Brodie’s Bunny Basher
I remember the first beer I had from Brodie’s: their Dalston Black IPA, which was excellent. Then I had the Old Street Special IPA, which was excellent. Then I had the Hackney Red IPA, which was excellent. Then, moving away from IPA territory, I had their Whitechapel Weizen (you’re beginning to see the naming theme here, right?), which was excellent. I therefore came to the conclusion that Brodie’s is an excellent brewery. Yesterday I popped in on Brodie’s annual Easter beer festival extravaganza Bunny Basher (held for the third time at Brodie’s brewpub/HQ The William IV in Walthamstow) and realised I had been wrong. Brodie’s is not merely an excellent brewery. They’re a world-class brewery, hidden in plain sight in easternmost London.
No beer I had yesterday – and I managed ten different kinds, sticking to halves for the occassion – was anything short of top-notch. The quality on display was not only astounding but so was the range and the experimental bent: Brodie’s can do extremely sessionable low-ABV beers (the Mild and the Bethnal Green Bitter stood out), monsters like the ABV 22.0 Elizabethan Ale (reminded me of Kaluha), and everything in between, with flavourful and idiosyncratic IPAs a particular speciality. Today the Mikkeller collab Mofo Stout (yes, Brodie’s has done a collaboration with Mikkeller. And with Kernel. And Redemption. And probably lots more I don’t know about) is rumored to hit the pumps. The list goes on, literally: the beer list for the event ran to about 40 different brews. I was so blown away by the whole thing I totally forgot to take any pictures except of the beers, which is why this blog post is only illustrated by several near-identical images of half-pints. Basically, I forgot that I was a beer blogger and just focused on being a beer drinker for the night.
Oh, and did I forget to tell you? All beers are £1.99 a pint or £1 for the half. Yes, that includes the ABV 9.0+ beasties (though the Elizabethan comes in a smaller 20 cl tasting glass, which is more than enough anyway). So for the price of one of the half-pints I usually drink at Craft I got four half-pints of Brodie’s at The William IV. They’re practically giving away world-class beer over there in E10. Bunny Basher is on ’til Monday. Get down there. Now! I know I’m gushing, but it was simply so good. And I haven’t even mentioned the venue itself: the pub is big, genuinely pub-looking, and has a very welcoming, community vibe to it. Staff was efficient and friendly and coping well with the crowds. It’s definitely worth the trek outside the festival as well, and I know I am going to return – this from a certified EC1 homebody.
But what about the beers, you ask? Here are my brief tasting notes, with some reservations: just like I forgot to take pictures I also forgot to do proper tasting notes so I had some trouble deciphering my impressionistic (and frequently misspelled) smartphone notes today. So apologies in advance for inaccurate ABVs, style designations and so forth.
Stepney Green Steam (ABV 4.2) was a nice golden-looking beer somewhere in the strong bitter/pale ale region: very smooth and round yet with a bit of hop bite to it (the citrus/green leaves/grass kind). Very sessionable and balanced – we were thirsty after our walk from Walthamstow Central and downed this pretty quickly.
Camden Town Brown IPA (ABV 6.0) – I sort of confused this for an American Brown Ale at first because it looked and felt very American, in a good way: sour/bitter hops (again with citrus dominating), bread-y malts, just a hint of caramel sweetness and overall a very full, robust body with a good mouthfeel to it.
Amarilla (ABV 4.2), an English Pale Ale I guess? As the name implies it’s heavily hopped with Amarillo, giving it a Seville orange marmalade/orange blossom aroma with some faint spice notes in the background – but unlike many other Amarillo beers these flavours were not overpowering but rather subtle, making for yet another characterful session beer but still quite different from the Stepney Green Steam, which was more subdued and with that buttery smoothness I associate with good bitters. One of my faves of the evening – it’s damn hard making a beer that is complex, drinkable and so balanced in this ABV range! Even though the style is different the Amarilla brought to mind the top German and Czech pilsners (also very balanced beers).
