Three new beers were showcased at the Wandsworth brewery yesterday: Wolfie Smith, London’s Raspberry Coffee Stout and the latest in their Hopslinger IPA range, Willamette.
Wolfie Smith is a brown ale named after Robert Lindsay’s character in the 70’s sitcom Citizen Smith about a half-arsed communist in Tooting. The beer was a nice choice for the first drink of the day – malty, rich, with a grassy hop finish. A surprising amount of flavour for such a low ABV beer, probably a good session number. But I wanted something with a bit more punch and depth, so opted for the raspberry coffee stout. As the name would suggest, it has lots of delicious smokey, roasted coffee flavour but the raspberry sourness left it a little thin-tasting for my palate. But again, a big flavour profile for another low ABV beer (3.6%). They’re obviously trying to get taste and aroma over pure alcohol, which is refreshing to see after so many double and triple IPAs lately.
Next up, I went for their Bobby On The Wheat which I didn’t get the chance to try last time. Cold, cloudy, fizzy, banana-ey, slightly sweet, and everything you’d expect of a wheat. Good, but I’m not sure I could have too many of them.
The time had come for the Hopslinger – a 6.2% range of American-style IPAs, with a different twist every month. This month it was the turn of Willamette. Not much hop on the nose, certainly not the pine or citrus I would have expected from a North American hop, much more subtle and grassy. A sip is like a mouthful of toffee and biscuits, with a big warm wash of booze at the end, and a crisp, dry finish. Not what I’d come to expect of a highly-hopped IPA, but very suited to a cold autumn evening in London. I spoke to Alex, one of the brewers, and he assured me they use the same malt base for all the Hopslingers, and late/dry hopped with lots of Willamette, but the caramel flavours just dominate this beer. Unexpected, but pleasant.
And then I went for a Diamond Geezer red ale and the Lambeth Walk porter, both of which are favourites for me. I had a bottle of the Diamond Geezer at home a few weeks ago but I have to say it was a shadow of the version straight from the cask. And the porter was as good as ever, warmed me up good and proper!
As I’ve said before, it’s great to be in the brewery, tasting the beer fresh from the cask or keg and talking to the brewers. The guys seem genuinely passionate about their brews, and happily for them, their list of stockists seems to be growing by the day.
Their next open day is on Saturday 15th December, 12pm-8pm and they’ll have a spiced Christmas beer (which was in the fermenter) and I’m assuming their next Hopslinger installment (I spied “Summit” scribbled on their brewing schedule behind the bar, so I’m guessing that’s it). Put it in your diary.