Sunday 5 January 2014

Brixton Brewery and Art Brew (plus Windsor & Eton)

Considering most of my time is spent going on and on about pubs and beers to any poor sap who will listen, I received surprisingly few beery gifts this Christmas. In fact on Christmas Day I only received two beers, and one of them was BrewDog Tokyo at a mind destroying 18.2%. Drinking this would have ended up with me shouting abuse at the Queen before falling asleep and waking up with a poorly head and an appetite for cold roast potatoes. To be honest this wouldn't be much different to my usual Christmas Day activities. I decided I'll save this brain scrambling beer for when I hear life changing news that I want to forget, such as a meteor is going to wipe out all life on Earth or Piers Morgan is returning to the UK.

After the welcome but small collection of beer on Christmas Day I was cheered on Boxing Day when my brother presented me with a bag full of craft beers. Two from Brixton Brewery, one from Art Brew and another from Windsor & Eton. I could tell these were craft beers because the majority came in tiny (330ml) bottles presumably designed for teenagers. Thankfully the guys at Art Brew know that beer is actually drunk by grown ups and should come in nice big bottles, so their Orange IPA came in adult size.

The beery line up. Photo slightly blurry as always.
I was a bit worried before drinking the Orange IPA as it appeared to fall into all the craft beer trappings. It was an IPA, it had a slightly sarcastic blurb on the bottle and it had a "crazy" twist in the form of chucking orange peel into the brew. But thankfully my stupid prejudices were completely wrong and this was an excellent, well rounded IPA with an extra bit of magic from the subtle orange peel notes. This beer avoided the common "chuck in the hops and let's see what happens" mishaps other craft brewers blunder into. Well worth seeking out a bottle.

The two beers from the Brixton Brewery were good but not up to the standard set by the Art Brew. Reliance Pale Ale was a solid but unexciting example of the pale ale form. With so many pale ales out there the beer needs to be special to stand out but this one was content with being good but boring. Effra Ale was better, with good hoppy notes livening up this well crafted amber ale. Both beers were tasty but I feel this is a brewer that is still finding their feet. But there's definitely promise there. Finally there's the Windsor & Eton Republika. Windsor & Eton have a bit more experience than Brixton and this was evident in the beer, as it was a very good Pilsner style tipple. I do tend to enjoy Windsor & Eton beers and this one was no exception

Overall all four beers were decent but the Orange IPA was something special. As the craft beer "big bang" settles down and the brewers get more competent at what they're making I think the next few years could be an exciting time for beer. Let's hope I'm not proved wrong!

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