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Family Fortunes

Recently my daughter took an internship in London and I had promised to visit her after work one day. Having to attend meetings over two days meant that I was going to stay in town and so what better time to meet her – a trip paid for on expenses. I did a search and to my delight there was a brew pub not long opened close by to where she lived and we agreed to meet there at 7.

Meetings are strange things as they never fit into your plans inasmuch if you need to leave early then the most important item starts just before you need to go. In this instance it was the opposite, expecting to have to rush to meet her I had time for a visit to a pub beforehand and as luck would have it Mondo Brewery Tap is on the same line as our meeting place, open that evening and easy to reach from where I had chosen to stay (coincidence honest).

Situated in an old industrial unit in the Patmore Estate, Nine Elms and if you look at the site on a map you will see it is surrounded by railway lines and it would be easy to assume that it is easily accessible. However the site must be at the furthest point it can be from all three local stations. Fortunately the tap is signposted at either end of Stewart’s Road.

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Inside the Tap is modern industrial minimalism with a view of the brewery. Beers are on keg with the occasional drought direct from the barrel, if your lucky enough to get there on time. Obviously I wasn’t.image

I only had time to try three beers before I had to leave and all were very good with the Rider Pale being my favourite.

A quick walk to Wandsworth Road station and an overground ride to Queens Road Peckham left me with a short walk to one of London’s newer brew houses the Montague Arms home to Monkey Chews Brewery. There was only one beer on – Gator Blood which was their third brew and a reasonable take on a traditional English Bitter. At this point my device decided to give up working so unfortunately no photo.

Street Culture

London has many street markets consisting of temporary structures erected in the morning for the sale of food, clothing and mobile phone accessories before being disassembled at the end of the afternoon. I regularly pass through Leather Lane, usually at the start and end of its temporary existence. I am also aware of the more permanent markets housed in purpose built structures which once acted as specialist outlets for meat or fruit and veg but which now house a myriad of craft outlets.

So my expectations were set as I made my way from London Fields overground to Netil Market. I turned into Westgate Street and not seeing any marketl-like structure or canvas covered kiosks I thought I had misread the map. I did see an iron fence outside of which was furniture being offered for sale, so I headed in that direction. The fence gave way to an entrance which indicated I was at my destination.

Inside the perimeter is a collection of around 10 semi-permanent ‘structures’ , some are containers some looking like garden sheds with roof terraces. Housed within these are a barbers, which sells beer, a cycle repair and sales business, a baker, a jeweller and of course what bought me here – a brewery.

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Plato (or degrees Plato to give it its correct name) was started in October, and therefore a late addition to The List last year, by Adam Khedheri who expanded on his brewery supply business. This has to be the smallest, or at least he most cramped for space brewery I have seen. Nevertheless the beers on offer were better than some larger and more organised concerns. Adam, who also acts as barman, had 4 beers on offer dispensed direct from keg. I started with the Yellow Sunshine, an unfiltered, unpasteurised Pale. This was followed by How Now Brown Ale and then the stronger Event Horizon.

The beers are only available at the bar/brewery and on a pleasant afternoon it is a great place to hang out. Well worth the travel.

Opportunities Are Like Buses

Or so it would seem. After a long absence, and therefore a lack of opportunities to tick some breweries off the list as part of The Challenge of trying a beer from each of the London producers, I am on the second visit in a month and have found a bar that opens early enough to get to my afternoon meeting. A short distance, road works notwithstanding, from the city of Highbury and Islaington tube/overground is the Highbury ‘branch’ of Brewhouse & Kitchen, the second of their brew pubs in the capital.

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I arrived just after 11 and was greeted by a selection of 7 beers which, I was told, we’re all brewed on the kit at back of the floor-boarded, industrial chic pub, but I would have to wait for another couple of weeks if I wanted to try their ‘made here’ lager as it was still lagering. This is a new direction for the chain as I think this is the first of theirs to install the tanks.

Brew kit

Lagering tanks

Lagering tanks 

The menu looks good with Beer Can Chicken and American dishes like Gumbo. Unfortunately being a slave to the dollar I didn’t have an opportunity to eat here but if the food is as good as Islington then I have missed out. I did have time for 3 beers and chose The Goalscorer, a session IPA which I would be happy to have a session on, Colonia Estivo, a very nice Summer Rye Ale and Illustrator, a  good Black IPA.

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I’ve no doubt this will be as successful as the others in the chain I have visited (Portsmouth, Bristol, Islington). Hopefully they will open more Pubs as I  enjoy visiting them and like their beers and tip my hat to Head of Brewing, Pete Hughes.

Long (Arm) Time Away

it has been many (4) months since I last visited London on work. thankfully this year has been a lot slower for breweries opening but I am still falling behind in The Challenge to try a beer from all of London’s breweries.

An Internet search found the home of one of the newer brewhouses (I’ve learned not to the latest) opens at 11 a.m. and it is on the same tube line as the venue I had to be at for the afternoon. So at 10.30ish I emerged from South Ealing tube turned right and walked to the Ealing Park Tavern, home of the Long Arm Brewery.

