The Great South London Brewery Crawl: Part Four (BrewDog Clapham Junction)

Apparently we can’t resist BrewDog. We included the Aberdeenshire brewery’s Camden bar in our very first brewery crawl in North London, and as Kamala and I stumbled towards Clapham Junction station at the end of The Great South London Brewery Crawl we happened upon the Clapham Junction branch of BrewDog. What could we do but taste some beers?

The Beers

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L-R: Kingpin, Dead Pony Club, 5AM Saint, Jet Black Heart

At BrewDog Camden, we had mistakenly tried a selection of non-BrewDog beers, so this time we sampled only house brews.

Kingpin Lager

Julie: It’s basically just a lager, and I feel like this blog is ruining my appreciation for ordinary lager. I have nothing bad to say about this, but also not much good. 6/10

Kamala: It’s crisp and avoids the sharp flat taste we’ve had a lot of today. I feel like I could drink 10 pints, though that’s not necessarily a good thing. 6/10

Dead Pony Club

J: It definitely has some bitter notes, but is also quite flavourful. I’ve tasted some better IPAs today so I have to mark it down. 6/10

K: Best beer of the day! Fruity but not a snakebite. Bitter but not sherbet. The Mecca of beer. 8/10

5AM Saint

J: This is less bitter than the Dead Pony Club, and has more flavour, although it’s still quite hoppy. 7/10

K: The name is giving me flashbacks to last night. I can’t think of anything else… 7/10

Jet Black Heart

J: It’s like drinking cold coffee. Very smooth, but I like my beer with a bit more fizz. 6/10

K: This is the coffee I missed out on this morning. It really is the espresso martini of the beer world. 6/10

The Ambience

J: It’s weirdly quiet for a Saturday night, I’ve knocked points off for the lack of tater tots (our favourite item on the Camden menu) and the weird men sharing our table, but added them on for the flights and the friendly staff. 7/10

K: I’m sitting and they have flights, which makes me happy. But there are men talking about sex next to us…do men even have sex? 6/10

For more information on BrewDog, and specifically their Clapham Junction branch, go to https://www.brewdog.com/bars/uk/clapham-junction

Next time on Beers and Bouts we remain in South London with the Bermondsey Mile. 

The Great South London Brewery Crawl Part 3: Bullfinch Brewery

Once we finally escaped from Canopy, along with its direwolves and Ribena-beers, it was only a short walk to Bullfinch Brewery, also located in Herne Hill. We reduced our beer consumption here to a rather civilised six. The highlight of this brewery was making Jane sample several different dark beers, for which she may never forgive us.

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First flights of the day!

The Beers

Luna Light Pale Ale

Julie (JF): Light, but with some body. Spoiled by a bit of an off taste at the end. 6/10

Jane (JM): I liked it, it’s light as the name suggests. It doesn’t have a huge amount of flavour but it’s very drinkable. 7/10

Kamala (KHB): I like that the name sounds like vagina light (that’s a roller derby reference for you all). It feels like it has some flavour without being boring. 7/10

West Coast IPA

JF: First real hops of the day and I’m not happy. After being able to taste other flavours in the rest of the IPAs we’ve had today, now I can just taste bitterness. 3/10

JM: It tastes like a Guinness in wolf’s clothing. I’m not a fan. 4/10

KHB: So hoppy it makes my nostrils clench. It’s giving me flashbacks to the West Coast breweries so I suppose it’s well-named. A bitter pill. 3/10

RYPA

JF: Also quite bitter, lacking in the smoothness which many rye beers have. 3/10

JM: This is rank. Who would drink this? Very few redeeming features. 3/10

KHB: The rye at Canopy was so much better. Bullfinch boy bye! (By this point, Kamala had reached the ‘witty reference’ part of the crawl.) 5/10

Notorious Black IPA

JF: Nice coffee notes, taste more like a porter than an IPA. It is a little bitter at the end though. 5/10

JM: It’s too much for me. I just don’t really like dark beers. 4/10

KHB: I think if it wasn’t black I could drink it. Does that make me racist? 6/10

Black Wolf Black IPA

JF: I was quite scared of this one, but it’s really smooth with a good coffee flavour. It’s rather heavy though, so I’m not sure how much I could drink. 7/10

