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Friday, 30 April 2010

You wait ages for locally based beer phenomena and then two come along at once

I'm starting to think there might be something in this beer lark.

Just a week after the Jolly Butchers reinvents itself as one of London's top five beer pubs, The Alma on Newington Green is having a bank holiday weekend real ale festival.

The Alma is a pretty pub in a great location, on the border between N1 and N16.  Bobby Gillespie out of Primal Scream lives just around the corner, and he blew his entire wad of Indie Rock credibility a few years ago when he complained to the council about the noise from the pub.

It's a gastropub - one of the best in the area - really nice food, freshly prepared, nice wine list, lovely staff, great atmosphere.  But up to now the beer selection has been nothing to write home about.

This weekend landlady Kirsty Valentine changes all that with a festival celebrating the extraordinary renaissance of London brewing in recent years.  There's a full list of about twelve ales, all from Sambrooks, Brodie's, Twickenham and Redemption, none of which existed six years ago (Twickenham is the oldest, having opened in September 2004).

And the nice thing about the mix, given that they're drawn from four local breweries, is that there's a really interesting array of beer styles in there - a few golden ales, a few session beers, and some stronger, darker stuff.

Some of the brewers will be turning up at various points throughout the weekend, and I'm going down there tomorrow (Saturday) hopefully to meet the nice man from Tottenham's Redemption Brewery.

It's three quid a pint (10% off for CAMRA members, not that they deserve it - sorry, Tandy etc - I'm grouchy about appalling behaviour by some stereotypes who were at the National Brewery Centre launch last night) and there's a live band on Sunday.  It kicks off Saturday at noon and runs until chucking out time on Bank Holiday Monday.

See you there!


The Pub Diaries said...

I move from N1 to Sarf of the River and look what happens… I am having symptons of Duke of Wellington withdrawl as it is. May have to hatch a cunning plan for a weekend visit of the Wellington, Jolly Butchers and the Alma

Tandleman said...

I hate stereotypical CAMRA members as much as you. They give us all a bad name. What did they do though?

We (my CAMRA Branch) are at Lees tomorrow and I expect them to behave. But in my Branch they will, coz they are nice people, not beer bigots.

BLTP said...

Really pleased that redemption seem to produce a consistently good pint rapidly become one of my beers of choice

Cooking Lager said...

As a none CAMRA member and not a regular pub goer, my opinion of price promotions in pubs is as follows. I’d love a discount. I’ve no objection to a discount for regulars through say a loyalty points or fill the card up with stickers’ type scheme. I’m free to take part or not as I so choose. I see a discount to CAMRA members, an organisation I do not wish to join, and see a promotion that offers one price to some and other to me. The price being offered to me, being higher, simply because I do not sign up to the CAMRA manifesto. I’m being ripped off. Therefore the promotion has the effect on me of choosing not to visit that pub. Is there a discount for church goers, or labour party members too?

In addition, any beer guide written by CAMRA members becomes for me not a view of the pubs of an area from the perspective of CAMRA members, but a guide to the pubs CAMRA members like because that pub is their club house.

I am ashamed to admit I have mocked CAMRA stereotypes, but I only know 2 personally and they are almost normal people. I’d even go as far as letting them into my home. Even most of the ones I’ve met on line appear to approach normality. Glad to hear there is still something to mock, however. I hope the people that wound you up were identifiable via there tankards, beards, leather waistcoats, obesity and gravy stained faded beer festival t-shirt. The uniform is a kindness of beer jihadists allowing the rest of us to shun them.

Adrian Tierney-Jones said...

Cooking, the thing about the discounts is the same if you shop with Tesco or Sainsbury’s and get points on your cards, that’s all. You can’t complain about not having whatever the benefits of Tesco loyalty cards bring if you buy your baked beans and oven chips at Asda. So CAMRA is a Tesco or a Sainsbury’s or even a Waitrose though it sounds like the people Pete had on his table last night were Iceland.

Cooking Lager said...

I think I can complain Ade. I have a nectar & tesco points card and in doing so agree to my shopping habits being monitored for marketing in return for discounts. I have no issue with a pub loyality scheme. Tesco's are not asking me to sign up to a manifesto to lobby the government into changing the law. They only want to flog me groceries.

CAMRA is an organisation with a political objective to fix the market against my lovely cheap lager. I cannot join it. I do not object to CAMRA offering discounts to its members for its own beer festivals. I suspect without it they would have far fewer members.

However the pub is a public house, not a CAMRA owned club house. In a pub I expect my custom to be as welcome as any member of the public and any discount loyality scheme to be as open to me as anyone. I should not have to sign up to CAMRA's war against cheap lager to get 10p off a pint nor charged 10p more for a pint because I don't wear the sandals.

The pub in question has adopted a promotion that turns it from a public house into a CAMRA club house. Hope there are enough beards to keep it going.

Mario (Brewed for Thought) said...

CAMRA isn't the same as where you choose to shop. Where you choose to shop is simply a capitalist choice. When you choose membership to CAMRA you're encouraging and funding their agenda.

Pete's obviously had a problem with the CAMRA entity (or its members) and if Cookie doesn't feel like supporting CAMRA and those giving them discounts, then he's making the decision to not spend his money at those establishments.

Either that, or Cookie is just disappointed with the quality of female at the place.

Sven C said...


The Jolly Butchers sounds great. I´m curious, which are the other four pubs in your London top five?

All the best
Sven Cahling
Ljusdal, Sweden (for a year though, in Brussels)

BLTP said...

Pete well at least some of us thought a local beer festival was a good idea. Good move on Alma's part.

ZakAvery said...

Cookie, just join CAMRA for the discount. You don't have to believe any of it. You could try presenting your membership card for a discount on lout - that'd fox 'em.

Rob Nicholson said...

>some stereotypes who were at the National Brewery Centre launch last night

Stereotypes in what way?

Cheers, Rob.

HardKnott Dave said...

I also fail to see why CAMRA members should get a discount, specifically. Why not a discount for members of the British Guild of Beer Writers? Or for members of SIBA or the BII? The list could go on......

Tandleman said...

The answer Dave is straightforward. If these organisations either negotiate or attract a discount, then they get a discount. If they don't they don't.


Cooking Lager said...

Join CAMRA for the discount, Zak? That's a thought. Here's another. A regular at this pub who disagrees with the CAMRA agenda and chooses not to support it gets to pay more for his/her pint. A CAMRA member punter popping in as a one off after hearing Pete rave about it gets a cheap pint.

Loyalty to CAMRA is rewarded, not loyalty to the pub. Paid for by the pub too. Go figure.

The scheme is great for CAMRA and its members but does nothing for the pub. CAMRA supporting pubs? I don't think so.