Craft Beer Stockist

7 Beer Shops In 3 Days.

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The results from Saturday’s mission.

The weather wasn’t quite as nice as I’d hoped it would be as I set off from Oval in south west London last Saturday, but there was beer to be bought so I soldiered on in the “getting a bit hot now, jumper of…nope, too cold, jumper back on” wind/sun/cloud. My journey took me to 3 beer shops, though Borough Market, up to Old Street and then on to Broadway Market in Hackney. You can see what I came away with in the picture.

The first stop was Utobeer, with their wide and varied selection from around the world. I had to ration myself to one a couple from here as I still had a lot of walking to do.

So, onward over London Bridge, past Bank and through the deserted City until I reached Old Street and popped into The City Beverage Company. The only thing that jumped out at me there was Beavertown’s Bloody ‘Ell blood orange IPA, which was the penultimate bottle in the shop. The guy behind the counter quickly retrieved the last bottle for himself. I tried the beer that night and wow, it was good. A nice, balanced IPA with the usual tropical fruit and citrus flavours and bitter finish, but it also had a note of bittersweet orange juice running though it that made it delicious.

As I ventured on towards Broadway Market, I passed a Nisa Local supermarket and swung in to have a look at their beers. There was nothing too inspiring there, but I did pick up a bottle of Hoopers alcholic Dandelion & Burdock, and a Cloudy Lemonade as I’m a big fan of those as soft drinks. Having tried them, however, they’re both a bit disappointing. The D&B was a bit fake and almost plastic-y tasting, and the lemonade was overly sweet.

As I arrived in Broadway Market, I made my way through the hustle of bikes and moustaches to Noble Fine Liquor, a very well stocked wine and beer shop. It was my first visit, and since I’d tweeted about my pilgrimage the day before, I was greeted by Liam and given a glass of Buxton’s Moor Top to quench my thirst. It was light, citrussy and just what I needed. They stock lots of beers from Partizan, The Kernel, Brodie’s, Hackney Brewery, they have some Cantillion, but the standout is the 4 taps on the wall allowing you to buy takeaway cask ale and cider. Aside from the Moor top, they had 2 other beers, both from Brodie’s: Hackney Red IPA and the Apricot Sour. I tried both, and though the sour was good, I wasn’t sure about a whole pint of it (although Liam assured me it can be done) so I went with the Hackney Red IPA, which I really enjoyed. A big tropical flavour, but also with some autumnal, peppery notes in there too.

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Bloody lovely!

And even after having the Hackney Red and the Moor Top, the flavour that was still with me was the Apricot sour. Damn it, should’ve bought some of that.

So today’s Monday and after trying most of what I bought over the weekend, the standout, by a long way, is Beavertown’s Bloody ‘Ell. I need to get some more of it. So much so, I decided to take a walk on my lunch break at work and go to the beer shops in the area to see if I could find some. But alas, neither Royal Mile Whiskies, The People’s Supermarket, Sourced Market nor The Wine Pantry had any. But the weather was gorgeous, and I did pick up a couple of bottles from breweries I have yet to try, so not a wasted journey.

 

 

 

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Monday’s beers.

And then when I got back to the office, I tweeted The Beer Boutique as I had seen Bloody ‘Ell in there a few weeks ago, but ehy too had sold out. Elusive stuff, it seems. But they did tell me that they would be getting more in and that they were doing a meet the brewer with Beavertown on the 20th June. I’ve got myself a ticket. Details here if you’re interested.

So, I think I won’t be on any beer missions for a while now. My thirst has been quenched…for now.

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To Start, Battersea Beer Festival….

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It was a cold, rainy Friday night. The festival had been on for the last 2 days, this was the final evening. As me and my friend Pat walked past, huddled from the bleak weather, we could see warm, dry people with pint glasses and hear the sounds of laughter and merriment. As we rounded the corner to the entrance, we saw it. A queue. A long queue. That didn’t move for the 10 minutes we waited there. So, as our thirsts overpowered us, we went to the Battersea Mess and Music Hall, just down the road, to have a makeshift beer festival of our own.

