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.

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 1 (Camden Town)

A few weekends ago, Kamala and I decided it was time to visit some London craft breweries. We have been to quite a number on various (mostly derby-related) trips abroad, and thought it was frankly shameful that we hadn’t seen any of what London had to offer. As it turned out, London had quite a lot to offer, so we had to split it into segments.

It began with North London. I had a big part in making this decision, as North London is my side of town, but we also had an engagement party to attend later in the day (with a very understanding friend who didn’t mind us showing up already half-cut) in Stoke Newington, so it made geographical sense.

Our first stop was the Camden Town Brewery, which is actually situated in Kentish Town, and soon have much of its brewing operations relocated to Enfield due to lack of space. As it was a Saturday, we were able to enjoy a short free tour of the brewery before getting down to the real business of the day: tasting. We tried a tasting flight of five beers, with some assistance from the bartender in making our choices.

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The Beers

Camden Pale

Julie: Although this began light and drinkable it had quite a strong aftertaste which made it difficult to imagine drinking too much. 6/10

Kamala: Very hoppy bitter aftertaste lets it down. 6/10

Camden Hells

J: This is Camden’s best-known export, and is very light and drinkable. However, there’s not too much flavour and though I could drink easily drink a full pint (or six), it’s not the most exciting beer. 7/10

K: Good to have with a burger, but very bland and a bit meh. Good to take up a mountain instead of Budweiser (any A-Camp veterans will understand that reference). 5/10

Jarrylo Hells

J: This is a limited-edition beer using a new type of hops, and I eagerly sought out the notes of tropical fruit which the bartender advertised. I think I got some pineapple coming through, though that may just be the power of suggestion. Either way it was a bit more interesting and full-flavoured than the Camden Hells, also a little more bitter but still very drinkable. 8/10

K: Light, smooth and almost fruity but not too sweet. 8/10

Ink Stout

J: I think stouts have grown on me since Kamala and I took our grand beer-tasting trip up the American Pacific Coast (more on that to follow), and this one is nicely smoky. I still couldn’t drink too much as after a few sips it starts to feel heavy, but really rather enjoyable. 5/10

K: I think I could drink a pint (this is a testament to how much we disliked stouts before, or is this just a non stout lovers’ stout?) 7/10

Indian Hells Lager

J: Very good impression on the first mouthful, but unfortunately the rest of it just doesn’t live up to that moment. It begins with a full fruity flavour, but has a very bitter aftertaste which ends up spoiling it. 4/10

K: It tastes almost like dishwasher powder. Very tart, very bitter, I couldn’t drink a pint. 4/10

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The Ambience

The Brewery Bar has a great hipster vibe and decor, and the bartender was very knowledgeable about the beer which is always a bonus. However, there are no menus to allow you to read about it for yourself (remember we’re dealing with introverted Brits here). The pay-what-you-can tour is also a big winner, we just need to visit again for food to get the full experience. 8/10

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For more information on the Camden Town Brewery, go to http://www.camdentownbrewery.com/. Drop-in tours run on a first-come, first-served basis every Saturday at 1pm and 2pm. 

Next time on Beers and Bouts, the North London Brewery Crawl continues with Brew Dog, Camden.