IPA worked well with the strong bacon flavours and the lighter hop profile worked well with the consomme part of the dish. If I get to eat this dish again the beer would be exactly the same. 

Roast Ribeye of Beef w/ Roasties, Tarragon & Horseradish Sauce, Ginger Carrots & Simple Salad

On to the main course, a beautiful hunk of ribeye, served wonderfully rare in the middle and with two beautiful sauces. The horseradish sauce was beautifully mild with hints of english mustard and the tarragon sauce creamy and powerful. The roast potatoes were amazing, they were good last time we were here but just great this time, so crisp and tasty. I struggle to make them this well in small quantities at home, that Simon did it for coming on thirty people this well is impressive. I paired this course with a Kernel Export India porter, the deep roasted notes worked well with the seared beef and as a good counterpoint to the creamy sauce. If I were to match again I may go for something slightly less dark perhaps an Stone Arrogant Bastard or an 8 wired Tall Poppy. 

Oaty Cookie Popcorn Ice Cream Sandwich w/ Salted Caramel Sauce (V)

This was one of the courses I had some idea about having seen one of the 'tantalising tweets' from Simon. What I didn't know was that there would be salt caramel and oat cookies. This was awesome, I could have eaten a lot of this, despite already being full from the preceding four courses. The salt caramel really lifted the whole dish and the popcorn ice cream just made me smile, a lot. I had saved some of the porter from the main course for this and it worked really well with the creamy and caramel flavours on the dish. If I were to match again i think I would go for a mega stout. Perhaps a Brooklyn Black Chocolate Stout or a Nogne O Imperial Stout or a Jahva Coffee Stout from Southern Tier. 

Petit Fours
(salted lemons, fudge, white chocolate)
(dark chocolate, black olives, caramel) 

These were a beautiful finish to the dinner, small nibbles with intense flavours. Chocolate and olives were amazingly well and were accompanied perfectly by some of the porter still hanging around. I also opened a Kernel Centennial to go with the lighter salted lemon and white chocolate petit fours and this worked ok,  though I felt that the Centennial perhaps overwhelmed the lighter flavours a little. If i were to match again I would keep something dark for the chocolate ones and maybe bring something strong and Belgian but fairly light on flavour like a Duvel or Tripel Karmeliet to finish up with. 

I cannot stress how much I enjoyed this evening, massive thanks to Simon and the team who helped him pull this off. The people who waited on us were polite, friendly and warm the whole evening and it really makes a difference. Just get yourself booked and down to enjoy some of this marvellous food, and consider taking some tasty beer with you! Email bookings@ferdiesfoodlab.co.uk

Thursday, 27 October 2011

Autumn & Winter - Time for Dark Beer!

The time of year has arrived where it's pretty much dark when I leave home and dark when I leave work. After the clocks change this weekend then darkness will envelope the vast majority of my waking hours. If possible I will become even more pale and ghostly looking. However, unlike a lot of people I actually enjoy autumn and winter. Spring and summer are great but I always look forward to the changing of the seasons towards the darker, colder part of the year.

There are a number of reasons for this. I enjoy wrapping up in stupid furry hats, making my breath steamy and going from the cold air outside to a cosy indoor space. Above and beyond all this though is the food and drink this time of year brings with it. Rich, filling, stodgy food. Pies, mash, stews, bakes, potato based meals, sausages, all sorts of pastry. (Come on a few stomachs grumbled then.) The excitement I get from putting on some beef and gravy based dish to slow cook for a number of hours is something that only autumn brings.

I enjoyed the summer drinking IPA's, wheat beers and great lager but the time has definitely come for the dark beers to take centre stage. On one of those damp nights England is so adept at providing, a pint of stout or porter can be a marvellous thing. One thing I would say is always drink a porter or stout at around room temperature, you simply lose so much flavour having it chilled. Plenty of people don't realise the complexity of flavour present in these styles of beer. In a good pint you can find chocolate, fruit, coffee, malt and hop flavours all vying for your attention. Depending on the beer these can come sequentially or all at once. It's a wonderfully comforting set of flavours, coffee and chocolate in autumn or winter, it's like a cuddle. Another great thing about these style of beers in the mouth feel. Thick and velvety and smooth, these beers slide down.

One thing that I would like to add is that Guinness, in my opinion, is a fairly poor representative of a stout. It lacks flavour and is all round underwhelming, so try one from a brewery like Sam Smiths. The Americans also do some wonderful stouts. A friend of mine brought me a bottle of Alesmith Speedway Stout from the states last year and it was beautiful. For pure decadence you can't get much better than Brooklyn Brewery's Black Chocolate Stout, big and boozy with a tonne of chocolate flavour, you'll find yourself in mocha heaven. A few weeks ago I made a trip to the Craft Beer Co. in Clerkenwell and tried some Mikkeller Beer Geek Breakfast, if you ever see this beer you should try without hesitation. Forget the price for a minute and enjoy a half pint, this beer is incredible. Meantime also do some beautiful dark beers, their London Stout is beautifully rich and their London Porter, resplendent in their awesome 750ml corked bottles is a real treat. Of course there are hundreds, if not thousands of other great dark beers, but I don't see much point in going into an exhaustive list. These are simply a few of my favourites.  

