Meet the Brewer: Camden Town Brewery

What better way to inaugurate this new London Beer blog than by reporting on an event at one of London’s premier beer bars featuring one of London’s most talked-about microbreweries? Camden Town Brewery has been around for just over one year (counting from the official opening in September of last year) and has quickly become successful – their beers are now available at some 60-70 pubs around the country, most of them in London (Exmouth Arms in Exmouth Market to name but one example – and remember, folks, it’s the street that’s named for the pub and not the other way around!). Alongside permanent brews Hells Lager, Pale Ale and Wheat, Camden Town also produces seasonal and limited-run beers – two of which were launched at yesterday’s event at The Craft Beer Company. They were Gentleman’s Wit, a witbier at ABV 4.3 spiced with bergamot (you know, the stuff that makes Earl Grey taste like Earl Grey) and lemon, and Bleeding Hops IPA, a darker IPA which at ABV 6.4 I guess could be classified as a Double IPA.

I also had a chance to talk to Mark (who works with communication for the brewery and whom you also probably know as an award-winning beer blogger) and Pete (one of the brewers), during the event. Mark told me the lemons for Gentleman’s Wit were covered in bergamot oil and then roasted before adding them at the end of the brewing process. Apparently, the brew team tried their damnedest to get the actual bergamot orange rather than the oil as the oil wreaks havoc with the head of the beer, but in the end they had to stick with the oil after all. Pete was also very proud of their new tattoo-themed stout, Camden Ink (ABV 4.4) – in a recent interview, Camden Town owner Jasper Cuppaidge hoped that Camden Ink would be able to take the fight to Guinness, which totally dominates the world stout market. Pete was more cautious when I asked him about Ink’s chances against Guinness, but he had a big smile on his face when he was talking so he clearly believes in his product! “Dry and drinkable” is the internal Camden Town brewing mantra, and from what I tasted last night, that’s certainly a good, succinct description.

Here are my capsule reviews of the beers I tasted, in the order I tasted them:

Gentleman’s Wit (ABV 4.3, Witbier)

Look: Cloudy whitish yellow, fast dissipating head.

Nose: Yeast, citrus, perfume and flowers. A much fainter nose than I expected.

Taste: Very aromatic, lemony, flowers and perfume continues on the tounge. Light, spritzy mouthfeel. Ends on clove and dried citrus peel spice notes. An excellent, well-balanced wit.

Verdict: 4/5. An instant favourite – I certainly hope Camden Town will brew this again (they hinted as much). It would be a perfect summer beer.

Show Boat (ABV 4.5, Brown ale)

Look: Dark brown with a slightly reddish hue, very light carbonation, little/no head.

Nose: Sourdough-like, full.

Taste: Nutty and bready up front, as befits a brown ale. Bitterness subtle at first but then grows – sort of sneaks up on you. Mouthfeel a bit thin, a good beer but lacks a bit of body to balance the bitterness.

Verdict: 3/5.

Camden Ink (ABV 4.4, Stout)

Look: Black/dark brown, head with big bubbles that settle fast.

Nose: Roast aromas (bread, coffee), more bread.

Taste: Subtle and almost tender toast and coffee notes follow the nose, a mellow and well-rounded bitterness. A very drinkable stout, a far cry from the more extreme Imperial Stouts (and in a good way).

Verdict: 3/5. I could totally order this over Guinness.

Wheat (ABV 4.5, Dunkelweizen (?))

Look: Cloudy dark grey-brown, little/no head.

Nose: Aromatic, slightly sweet (almost like candied fruit), full (much stronger than the Gentleman’s Wit)

Taste: Wow! Caramel sweetness, lemon and sundry fruit, very seductive candy notes (is that bubblegum I taste?), full, complex and layered flavours. The clear winner of the night.

Verdict: 5/5. A truly excellent wheat beer, the surprise of the evening. Very well kept by the guys at The Craft Beer Company, too (no surprise).

So, all things considered, the wheat beers were the strongest from Camden Town (of the ones I tasted). Disappointment of the evening: I did not even get to taste Bleeding Hops IPA as hops in the keg apparently clogged things up and made it impossible to pour! Didn’t have a chance to order it before that happened…

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Posted on December 14, 2011, in Brewery, Event, Interview, Pub & bar, Review and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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