This a very much my own personal impression and it is not intended to be anything like a definitive guide or to provide you the reader with any detailed (boring) tasting notes.
So to begin, on Friday the 12th April 2013 I set off to London in the company of a couple of my best friends who just happen to be fellow CAMRA members for a mini (Or perhaps not so mini) tour of some the Craft Beer establishments around Kings Cross, Euston & Camden.
There has been so much written about ‘Craft’ beers recently, what makes a beer a ‘craft’ beer, is it the size of the brewery or microbrewery? Or is it the batch size? Could it be the way the beer is kept and served? Is it a passing fad? Is it really any threat to real ale?
Is it really just beer for the Lager generation?
No doubt the debate will rage on for months and years to come, one thing however that cannot be disputed is the rise in popularity of the so called ‘Craft Beers’ and Craft Beer bars and pubs, especially in London.
Any discerning drinker with a ‘Smart phone’may, if not already aware, like to know that there is an APP that shows you where all these places are and tells you a little about the venue and the range of beers available, so, with that in mind!
Our first port of call was the Queen’s Head near Kings Cross, pictured above, I have to admit I was instantly distracted by and fell for the Dark Star Hophead while my friends ventured straight away to the crafty dark side, I did of course succumb and taste Windsor and Eaton Conqueror, also on offer were Black Isle Organic Porter, Wild Beer Epic Saison and several others including ‘Real’ lagers and Ciders.
The Queens Head is actually a very friendly ‘Olde Worlde’ pub with a warm friendly atmosphere and a charming and knowledgeable landlord.
Next we ventured into The Exmouth Arms (above), another splendid Victorian pub, it seemed popular and offered a good range of real ales and craft beers, if somewhat ‘pricey’ my pint of Ska, Nut Brown Ale cost £6 for heaven’s sake!, they also had a beer that we were to later find popping up all over the place, Camden Ink, which by the way was also pretty good.
Clerckenwell saw us actually in the Craft Beer Co., I can honestly say I have never ever seen so many hand pumps and taps, the mirrored ceiling just has to be seen and if a little peckish I can highly recommend the home made Scotch Eggs they were absolutely delicious, the beer was OK too, if what somewhat expensive although this seemed to be becoming somewhat of a common theme!
The amazing array of hand pumps and taps in the Craft Beer Co. Pub
OK, the Holborn Whippet, this is a Craft Beer pub, pub? Bar? Another good range of overpriced beers most of which we’d already seen at other establishments, as one of my friends so aptly put it, “It looks like the beer equivalent of a wine bar”, spot on observation there!
We set off to The Euston Tap, one of our favourite haunts, where we have never failed to find a fine selection of real ales, craft beers on tap and a huge selection of bottled beers.
On a Friday evening after work this place is hugely popular, despite the rain which by now was pelting down, the Euston Tap was packed inside and out, we opted for a strong very dark porter, by now the name and the brewery escaped long into the dusk!
Nicely fuelled and somewhat soggy (inside and out) we set off to Camden and, joy of joys, if you are going to do things in a new way and do it right, Brew Dog certainly have.
I must admit I love the Brew Dog beers and to get a lovely fresh pint of Punk IPA in the Brew Dog pub was an absolute delight, the pub itself is modern, slick, stylish and extremely popular, this is one I’d definitely go back to.
After calling into Camden market for some much needed (And by far cheaper) food we made our way to our last drinking venue, The Dark Heart, this faceless impersonal looking place is tucked away down a side street, there is no nameplate on the door, no pub sign, just an impersonal black fronted doorway with bouncers standing by, this should probably have told us something about the place before we entered, dark, dingy, slightly Goth themed, loud music and offering a few craft beers and real ales and the usual naff main brand lagers and ciders at inflated prices, ho hum, you can’t always leave the best till last I suppose.
Thank heavens we were actually off to the splendid Daevid Allen’s Magic Brothers gig in the Inspiral Lounge which of course rounded the day off perfectly.
So, in conclusion, it doesn’t matter whether they call the beer ‘Craft’ or not, there are some mighty fine beers out there to try and some reasonable places to drink them in, but on the whole I would I say I prefer a good ‘Real Ale’ in a proper pub, but again, that’s just my opinion.
Cheers all, until we next raise a glass together.