We popped into Eagle’s Wines on the way too as a friend was looking for a wine from a specific Australian vineyard, and I noted that they had a pretty decent selection – BrewDog, Coopers, Little Creatures, Sierra Nevada, plus some Belgians and world lagers.

The Battersea Mess is an Antic pub, and pretty typical of their style – dark wood, odd chairs but nicely informal. And they usually have a good selection of beers. Extremely dissapointingly, the had a tap for Moor’s So’Hop but it was off. When a friend inquired as to when it might be back on, he was told that they hadn’t had it for months. They probably leave it there as a ploy to lure in hopheads.

We started off with a Sunny Republic Beach Blonde, a Pacific pale ale. We easily found a table, which is always nice on a Friday night, and took a sip. It was a great first drink, light, crisp, a nice hop punch with a smooth bitter finish, and at 3.7%,extremely sessionable. Another friend, Steve, joined us at this point and we all had a pint of Sunny Republic’s Dolphin Amber, which was, as the pumpclip stated, “complex but easy drinking”, however it wasn’t to all of our hoppy tastes. I tried a half of the Pin-Up Beers Milk Stout, which I definitely couldn’t have done a pint of. The very toasted finish was a bit much for me. Still, good to try beers from 2 British breweries that I’d previously never heard of.

20130208_203649Then we all moved onto the bottles: Anchor Steam, Little Creatures, Sierra Nevada, Brooklyn. All beers with good heritage but ones that I hadn’t actually had in a while because of my thirst for new beers. I also tried the Sierra Nevada Kellerweis, which I enjoyed – nice banana and clove notes with a clean, slightly sour finish. It was good but possibly not what I really wanted that late into the night.

We also set up a Twitter account for Steve to do beer reviews based on his tasting notes which I find very amusing as they are written purely for himself and sometimes don’t make sense. We came up with The Sipping Forecast (genius, I know) but I think I just have to persuade him to actually start tweeting.

And so to Saturday morning when, not as hungover as the previous morning,
I decided to accomplish three things in one endeavour. I wanted to break in my new walking shoes, I wanted to do some exercise and I wanted to pay my first visit to Mr Lawrence’s beer shop in Crofton Park, south-east London. So, I donned my shoes and set off on the 10 mile walk through Wandsworth Common, Clapham Common, Brixton, Brockwell Park, East Dulwich and Peckham Rye Park before ending up right at Crofton Park station. First bad sign, the shutters were down. Second bad sign, it was 1pm and the website says opening hours are from midday. The third bad sign was when I went into the adjoining wine bar and asked about the shop and was told that it was closed. As in, closed down. I now see that it says that at the very top of their website, but it still lists their stock and opening times. *sigh*

So, I made my way to Brockley, hopped on a train to London Bridge and headed straight to Utobeer where I could happily satisfy my hunger to avail myself of new beers.20130209_153642 I’ve had the Dark Energy already, and thankfully it lived up to all the hype I’d heard. And, inspired (and also made slightly jealous) by the number of bloggers doing Christmas countdowns and beery advent calenders last December, I have started to collect some for Christmas 2013. I might as well aim for 12, it’s a fitting number. Pictured are additions 2 and 3 from Goose Island and Rogue. The first one was a Jolly’s Revenge from By The Horns that I got from their brewery bash before Christmas. I very much enjoyed it on tap, lets see what a year in the bottle does to it. And actually, just thinking about it now, I think I’ll aim to have at least one homebrewed beer on the list. Bring on Christmas!

Categories: Beer, Craft Beer Stockist, Pub | 2 Comments

North London Beer Expedition

There are 2 beer shops that I have long heard about but had never visited as they are in north London, and I don’t usually have much business being in those parts. Which is unfortunate, given the crop of craft and real ale pubs up that way.

It was a lovely, sunny, autumnal day yesterday, so I decided to venture to the two hallowed beer shops of Kris Wines and Drinkers Paradise to see if they were up to all the hype I had read and heard about over the years.

On my way up north, I also popped in to St. Pancras station to have a look at Sourced Market, which I had seen listed as a stockist on the London Fields Brewery site. And very impressed I was too, a surprising selection for such a location: Camden, Moncada, London Fields, Beavertown, Windsor & Eton and Kernel from London, and a good range of real ales from around the country. The prices were a touch high, but not bad considering its location.

