Craft beer - everybody wants some. Well everybody inside the M25, and in some pockets of the area outside the London Orbital called "The North" (south of London is just a wasteland of cider and cocktails.) Living in London I'm lucky enough to be in the epicentre of beardie brewed overly hopped beer enjoyed by folks with more money than sense. In no particular order here are my favourite craft beers of the ones I've tried.
Gumphreys Belfry - Hopless. I must admit I was skeptical when I first tried this. As Rupert Gumphrey, head brewer and part time uni-cyclist explains from his East London brewery "Hopless is a natural rebellion against the mega hopped beers so beloved by the craft scene. We were fed up with beers that tasted like tropical fruit juice, so we've created a well balanced beer made with absolutely no hops whatever. Just malt, water and yeast. Technically we're not allowed to call it beer but our marketing managers dad is chairman of the Advertising Standards Agency so we're getting away with it."
I must admit it took a while to get used to the flavour, it was like drinking a very bitter bread. But after a few sips and being coerced by the beer bloggers I was sharing this with at some craft ale festival I couldn't help but agree that it was pretty good, even while I was pouring it down the sink in the bogs.
Greenfingers - Asparagus IPA. If the fetching green colour doesn't make this beer stand out, the smell of your wee the morning after drinking it certainly will. As brewer Robert Smith explains "my son Giles kept visiting me on my allotment going on and on about the latest craft beer he'd tried. They all sounded like the brewers had found whatever they could get their hands on and shoved it into their beer. Well I had a bumper crop of asparagus this year and rather than flogging it off down the boot sale I thought I'd have a go of making it into a beer. To be honest it was a bit of a disaster but early thirties men with well trimmed beers kept showing up at my shed offering me £10 a bottle so I couldn't say no. I'm looking forward to see what they make of my Runner Bean Pale Ale."
Craft Beer Toadies - This Will be Rated Number One on Ratebeer. A 12% ABV Imperial Stout brewed in the USA.
Brouwerij Verhaeghe/Bros - When Will I Be Flemish? - Eyebrows were raised when Bros announced that they were following the example of other forgotten bands Iron Maiden and Status Quo by releasing their own beer. Nobody expected it be a Flemish Red, and a good one at that. Beloved by those who insist that Belgium beer was "the original craft beer" while being ignored by absolutely everybody.
Marstons - Crafty Growler Hoppy Artisan IPA. Out of all the attempts of "big brewing" to enter the craft scene this is probably the best. As head brewer Martin Moneybags explains "we just shoved every trendy craft buzzword into the name of this beer in the desperate hope that some confused hipster will order it by accident when they see it in one of our tied houses in the arse end of nowhere"
That's it! Join me next week for my "Top Five Boring Brown Bitters." Actually I may as well just tell you now - it's everything Harvey's brew.