Monday, December 05, 2011

Save yourself a trip to the capital

Usually all us northerners get in the way of beer from London are those offerings from Fullers that are readily available in the free trade. 'London Pride' and 'ESB' are not hard to find but rarely seem to taste the same as they do in their home city, so do not often appear in my 'must drink' list. However yesterday must have made Huddersfield seem like a home from home for any exiled Londoners, with a new Fullers beer at the Grove and beer from two of the more recent breweries to open in the capital at The Star Inn.

Fullers 'Black Cab' is a dark, (obviously!) beer of 4.2%. More of a bitter in my opinion than a stout or porter. Smooth, yet hoppy, without the roasted or malty background sometimes associated with dark beers. A pleasant drinking, session strength beer, well crafted by one of the better breweries about.

However, what of the new kids on the block? 'East London' Foundation Ale has been around for most of the year, and is again 4.2%. One of only two beers brewed by them, and what I would class as a typical London beer. Well balanced without the hop characteristics I often prefer in my beer, it is an inoffensive, although unspectacular drink. I assume, although cannot confirm, the beer uses English ingredients, and has all the hall marks of a traditional English best bitter.

The other new brewery is one I had never encountered before, and was keen to try. 'By The Horns' Pale Ale is 3.9%, although for some strange reason there is no gravity on the pump clip. It is pale(ish) by London standards but again there seems to be something missing. The taste is very similar to that of the East London beer although is slightly more bitter to my palette, even then it is balanced rather than hoppy, and a beer that one could happily have a session on.

The real star of the day, if you forgive the dodgy pun, is from a brewery that, although not in London itself, often has its beers on sale there. Adnams seasonal beer 'Old Ale' is on the bar at the Star. For some reason I thought it stronger than its 4.1%, but everything else I remember in the beer is still there. As dark as night, and as smooth as silk, it is superb. Again without a distinctive hop character, it relies on the malt in the brew to bring out the subtle flavours of chocolate and red berries, and maybe a touch of toffee to blend into a magnificent winter warmer. Well worth searching out, and lets face it, the bus fare to Lockwood is far cheaper than the train fare to London!            

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