Brouwerijen De Molen en ‘t IJ

Blimey! It has been a little while since I have written, indeed this entry is rather delayed itself as I left my prized moleskine notebook 200 miles away. Now the poncy stationary is back in my possession, this from August…

Brouwerij De Molen (The Mill Brewery, Bodegraven)

De Molen, Mill Brewery, Bodegraven

De Molen

Craft beer lovers will probably be well acquainted with the name De Molen, a brewery situated in Bodegraven around 1 hour south of Amsterdam by train.

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ABC Beer Festival, Altrincham

September has been a busy month – so this post is a whole month after the event. I was fortunate enough to be around Manchester for the August bank holiday weekend and spent the Saturday night at the Altrincham Bottle & Cask beer festival (known as ABC) which is now in it’s 3rd year. Held in Altrincham’s indoor market, featuring over 40 cask ales most of which were from Northern breweries.

Altrincham Market

Altrincham Market

 This festival is slightly unusual in that it is run by a bar – Altrincham’s “Le Trappiste”, but supported by the local CAMRA volunteers who provide many of the bar staff.

Simple glass design

Simple but effective glass design

Beer wise as usual I forgot to take any notes. However taking the tactic of trying some of the more ludicrously named beers looking back at the menu there’s a hazy recollection. A few highlights included Leatherbritches brewery – Lemongrass and Ginger (which I recall smelt awful but actually tasted very pleasant!), Wentworth brewery – Lemonale (tasty but I remember only wanting 1/2 pint and no more) with my favouite being one of the last of the night, Bollington Brewery – Le Trappiste Classic (a special brew for the festival, an ale aping the Belgian ‘Double’ style and very much in line with my preferences!).

Entertainment was also provided in the form of a rock band called ‘Quiet desperation’.

Saturday night's entertainment

Saturday night's alright

All in all it was an excellent night and definitely worth a look in 2012.

Serving at the bar

Gratuitous serving shot

East London Brewing Company

It’s an exciting time for beer and brewing in East London.  Hot on the heels of London Fields and Redchurch breweries, September will see the opening of the East London Brewing Company:  a brand new 10 barrel plant tucked away in a corner of an industrial estate in Lea Bridge (the flat bit between Clapton and Baker Arms).

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The brewing plant - hot liquor tub, mash tun and copper

The journey of the East London Brewing Company began back in November last year when Stuart decided to take the plunge and quit his job in chemical R&D to pursue something more fulfilling.  Joined by his wife Claire, who has a background in marketing and communication, they began the process of hashing out the plan for the new business.  After a long search, which took in an awful lot of railway arches, they settled on their chosen location in June this year.

Stu and Fermentation Vessel

Stuart explains the 'joys' of fermination

Initially, Stuart is planning to concentrate on two beers – a Pale Ale at 4.0% and ‘Foundation Bitter’ at 4.2%, with the latter due to depart the brewery for the first time early next week. Brewing 3 to 4 batches each month the focus is on a small amount of crafted, quality beers.

Confirmed pubs on the delivery route at the time of writing are as follows:

And the beer? Well, it would be rude to visit a brewery without sampling it’s wares! Whilst the beer was still quite ‘green’ (very early in secondary fermentation – i.e. not really ready yet) it was rather tasty, I’m looking forward to sampling a pint from the tap in the next few weeks.

Casks

Casks. Coming to a pub near you!

For more information take a look at www.eastlondonbrewing.com or follow them on twitter (@eastlondonbrew) for up to the minute news.

Definitely something to keep an eye out for.

With thanks to Stuart, Claire and Richard Pearce for organising the trip to the brewery.

London Fields Brewery

One of the four breweries to open this summer in East London is London Fields Brewery and on Wednesday this week they threw open the doors to their glorious railway arch and said hello.

Brewer!

A keen brewer hands me a sample of Brew 'LF9'

This event was billed a ‘media focused small launch to try a few beers where anyone was welcome: the crowds did come and not just your stereotypical CAMRA types – it was an enjoyably chaotic event, even if this meant I didn’t actually get to properly meet t brewers.

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Soaking up the atomosphere

So the important bit – the beer. With 5 on offer to taste at various stages of brewing there was a fair amount to think about.

LF1 – their first brew, a take on a hoppy IPA using Moteuka and Nelson Sauvin hops.  Personally I didn’t care for this much, it was extremely bitter and I hope that future brews are either slightly stronger or better balanced.

LF3 – Ian’s take on something a bit like Landlord. Very malty and sweet.

LF4 – A light citrusy ‘Session Ale’. I liked this one the most, it was possibly a little bitter for a session beer but the flavours were reasonably balanced. This one had only been in the cask for about 1 week so will probably develop – ale usually has at least 2 weeks or so in a cask for it’s second fermentation.

LF5 – Jule’s take on something golden, a bit like Exmoor’s Gold. This one smelled really nice but wasn’t too distinctive for me on taste.

LF9 – Known as ‘Love not War’ as it was brewed during the recent London disturbances, this hadn’t even left the mash tun yet at the end of it’s first fermentation! Despite this it was rather tasty and I’m looking forward to sampling this in a pub one day!

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Still busy!

We didn’t get to taste the lager they have been talking about on twitter but proper lager does take a few weeks to make!