JM: The first sip’s quite nice but I just can’t do dark beers. 4/10

KHB: Weirdly sweet. It feels like a dessert but it’s still better than the Berry Bramble! 5/10

South Eastern Bloc Stout

JF: This is drinkable but I just wouldn’t choose a stout. 4/10

JM: I’m breathing stout. 3/10

KHB: I feel like I’ve just ingested a happy meal. It’s nice, but intense and heavy. 6/10 (on the stout scale)021

Ambience

JF: They have more tables than anywhere else we’ve been today and they serve FLIGHTS! There’s no real music though, which is a let down. 7/10

JM: It’s a bit like the Starbucks of the beer world. Everyone is very clean-shaven. (Don’t ask me why customers with beards are necessary for the enjoyment of craft beer) 6/10

KHB: There’s a very intense couple having an argument behind me. I think I miss the direwolf. It does have flights though. 8/10

For more information on Bullfinch Brewery, go to http://www.thebullfinchbrewery.co.uk/

Next time on Beers and Bouts, the Great South London Brewery Crawl reaches its final stop, at Brewdog in Clapham. 

The Great South London Brewery Crawl Part 2.2 (Yes we’re still at Canopy)

As you may recall from my last post, we got a bit carried away at Canopy Beer Co and tried ten beers. Or, as Kamala and Jane said, nine beers and one snakebite/Ribena. We dissected the first six last week, now it’s time for the final four and the all-important ambience score.

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The Beers

777 Red Rye Ale

Julie (JF): [By this point we had tried a lot of sweet beers] This is sweet, but in a less offensive way than the Troy Town Saison, I think because it’s smooth. I wouldn’t mind a pint. 6/10

Jane (JM): I like how smooth it is but it’s just too perfumed for me. 5/10

Kamala (KHB): Super smooth. It feels like I could gulp it down (and apparently she did because her next comment was “oh my God it’s almost gone!”) 8/10

Full Moon Porter

[At this point Kamala and I realised we have developed a taste for porters and discussed this at length.]

JF: Maybe it’s just an absence of dark beers today, but I think this is really good. It has a nice smokey flavour but slips down easily. 8/10

JM: I’m not a huge porter fan but I like this one, maybe because it doesn’t taste too strong. 7/10

KHB: Porters are growing on me! I blame this blog, or maybe it’s just that I haven’t had a coffee today. 8/10

Pure Session IPA

JF: I don’t know what Canopy do with their hops but they seem to have mastered the art of making an IPA without a hugely bitter aftertaste. I’m a fan. 7/10

JM: It’s a bit too hoppy for me, which takes away from what I think could have been a good flavour. 6/10

KHB: Excellent beer, good mix of flavours and doesn’t taste like I’m chewing on a hop. 8/10

Berry Bramble

JF: Very sweet, with weird citrus notes which I think are meant to cut through the sweetness but just don’t really work. You can’t really taste how alcoholic this is either 9it’s 9%) so it’s dangerous. 2/10

JM: I didn’t know that Ribena had branched out into beer. This is for children, shame about the 9% alcohol content. I do quite like it though, in a Smirnoff Ice kind of way. 4/10

KHB: This is snakebite. Stop marketing it as beer. 1/10

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Kamala reacts to the Berry Bramble (feat. Direwolf)

Ambience

JF: As the cinema ratings would say, mild threat (of being drenched by the water collecting in the gazebo-style roof). Good music and a nice space generally, although more tables would be appreciated. 8/10

JM: The seating design leaves a bit to be desired. I enjoyed the pumping beats but not the imminent threat of drowning. 6/10

KHB: Good music, good bar staff, and I like that the beers are brewed here, but I’m being attacked by a direwolf tail. I’m not sure what to do. 9/10

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That shadow is the water which threatened to drench us at any moment

For more information on Canopy, go to http://www.canopybeer.com/

Next time on Beers and Bouts, the Great South London Brewery Crawl continues with Bullfinch Brewery. 

The Great South London Brewery Crawl: Part Two (Canopy Beer Co)

After Brixton Brewery, we thought our second stop on The Great South London Brewery Crawl would be the London Beer Lab. We were wrong. As it turned out, someone had not done their research properly (that someone may have been me) and it was only a bottle shop. As you can imagine, we were very impressed.

