It has been an exciting development in London over the last ten years (or so) to see a staggering amount of new breweries open. There is simply an abundance of exciting, unusual and occasionally very good beers now being produced here. Call me a sucker for marketing spiel but I just love the idea of a group of friends making some beer in their garden shed and then finding out it’s so unbelievably good that they have to bloody well go start a business. I also like the fact that this trendy development in the city has yet to spark any cultural back lash from critics with a pencil to grind. After all pretty much everyone likes a good beer. Having had nothing exciting happen this week I thought I’d spend the weekend sampling many different London beers with friends and compiling a top five. In no particular order these are the results.
The Gamma Ray is hard to miss on the shelf. The can looks like Tim Burton’s ‘Mars Attacks’ with 1950’s flying saucers looking hip and simultaneously reducing humanity to dust! Sadly, I have a confession to make here, the moment I caught sight of a can of this stuff I thought it was the craziest looking beer I’d ever seen. I then promptly concluded that it was trying too hard and that the contents couldn’t possibly live up to the design. How wrong I was. It took a great deal of time for me to try this fine beverage but a friend one fine evening brought me a glass of it without the can in sight. It had a fantastic refreshing zingy grapefruit taste that instantly made me take things easy and enjoy the day. ‘What is this fine brew?’, I asked, at which point my folly was made apparent. This is my Homer Simpson beer it’s ideal for lazing about and watching telly with. The Gamma Ray for me is also an important lesson in giving things a go in life. Readers will be pleased to hear that since this incident I’ve given up judging books by their covers and am now more of a size queen.
Double Perle is a mighty brew, a richly flavoured coffee milk stout, at 8.6% abv it is definitely a sipping beer. A delicious smooth thick creamy texture is the way by which this beer makes its’ introduction. The taste begins rapidly with a pronounced chocolate and coffee taste coming right off the bat. Next a superb vanilla note emerges giving the sweet cappuccino taste already present an interesting dessert twist. Finally a bitter dark chocolate taste lingers unobtrusively at the end. This is a highly balanced beer, the coffee flavour is never overstated and while incredibly sweet it is never sickeningly so. An absolutely marvellous brew, it’s a precious drink to be savoured at the end of a fine day. A luscious velvet treat, that I’d better stop talking about, as I fear I’m beginning to sound like Nigella Lawson crossed with Gollum.
The Crate Sour can be summed up in one word “interesting”. Many of the beers on this list would be considered an acquired taste but this is the genuine article, a truly acquired taste. In the sense that you first take a few sips and quickly conclude that this is a god awful abomination. Next you take a few more sips and hey presto, as if by magic, you’ve suddenly acquired a taste for it. A sour is basically a beer that has gone off. In short it’s a bad idea that never should have caught on, like eating fugu or drinking cow’s milk. How humanity regularly concocts and promotes such bad ideas is a true mystery to me. Yet in this case the result is magnificent. The Crate Sour is truly splendiferous. It has a wonderful tropical fruit aroma. The taste is a sharp shocking sour sensation that is the equivalent of a bungee jump for the tongue. However, after the initial fright you begin to detect a light fruitiness and a mystifying hint of hibiscus. I’m not a huge fan of sours but this one’s insanely awesome.
Kernel Table Beer
As the name would imply this is a no fuss everyday beer. Nevertheless this gentle refreshing brew with its’ wonderful hoppy citrus flavour is highly drinkable stuff. It might not be bombastically spectacular but it is rather special. Especially given that for a beer with an abv of only 3.3% it packs in an incredible amount of flavour. The fact you can have several bottles of the stuff without any fear of adverse effects is simply a bonus. Quite a few people do complain that this beer is a little watery, yet in my experience it’s not that watery. More to the point, I find this an odd criticism, given that the style of beer under examination is a table beer. It’s like someone saying that they thought Hamlet was a brilliant tragedy but that the sad ending felt unnecessary. Quite simply this is a fantastically crafted table beer that has a mellow nature which pairs perfectly with a glorious summer’s day. I cannot recommend it highly enough.
Fuller’s London Porter
In life one should always save the best till last, and this is it. Fuller’s London Porter is as black as the devils heart and just as tasty. A rich malty brew, it has a chocolaty flavour with a light coffee note and just a hint of smokiness. It is a sophisticated beer that I could drink all day long. This is the granddaddy of London beers, the brew to which all others must be compared. The definitive classic! Fuller’s isn’t some upstart brewery that ironically informs clientele that it was founded in 2008, no it is the original London brewery founded in 1828. And its’ London Porter is the very best it has to offer. This is the Montecristo, the Rolls Royce, the friggin Big Ben of beers. If it was a piece of classical music it would have been composed by Bach, if it was a scientific formula it would make Steven Hawking cry tears of joy, and if it was a painting it would not be hanging in the Louvre cos some bastard would have nicked it. Its awe inspiringly beautiful, delightfully elegant and a good few bottles will get you drunk.
Just in case I’m being too subtle, allow me to summarise, if you love beer buy this!
So those are my Top 5 London Beers! Did I miss out anyone’s favourites? If so post them in the comment section below. Also what did people make of the doodle? I’m thinking of having more for future articles.