I've written before about how much I enjoy Mason and Taylor on Bethnall Green Road, London. It is handy for our flat and I've found it to be one of the friendliest of places, with excellent bar staff and a great range of beers. It embraces the best of both worlds, in that while it is undoubtedly a craft beer bar, it is one that has the good sense to sell both cask and keg beer, thus appealing to a broader crowd and of course, providing something for everyone. A bringing together of the new with the old, rather harmoniously and dare I say it, with some style and charm?
Imagine my disappointment therefore to find that the owners have not only decided to sell it, but to sell it to those most divisive of upstarts, BrewDog. No doubt the handpumps will be ripped out and replaced by ultra expensive BD plus even more expensive, imported, fancy pants beer at top dollar. Certainly a look at the promises for the future of the place on the BrewDog site holds out little hope for the retention of cask beer. It wouldn't fit in with BDs's image and of course, it couldn't be sold at the eye watering prices that BD will undoubtedly wish to charge.
I don't know why Mason and Taylor are turning up their toes, but there can be only two plausible reasons. Either they were losing money and this is a way to cut their losses and run, or, they were made an offer they couldn't refuse. The twitter rumour is that they are using the money to open a new place in "Hipsterville Hackney", but who knows? So, despite the chorus of "awesomes" - is there a more annoying word around than that? - on the BD website, BD would have expanded in London sooner or later anyway. It is a great pity it had to be at the expense of rather a good boozer with a much more inclusive outlook.
I don't feel at all that this is progress. I reckon we've all just lost much more than we've gained here.
I see too that the Scottish Government has just given BD a half million quid to help them expand. Hope it will be spent wisely.
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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