They Brew it, I sell it, You Drink it... and so do I..

Saturday, 20 August 2011

Craft, Keg, Cask, Bottle, Beer.... You get the picture.

This week I've been very fortunate to have been put up in London for a couple of days by my parents. (they went down to see some shows) And even though the hotel was rather lacking in quality, it made up for it by the fact it was right in the center of the city. So I had a couple of days to spend, and no shows to see, in a city which has recently gained some amazing new beer haunts.... so what to do.... what to do! I made sure I drew up some maps and battle plans the day before we left.

The plans were simple really. Go to the Cask, buy & drink some beer. Go to the Craft Beer Co, buy & drink some beer. Go to the Rake and Borough Market, buy & drink some beer. Go to the Euston Tap, buy & drink some beer. Simple really, and I had two days to do it in. (I suppose I did leave some space in there to eat and sleep too, just in case you were worried)

The Cask was the first up on our arrival day.

I had only been to this place once before - a couple of weeks previous in fact, after sloping off a little early from GBBF because it was so hot. The first time I was in I kept wondering "Why isn't this place called Cask & Keg" But who am I to stoke fires??

The Cask has only been operational for 2 years, but seems to have acquired quite a fair bit of notoriety and obvious fame already, for serving up some of the best beers money can buy - in 3 forms - cask keg & bottle.

The bar boasts 10 rotating cask lines and 14 rotating keg lines, and by my guessing eye, around 100-odd bottles to choose from. Your mainly going to find a selection from England, America, Belgium a few German...... and Mikkeller. (and maybe a hint of some others like NogneO, maybe)

The thing that really helps is the Beer bibles they hand out. Sure they give out generous tastings and descriptions, but rarely have I seen a menu on the bottled beer selection as vast and as informative as this: (it's a good 15mm thick)

I wasn't going mental on the first day, (apart from buying bottles to take away. Hey, buy 6 and get one "free" was a good deal in my eyes!) so only stuck to a few light halves. Half a Magic Rock Highwire on keg was first up to slake my thirst. Southern Tier IPA on keg was swiftly followed. Both were in perfect condition so I decided to indulge my inner Northerner and watch as they poured some cask with no sparkler. It was Darkstar Pale Ale, and even without a blessing from the plastic tip, it was still very tasty. We had a couple more, before tasting some keg Mikkeller Black, and deciding to hop to the Rake.

The Rake was only to be a passing visit unfortunately, it was getting really late and we only really stopped by for some Keg Schiehallion and some cask Marble Dobber. I would go back later the next day to buy some bottles, which included a very large, very interesting looking bottle of Sam Adams Chocolate Bock!

The morning and afternoon of day 2 was spent walking round London trying to sweat out some bad fajitas from the night before, and I was in no mood for some beer, until later in the evening that is, so lets move onto then!

Night 2 would be my night to the Craft Beer Co. (in honesty we had tried to go the night before, but they stop serving at 11 - sad face) It's an interesting place to try search out. I did get a couple few youths shouting my way, calling me some rough names under the sun whilst I walked up the street, I wasn't too fussed though, it wasn't a rough part of London by any means - and besides - insults just pass through me ;)

Once in through the door though, all the stresses, fears, aches and pains of the modern beer lover immediately melt of your shoulders from the sight your confronted with, and the warm, cosy surroundings which you know you'll be spending the next few hours in.

It's almost like the bar disappears over the horizon!

21 keg lines! 16 cask lines! Well over 100 bottles of amazing looking beers, most of which you've probably never heard of before. (many of which I hadn't - that's for sure) As I type I can hear some of the people in the back though, saying "O so what?? It's just 4 bars squished into one." and I can firmly say to the skeptics amongst you, jog on. Jog on to Craft I mean, and take in the experience for yourself, because that's what it is, an experience. I am truly envious for the people who can call this haunt their 'regular' - it seriously is like the GBBFs Bieres Sans Frontieres bar condensed down into a small building, with 16 British cask lines as well!

I didn't really get to grab my Ghost investigation jacket on for tonight though, it was pretty busy and the bar staff, whilst very informative about my choices of beer, didn't look like they wanted bothering with my little questions whislt there was many, many punters to serve. So for once, I just got my drink on, and get my drink on I did! If you've not had chance to visit this place before, and your making your way down to London anytime soon, make yourself a map. Trust me.

Day 3 was set aside for the Euston Tap, but unfortunately the time for my proposed visit never materialized sadly. This only means, though, that the next time I come down to London it will get special priority over all other drinking establishments before a beer even hits these lips, so till next time - I can wait.

So, in a brief little story, (missing out a few mishaps) that was my couple of days in London. What did I learn though?

Good beer shouldn't be judged by method of dispense, it should be judged by how good it is. I've always said it; stop thinking cask, stop thinking keg, don't even think craft or bottle - just think 'good' beer! Stick with that motto, and tell everyone else their stupid, and you'll always come out a winner - whatever beer you drink! Finally, London is bringing back it's incredible beer scene. If you've not checked it out recently - be ready! And last but not least.... boats with massive guns on them rule!

Beer - get out there and live it!


  1. As I nearly always prefer cask beer to keg I would say that whether a beer is good or not is inextricably linked to its method of dispense.

  2. That seems to be a bit of a closed minded view on the surface Ed. You should elaborate about your experiences and how much keg you've tried in comparison to cask... and what of the bottle??

  3. Glad we got a passing look before the deli belly...

  4. You got another look in at the end of the second night too Rabid, but it was just to pick up some bottles which I spied the night previous. It took me quite a while to purchase them though, you guys were absolutely rammed to the rafters, easily well over 100 people spilling out into the yard and street too. Is it like that every Fri??

  5. I drink all sorts of beer but all other things being equal I usually prefer cask beer. As it seems uncontroversial in the world of beer blogging to have a sparkler/no sparkler preference (no sparkler for me) I'm not sure why preferring cask to keg seems closed minded. I just like cask beer best.

  6. Ed - I didn't mean your preferred choice was a closed minded one, your very entitled to that as I say at the end of the post. It just comes across in your statement that you think all kegged beer is bad?? I wouldn't say that a beer being good or not is inextricably linked to method of dispense, sure some beers are better suited to cask, some are better suited to keg, but I don't think how it's served should influence the final decision. If it's served badly, that's not necessarily the beer or the brewers fault.

  7. Some fantastic beers there, great bars too, expensive yes but then it must come with choice, I just wish there were more venues like these across the country.

    On the dispense point, personally don't even give it more than a passing consideration, I see something I want, I choose, pay and drink it. If I don't like the end result I won't choose it again simples..

    I'd really like though to sample something I really enjoy from all three dispense methods all at once, a rare opportunity I'm sure but the only true way of coming to a conclusion?

    But then that could differ from beer to beer….even MORE testing to be done!

    Cheers Phil