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The beer crawlers find a no drinking zone

Still, we wouldn’t let a non-existent taproom and a no drinking zone keep us down for long, and continued on to Canopy Beer Co in Herne Hill. Here, we fell into a black hole and tried so many beers that I have decided to split this post in half. In this post, I’ll talk about the first six.

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I know there are only two beers here. I can count, I promise.

The Beers

Champion Kolsch

Julie (JF): Fairly indistinct flavour and not much body. It’s light and drinkable but it could be a Kronenbourg. 5/10

Kamala (KHB): I was expecting it to be lighter but they brought out the heavyweights. It gets better with every sip. 7/10

Jane (JM): Not too hoppy and yet that’s all you can taste. If I ordered a pint I’d be disappointed! 5/10

Love Walks Small

JF: I was scared because of the facial expressions the other two were making but I quite liked it. A little sour on the first taste but at least it has some flavour. 6/10

KHB: No love, glad I ordered a small. Why do sour beers exist? 4/10

JM: It looks like the slops of other beers. 5/10

Brockwell IPA

JF: It almost tastes perfumed and isn’t insanely hoppy – really drinkable. 7/10

KHB: Sharp again like a razor. Do I like this? Has it been mixed with a sour? Do I have any tastebuds left? 5/10

JM: It has a nice fruity taste and isn’t too hoppy. 7/10

Milkwood Amber

JF: This has lots of flavour, but unfortunately none of it is flavour that I like. 3/10

KHB: It tastes like sherbet gone wrong. I literally would prefer to snort it. 4/10

JM: What is that horrible aftertaste? An unusually sweet beer. (I apparently don’t like sweet beer). 4/10

4Pure Pils

JF: More flavour than I would have expected from a pils, but again it’s quite sweet. 6/10

KHB: Just a bit flat – it tasted like the dregs. 6/10

JM: It’s a summer beer but has a bit of an aftertaste. 6/10

Troy Town Saison

JF: This doesn’t really taste like beer, it’s too sweet and herbal. Maybe we should stop ordering saisons. 4/10

KHB: Is this a beer? Is it? It’s not. Say no to saisons. 3/10

JM: It’s a no from me. Tastes like it’s gone off. 4/10

For more information on Canopy, go to http://www.canopybeer.com/

Next time on Beers and Bouts, the Great South London Brewery Crawl continues with Canopy’s final four beers. 

The Great South London Brewery Crawl: Part One (Brixton Brewery)

Our next brewery crawl was uncharted territory for me. We were venturing south. I made a lot of comments like “So this is what south of the river looks like” and “Where’s the nearest tube station?”. Despite this, we all had a lovely time.

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For this crawl, we brought along a guest taster. This is Jane. She is not drinking beer in the picture, but she is in a brewery so we’ll forgive her. She also came up with some hilarious comments so she’s welcome back on a brewery crawl at any time.

We started at Brixton Brewery (well actually we started in Wetherspoons, but we will never speak of this again). We didn’t stay long as the tiny brewery was rammed with people, forcing us to sit outside with our legs in the road, narrowly avoiding collisions with passing traffic. But we did manage to taste three beers and jot down some thoughts, even if many of them were about how the beers we were tasting compared to Kronenbourg. Wetherspoons has ruined us.

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The Beers

Atlantic Pale Ale

Julie (JF): Light, refreshing, good flavour of citrus and not too hoppy. It would be good for a pub session as it’s a bit more exciting than a Kronenbourg. 7/10

Kamala (KHB): Too fruity for my liking. I hate fruit beer – keep it out of my pint! 5/10

Jane (JM): It feels a bit like a lager that’s trying to be trendy. 7/10

Reliance IPA

JF: Not so many exciting flavour notes in this beer. It’s drinkable but a bit bland. 5/10

KHB: This is a drink for light beer drinkers…like me! 7/10

JM: I quite liked it but I don’t think it’s a beer I’d remember. 6/10

Effra Ale

JF: This has a nice body, but still slips down and is very refreshing. Another fairly boring beer though. 6/10

