Greene King – London Glory

Like them or loathe them, there’s certainly no avoiding Greene King’s massive empire. Being the leading pub retailer they own restaurant chains such as Hungry Horse, Flame Grill, Meet & Eat. As well as beer brands like Belhaven, Morland, Hardys & Hansons. Plus, with the recent aquisition of ‘Spirit’ you’re inevitably going to be forced into their beer at some stage in your drinking career.

London Glory is a new introduction into their beer repertoire; or has there just been massive rebranding? Quite honestly, I’m not absolutely sure. Either way there must has surely been a huge investment into their marketing. Self subtitled, ‘Great British Ale’ it projects a grandeur image, a bold statement to live up to. I can’t help but think it’s been produced for direct competition with Fuller’s London Pride – a favourite draught session ale amongst publicans, and a ‘go to’ beer of choice for patrons alike.

It’s attractive, clear appearance and amber colour probably puts it between 15-20 in the standard reference method. Pulled straight from cask, it contains only its natural carbonation, so not masses of head. It’s a bit boring on the taste side, no real distinct flavour jumps out. The crystal malts produce a light toffee taste and subtle cereal flavours, with a slight sweetness on the finish. For an ale that’s 4.1% ABV it’s curiously light in body and certainly not as ‘rich’ as the commercial description boasts. There’s nothing really exciting about it, it seamlessly blurs into the rest of the brewery’s catalogue, with no distinct identity between the likes of IPA, Old Speckled and Abbot.

A severe lack of personality makes it difficult to find London Glory anything more than drinkable. It’s just a beer brewed for the masses.

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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.