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Arriving just as it opened I was the only customer and was immediately confronted at the spacious bar by three very distinct pump clips.

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These must be the largest pump clips I’ve seen, each a work of the jig-saw. Very distinctive. I tried the beers in order of strength starting with Birdie Flipper, a term I better not explain. This was followed by Lucky Penny and then by IPA OK which I was also tried on keg which, though good, I thought was better at room temperature.

The brewery is in an outbuilding and can be seen in the courtyard. Unfortunately for me it was not being used at the time I was there.

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The barman was very keen and informative and I was genuinely disappointed that I only had a flying visit but  I did leave with two bottles of their beer as well.

Underneath the Arches

A family trip to London on a Saturday allowed me a short time to divert from main activities and pursue my Challenge. The week before I had been informed of the opening of the Beer Hive a co-operative brewery and it was here that I made my way to. Brixton on a Saturday afternoon when the sun is out is everything you would expect, it almost parodies itself with the Steel band playing outside the tube station and the noise and colours of the market.

I made my way through the market and very quickly found myself outside Brixton Brewery set in a railway arch. This was not part of my itinarary but it would be rude not to pop in and try their beers on draught for the first time.

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On offer was Reliance Pale Ale and the splendid Lupulo Pale Ale. The sun was warm and many people were drinking on the street but there is a certain charm to sit inside the brewery with the brewing kit and the barrels and bottles.

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While I could have happily spent more time there I was on a time limited mission so I made my way to the main road and a short walk found me alongside another set of arches. Almost at the end of the access road there were a couple of tables occupied by drinkers.

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There were two draft beers on offer and a fridge full of bottles. Clarkshaws who also brew on the site had Coldharbour Hell Yeah a pils that was welcome in the warm weather. London Beer Lab who also operate at the site had a Citra American Pale which was unfiltered and which had just won a competition. It was plain to see why. This was my first taste of London Beer Lab so making the journey worthwhile.

It is difficult to see how the Beer Hive is going to be a brand that attracts tickers. Anyone using the spare capacity will want their own name on the product so while I got a tick for the Beer Lab I am not adding Beer Hive as a brewer as I would consider it to be a venue.

Slow Progress

This time last year I was ticking off the London breweries nearly every time I visited London. Ticks got slower as I got close to completing the challenge of trying something from each of the London breweries. This year has almost been a complete stand still. Breweries have started but on contacting them appear to have problems and aren’t brewing currently, the London Drinker Beer Festival, so good for ticks last year, was disappointing with no ticks and two of the brew pubs I ‘tried’ last year turned out not to have brewed on the premises and despite that they had all the kit installed they didn’t tell me!

Reading Beer Festival is a different kettle of fish specialising in local and the newer breweries. With baited breath I checked their website daily for a beer list so I could plan my visit. Alas I didn’t see such a list and so my first viewing of the 500+ beers they were selling came when I opened the programme on the day. Alas, or perhaps joy the way things are going, there was only one of the new London Brewers there. So a third of the year gone I have now tried a beer from another London brewer – Inkspot and their Czech Black a very nice beer which shows great promise for the brewery.

This years challenge, issued by my son, is to drink Breweries A-Z. A great start on News Years Day with Andwell was followed by a dearth of breweries beginning with D through February until finally I tried Downton in mid-March in Darlington. That was the only set back though and a great day in the Market Porter in Borough saw me tick off Jennings, Keltek and London Fields in one sitting. The letter q was covered by the Queen Inn, Winchester which brews its own beer U was a challenge inasmuch that Upham brewery is local and easy to find but I don’t like their beers. But a challenge is a challenge and so seeing their Punter on sale I moved to V and Reading Beer Festival. I had always hoped to be in this position so close to X as I know XT beers are local so will be there. So Vibrant Forest was first then XT 13 followed by Yorkshire Heart and ending on, no wait there is no Zero Degrees at the festival this year, at least not on the day I was there. Never mind a trip to Bristol is in the offing and then we will see if we can get back to A without repeating the beers and perhaps I can find a better U.

At Last!

It has been a very slow start to the new year but I got the chance to stay in London for the night so thought the first part of the evening would be best spent travelling to Finchley to visit the Bohemia – London’s latest brew pub. How many of these have I visited? (See also below).

The Northern Line takes you to Woodside Park and after crossing the footbridge it is a straightforward walk to the end of the road and turn right. The Bohemia is on the left just beyond the crossing and is part of the London Brewing Co who also brew at the Bull in Highgate and it appears they beat Wetherspoons to an ex-cinema in which to put a pub.

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Keg beers are produced here, 4 were available, and cask beers at the Bull, (1 available). Flights/paddles are also available to allow you to try the beer in 1/3rds. I had the session IPA which was very good, the Stout which I enjoyed but not as much and the Mad as Hops which was great. I didn’t stay to eat but the food menu looks reasonable.

