Wednesday, 10 February 2016

Pretty Good Stuff

Now I have known to bang on about poor cask beer in London and sometimes I get told off for it. Can you believe that? Well I'm usually right on that subject, but it isn't just that the beer is badly kept in London, but that some of it, honestly, isn't that good.  It is only fair then, to fess up when I come across good London micro brewed cask beer.  Step up to the plate please Five Points Brewery of Hackney, London.

In the excellent Blackjack Taphouse - or is it the Smithfield Market Tavern? - I had my first pint of Five Points Pale. What a great beer. Trust me on this one. It has an easy drinking elegance, is bitter and hoppy without going over the top and above all keeps the body that you need to hold beer together.  Served at the peak of cask conditioning and through a tight sparkler, it was so good I had to have two more.  The true test of a good beer is surely that one pint isn't enough? Now I haven't, to my best recollection, come across this beer in London, but I will look out for it. I just hope I don't find it warm, flat and wishy washy.  I reckon too that it illustrates a point I have often made before, that the best new wave breweries do cask as well as keg and bottle.  When you get your cask beer spot on, you really are a brewer. There is no place to hide when you produce real ale. Well done on that front and shame on those that produced great cask and then gave it up.

I should point out too that I recall Matt Curtis mentioning the brewery, so I looked up the article. It was his cask beer of 2015.  Well done that man.  I can see where he is coming from.

Tonight, having shaken off my lurgy, more or less, I'm going to try some of the new version of a beer I brewed and had a big hand in the recipe, Rammy Craft's Chocolate Chilli Stout. The chilli has been upped. Hooray!


D. Lister said...

Their Railway Porter is excellent on cask too for me.

Matthew Curtis said...


Matthew Curtis said...

But seriously, makes me very happy you like this as it really is a go to every time I see it on cask.

Thinking about it though, I could probably count the London pubs I'd be confident ordering a pint of it from (on cask at least) on one hand, so you've got me there.

Maybe next time it's on at The Duke's Head I'll ask them to put the sparkler on in your honour. (Please note the use of a u in honour there ;) )

Anonymous said...

"Step up to the plate"? Ahem, Step up to the crease, surely.

Paul Bailey said...

I mentioned on my recent blog post about our local rugby club beer festival, that Five Points Brewing produced my two favourite beers of the event. The brewery’s Pale and Railway Porter were both excellent, so I’m glad to see I’m in good company (you and Matt Curtis) in enjoying what Five Points have to offer.

Nate said...

I'd had Five Points Pale a few times and thought it was just alright, then one night when I was staying at a friends' house in Hackney I popped into the Jackdaw and Star on Homerton High Street and saw it on cask so I ordered a pint, and it was so perfect that I ended up drinking four. It's a beer I keep thinking about.

Stonch Beer said...

"Now I have known to bang on about poor cask beer in London and sometimes I get told off for it"

You don't really, though, do you? I don't quite know why you inflict it on yourself but noone else is bothered. During my three months in your beloved Manchester I didn't drink much ropey cask* but that's because I chose carefully where I went (partly based on your own tips). If you did the same in London you'd have a better time, I think.

Cask beer would be a lot better if people who enjoyed it demanded less choice and more quality. But it seems that the kind of person who is into quality cask is also the type of person who goes absolutely SPARE if their exact preference in terms of not just beer type but also brewery type is available. That tendency works to actual make quality harder to achieve in lots of place.

You're a prime example: you don't like brown bitter very much and if there isn't something pale and hoppy on a bar you dismiss the place even if the beer's in tip top form. I know from personal experience as you've done it to me as a pub landlord.

* St Thomas Chop House. Don't drink there. Worst cask in Manchester.

Tandleman said...

You are a funnyosity Jeffers. If I remarked to you about the lack of something pale and hoppy - and I probably did - it was in the context of chatting to you as a mate and surveying four brown beers in a row. Bit unsporting to then quote it back out of its original context. Even more so as I used to make special trips to your pub. The original conversation wasn't "doing" anything to you at all.

Having said that, I do agree that less is more in many cask pubs and have always said so. Beer quality comes before choice to me and you very well know I have supped your beer happily and made no negative remark upon it. So I'm not your target audience here at all - certainly not as I sup far - probably by a factor of 20 or more - pints of Lees Bitter in a year than I do anything else. I've been arguing for quality beer since you were running about smashing windows with your catapult in some God forsaken part of the North East. In fact, I have a motion to this year's CAMRA AGM about it and I'll be using the less is more argument there as I agree with what you say. It does no favours to anyone to have lots of beer of poor quality on.

The lack of imagination of some London publicans isn't the same thing at all and as for me going SPARE, well you are just talking bollocks. Maybe others, but remarking about something is not going SPARE and as always, unless the pint is foul, I just quietly sup up and leave.

And finally in this enjoyable little rant, of course I drink cask beer in the more reliable London places - yours for example - but quite a few others, but I do like to pop into other well known pubs too; and not so well known places and I speak as I find.

As for Mr Thomas's Chop House I haven't been in there for years.

Ben Viveur said...

I know I've done that at least once in your pubs Stonch, please don't take it personally. (Though latterly, if there was nothing I fancied/needed on cask, I'd usually stop for at least one keg pint. Your pubs were pretty good.)

I'm not going to apologise for being a picky consumer though. It's my money, my time, and my alcohol/calorie intake, which are all finite resources. I demand quality AND choice in cask beer, and in London it is very easy to adjourn somewhere else if these requirements aren't met.

Erlangernick said...

Is "smashing windows with a catapult" a euphemism for something?