As well as being great, either in a stew or accompanying it, these beers make wonderful dessert accompaniment. Try a coffee porter or rich stout with a cream based dessert, or just with vanilla ice cream, it tastes fantastic. Raspberries and other berries also work surprisingly well. Let's not forget cheese either, I hear they're great with Stilton, but since I hate Stilton I couldn't tell you. I do know they work wonderfully well with a lovely bit of mature cheddar. Chocolate itself can also be wonderfully matched with dark beers. The chocolate notes in beer is really brought out when paired with actual chocolate, this is naughty but it tastes so good. These dark beers are wonderfully diverse in terms of food matching, go experiment.

Dark beers were my first love in terms of good quality beer after my conversion from drinking really bad lager. It was around this time of year a few years back that I first started really trying as many beers as I could get my hands on. First from Bacchanalia Wine Merchant and assorted pubs in Cambridge and later in London at places like Utobeer. I moved onto, and love, all other styles of beer from Belgian to hyper hopped American beers, but at this time of year, these hold a special place for me.

Thanks for reading, if you made it this far, and please leave some comments. Let me know what your favourite dark beers are, and what I should be trying. This post has got me really craving some good quality porter. Think I'll pick up some Meantime Porter on the way home!

Friday, 21 October 2011

The Camel, Bethnal Green

Last night I made a visit to The Camel in Bethnal Green. I am so glad that I made the 15ish minute walk up from Whitechapel.

My housemate Shaun had suggested we head out for a drink and I was more than happy to oblige on an uneventful Thursday evening. Usually, as a house, we tend to head to the nearest pub which is The Urban Bar on Whitechapel High Street (if you don't recognise the name it's the pub completely covered in tiger stripes.) While this is fine for a quick pint it's not really somewhere I ever get excited about going. Shaun had suggested somewhere further afield so I felt free to suggest we head to The Camel.

Google maps in hand we headed up towards Bethnal Green. For how close we live we are an incredibly lazy bunch, especially on weekday evenings, at walking any distance at all, so this was special. Heading onto the latter stretch of Globe Road, it didn't look like there was going to be anything there. Keep going, it's really worth heading right to the end!

From the outside the pub looks small and cosy but you can already see the great wallpaper and beautiful light shades. Great copper finish orbs line the length of the ceiling and looked fantastic. A few moments hesitation trying to find a door tucked down the side and we were in. The pub was busy, but not overly so. A good mix of people and a wide range of ages immediatley put us at ease. I tend to favour pubs which don't just cater to a particular age range or audience, a pub should be a social area, not a place for cliques.

The range of beers was good, a few cask ales on and some bottles in the fridge. My eye immediately landed on a bottle of Redchurch Brewery Benthnal Pale Ale, a beer I narrowly missed trying at Mason & Taylor a couple of weeks earlier.  I've been hearing about the Redchurch Brewery for a little while now, and though I can't quite remember, I'm sure it was them tweeting that The Camel sold their beer that sent me here in the first place. The beer was great, deep maltiness with a big hit of hops. I was really impressed and will be seeking out more of their beers for a try whenever possible. After that I moved onto some Sambrook's Junction and I really enjoyed that, it was well pulled with a good head. Shaun had a Freedom Organic Lager which i managed to have a taste of, good lager!

The only problem was that I had already eaten. The selection of pie and mash looked brilliant, even including a thai curry variety. Plenty of people were eating the gigantic portions, and they smelled fantastic. The giant jugs of gravy looked to be the icing on the cake. At £8.95 a portion this is definitely an option for another evening soon, especially considering the weather at present.

We even managed to speak to strangers, a friendly pair of girls newly arrived from New Zealand. This doesn't happen very often in London so it was a pleasant surprise. My girlfriend Jane joined us around ten after a late finish in work and the evening was perfect.

I left when they kicked us out with a brilliant impression of this pub and safe in the knowledge that I will be back soon. I strongly recommend this pub, I think I may have just found my first proper local in London.

A Short Introduction


I just wanted to write a quick introduction before launching into any posts.

My names Kieran, as you may have gathered, I'm 25 and currently reside in charming Whitechapel. I'm very passionate about beer and thought I would begin to write a little about where I'm drinking, what I'm drinking and how it's all going in the hope that someone might be interested.

Please be forthcoming with comments, I'm not too much of a sensitive soul.

I hope you enjoy what I write, here we go!