KHB: It’s like an amber mixed with a Kronenbourg, which speaks to my low level taste. 8/10

JM: I don’t really like dark beers. This is drinkable but I doidn’t really enjoy the taste. 5/10

004Ambience

JF: There’s not much space but I like the fact that it’s obviously a working brewery and the staff are very friendly. 6/10

KHB: We could get run over at any time, this is the ultimate in dangerous beer drinking!. 6/10

JM: I like the music but it does smell a bit like hamster. 7/10

For more information on Brixton Brewery go to  http://www.brixtonbrewery.com/beta/

Next time on Beers and Bouts, the Great South London Brewery Crawl continues with Canopy Beer Co. 

The Great East London Brewery Crawl: Part Four (Howling Hops)

We finished The Great East London Brewery Crawl at Howling Hops, conveniently located just a couple of doors down from Crate in Hackney Wick. It’s a shame that by this point we were rather sleepy after too many beers and too much delicious Crate pizza, as this seemed like a great place to spend an evening. As it was, we sampled a few beers, compared notes, and made a run for it.

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The Beers

Amber Dexter with Coriander

Julie: I can’t say I’m getting any coriander, but this is a nice smooth beer and very easy to drink. I could get through quite a lot of this! 9/10

Kamala: I want to drink this at our bouts. Ambers FTW! 7/10

Howling Pils

J: Very light and easy to drink, and I could keep going on it for some time. But I don’t have anything much to say about the flavour, it’s quite bland. 7/10

K: Slight like dishwater. I want to wash it down with another Pilsner. 5/10

Special IPA

J: Very hoppy but without being insanely bitter. Some citrus notes, and relatively light and drinakable. 6/10

K: Special in all the right ways. This is my favourite IPA of the night. Other breweries, you should leave IPAs alone. DIPA, WTF?? 8/10

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The Ambience

J: Still no flights, but I love the tanks. The music is good if a bit loud for beer nerds trying to compare notes, and there’s tonnes of space (unusual on this tour). 8/10

K: Best music all day and there are loads of attractive women dancing really near me. 7/10

For more information on Howling Hops, go to http://www.howlinghops.co.uk/.

Next time on Beers and Bouts, we begin The Great South London Brewery Crawl at Brixton Brewery.

Las Vegas Special: Banger Brewing

As mentioned in my last post, last week I was in Las Vegas at RollerCon with a large group of roller derby friends old and new. I also mentioned that I would be strapping wheels to my feet. In the process of strapping wheels to my feet and doing the roller derby thing I decided that a rational response to being hit would be to do a back flip (cool) and land on my ankle (less cool). I spent the remaining three days demanding that my friends push me around in a wheelchair (it was only a sprain, the wheelchair was perhaps unnecessary but I like to think that they enjoyed it).

But before Backflipgate, Kamala and I had time to check out a Las Vegas brewery, Banger Brewing on Fremont Street. We had just been on the Slotzilla Zoomline, a 114ft high zipline over the Fremont Street Experience and decided to reward ourselves with beer. Everyone needs beer after doing something incredibly fun, right?

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The Beers

El Heffe (Jalapeño Hefe)

Julie: I can smell the jalapeños and taste them too. This is a good beer, very light without overpowering spice despite the flavour. 8/10

Kamala: Incredibly sharp and hoppy for a hefe, almost painful to drink. It’s a bit like drinking washing-up liquid. 5/10

Perfect 10 (Pale Ale)

J: I’ve had a lot of IPAs now and this is definitely not my favourite. Although it’s fairly light, the toasty flavours that they mentioned are only really evident when you search for them. 5/10

K: Oh America, the land of extremes, ruined by syrup. Can I get it in diet? 6/10

One-off Series: Amber with Cocoa Nibs and Orange

J: Very strong orange flavour coming through right away, fresh and not too sweet but it tastes a bit artificial. 5/10

K: Oh god, all my worst fears colliding. Did they add squash to this? I’d prefer a stout. 4/10

DTB (Brown Ale)

J: It’s smooth with a strong roasted coffee flavour, but I’m not really getting the caramel or chocolate promised so it’s lacking the nice syrupy edge some of these beers have. 7/10

