Our previous post talked about the continuing rise of London as a top European drinking destination, but we really need to justify that with a few examples. So, each day this week, we’ll be featuring a new or outstanding (or both) location in the city. Somewhere that fits both of these categories is the Craft Beer Co – it opened in June, and very quickly became an integral part of the London beer scene. The reason why becomes immediately obvious when you walk through the door, as you are greeted by an astonishing array of choice.
Fifteen cask ales. Twenty-one keg beers. Dozens of bottles. Sour beers. House lager brewed for them by Mikkeller. It’s simply staggering. I was there for an hour or so, and the most overheard phrase by a mile was “Err…” as punter after punter were dashed against a wall of fonts, stretching for half a mile along the bar. Beer bloggers tend to rack up the pub hours, and can spot the new and unusual from a casual glance through a window – but I was totally bamboozled – and from just the cask offerings, the keg beers glittered at the other end of the bar, out of reach.
Thankfully, the staff at Craft know their stuff, and are ably marshalled by landlord Martin Hayes (who I spotted proudly adjusting the pump clips so they were all exactly aligned). Given that the majority of BeerCasters don’t get to the other capital all that often, I went for something local – Redemption Trinity, a citrusy 3% golden ale that had a appealing rising dryness. Whilst savouring this, I watched plenty of samples being given out to help people – there were almost as many tasters given out as pints, which is great to see.
When the goal is to get people drinking good beer, and to try things they wouldn’t normally – letting them know what they might be in for is vital. Once in a pub in Edinburgh (which I won’t name), when I asked the proprietor what a new beer was like, she replied tersely “It’s from Orkney”, and that was it. Thankfully times have changed – although maybe not in that establishment. My next beer at Craft was another from Redemption – Fellowship Porter (5.0%), which was lovely. A classic, roasty London porter.
By this point it was time to ignore the warning throbs of the CAMRA membership card in my wallet and head to the colder, shinier end of the bar. Every other keg font bristled with the Mikkeller logo, an army of bearded Danish faces. As I’d started a fantastic pork and black pudding pie, I wanted something sweet and roasty – so I plumped (after samples served by Martin) for Intern Ale #1 Nucifera Porter, from Grassroots Brewing in Fanø, Denmark. Roasty and sweet it was, and in spades. Also a tremendous coconut aftertaste.
Unfortunately I then had to leave, as I was due at another of London’s outstanding pubs – and one which is very different indeed. Check back for that tomorrow, in the meantime the Craft Beer Co is on 82 Leather Lane, Clerkenwell, EC1N 7TR, and if you’re in London, is simply a must-visit.