Brixton Brewery is a new venture based in the heart of Brixton, run by three passionate beer lovers. Aiming to both put Brixton on the beer map and make beer they want to drink, having been inspired by the best of London’s micro-brewerys.
Electric IPA, Brixton Brewery, Brixton, London
Brixton Brewery hit the nail on the head with this one. A beautifully integrated and full flavoured beer competing well with the best on the market such as The Rocky Head Pale Ale & approaching, though not as rich or complex as The Kernel, Double Citra. A perfectly judged hint of bitterness underpins a lovely citrus hop layer, over a caramel and malty base. This beer is right up my Electric Avenue being much preferred to the lighter and more bitter Reliance from the same brewer. 8.5/10
I have a bit of a soft spot for Bath Ales. A few years ago their beers started appearing on supermarket shelves, and they had a bit more interest than the masses. I liked the packaging, too. They started out in 1995, and have grown a network of 12 pubs, as well as a decent sized brewery. The beers are a fusion of craft-style and traditional: they’re not as full flavoured and ‘out there’ as a lot of craft beers, but they aren’t as boring in bottle as most traditional British ales tend to be. So, overall, this beer comes recommended.
Bath Ales Golden Hare Light Ale
Yellow/gold in colour. Goldings hops. Aromas of herbs, straw and farms in summer. The palate is tangy with sweet ripe apple and citrus fruitiness and also a subtle hoppy, herby bitterness. There’s a touch of toffee apple sweetness to the citrussy fruit, and it finishes fresh and spicy. 7.5/10
Available in Sainsbury’s
Brew By Numbers is successfully experimenting with a wide variety of styles and flavours, strongly influenced by Belgian Lambic brewing. They have one of the most informative and easy to use websites in beer today. Each beer is brewed with the finest natural ingredients and packaged alive to ensure a natural carbonation and allow flavours to evolve over time.
01¦08, Wai-Iti & Lemon Saison, Brew By Numbers, Bermondsey, London
To my mind, this is a complex lager. Those people who like and are familiar with Chapel Down’s Curious Brew will find a lot of appeal here. It’s Curious Brew on steroids. I found it too heavily carbonated, a real mouth full of bubbles and the finish was markedly short. Bright gold in colour, on top of a rich lager base are good lemon and citrus herbal over tones with no pronounced bitterness. 6/10
Had this sitting outside in San Francisco, on a lovely March day. I have tried not to let this affect my appraisal too much. It’s really good. Benchmark IPA.
Lagunitas is a sizeable craft brewery – the sixth largest in the USA, and growing fast – and is based in Petaluma in northern California. Owner Tony Magee is also establishing an outpost in Chicago, which should extend production further.
Lagunitas IPA, California
Amazingly hoppy and lively with herbs, citrus and passionfruit. This is really exotic, in the US IPA style, but it’s balanced and delicious. Lovely stuff. 8/10
The Kernel Brewery in the view of this blog is one of the finest micro brewers in the country, offering a constantly changing diverse range of exciting beers.
London Sour, The Kernel Brewery, Bermondsey, London
This has to be the ultimate beer for wine lovers. It does not taste like beer, largely due to its acidity which is why many will either love it or hate it. If you are looking for any other traditional style of lager, ale or porter, this is not it. The polar opposite of the epic Double Citra . It tastes very much like a natural Loire Chenin Blanc with no discernible dissolved carbon dioxide. Supremely elegant tart baked apples, citrus and a haunting long finish. Sour beer is very tricky to do, allowing often wild yeast or bacteria into the brew, usually in a barrel.
On the basis of this bottle, once again, The Kernel know exactly what they are doing. 9.5/10
This is interesting. It’s a beer made in Muizenberg, near Cape Town, and sampled locally at a restaurant in Kalk Bay from draught. The brewery is Lakeside Beer Works, and they are a new brewer, starting out in 2012. In 2013 they bought the Valley Brewery in Kommetjie. It’s really good to see South African craft beers begin to emerge: in the past it has been a difficult country to drink decent beer in.
Lakeside American Pale Ale, South Africa
4.5% alcohol. Lovely beer: fresh, nicely hoppy with some savoury herb notes and a bit of bitterness, but also a really nice balanced sweet malty backbone. There’s citrus freshness and a tangy quality to the finish. Not too heavy. 8/10
Beavertown Brewery was founded in 2011 in Hackney. Beavertown was the old cockney name given to the historic ‘de beauvoir’ area, famed across Victorian London for its rich characters and infinite revelry. It is a front runner in exciting experimental beers.
Bloody ‘Ell, Blood Orange IPA, Beavertown Brewery, Hackney, London
Bloody ‘Ell Beavertown, this is clever. It is actually brewed with blood oranges. Much preferred to the Gamma Ray and perfect for the Spring Saison (get it?). This full bodied but elegant IPA still has the underlying pine resin bitterness I associate with Beavertown, but it’s not remotely overpowering and is complementary to the restrained orange flavour. If I had been asked blind, I would not have said it had been brewed with oranges in the mix, I’d have said it was from the likes of the Citra hop. This is extremely clever beer brewing, in that it is highly original, will appeal to fans of citrus hop IPA and is a very pretty colour to boot. 8.5/10
Stone Brewing Co. founded in 1996, is the largest brewer in Southern California, a leader in the field of epic American beer, and proof that small is not essential to being great.
Ruination, Stone Brewing Co., Escondido, CA, USA
Another lesson from a master brewery about how to dump a trailer load of hops into a beer that has such depth of flavour it might as well have come from Atlantis. This IPA is not remotely ruinous unless you decide to drink three bottles of it, through a straw, on an empty stomach. Bags of grapefruit citrussy hops accompany a depth of malty goodness, balanced pine resin bitterness and a long finish. Not the most 3 dimensional complex beer out there, yet impressive. 8.75/10
It’s a classic. A legend among craft beers. It tastes OK.
Sierra Nevada Pale Ale: the beer that started the explosion in US craft beer in 1980. Today, Sierra Nevada tastes quite tame: it’s nice, well balanced and has attractive hoppy flavours, but compared with the current crop of US IPAs, it comes across as shy and reserved. But this beer would have seemed extreme 34 years ago.
Sierra Nevada Pale Ale, California
Orange/bronze colour. Sweet and balanced nose with some herby, aromatic, floral hop notes as well as sweet malty characters. The palate is smooth and textured with just a hint of sweetness and lovely spicy, herby hoppiness. Quite restrained, showing balance. Tame by modern standards, but very drinkable. 7.5/10
Kiuchi Brewery is a brewer of the various different styles of world famous Hitachino Nest Beer and creator of some of the best beer label designs in the world.
Hitachino Nest, Classic Ale, Kiuchi Brewery, Naka, Japan
This is lovely and is the beer equivalent of angels rubbing moisturiser into your feet with a silk cloth. Much preferred to the Red Rice Ale. This copper brown beer has all the body, texture and depth of some of the best ‘new wave’ (read multi-hopped) micro brewery beers, but without any overt hops. The flavour is of malted barley, marginal sweetness, a touch of spice though not spicy, notes of fuggles and golding hops, packaged in a balanced classic British ale style. Very refined with a long finish. 8.5/10