In my quest a couple of weeks ago to find some more Beavertown Blood Orange IPA, The Beer Boutique informed me of a meet the brewer event that they were holding with Beavertown founders Logan Plant (son of Led Zeppelin’s Robert) and Byron Knight. For £15, it was a bargain.
The Beer Boutique is a fine beer shop with a great selection, and with the candles and wooden tables, it made a very nice, intimate setting for the evening. My friend Nick joined me, and as a self confessed (but open-minded) lager-boy, I was interested to see what he would think of the range of Beavertown’s beers. Logan and Byron began by giving a brief history of Beavertown, how they started up the brewery and Duke’s Brew & Cue restaurant in the same premises in Hackney, and how both have become independently very popular. This meant that recently the brewing setup had to move from the basement of the restaurant to a site a few miles away in Hackney Wick, right next to the Olympic Park. Both guys spoke passionately and animatedly about their beer and the ever-changing craft scene in London. All the while we all sat with a glass of their American Pale Gamma Ray in front of us, showing great restraint until Logan gave the cue to drink. It’s exactly what you’d expect from the style, huge tropical fruit aromas and flavours and a nice crisp bitter finish. I have had this previously, a while ago, and it was much better than I remembered.
Next was a small step to the 8-Ball. this is a rye IPA that has a slightly more subdued tropical flavour and a more earthy character, buoyed by the peppery spiciness of the rye. It was brewed to be paired with the pork ribs at Duke’s, and tastes like it would work very well with the sweet, smokiness of BBQ sauce. As we finished that, Black Betty was poured into our glasses. I have had this before and liked it very much. It’s a black IPA and it tasted just like I remembered: tropical fruits with an undercurrent of toast. Crisp, clean and dangerously drinkable for 7.4%. At this point, Byron came around the table and started talking to us. It turns out he’s more on the management side of the business and still has lots to do with the restaurant, whereas Logan focuses on the hands-on brewing. But he loves beer, and was very interested in everyone’s opinions of their beers. He also informed me that their Blood Orange IPA will make a comeback, but it is, unfortunately, very dependant on the extremely seasonal blood orange harvest. So it won’t be a core beer, but it might be a summer special. Phew!
A bit of a direction change for the next beer. The Hara-Kiri is a saison that was brewed with lime and pepper, among other things, and was designed for an American/Japanese fusion night at Duke’s. It has a fruity aroma, telltale banana from the saison yeast, and an almost salty, sour finish. It is an interesting beer, and the flavour developed and changed with each mouthful. I wouldn’t drink it on it’s own, but I’m sure it paired well with the BBQ pork ramen and cod roe corndog from the fusion evening.
Nest up was a beer that was brewed to pair with Duke’s beef ribs, a smoked porter called Smog Rocket. The nose is sweet smoke, a tinge of bacon-flavoured Frazzles, and the smokiness explodes on the tongue, all barbecue and ash. I really like this and would love to try in with some ribs and just wallow in the hickory, mequite and other burning trees.
The Black Yeti, an India stout, tasted somewhat restrained after all these, but it’s a nicely balanced dark beer. Flavour-wise, it seems to sit in between the hoppy-heavy Black Betty and the malt-bomb of the next – and final – beer we tried.
Heavy Water is an imperial stout. It seemed like the whole evening had been building up to this beer. It’s a 9% beast which poured an oily black with a brown foam, and smelled thickly of coffee, toast and bitter chocolate. The taste followed the aroma, coating the mouth with thick, malty flavours, and finishing with a warm, boozy glow. It would have gone marvelously with a rich chocolate cake, that’s for sure.
I had been eyeing up the beer in the shop throughout the night and knew that I wasn’t going to leave empty handed, so as we were informed that the shop had to close at 11pm, we quickly made our selections. I recommended some for Nick that I thought he’d like: a Partizan and Kernel Pale, along with a couple of Gamma Rays that he picked up. After we paid, we got caught up with Logan in a chat about malt and hop supply politics, the US beer scene and the merits of some mass-produced lager.
It was a thoroughly enjoyable evening and a nice tasting trip through some of Beavertown’s beers. I will be keeping an eye on upcoming events at The Beer Boutique as it’s a great setting and allows you to chat to the brewers and find out their inspirations. And I’ll also be in contact with Beavertown to see when the next batch of Bloody ‘Ell is released. And buy the lot.