Beer wise I had variously good experiences and bad in London last week. On the good side obviously was the lovely weather, which made a little outdoor drinking possible, as well as pleasant strolls to and between pubs. Lists can be boring, but I won't let that stop me, so I'll mention some of the best, just so you know where to go. The Gunmaker's Arms as always keeps their beer immaculately. Landlord Jeff even took me into his cellar to try an impressive new beer from East London Brewing. I suspect that they may be one to watch, so let's er.. watch them. Making a handy little pub crawl is nearby Craft. I've praised them before for very well kept beer and do so again, this time enhanced by three (or was it four?) Mallinson's beers. Only black mark was the mind numbing overly loud music, but then to this old git, modern repetitive beats go into my head like driven nails. None of that nonsense in the Euston Tap though, where I enjoyed my farewell to London beers. I have never had a badly presented beer here.
Another highlight was Kernel Brewery, where we dropped a lot of money in very short order, drinking some very impressive beers. This is an interesting venue under some railways arches, attracting a lot of yuppie and know-all types, but nonetheless, in the sun, rather fun, though it took some finding. I had to check on the Dean Swift too. Since its new cask cooling has been installed, I haven't been in London, but the system works well and the beer is cool and drinkable. The pub listened to comments and acted on them. That's great. We like it a lot and will be back.
It can't all be good though. On Sunday - a very warm day - the beer in the Harp wasn't standing up well at all. One pint was sufficient on this occasion. A couple of poor shows in Nicolson's pubs on the Strand too. That's disappointing as I regard Nicolsons as generally good. And of course there is the delightful Draft House on Tower Bridge. I love the place for the decor, the big windows and the buzz, but please cool the cask beer. Please, please cool the cask beer.
London has its warm beer issues and none more so than one of my local pubs, but lo, it now sports a Cask Marque sign, so in we went. The beer was so undrinkably warm, that I felt moved to complain to Cask Marque. They inspected it on Monday and fed back to me that the beer purchased (Sharp's Doom Bar) was an unbelievable 23.5C. That for us old chaps is 74.3F. Astonishing. They will follow up with two more unannounced visits to check for improvement. I suspect I may be reporting more to them, though as winter approaches, cellars will cool. Still splendid service from Cask Marque. Well done chaps.
Of course the other thing about London is how good the pubs invariably are. Traditional, lovely to look at and to be in. I love London pubs above most others. They are just so.... so......... pubbish.
Let's get the beer right though and a word to the wise, refrigeration is not a bad thing.
I won't name my local pub on this occasion until I know how things turn out.
A bit of a CV. Tandleman is a veteran beer lover, local CAMRA Chairman and activist, beer writer, beer reviewer and pursuer of all things good in beer. He lives in the North West of England and London. Despite his CAMRA membership, he does not limit himself to cask conditioned beer, though he believes that cask conditioning, when done correctly and appropriately, brings a quality to beer that is hard to equal by any other kind of presentation. He is a strong supporter of Northern methods of beer dispense and avidly detests poorly presented beer and dislikes pasteurisation. He regularly visits Germany, has conducted corporate British and German beer tastings for CAMRA at the Great British Beer Festival where he has worked for years on Biere Sans Frontieres and was Deputy Organiser at CAMRA's very successful National Winter Ales Festival in 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2012 and at the Manchester Beer and Cider Festival from 2013 to date. He admires good brewers wherever they are and has travelled extensively in pursuit of good beer to drink.
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