More information is available via their website, http://www.londonfieldsbrewery.co.uk and there’s also an interview available on the Yeah! Hackney blog.

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Tasty beer

 

The proper launch party will be Saturday 27th to Monday 29th August from 11am to 11pm at the brewery – 374 Helmsley Place E8 3SB. There will be 5 ales on sale, as well as the first appearance of their lager.

Great British Beer Festival 2011

The sun is shining, it’s hot and humid in the City of London and the wasps are merrily going about their business of stinging anything that moves.

It must mean one thing: it’s time to head for the giant warehouse in Earls Court and drink fabulous beer!

One more unto the steps

One more unto the steps

Yes, this week is the return of the Great British Beer Festival (known to most as GBBF), organised by CAMRA to celebrate and campaign for beer. This year is most likely to be the last GBBF at Earls Court – post Olympics there’s major development plans meaning it could all be very different post 2012.

Allgates, California

Allgates, California

It’s only my second GBBF so it’s quite hard to take it all in. A good tactic though is to start light and low %, for which I picked Allgates California, from Wigan. Sadly for me this isn’t my favourite style of beer – it’s too much towards the grapefruit citric hop tastes which don’t appeal to me. Not particularly bitter, so probably a decent 1/3rd to start with.

Yes – 1/3rd of a pint – it works well as a measure meaning you can sample much more without worrying too much about either the bank balance or the waistline! From here I moved onto the more stereotypically British style of mild, infamous as an ‘old man drink’. (It doesn’t have to be).

Andrew - all the way from America!

Andrew - all the way from America!

This gave us a chance to visit the up and coming brewery bar, with third #2 going to Two Towers, Mott St Mild. This didn’t exactly set my taste buds on fire but by this stage we had got as far as meeting and greeting – on our table were a group of American’s who had flown over for the week, just for GBBF such was their love of beer.

Turning heads

Turning heads - Betty Stoggs and the Skinners marching band

On the way to collect my third third, a sudden drum beat rang out – everyone turning heads to see Betty Stoggs, ‘Queen of Cornish Ale‘ parading through the crowds.  A little random – but certainly added to the atmosphere. On the third third finally I stuck lucky with Earl Soham’s Gannet Mild from Suffolk. A proper malty ruby beer with plenty of sweetness, but also the warming roasted notes shining though.

Bumble beer

Bumble beer

If only I had some pork scatchings! – Thus an epic quest was launched was launched to add some tasty pig treats; beer and food well matched in my opinion. The quest did leave my drinking buddy Dickie P (not that one!) a little bored… oops. Staying on the dark beer, #4 – Arundel, Black Stallion. This was last with notes having given in to the inevitability of lack gas behind the creative spark! It was also well matched with the scatchings.

At this stage though twitter we learned that Stu, behind the East London Brewing Co, was over by the ‘SIBA’ bar.  I’m hoping to bring more information from ELB in the not too distant future.

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Bang on the bus! - The Bombardier Bar in a Routemaster bus

The SIBA bar was definitely my favourite place to stand – Thornbridge was right next door offering some excellent beers (#6 Craven Silk and #9 Raven, a black IPA). It was here we found some of the local London pub owners (Max from Antic, the lovely Emma from the Jolly Butchers) and CAMRA Pete Brown with his wife Liz who entertained us with the fortunes and perils of marrying a beer writer.

Waiting

Waiting

There isn’t just beer on offer though – right through the middle of the site runs a street of food – everything from olives to currys to burgers to fish and chips, there’s a good mix. After an afternoon sampling food is essential but Thai Green Curry, nice as it was, left me rather full, contemplating the exit and the inevitable sweaty tube home. It was then we found the mead and a rather knowledgeable couple from Cambridge CAMRA, who run the largest mead bar at a beer festival in the UK.  They were standing on our side of the bar, yet within a few minutes we were sold on the idea of tasting 4 meads – from the pale regular banquet mead, to the luxurious golden nectar of Moniack mead.

Mead!

Mead!

Sombrerro

Sombrero and mead?

It was a good experience by which time I was ready for another third (#8 – ooh blog time shift*), for which I opted for a Cantillon Kriek (Belgian Sour Cherry). Proper sour cherry beer, a million miles away from the commercial Kreik you’re more likely to find in the UK. It’s stunning stuff but not an all night drink for me. I reckon it’s something to be savoured in small amounts between more drinkable refreshing pints! Still thinking about heading home, intelligence suggested supplies of Fullers Brewers Reserve No 3 had come on – we had to grab a 3rd of  to share. Quite nice, far too easy to drink given the percentage, maybe it’s a good thing it’s rare so that it stays a beer to be treated with utmost care and attention!

Final drink of the night turned out to be a small sample of the Mikkeller (Denmark) Big Worst Barrel Aged Bourbon Edition (19.2%) owing to the fact I managed to find Jason B Standing of Whisky Squad fame on the way out who happened to be in a sharing kinda mood. A splendid brew which I’m glad to have tried – not sure I could really manage a whole third though…

A very enjoyable experience. I’ll be back again tomorrow for more of the same!

GBBF is on at Earls Court, London, until Saturday.

*Because I am a proper nerd, the missing beers in the sequence are #5 Busheys Pride of Manx, #7 Cotswold Spring, Old Sodbury Mild.