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.
Bit of a mixed bag at the beginning of 2012. I sampled some more of my Christmas gift beers, went to Craft Beer Co. and The Old Fountain. Of course I also had the opportunity to try Thornbridge’s sherry cask-aged (3 years!) version of their Bracia Old Ale, which sort of put all the other beers I sampled last week in the shade – but I covered this separately, as you see.
On the international front, I finally got my taste buds around the much-talked-about Jai Alai IPA from Cigar City Brewing. Since I obsessively follow London beer bars on Twitter, I know that all of them make sure to mention when they’ve got this one on, like it is a big sales argument. And now I understand why – this is a hefty Double/Imperial IPA (ABV 7.5) with lots of fruit on the nose and tounge: mango and pineapple predominantly, with slightly sour notes making me think of those fruits as unripe. The fruit gives way to a strong resiny hoppiness and an ever-so-slightly smoky aftertaste. I know Cigar City makes lots of variations on the Jai Alai (how about a juniper/cedar-aged one, or one flavoured with acai berries and mango?) and I’d be really keen to try them too if they ever show up on these shores. In comparison the Southern Tier IPA at first felt a bit flat, but I just had to get used to the fact that it was just a different take on the genre. The high ABV (6.9) does not come through at all as much as it does in the Jai Alai (or maybe those 0.6 percentage units really make a big difference) – the Southern Tier IPA feels like a much lighter, more workmanlike IPA where the malt is more in balance with the hops. There’s a clear bread-and-butter taste, and where the Jai Alai has unripe fruit, Southern Tier goes for overripe, with quite sweet apple, orange and tropical flavours. All in all a very smooth drink. I’m a big fan of Southern Tier and this did not disappoint.