A old friend of mine came to stay a just before Christmas and when he arrived he was carrying a large bag of Big Drop beers with him. He happily explained to us that he had come from his work Christmas party and the beers were his secret Santa present.
When he came to leave he had quite a journey ahead of him with a lot of luggage and so he lamented that he may have to leave the beers with us. Great I thought; more beer for me over Christmas….
Imagine my horror when I discovered the beers were in fact low alcohol. Not more than 0.5% ABV (my friend apparently didn’t know). Well it’s now January and the prospect of a low ABV beer dosn’t seem so bad. Having made my choice, from the bag, of the Pale Ale I have to say the beer exceeded my expectations. Big Drops Pale Ale really sets the standard for Low ABV beers and certainly hits the spot when you fancy a brew with out the alcohol.
Big drop Brewery was founded in 2016 by Rob Fink who had noticed a gap in the market for well made, full flavoured, low ABV/no alcohol beers. Since then the brewery has gone on to stock a range of distributers and markets with its Pale Ale winning gold at the world beer awards in 2017.
So how is the Pale Ale. Well I found served cold it was really refreshing. According to Big Drop’s website the beer is dry hopped. With which hop? I don’t know, but it certainly packs a citrus punch with a nice bitterness on the back end. Had I been served this in a blind taste test i’m not sure I would have guessed this was low alcohol.
Big Drop’s Pale Ale has certainly changed my mind on ordering low ABV beers. If you fancy a beer but can’t or don’t want to have the units then it’s a fantastic choice.
Next in the spotlight we have New England India Pale Ale (NEIPA) by Wild Card Brewery.
Wild Card Brewery was founded in 2012 in Walthamstow and has gone from strength to strength, thanks to the hard work of the dedicated team who work there, recently moving to a new larger site after a successful crowd funding scheme.
NEIPA is one of a range of specials in can by wild card brewery, made possible by the increased capacity of their new site. As always with Wild Card, the can design is a work of art in it’s own right (designed by Valero Doval). Apart from the hops (Simcoe and Citra) and the ABV (5.4%) the can doesn’t give too much away. Good then that the beer really speaks for itself.
On pouring the beer you instantly get a strong aroma of tropical fruits. This flavour carries through on the palette giving NEIPA a real bold backbone with a pleasing bitter finish.
A read over on Wild Cards website will tell you that NEIPA has ‘extremely limited availability’ so whilst it’s there, this is a beer I would wholeheartedly recommend for those of you that love you hops.
Well I thought the first quarter of the year went by very quickly but the summer has gone in a flash, largely because I have had a busy period of business with new initiatives happening and lots of enquiries coming in. Here’s a quick round up of the highlights:
Summer events and beer festivals
Greenwich Festival was sunny for the 2 days of my bar and as a result the lager was very popular!
Otford Fete was another huge success with drinkers enjoying craft ales and ciders.
Knockholt Carnival was characterised by the truly amazing weather and we served copious amounts of Helles Belles lager and Summer Perle Pale ale. We are always pleased to support this event and help to raise funds for Carnival Charities. Anybody wanting to get involved to help on the bar next year is most welcome as this means we can contribute even more to charity.
My unique mobile bar service has really taken off with many wedding bookings as well as private parties and corporate events. I have two weddings coming up this Autumn which have been booked as a result of working with the lovely team at Festival Brides.
Since helping the owners to set up their pub’s microbrewery at the Oak tavern and tap house in Sevenoaks I have been brewing Oak Best and Oak Pale as well as a special Orange Pale ale on a regular basis. I invited photographer Vanessa Lockhart down to see me in action in the brew house and the resultant images are just amazing. Thank you Vanessa and I will be sharing your brilliant photography over the coming months.
In June I reached out with an impactful, hard to ignore, bright orange mailing pack to microbreweries in Kent and south east London and I was successful in my obtaining some consultancy work from a brewery company who were just getting into the market.
Walking and Pub Tours
I have been leading Pub tours in central London and Bermondsey on average 3 times per week during the height of the summer. Just a reminder that I can design any Private Pub Tour for you and your friends or colleagues at destinations of your choice in South East England.
Beer Spotlight on my Blog
My regular website Blog where I feature and profile various guest beers is active and again I invite you to share this with your own followers. I’m always happy to critique any beer you invite me to review – just get in touch!
Keep up to date with the latest from The Craft Beer Man here on my website.
In the beer spotlight today we have Sulis Lager by Bath Ales.
Bath Ales was founded in 1995 by former employees of the Smiles Brewery in Bristol. In 2016 the brewery was acquired by St Austell brewery and investment in a new state of the art brewery was announced in 2017, the brewery was completed in 2018; if you take a look on bath ales website you will see a neat little time lapse video of the brewery build.
Has all this investment and effort resulted in good beer? I am please to say I think it has! Sulis is a refreshing light sessionable lager. Named after Sulis Minerva (the Roman god of Bath) the beer uses new hop varieties, Lemon Drop and Hüll Melon to create a slight citrus aroma. It is nice to see a less familiar hop being used; being relatives of cascade the hops could have created an overpowering flavour in a subtle beer such as Sulis but the effect here is not overdone. easy drinking and refreshing with a slight citrus twist.