So on I went, up York road in the sunshine, past the now derelict York Road tube station, until I reached the parade of shops just before you get to Camden Road. And there, with its shutters down was Kris Wines. God damn it. Well, it was about 12:45pm, so I figured I’d walk to Drinkers Paradise and hope that Kris Wines would open up about 1pm.

Drinkers Paradise is a good little shop. Not blown away, but certainly a much better selection than your average off-licence. Possibly not worth a journey to go there specifically, I’d say, but pop in if you’re in the area. I got myself a Little Brew pale ale (a local Camden brewery), and Eistök pale ale (which I’m seeing around more and more).

So then I went back to Kris Wines and it was open! And, Lordy, what a shop. An overwhelming selection of beers from all over the world; a section of Belgian beers, a whole shelf devoted to Mikkeller, little nooks and crannies filled with craft beers. I could have spent hours and lots of money in there. But, I only had £6 on me (for reasons I won’t go into) and I had to carry what I bought down to Camden. So that limited me to 2 beers. One choice was the London Fields Love Not War because I have, as yet, not tried anything from them. The second choice was tougher and took me a good 15 mins to decide. I finally plumped for the Kernel Porter, as I seem to be exploring the darker beers at the moment (after trying the Sambrooks porter at their brewery bash – it’s opening up a whole new, roasted, toasted world to me!). Kris Wines is definitely worth the hype, and definitely worthy of a trip. Just make sure you take money and a means to carry your spoils, as it’s no fun having to choose only 2.

Then I strode off towards Camden to meet a few friends (with a brief stop to watch 6 middle-aged women trying to negotiate Camden lock with a narrow boat, whilst 2 guys from Amsterdam criticised their every move). The first stop was The Black Heart, as I had heard about their range of craft beers and real ales. The selection was pretty good (Camden, Darkstar, Moor, By The Horns, Brooklyn) but the setting wasn’t. You’re definitely in Camden. It’s also a venue upstairs and feels like it – a bit dingy, bad toilets and not great for a quiet afternoon drink. Still, we stayed to sample their wares, highlights being the Stiff
Upper Lip from By The Horns, and the Darkstar Revelation.

We wanted a bit of food so we ventured to the BrewDog just round the corner. The 5am Saint was very, very good. We ordered food – a pizza and a burger – which took nearly an hour to come. After asking a few times where the food was, the staff simply said it was on its way, not offering an apology. The food came, it was good, but as I’ve mentioned before, when that place gets busy it gets very loud. After the food we decided to call it a night, which was a shame as I didn’t get to try Hello My Name Is…Beastie which I’d heard a lot about. Perhaps I’ll have to pop back soon on a quieter night.

All in all, a lot of walking, a lot of beer, and a lot of discovery.

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Rocky Head Launch

I had a lovely afternoon today (after waking up a teensy bit hungover from an evening at Craft) visiting my favourite beer shop, Drink of Fulham for the launch of Rocky Head Brewery.

The new London brewery is based in Southfields, south west London (and about a 5 min walk from my flat) and is the weekend hobby for the two brewers, Steve and Pete, who are wine merchants Monday to Friday.

They are currently only brewing a Pale Ale while they build up their reputation and profile but will expand to other brews in time. The Pale Ale is, I think, one of the nicest beers I have tasted. Loads of hoppy flavour, as you’d expect from a pale ale, but a nice smooth finish that doesn’t grip your tongue like other pales can. Very well balanced, it’s a really good beer with bags of flavour, and so good to see something a little different from a local microbrewery.

They hand bottle and label themselves, and stamp each one with a “Bottled On” date, making it feel very hand crafted. Their artisan approach to brewing means that while they try to make each batch the same, differences in hop yield, malts and the small quantity of beer brewed will result in slight variations in each individual brew, giving an interesting variation. Much like the wines with which they are both well acquainted.

The beer was matched with various Gujarati snacks from Shrila, the owner of Drink of Fulham, who had enough faith in the brewery to host the launch before even tasting the beer.