K: God, what has happened? This beer is my favourite. I blame East London. It’s refreshing (for Vegas) without too much of a sweet aftertaste. 7/10

Hefeweizen (most imaginatively named beer of the night)

J: This is nice but it does not taste like a hefeweizen, it’s basically a strong Pilsner. I could drink quite a few but it is not as advertised so I’m removing points (I should point out that my love affair with beer started in Austria, so I’m picky about my hefeweizens). 7/10

K: A classic of our time, nice and crisp to taste, super enjoyable, slightly flat hoppy aftertaste but otherwise great. 8/10

Morning Joe (Coffee Kolsch)

J: It’s definitely like drinking coffee, quite sweet and perfumed but they did promise hazelnut and caramel flavours and they add to the enjoyment. Very light too despite the sweetness. 8/10

At this point we had to rush off to meet our friends at a nearby casino, so none of us will ever know what Kamala thought of the Morning Joe, or what we either of us thought of the ambience at Banger Brewing. But personally I would recommend Fremont Street, the Slotzilla Zoomline and Banger to any future visitors to Las Vegas. Spraining your ankle comes less highly recommended, so I would suggest not trying to combine roller derby and gymnastics. 

London Brewers’ Market: Hop Stuff Brewery

Regular readers will remember that we left off last time at the London Brewers’ Market at its temporary home in Spitalfields. I was hungover, it was sunny, there were hipsters, and nobody knew where Southfields was.

Despite the hipsters and the crowds and the crowds of hipsters, we decided to sample beers from one more brewery stand before leaving. This time we chose Hop Stuff Brewery from Woolwich.

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The Hop Stuff stall

The Beers

Saisonniers

Julie: Herby and quite flat. It’s nice to have something not bitter, but the lack of carbonation is putting me off somewhat and I’m also getting some mouthwash vibes. I don’t think I’d go for more than a pint. 6/10

Kamala: WTF is this? Reasonably light initial taste, but bitter aftertaste. (At this point I stopped noting down Kamala’s scores for a couple of stops, I don’t know why, ask the Hangover.)

DIPA

J: I’m feeling very well-disposed towards this as it’s not the Rocky Head Hop Bonanza (also known as the Spacer, see here for our review of that). Nice roasted malt notes, not too much bitterness at the start but it builds. 7/10

K: Is D for Deadly? Why? Why so many hops? Probably better to sell this one in thirds as it’s so strong.

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Still drinking on the pavement. DIPA on the left, Saisonniers on the right.

 

The next London Brewers’ Market will be at Field Day in Victoria Park on 11-12 June. For more information, go to: https://londonbrewersmarket.com/. For more information on Hop Stuff, go to: http://www.hopstuffbrewery.com/.

Next time on Beers and Bouts, we begin The Great East London Brewery Tour in earnest with One Mile End.

The Great North London Brewery Crawl: Part Three (Beavertown Brewery)

Our third stop on the Great North London Brewery Crawl was the brewery which started it all. Our roller derby training venue is down the road in Seven Sisters, and when we first realised that we had been neglecting the London craft brewery scene, we intended to start with the brewery which we had heard existed in Tottenham Hale. This germ of an idea grew into the Great North London Brewery Crawl, but it was all built around Beavertown. In honour of this, and due to the cheap prices, we drank a lot of beers there.

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L-R: Moose Fang, Imperial Lord Smog Almighty, Neck Oil
The Beers

Test Pilot Mavericus

J: Light, quite fruity, and not too hoppy. There’s not too much aftertaste, a little bitterness builds after a while, but I could still easily drink a few pints. 9/10

K: I could definitely drink a pint or four. 8/10

Test Pilot Anser

J: A lot more hoppy and bitter than the other Test Pilot, not getting a good impression from the very first taste. It’s relatively light, but I’m glad we don’t have to drink too much of it. 3/10

K: Almost like treacle. You can really taste the alcohol. 3/10

Neck Oil

J: Lighter than the usual IPA, but still with a decent flavour and very easy to drink. The bitterness bleeds in after a few drinks but doesn’t spoil the experience. It’s not too exciting though compared to the Test Pilot Mavericus. 6/10