Bath ales website tells you that ‘brewing lager is a meticulous science.’ A statement I would agree with. It is a lot easier to muck up a lager than an ale, especially one this subtle. This is a beer for those hot summer months when you want a nice sessionable beer, enjoyed cold, not overbearing on the hops and not to much malt to contend with whilst sitting in the blistering heat. All in all a very well balanced and well crafted lager.
Next in the beer spotlight we have Cucumber Hippy Berliner Weisse, by 8 Wired from all the way over in New Zealand.
8 Wired is based in Warkworth NZ (North of Auckland) Starting out commercial brewing in 2009 in 2011 the brewery won it’s first award; The New Zealand champion brewers award. They focus on what they call ‘interpretations’ of world beers. Cucumber Hippy fits nicely into that description, being 8 Wired’s take on a berliner weisse rather than a straight copy.
When I first tasted this one I hadn’t even really looked at the can besides noting it had cucumber in it. I was pleasantly surprised to be hit with a refreshingly sour taste; a real burst of fruit salad flavours. On a hot day with BBQ chicken this beer slipped down very easily. Naturally soured with live cultures and hopped with American and New Zealand hops this beer dose a good job of emulating the berliner weisse style rather than outright copying it. As the can says it is ‘inspired by traditional berliner wiesse then remixed with cucumber’. If I am being totally honest the cucumber is hard to pick out (cucumber is a subtle flavour after all) but is present in the background of the beer.
At 4% this refreshing sour beer is an ideal quaffing beer on a hot summers day. I certainly enjoyed it and it’s a shame I only had one as I could quite easily have drunk several. Did it pass my girlfriends ‘non beer drinkers test’? With flying colours!
Had a great day brewing at this pub recently and a lovely photographer took shots of each part of the process. I really love this part of my job!
Next in the beer spotlight we have Pogo by the Wild Beer Co. The Wild Beer Co was founded in 2012 by Brett and Andrew two guys with a background in food and a passion for beer. The brewery has since become know for it’s unorthodox fermentations; as you might have guest from the name, ‘Wild Beer Co’ likes to uses wild and unusual yeast strain during fermentation (going so far as to have their own house strain they isolated from a local cider orchard). This has lead to them producing a huge array of different flavours and has obviously served them well as they pan to move into a bigger site.
Onto Pogo. The beer was bought for me by my girlfriend and I am please to say it passed her ‘non beer drinkers test.’ On the front of the can the beer boasts flavours of passion fruit, Orange and Guava with a small blurb on the side informing you that it is “inspired by a childhood drink growing up in Hawaii.”
Pogo is certainly a fruity beer but not overly sweet. It is balanced well with the bitterness of the southern hemisphere hops and comes together nicely to form a really refreshing drink. The boasted fruit flavours come from the use of real fruit in the brew and a boosted sweetness is achieved from the addition of lactose.
I drank this beer on really hot summers day and it certainly suited the weather. A pleaseing light straw colour with an ABV of 4.1%. Served chilled this beer really hit the spot after a long day baking in the sun.
Even if you’re not into less traditional flavours in your beers I would urge you to give Pogo a go. I would go so far as to say it is one of the nicest beers I have drank recently and a fantastically refreshing pale ale for you to seek out during the hot summer months.
Anspach and Hobday brewery was aptly founded by Paul Anspach and Jack Hobday after a successful crowd funding campaign on Kickstarter. Based under a railway arch in Bermondsey the brewery has become somewhat well know for it’s excellent porters. Being a fan of darker beers and having already tried (and enjoyed) their classic porter I had to give the coffee porter a try.
The beer definitely lives up to it’s name. It has a strong coffee aroma which follows through with a bold coffee flavour, balanced nicely with a complex malt character. It has a real earthy core flavour with a lasting bitterness you would expect from a strong coffee. Certainly one for those that like big flavours, this would be a great beer to match with food, particularly chocolate
At 7.4% ABV it is not a beer for the weak hearted. Hopped with willamette and coming in at 22 IBUs The Coffee Porter is not a heavily hopped beer; I would say it’s all the better for it as it allows the malt character and the Taylor Street Coffee used in the brew to shine through and be front a centre in this warming beer.
If you are a porter and stout lover you will find a lot to like here. Keep your eyes peeled as Anspach and Hobday’s website lists the beer as a one-off special so grab a bottle if you see it out in the wild.
I Picked up Macavity whilst over in Winchester. Upon reading the bottle label and was boldly informed that ‘this beer is the antidote to big, hoppy IPAs.’ Not being the biggest fan of mega hoppy IPAs I thought I better give this beer a shot.
Macavity is brewed by Red Cat Brewing (founded in 2013, started brewing in 2014), based in Winchester. The beer is an 5.3% old ale with a deep mahogany colour. The malt is front an centre in this beer so if you like your malty full bodied beers this would be the one for you.
I had this beer whilst tucking into a Sunday roast beef. What a great combo, the beer itself has a rich malty-sweet character that complements the meat and gravy really well. Add to that parsnips and carrots cooked in honey and you have a winning combination.
Ultimately this beer was a real treat; with it’s unflinching presentation of malt character coming from it’s speciality roasted malts it is the perfect Sunday evening indulgence.