Romanov Rioja Barrel (ABV 12.1) – definitely leaving session beer territory here. This is an Imperial Russian Stout aged in Rioja barrels and a real taste explosion. It’s sweet at first, with cherry chocolate and obvious wine notes from the barrel (I got predominantly more dark berry and vanilla flavours), then shifting to a pleasantly bitter dark roast coffee aftertaste. I haven’t had the original Romanov (I don’t even know if there is one or if it was specially brewed to be barrel-aged) but it really seemed like this was a well thought-out combo, with stout and barrel flavours complementing and enhancing each other throughout.
Brick (ABV 6.0) – of the many IPAs I’ve tried from Brodie’s this is probably the best – just exactly my style. Spicy caramel/toffee flavours alongside a big resin/pine/citrus bitterness, the latter flavours lingering pleasantly on the tongue for a long good while. Yet at the same time it has that smooth, round body that makes it really drinkable – deceptively so at ABV 6.0. Another fave – and my non beer geek companion had this down as his beer of the evening! So definitely not one just for us hop nerds.
Summer Saison (ABV 8.0) was a really ace saison and I can only regret I was not able to compare it to its companion/sibling/whatever the Winter Saison. It starts off on strong tart apple and dried fruit notes, the sourness remains on the palate, and then there are some faint wood smoke notes at the end – like the beer has been made in a wood-panelled root cellar or something. Very refreshing and definitely very summery. It was at this point of the evening that Brodies mastery of so many different beer styles really sunk in. A top-class barrel-aged Imp stout followed by a top-class IPA (and that’s a crowded style, folks) followed by a top-class saison. How many breweries can pull that off?
Then it was time for the Elizabethan Ale (ABV 22.0) – beer geek that I am I felt that the evening had been leading up to this. The first thing I got was, according to my tasting notes, “smoked fish”, by which I guess I mean that it had kind of an oily smoked taste, not just smoke but smoked something, like meat or fish. Sounds weird but was not at all unpleasant, rather the opposite. Then there were a lot of sweet flavours: sugar syrup, brown sugar, burnt sugar… this is a very sweet beer. The raisiny dried fruit flavours made me think of sherry or malmsey/madeira, and there was also a lot of coffee notes in there, making the drinking experience somewhat reminiscent of Kaluha. A unique experience – but half of a 20 cl glass was plenty for me. I could probably have sipped my way through a full glass if I had started the evening with it, but then everything else would have paled in comparison, so I think I made the right call saving this for towards the end of the evening.
London Fields Pale Ale (ABV 4.0) was the last beer of the evening and one I had simply as a palate cleanser – my notes and my memory are a bit hazy at this point as my experience was obviously coloured by having the Elizabethan right before, but I remember this as being very light, summery and spritzy, which was just the ticket at the time. No specifics, sorry.
I also bought a mixed six-pack of take-home bottles (another good deal at £17), and since I can’t go to the rest of the Bunny Basher I decided to continue at home instead so opened the Organic Transition Ale (ABV 4.1 English Pale Ale) with dinner today. What I got was another winner in the hoppy session beer category: resin, citrus rind and a bit of spice (nutmeg?) with a solid malt backbone – very good with our fish soup.
And that’s all the Brodie’s love I’ve got for the moment. As I said, Bunny Basher is on ’til Monday so if you are in London, like beer and have the time to spare over Easter, you should get yourself over to the William IV pronto. I’m seriously thinking about feigning illness to get out of our Easter dinner with friends tomorrow, just so I can go back. Wait, I should probably not write that on the blog, should I?
Posted on April 7, 2012, in Event, Review and tagged Amarilla, Brick, Brodie's, Bunny Basher, Camden Town Brown IPA, Dalston Black IPA, Elizabethan Ale, Hackney Red IPA, Kernel, London Fields Pale Ale, Mikkeller, Old Street Special IPA, Redemption, Romanov Rioja Barrel, Stepney Green Steam, Summer Saison, Whitechapel Weizen, Winter Saison. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.