Another day, another BrewDog opening in London, this time in trendy Clerkenwell. The area has long been a hotbed for new media and graphic design firms, packed full of young employees ready to enjoy a crafty drink. The nearby Dovetail has done well catering to this market with an excellent selection of Belgium ales, back when Belguim beer was considered exotic before the craft beer movement got into full swing. I'm surprised it has taken BrewDog this long to open a pub in the area as there are plenty of potential customers although I have heard they had a go at opening a place before but the plans fell through.
BrewDog venues never seem to be big enough for the amount of punters they attract and sadly the Clerkenwell venue is no different. The two storey layout somehow feels very cramped and claustrophobic. The second floor suffers from narrow gangways making it difficult to navigate while holding your drink, and downstairs tables and chairs are crammed in next to the bar, making it difficult to squeeze past the mixed customer base of hipsters and City boys and order a drink. Once you make it to the bar you'll find an excellent selection of beer on offer - all keg of course. Cask beardies will have to seek what they want elsewhere - luckily the Jerusalem Tavern and the Craft Beer Co are a short walk away.
I was there for the Brew By Numbers (BBNo) tap takeover, which meant all of the guest taps (around 15 of them) were dispensing BBNo beer. They did not disappoint with a wide selection of beers and styles on offer. I went for a four beer sampler. The 01/03 Saison Mosiac was a good start to the evening, a well made saison with a welcome hoppy twang.The 09/05 Brown Ale - Chinook and Centinneal was another decent sup - a boisterous American style brown ale, very rich and boozy. 05/13 India Pale Ale Rakau was the booziest beer I had at 7.1% but it tasted much lighter than that, an easy drinking pale ale clearly made with skill. The samples were all 1/3 pints and it came to £9.60 - about the going rate for a drink round these parts.
The best of the bunch was the 03/05 Porter - Willamette and Cenennial. Brew by Numbers usually make excellent porters and this was no exception - plenty of malty flavours and a good bit of bite to it. After trying and failing to blag a free BBNo T-Shirt I called it a evening. I enjoyed my visit to BrewDog Clerkenwell and would be happy to return. It's a decent bar with friendly staff and good beer - if only the place was a little bigger.