The only tough part was then choosing which beers to take away. So to ease the pain, I had a Rocky Head Pale Ale while I perused. And now, as I’m writing this, I’m drinking the beers I purchased earlier today. Nothing like writing about beer while you drink it.

I will follow this fledgling brewery closely, I think they have a bright future ahead of them. And I will also be back to Drink soon to stock up on some more of their pale ale, and I recommend you do too.

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The People’s Supermarket

So, on this mission to delve into the world of craft beer in London, I have realised that there are many places I don’t know about. For example, until 2 weeks ago I didn’t know By The Horns Brewery was 5 minutes from my flat. But then that’s one of the things I love about London; there will always be so much to discover.

Anyway, whilst looking into Little Brew, I noticed The People’s Supermarket in Bloomsbury listed as a stockist. I’d never come across this shop before and since it was only a 10 min walk from my work I decided to pop in on the way home. Didn’t have a chance to have a look around the shop as I was drawn to the shiny bottles in the corner. And boy, the sight that greeted me! Lots of lovely London craft beers – Camden, Little Brew, Meantime and Redchurch. Amazing. One of the assistants did give me a bit of an odd look when I took a photo of their fridge, though. But that’s understandable.

Regretfully, I didn’t buy anything, but I will be back soon and that will be a heavy, clinky walk to the station. Probably get some strange looks on the train. I should get used to that.

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Drink of Fulham

I stumbled across this wonderful little place on Fulham Palace Road shortly after it opened a couple of years ago, enticed in by the quaint cafe/boutique feel of it – a big, black awning and a couple of tables out the front.

On entering, you are greeted by the wonderful sight of nearly floor-to-ceiling walls of beer. And although quite small, the selection of beers is truly excellent. Lots and lots of British beers and ciders, plus German, Czech, Belgian, French, American, Australian and a range of interesting world lagers too (China, Kenya, Laos, Morocco etc). There are a couple of fridges for most of the lagers and ciders, just in case you want to crack one open while you’re there, either to retire to a table outside or simply while you’re browsing the rest of their stock.

The other great thing about Drink of Fulham are the homemade curry pastes and other Gujarati treats – simply excellent. Made with a tomato and onion base, the spices are added in front of you so you can have it as hot as you like.
I always stock up on a few pastes when I make a beer run here.

The staff are very welcoming and friendly; I remember one time I was there while a man (a Canadian brewing Belgian beer) was giving a bottle of his brew to Shrila, the owner, to try. She promtly popped it open, shared it around the customers in the shop and then whipped out some tasty little snacks that went very well with the beer. Like I say, very welcoming and friendly.

AND, they also do monthly beer tasting events featuring home-cooked Gujurati cuisine.

The website is very well kept, with pretty much full listings of the beers they stock, along with details of upcoming events and the full curry paste and food menu.

An absolute gem of a shop, and definitely worth a trip.

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Noble Green Wines, Hampton Hill

I only found out about this place relatively recently, in the last 6 months or so, and have only visited it once as its a little out of London, but I will definitely be a regular here (my brother, who lives nearby, has been a few times…much to my jealousy).

It is primarily a wine shop, with most of the shop housing a wide selection from around the world. But when I went, I wasn’t interested in that. I went straight to the beer section – there’s a room to the side with an extensive range of bottles: ales, wheat, craft, Belgian, lagers. Definitely something for everyone.

The real standout for this shop, however, is the cask ale. 20-odd casks sitting in rows, all waiting to be tasted! Admittedly, not all of them are available as some are resting, but there’s always a good selection. The staff are very friendly and accommodating, happy to pour out tasters and give suggestions. They seem to be regular stockers of various Twickenham Ales brews, as that’s local to them, and when I was there they had at least 4 Dark Stars on, including their American Pale Ale and the seasonal Summer Meltdown, spiced with ginger – delicious!
They pour your chosen beer into plastic milk bottles (2, 4 or 8 pints), or 5, 10 and 20 litre kegs/boxes for a few of you (or if you’re a fast drinker), and they even do the full firkins for parties, etc, but I think they need some notice for that.
A wonderful shop, and the only place I know if in London that you can get cask ale to take away…anyone know of anywhere else that does this?

Find out everything you need to know here, and definitely go and visit them

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