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Brewing is done at the back of the pub and you can overlook the brew plant from the main bar area, while fermentation carries on in another room.

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In the prep for this visit I discovered some disturbing news. TWO of the brewpubs that I visited at the end of last year, one of which was London’s latest at the time, and both of which were complete with brew kit, had not actually brewed the beers I tried in house! I do think that the drinker should be told this. For me it means I have to revisit which is an inconvenience but for other tickers it could mean that a prize tick has to be deleted.

On my other challenge I have now tried a brewery beginning with D – Downton’s Rye Smile and I had to go to Darlington to try it!

 

Update – February 2015

Not a great start to the year. In fact the worst start I’ve had since I started accepting challenges. For those who are not aware of the title of this blog I will give a brief explanation. Every year I am given a beer drinking challenge from friends and family. For instance I have been asked to visit 365 different Good Beer Guide pubs (achieved but couldn’t drink in two of them as they weren’t open dispite what the guide published as opening hours. Two years back the challenge was to try the products of 365 different breweries, which I achieved at the end of November.

Last year the challenge was to try a product from each of the London breweries, which I just failed to do. I blogged about my attempt and said I would continue trying to achieve this alongside this years challenge which is to try a beer from breweries A –  Z in sequence, that is not moving on from a letter until I had tried a brewery of that letter.

So progress:

London breweries:

Very slow and sad progress. I have only had two visits to London and on the first the Still and Star, which I learned was brewing in December, was not serving their beer and despite requesting an e-mail to inform me the beer is on sale this has not come my way. There has been one new brewpub opened this year -the Bohemia, but a phone call on my other visit informed me that the beer was not yet ready for sale. Better luck in the year I hope.

A – Z:

January 1 and I try Andwell Porter, a great start. By the end of the month I had tried breweries B and C. And then nothing. Where is Dark Star when you need it?

March has a bit more travel involved so hopefully the next blog will bring more pleasant news.

New Year – Same Old

My last trip to London in Mid-December finished with me visiting what was then London’s latest brewpub – the Essex Street Brewery in The Brauhaus. On my first trip of the New Year I was hoping to be doing exactly the same thing.

During the Christmas break I found that another brewpub in London had opened, at the Still & Star, in Aldgate. So I made a detour and alighted at Aldgate tube station. The pub isn’t difficult to find once you leave the station, being conveniently signposted on a wall the other side of the road.

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The pub itself is a lovely tiny pub with a dartboard that was being used and four beers on handpump. This is where the problem was. Not one of these beers was their own and judging by the reaction I got when I asked about their own beers they have not appeared often – unlike drinkers wanting to try them. In fact I was given a business card and told to ask the person named on it when they will be on next, possibly she wanted me to do this immediately so she would also be informed.

So this year has started similar to a number of visits last year e.g. turn up at a brewpub only to find no beer on. Hopefully I will get a reply when I send the e-mail and try the beers soon.

Still the day wasn’t a total waste. As I now had time on my hands I took a diversion from Farringdon station to my meeting venue. Looking into pub windows as I passed I spotted a pump clip I did not recognise (I know, how sad!) and so I popped into The Well and discovered that the beer is an exclusive to the ETM group. The beer itself is brewed by Sambrook’s so is a London beer.

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So while I missed ticking a brewery from The List I took comfort in the fact that I tried an exclusive London Beer. Small consolation and hopefully this doesn’t set the theme for the year.

End of Term Report. Going Forward

Achieving 90% of a challenge could be classed as a success but I didn’t try them all in a year. My challengers have allowed The Challenge to be reworded from trying all in a year to ‘how long will it take to try all” which means I can carry on next year and when I achieve the 100% claim I have met The Challenge. However I do think this will take the best part of next year if not longer, particularly with the rate of new breweries opening.

Already I know that I have a visit to Aldgate on my next visit to London. However this is just one of a number of breweries/brewpubs that are already on The List. For your information this is what I believe will open next year and which I will have to seek out, (the names may change before becoming commercial);

Antic have a number of pubs and their status as a current brewer is uncertain but they have an estate they can supply so it would make sense to start brewing soon;

Ealing Park opening at the Ealing Park Tavern – already on their website but not confirmed elsewhere (see below);

East Wickham this has been on the Old Loyal Britons website for the whole of the year but a visit revealed that it was still a future project. Must open soon surely!;

Kew Village  I understand test brews have been undertaken so this could appear early in the New Year;

Late Knights have stated they want to put brew kits into their London pubs following the success of their pub in Brighton;

Rye Lane wanting to start last year but cannot find premises. ‘Threatening’ to start as a cuckoo in the New Year;

Sultan a Hop Back pub that have advertised as installing  a brew kit.

These are those that I know about and there were at least another 5 of the 10 that I didn’t try this year that I need to find next year. So The Challenge goes on.

Watch this space.

I have also been issued with another challenge – to try a beer from every County, including Unitary Authorities, in Mainland Britain, in a year. This will be reported elsewhere.