Last weekend, the entire BeerCast team relocated to Camden for the wedding of Andy and Jess, who were married there amidst much merriment and blazing sunshine. Spending a few days in London was the perfect excuse to visit some great pubs and bars, particularly given the decidedly un-Edinburghian weather in the other capital. High on the list was the bar attached to the Camden Town Brewery – a producer familiar to us mostly in name only, as their beers rarely make it up to Scotland.
I love brewery taps – they help you appreciate the connection between the beer and where it was made. As I’ve said before, drinking is all about context – many of the best beers I’ve had have been served in (or attached to) the brewery. The tasters at Cantillon in Brussels, the pints of Jarl in an Argyll field – heck, the best pint of Guinness I ever had was at the Gravity Bar in Dublin. When you’re allowed to drink in the place where it all happens, everything tastes better.
Camden Town’s bar couldn’t be easier to find. If you arrive on the Overground, dismissively slap your Oyster card on the reader as you exit Kentish Town West and turn right. The brewery is literally just outside the station. A snail could walk there. Follow the narrow alley packed with food stalls, and the glass-fronted brewery tap is at the end of the lane. Having only been open for a few months, it still looks very new, with plenty of bare, unvarnished wood and ‘tables’ made by banging a bit of two by four onto an old keg.
The best thing about the bar is the back wall, with tap handles poking out of the tiles, beer names written underneath in black marker pen. It would be very easy to perch on a stool here and work your way along – particularly as on our visit they were serving the ultra rare King Crimson, which went down so well at the recent Edinburgh Independents’ Beer Festival. However, a large group of thirsty BeerCasters required pitchers of unfiltered Hells, followed by the excellent Camden Pale.
It’s a great bar – still a little rough around the edges maybe, but I quite like that. Pouring pitchers takes time, and the narrow bar got extremely busy on our Friday evening visit. But being ably managed by Italian import Leo (recently signed from Milan), they are well set to cope. There’s also an off-licence so you can take bottles away, and if the street stalls don’t do it for you, there’s a pizza place nearby that will deliver to your table. With the full range of Camden beers on offer as well – is there anything more you would really need?
The Camden Town Brewery bar opens 4pm-8pm on Thursday, 4pm-11pm on Friday and 12pm-8pm on Saturday, and can be found at 55-59 Wilkin Street Mews, NW5 3NN. If not travelling by Overground, the nearest Tube station is Chalk Farm, on the Northern Line.