Once in a while, just to show I haven't lost my beer exploring mojo, I find a new brewery and tip off all you lot out there about them. I like to think I can spot a winner and have tipped Mallinsons, Hawkshead, Ilkley and Buxton in the past. Not a bad record there I'd suggest. That and frequent mentions and praise of some of the great breweries in the North that you rarely see down South, such as Phoenix, Ossett, Pictish and others gives me that warm feeling of sharing, or reaching out Or whatever....
This time though it is an up and coming London Brewery, Weird Beard, and still, while expansion to commercial brewing is some three or four months away, a home brewing operation, so beers are given away, not sold. A couple of Sundays ago, they held a "Meet the Brewer" session at the Rake and offered up three trial beers for tasting. All were excellent and all pretty different to each other. A single hop Pale Ale of 5.6%, a Saison and a strong Cascadian IPA. Quite an impressive and diverse line up I think you'll agree. First up was the citric, tangerine tinged Single Hop Series No9 - Junga. Junga is a derivative of Northern Brewer and Marynka and comes from Poland. This was a classy beer, clean and properly bittered, with tangerine notes throughout. Sunshine Saison was spicy, strong at 6.4% and had a flowery and citrus touch. Sorachi Ace and Pacific Gem added an unusual and pleasant finish. Last of all, Fade to Black again showcased Sorachi Ace and you know what? It pulled it off. This would be a great beer to finish a session off with, or to sip contemplatively before bed. I liked all the beers and was impressed by their cleanness - regular readers know I like beers to be clean tasting - and their overall quality.
I had a chat with the brewer (Gregg Irwin) who is indeed a weirdy beardy as you'd expect, but a nice chap for all that. The beers are currently brewed in the brewer's home, but premises have been obtained near the Grand Union Canal in Hanwell, so yes, it is yet another London Brewery. Gregg tells me they will eventually cask, keg and bottle and will share the brewery with another brewer doing a completely different set of beer styles (think continental) to defray costs. Gregg reckons commercial brewing is 3-4 months off at present.
This to me looks like one of the most promising of the new London set ups, which are, to be frank, a mixed bag. The brewer knows what he is doing, he is tapping into a niche, his imagery is great and above all the beers will appeal to a certain geeky audience though I am sure there will be wider appeal too. This has all the the hallmarks of success and I confidently predict a bright future.
A big claim I know, but this could well be the Magic Rock of the South. Remember. You read it here first.
I did take a couple of photos, but to see the labels in all their glory, look at their blog website here. And no - I didn't get any more beer than anyone else and Gregg didn't pay me.
A bit of a CV. Tandleman is a veteran beer lover, CAMRA Chairman and (local) activist, beer author, beer reviewer and pursuer of all things good in beer. He lives in the North West of England and London. Despite his CAMRA membership, he does not limit himself to cask conditioned beer, though he believes that cask conditioning, when done correctly and appropriately, brings a quality to beer that is hard to equal by any other kind of presentation. He is a strong supporter of Northern methods of beer dispense and avidly detests poorly presented beer and dislikes pasteurisation. He regularly visits Germany, has conducted corporate British and German beer tastings for CAMRA at the Great British Beer Festival where he has worked for years on Biere Sans Frontieres and was Deputy Organiser at CAMRA's very successful National Winter Ales Festival in 2009, 2010 and 2011. He admires good brewers wherever they are and has travelled extensively in pursuit of good beer to drink.
This blog mentions specifics; pubs and beer, good and bad. The opinions will be forthright, but you can always disagree, just don't be offended. Comments from those mentioned are particularly welcome and a right of reply is hereby offered.
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