Hi, beer friends, it’s been a while. So let’s just jump right in – here are some great beers I’ve drunk since last we met.
Crafty Jane (Ilkley, ABV 4.7, Sweet Stout) – A special brew for the opening of Craft Beer Co. Brixton that’s now available at other pubs of the Craft family (i.e. Cask, Craft Beer Co. Clerkenwell) as well. It’s branded a Cranberry Milk Stout, a somewhat unusual combo. I wasn’t too impressed at first, it had a nice generic berry sweetness to it but lacked depth – but boy, did it open up as it became warmer (turned out it just suffered from that over-coldness common to keg beers)! The slightly acidic cranberry flavour came to the fore and was nicely complemented by the creamy notes from the lactose. Very well balanced sweet/tart, with a lot of classic roasty stout flavours in the background. 4/5, though remember to let it warm up a bit.
There are beer bars in London that have a wider range than The Rake, that’s for sure – next to Craft Beer Company or Cask Pub & Kitchen, the three hand pumps and seven keg taps of The Rake may seem downright paltry. But look closer: those ten pumps/taps regularly feature the very latest releases from top British and world breweries, there’s frequently limited releases on offer that you can hardly get anywhere else but here, and everything changes with a frightening regularity. You can have a two-keg limited release of a Kernel/Tom Greasly collab (a Red IPA) one night (those two kegs lasted all of 40 minutes) and the launch of the Ilkley/Melissa Cole collab Siberia (a saison with Siberian rhubarb) the next. Because that’s just how The Rake rolls: respected and liked by brewers everywhere, this is the place of choice for many brewers doing a special launch or presenting a one-off collab. The Rake is not just a beer lovers’ pub, it’s a brewers‘ pub (as evidenced by the brewer guest wall of fame, getting ever more crowded with every week – look for signatures by the likes of Stone and Hitachino Nest). The Rake team (the same people are behind the Utobeer beer stall in nearby Borough Market, in case you have been living on Mars the past couple of years) also seem to be dedicated to geographical variation: as you would expect, the three hand pumps offer the best of British, as it were, and on the seven keg taps you can almost always be sure to have something from the US, something from Germany, something from Belgium, and something from somewhere else (Australian Little Creatures and Norwegian Nøgne Ø make frequent appearances, for example – I had an excellent Nøgne Ø Wit at The Rake the other day).
Ok, so this post takes a bit of explaining. I’m Swedish, which you know if you’ve been paying attention, so as it happens many (ok, three of them, which still leaves them in the majority) of my readers are Swedish. And if there’s one thing I’ve picked up from the Swedish beer geek scene after observing it from a distance these past nine years, it’s that British beer gets a bad rap there. No Swedish beer geek I know really enjoys British beer except maybe for BrewDog (who prefer to be called Scottish, I’m sure, though calling them “British” will certainly go over better than calling them “English”) – British beer is generally thought of as bland, stale, sour (in a bad way, not in a Cantillon way) and only one small step up from generic lager.