Brixton Brewery – Lúpulo Pale Ale

Nestled away in railway arch number 547, inside one of London’s market neighbourhoods, is Brixton’s very own brewery. A newcomer to the capital’s ever expanding craft beer scene – they’ve only been going since 2013. It’s a real compact set up; with the seating, bar, fermentation vessels and everything in between fighting for space in one area. So tight for space, in fact, that sacks of hop pellets have been forced to wait outside. Needless to say it’s a little snug for patrons, but it’s not such a bad thing. Combined with the rumble of trains overheard and a smell of fresh wort in the air, it creates a real, authentic experience.

There’s something quite satisfying about drinking beer at its very freshest. We only popped in for a swift half, but ended up with the other half of Lupulo Pale Ale soon after the first. It’s a beer ‘inspired by Mexico’. It’s name originates from ‘Humulus Lupulos’ – the scientific name for the common hop plant. This 4.5% ABV pale ale makes use of four different hops; Pilgrim, Galaxy, Citra and Falconers Flight. That means flavours from England, Australia and the US. It has very distinct grapefruit aromas and it absolutely explodes to life with fruit flavours. The bottle’s vibrant label definitely suits the beer. Interestingly, the brewery has decided to keep all their beers unrefined, meaning the isinglass is omitted so they’re fine for all you strict vegetarians and vegans. Don’t be put off because your beer isn’t as clear as others, the lacing on the glass is a thing of beauty.

It was great to see a flow of curious people rubber necking as they passed by, being encouraged in by the Brewer come Barman come Drayman. The surge in number of craft breweries in London will mean the young guns at Brixton Brewery will have to keep on their toes, but they have a right to be confident if they continue making such great beer as this.

Gentleman's Wit

Camden Town Brewery – Gentleman’s Wit

Witte, witbier, bière blanche, white or wheat; whatever you prefer to call this Belgian style beer… it certainly deserves more attention! I suppose the most obvious example that we all know and love comes from Hoegaarden, everyone’s heard of them, right? To me they’re like the Foster’s of the witte world. But it’s a shame that Average Joe, or Plain Jane for that matter, hasn’t got a lot of interest in the style. It’s not just the Belgian’s who are making it, us Brit’s are trying too. A superb example has been created by the people at Camden Town Brewery, they call it ‘Gentleman’s Wit’ – it’s absolutely delightful.

Since 2010 they’ve been located just next to Kentish Town West station, producing some fantastic craft lagers, they currently have a stout, a pale ale and this witbier. They’ve also had some clever guys busy perfecting their marketing strategy as well, resulting in a ‘hells’ of a lot of money being raised through crowd funding. It’s going towards opening a brand new, bigger brewery to increase the rate of production, which at this point they apparently can’t meet – they’re outsourcing to some guys in Belgium at the moment. You could say Jasper Cuppaidge and co. have had relative success since starting out by making beer in a pub basement.

So, the beer. Gentleman’s Wit’s mash bill is half wheat and half Pilsner malt, combined they give the finished product a light straw colour with a hazy appearance. It’s made with the addition of slow roasted lemon and bergamot, giving the beer hints of both citrus and coriander, so a slight spiciness. It’s fairly dry on the palate and light in body. Bottled, it pours with good carbonation resulting in a crisp head, even more so when dispensed from keg. I really think it benefits from being served well chilled. And I recon It would be perfectly accompanied by a couple of freshly baked, all-butter Scottish shortbread biscuits. It certainly does, and most importantly, tastes great.

BrewDog – Punk IPA

Born in 2007 from two men and a dog, in Ellon, Scotland. BrewDog have come a long way in 7 years. They now have 358 employees, 14000+ shareholders, and they operate 26 bars. In 2013 they were the fastest growing company in the UK’s eating and drinking out market. But most importantly, their beer is widely available, in supermarkets and bars alike.

If you’ve heard of them for nothing else it’s probably their controversial marketing, whether deliberate or not, it often provokes a response from watchdogs, competitors and the media. In their early days, they famously named a beer ‘Speedball’, (after the lethal mix of cocaine and heroin!) and then marketed it with ‘Class A Strong Ale’. It was soon banned by the Portman Group, to be expected I guess; nevertheless it gave them a boost in the industry; succès de scandale, there’s no such thing as bad publicity, it seems.

A definite favourite of mine is their Punk IPA, by no means a new introduction (it’s been around for years!). It’s massively successful, a popular example of this style amongst fans, available in bottle, keg and very recently (and interestingly) cans! Hopefully it’ll help lead the charge in canning instead of bottling craft beer.

Crafted with no less than 6 hop varieties… Chinook, Ahtanum, Amarillo, Cascade, Simcoe and Nelson Sauvin. They bundle together to create the initial burst of intense flavour, a wonderfully, fresh, golden taste. Considering the amount of hops used, it’s gracefully balanced and in no way overpowering. It has masses of tropical fruit flavours, which would compliment strongly flavoured food nicely. Despite it being 5.6% ABV it could easily be a session beer.  I personally think beers of this calibre benefit from being chilled well, so it’s a perfect alternative to a cold lager in the hot sun.

BrewDog is undoubtedly a brewery with a very colourful history, and certainly has the beers to match.

Red Squirrel Brewery

New Recipes, Limited Edition and ‘Experimental’ Beers from Red Squirrel Brewing Co.

Through the wonders of social media, I heard a local brewery were introducing a new beer range into the public domain. Red Squirrel Brewing Co. have created something called – ‘Baby Squirrel Experimental’. Already a fan of their current range (Redwood and Black Lager are two of my favourites) I was quite intrigued. Chatting to the guys at the brewery tap, they say it’s a “platform to try new recipes or very limited edition brews”. Seems like an interesting idea, I’m sure you’d agree.

First on their agenda is a changed and improved recipe of their already fantastic ‘Redwood’. For anybody who’s never heard of it, it’s an American IPA and well worth a try if you ever come across it. So, the resulting beer has been bottled, and limited to very few – only 50 in fact. My iPhone calculator tells me this is just 29.063 UK pints – hopefully the people at Red Squirrel have have drunk at least half of this when tasting…?

I had to get my hands on a bottle (or three) as I’m pretty sure they would sell fairly quick. I’ve not yet opened one but I’m very much looking forward to trying it. I really like the idea and I’ll definitely be keeping an eye out for future Baby Squirrel creations.

Red Squirrel Brewing Co. is based in Potten End, Hertfordshire. They have a brilliant craft beer shop in Chesham, and another soon to open in Berkhamsted.

Keep up the good work guys!