K: Best all day. 9/10

Imperial Lord Smog Almighty

J: This is what a real stout tastes like. Strong and very smoky, a lot heavier than the hybrids we were drinking earlier. I can taste the alcohol more with every sip too, which isn’t a good think. The best thing I can say about it is that it’s worthy of its name. 2/10

K: I can barely drink a sip. Help! 2/10

Moose Fang

J: Quite syrupy with notes of chocolate and caramel, a lot easier to drink than the stout but really alcoholic and becomes too sweet after a while. A half would probably finish me. 4/10

K: Not as good as the fusions we tried in Camden Town and BrewDog but passable. 5/10

Blubus Maximus (Beavertown and Wild Beer Co)

(This was the wild card, bought for us by a group of Midlands lads sharing our table who were interested in our project and told us we needed to try something a bit different. It was certainly that.)

J: Sour and fruity and extremely fizzy. It doesn’t taste like I’m drinking beer at all. I could drink quite a lot of it for the flavour but the carbonation is a bit excessive and is putting me off. 7/10

I don’t have any notes from Kamala on this beer, but given her usual opinion on sours I’m going to suggest she didn’t enjoy this one. I seem to remember her pulling a face and refusing a second glass.

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The Ambience

J: Outside was a little cold but would be lovely in the summer. Inside it looked cosy, and packed. It’s also nice to be surrounded by the brewing equipment in the place where the beer is created. The bar staff were less helpful with recommendations, probably because they were so busy, but they were quick and efficient and the beer was cheap. They ought to add more women’s toilets though. 7/10

K: They played good music (e.g. The Corrs), but they should add more tables inside and introduce beer flights for tasting. 7/10

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For more information, please go to http://www.beavertownbrewery.co.uk/home/. The Tap Room is only open on Saturdays 2-8pm. 

Next time on Beers and Bouts, the North London Brewery Crawl continues with Wild Card Brewery, Walthamstow. 

The Great North London Brewery Crawl: Part Two (BrewDog)

We made a couple of mistakes in our second stop on the Great North London Brewery Crawl. Firstly, we went to BrewDog, which though located in Camden is not a London brewery (it hails from Aberdeenshire). Our second mistake was that several of the beers we ordered weren’t actually from BrewDog at all (as we asked the bartender to select us a flight without letting her know that we wanted only house beers). But mistakes aside, it was a very pleasant experience, especially the food.

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L-R: Arcade Nation, Vagabond, Funky Gold Amarillo, Gamma Ray
The Beers

Gamma Ray (Beavertown)

J: Relatively light and drinkable, with a strong flavour. There is an aftertaste but it isn’t overwhelming. I could drink a pint but wouldn’t want too many. 6/10

K: Due to my need to shove excessive amounts of tater tots into my face, I failed to note Kam’s impressions on this beer. However, she scored it 7/10 so suffice to say they were complimentary.

Funky Gold Amarillo (Prairie)

J: Quite flat and sour, very different to the beers I usually drink but not necessarily in a bad way. It goes down well due to the lack of carbonation but I’m not sure it’s the beer for me. 4/10

K: So sour I feel like I need to eat a sweet afterwards. 2/10

Vagabond Pale Ale (BrewDog) (Gluten-free)

J: Strong hoppy flavour without too much of an aftertaste at first, although it builds. Pretty light and drinkable (N.B. I may have obliterated my taste buds with a jalapeno before trying this beer). 6/10

K: Tastes like it might have gone off. 6/10

Arcade Nation (BrewDog)

J: Interesting to try a stout/pale ale mix, and from what my chili-ravaged tastebuds can tell it’s very nice. The stout’s coffee malt notes take the edge off the hops but it’s still light enough to drink a lot of. 7/10

K: I could drink a pint of it!! What is happening??? 7/10

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The Ambience

The bar is quite noisy and echoey, but I like the decor. I like that they serve their flights in long-stemmed glasses as it makes me feel classy. The bartender was very knowledgeable, and I’d definitely come back for tots with the works (chili con carne, jalapenos, cheese and onions). 8/10 just for the food.

Kamala adds: Too many board games!

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For more information on BrewDog Camden and other BrewDog bars, go to https://www.brewdog.com/bars.

Next time on Beers and Bouts, the North London Brewery Crawl continues with Beavertown, Tottenham.