Tuesday, 26 February 2013

Craft Beer Rising 2013

I wasn't aware of this event until a friend invited me via Facebook, but I wasn't filled with much enthusiasm looking at the list of participating breweries it didn't seem to say "Craft" to me. Several names from the craft scene were missing no; Kernel, Brodies, Magic Rock, Summer Wine or Hardknott. With some odd choices filling the void such as Green King, Wells & Youngs and Fullers under the guise of one of their pubs "The Union Tavern"

However thanks to a twitter competition run by @Brewdog I won two tickets to one of the sessions over the weekend and so Saturday found me an Christine travelling to East London. Set in original Truman Brewery site on Brick Lane, the venue seemed perfect although a little difficult to find at first due to the vintage clothes fair in the basement. Once we'd safely navigated our way inside we grabbed a glass and an ample amount of tokens to see us through the afternoon.

Split into 2 rooms Cask and Keg, it was instantly apparent the event was more like a trade show than a beer festival, each brewery setup with its own stall selling its wares directly to the intrigued punters. First to catch our eye in the cask room was Brains Craft Brewery who have been beavering away in a new micro brewery for just under a year now. With several catchy names to choose from Christine plumped for their latest edition Beardface 5% a lovely milk stout. I was like a kid in a sweet shop but when I spotted Sharps stall my choice was made, Total Citra 4.1% which was a delight.

As well as the beer, the musical inspired Signature Brew were providing DJs & live music in a third room, which became a great place to sit whilst not choosing a beer or chatting to the brewers. If you've not come across Signature Brew before they are a brewery that offer musicians the chance to brew their own beers, to date having worked with a number of artists including, Professor Green, Frank Turner and Enter Shikari. The guys then guide the artists through the whole brewing process from the the development of the beer with testing sessions, up to the final brew.
Signature Brews appearance gave me a chance to try Enter Shikari's Sssnakepit 5% an American hopped larger and catch up Sam McGregor one of the Signature Brew founders. I also tasted Frank Turners Believe 4. 8% and grabbed a bottle of Mammoth 7% double-IPA to take home, which I'm looking forward to trying

As the afternoon progressed we came across Bateman's selling their - Signature Beer Range (with an all too similar sign to the afore mentioned Signature Brew). Christine having previously tried Mocha 6.0% winner of the Sainsbury's Great British Beer Hunt 2012, sampled the Orange Barley Wine 6%  which was light and refreshing and very heavy on the Orange, as well as Hazelnut Brownie 6% with a rich deep chocolate and hazelnut flavours coming through. We started talking to the stall holder who then presented Christine with her own Bateman's tulip glass. Just one of the many examples of the wonderful hospitality at Craft Beer Rising.

Getting hungry we had a look around the various food stalls and jumped for one of the wonderful Hot Dogs courtesy of Fleisch Mob which were laden with onions and sauerkraut, I also got a special shot of Schnapps as the owner Mark is a fellow Palace fan. Look out for his stall at Kerb Market during March.

The evening before fellow South London beer bloggers @SW6Badger & @RealAleGirlShea had recommended the Cornish based Rebel Brewing Co's - Mexi-Cocoa 8.5%. A Chocolate Vanilla Stout, triple-infused with chocolate and vanilla at each stage of the process. Giving the beer a deep and powerful flavour but is still smooth enough to sip. Talking to the team the recipe was derived by their Mexican head brewer (who's clearly a long way from home brewing in Penryn). As well as tasting Mexi-Cocoa, Christine bought a bottle to take home and the Rebel guys threw in a free IPA for me a long with some other goodies! Rebel Brewing Co, appear to be one of the breweries that have really gained something from appearing at Craft Beer Rising. Having not heard of them before the event they'll be one to look out for in 2013.

So I can safely say that Craft Beer Rising was not what I had expected, yes the array of brewers was quite diverse and maybe not "Craft" (I managed to avoid all things Green King) but the new breweries and beers I found more than made up for the lack of some of the bigger craft names.
Being able to talk directly to the brewers about their produce was great and I'm sure that Craft Beer Rising 2014 will be bigger and better, I just hope the don't forget the little guys!

Other Beers/Breweries of note were:

Hogs Back - A over T (Bright) 9%
Courage - Imperial Russian Stout (Bottle) 10%
HOBO - Craft Czech Lager (can) 5.1%
Thornbridge - Bear State- West Coast IPA 7% (Keg)
Sharps - Project Wheatcore 4.7% (Cask)
Sharps - Cornish Pilsner (Bottle)
Penpont Brewery - An Howl Reserve- IPA 7.0% (Cask)
Penpont Brewery - Ginger Beer 4.2% (Cask)
Traquair House Brewery - Jacobite Ale 8%
Thwaites -Thirteen Guns 5.5% (Cask)
Brewers & Union - Dark Lager 5% (Bottle)
The Botanist - Humulus Lupulus Pale Ale 3.8% (Cask)
Wildcard Brewery - Jack of Clubs (Bottle)

Wednesday, 13 February 2013

Dukes Brew & Que

It seemed like we'd been waiting weeks and when Saturday finally came, this time it wasn't football on my mind but food. Christine and I had booked a table a Dukes Brew & Que a few weeks back, having succumb to our jealousy from the endless tweets in my feed praising the BBQ joint in Haggerston.

Dukes is also the home of Beavertown Brewery which takes it’s name from the old cockney name for the De Beauvoir area of Hackney that the brewery and restaurant resides. Setup in February 2012 by Logan Plant (You might just have heard of his father Robert of Led Zeppelin fame) & friend Byron. Their aim is to "make some damn fine ales"and you can safely say they've achieved that. With a recent collaboration with Brew Dog under their and their 3 bottled beers popping up in establishments all over London.

Situated in an old east end pub, the Beavertown boys have stripped the interior back to its shell, with exposed walls and bare floorboards as well as antlers adorning the walls and chandeliers. Visible from our table to the left was the cramped kitchen as well as the fermenting tanks and other steel brewing paraphernalia, to the right the well stocked bar. A printed menu on each table lists today's draft and cask offerings on our outing including two new additions to the core range Black Betty Black IPA 7%Hit The Road Jack IPA we tried a pint of each.

The menu its self is simple, really simple, It's pretty much either Beef or Pork with a Veggie Burger thrown in for good measure. Having browsed the menu my choice was made, Beef Rib. With Christine choosing the Trio of Pulled Pork Sliders. We'd barely had a sip of our drinks before meals arrived along with a side of Seasoned Fries. The ribs come coated in a lovely caramelised smoked hickory glaze leaving the meat tender and juicy. The only down side was the amount of fat left, but the amount of meat more than satisfied. The pork sliders come with fried pickles and judging by Christine's reaction were equally as delicious.

Seemingly not quite stuffed by our mains we ordered another beer and a Baked Cheesecake to share. This time Kernel's Table Beer 3.3% ABV amazingly crisp and fruity from a low abv beer. A surprisingly nice match for the velvety baked desert rather than a stout or porter I'd usually consider with desert.
So with that our experience at Dukes was over! Hackney is a part of London I'd never really ventured into before but there's a lot to be discovered, The Sebright Arms, Crate Brewery & London Fields Brewery are all on my list for 2013

If you're planning on hitting up Duke's Brew & Que then I'd recommend booking in advance as the service area is small and your time is often limited to a 1 and 1/2 hour booking.
Dukes Brew & Que: 33 Downham Road, Hackney, London N1 5AA