Had some decent beer in London yesterday. The Castle provided excellent Wolf Porter, a fairly good IPA called Mahseer, which reminded me a little of Ind Coope Burton Ale (and I mean that as a compliment). It comes from Green Jack brewery in Suffolk, a brewery I once had an ad hoc tour of many years ago. I must watch out for their beers . Getting served here at lunchtime is a problem, with the Peroni swilling suits braying and dominating the bar, but it is great for people (and totty) watching and has good beer, so what's not to like?
Not so impressive was the Fullers owned Mitre. Fullers beers dominate now of course, but it was to Roosters that I turned for refreshment. Alas Apres Ski was dull, under conditioned and a struggle to enjoy. No such problems at the Gunmakers where I can say without equivocation, I had the best beer I have ever had in London in terms of its presentation. Purity Mad Goose was the beer, from a new cask admittedly. It was absolutely perfect and properly sparkled too. Well done Jeff Bell. Other London pubs that aren't even on the same planet in terms of cellermanship, to note and copy.
In the Melton Mowbray in Holborn, I had my second ever half of Fullers Bengal Lancer. Like the first in the Doric Arch yesterday, it failed to hit the spot, though was pleasant enough in an unremarkable way. My view of Fullers beers is that they are becoming defined by what isn't there rather than what is. Like a poorly tuned radio, you can get the gist of it, but the sharpness and clarity isn't there. Everything in their beers is turned down a notch too far.
After a long wait for a 25 bus (every 10-12 minutes - bollocks), I nipped into the Brown Bear in Leman St, our nearest pub. A choice of Pride, Black Sheep or Sharps Doom Bar was offered. Not being a fan of Black Sheep - too weedy - I plumped for Doom Bar. This is a beer I've criticised in the past and seen criticised in blogs elsewhere, but I thought it deserved a second chance. Wrong. It's bloody awful. An unremitting brown, thin, malt driven pint of boredom. Yes while awaiting the lovely E, I ordered a pint. Damn.
Last beer of the day was the in the Empress of Russia, probably our second nearest pub. Choice of two beers in this Shepherd Neame tied house. I'm not keen on Spifire, so Late Red it was. OK in that harsh one dimensional Shep's sort of way, but what the heck is an Autumn beer doing on in March?
So, a pleasant enough wander and some excellent beer. The best thing was the mental note to look out for beers from Green Jack, the excellence of the Gunmakers and one I missed above. Young's London Gold is perhaps underhopped, but was a good refresher and I reckon it'll sell. I need to try this again as a half possibly wasn't enough to make a long term judgement.
Today a long walk to Cask as recommended by Boak and Bailey. I'm expecting great things.
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. He also judges beer at both the International Beer Challenge and the World Beer Awards.
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