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Tuesday, 30 November 2010

November V-Blog: The Astonishing Rise of London's Brewers, and the Jolly Butchers!

With just hours of November left, the team behind our video blogs have managed to pull together the edits of me in the Jolly Butchers, and Peter Amor's latest instalment of brewing fun.

In previous V-Blogs we've gone around various pubs trying a variety of beers.  This time we stayed closer to home - very close to my home in fact - just around the corner from my house, and focused the whole episode on the astonishing rise of London's small brewers.  Four years ago, London had Fuller's and Meantime.  Both among my favourites, but a shockingly small choice for the nation's capital.  A couple of years ago something exploded in the collective beery psyche.  The result, well, click below...

Pete Brown's British Beer Blog - November from Ian Hudson Films on Vimeo.

By the way - I'm slurring a bit - that's not drunkenness - just tiredness.

If you enjoyed these, and haven't seen previous ones, check out my adventures in Nottingham and in South Wales.

Meanwhile, Peter Amor, after taking us through beer's ingredients and the process in the brewhouse, moves now to fermentation - in both the brewery fermentation room, and the pub cellar.

Peter Amor's British Brewing Blog: Episode 3 from Ian Hudson Films on Vimeo.

Just before Christmas, Peter and I join forces to taste some great seasonal beers.  See you back here in a few weeks.


Somerset Bill said...

I think this is the best video blog you guys have done so far, its nice to hear you talking about the history and local significance of the beers aswell. That always makes me want to try more. Speaking of which, I'm sure I have a bottle of Porter around here somewhere....
Keep up the good work team!

SteveF said...

Very good. Keep meaning to take a trip over to the Jolly Butchers, it sounds excellent. Even if they have nicked the design for the signs from my local, the Southampton Arms!

SteveF said...

Speaking of the Southampton Arms, think it's worth a trip over for another example of a revived pub serving great beers. The previous place was pretty benighted, but it's now thriving and with a superb array of ales and ciders. Plus good pork baps.

Anonymous said...

Nice video, its great to see that London once again has small breweries returning. I've always struggled to get decent beer in the capital until recently. I would say though that there is still room for a lot more London breweries. In comparison West Yorkshire a county with a fifth of the population of London currently has over 40 micro breweries operating, many of which also only opened in the last 5 years.

Barm said...

"Sure, I'm not drunk, I'm just tired from being out all night drinking…"

Great video. I love the way that London is waking up to its own beery heritage.

Gary Gillman said...

Excellent video, and glad to see London is thriving in small breweries. I would like to see a video of you giving a tutored tasting. It would be interesting to see the reaction of participants especially those not familiar with assertive tastes.

Between Fuller's, Young's, Pitfields, Freedom and a scattering of big brewery brands (I always liked Director's and Ind Coope Burton Ale), I found enough to keep going on in visits from about 1985-2005. Plus some pubs always had one or two regional beers, and I was a sap too for Davy's Wallop. (Always liked the Davy wine bars, brilliant concept).

Still, variety on the lines of what Yorkshire has, say, is only to the good.

Brewers will experiment and good on them, but my advice for what it is worth is to blend those U.S. hops with English for best effect. Something I learned on Ron Pattinson's site is that many 19th century English brewers used American hops from about mid-century on. But they kept the feisty U.S. stuff to not greater than 25% of the hop bill. This makes an excellent blend indeed, as I've found by blending an American IPA and good English pale ale in that proportion.


Dan said...

I was just in The Jolly Butchers this evening - my local as well. Definitely agree that this is the most improved pub in the area (Father Ted's, the previous incarnation, was a knife fight away from Deathsville. Really. A scary, wretched place), and great to see a selection of actual ales on my doorstep. Great vlogging - keep it up!

SteveF said...

The idea of video blogging a tasting is a good one I think.

The Bocking Kellys said...

Is the dimpled pint tankard with a handle making a bit of a comeback after years of domination by the 'straight glass'? I've seen them in one or two pubs recently. Surely this must be stopped? It's like punk never happened!

BLTP said...

Bocking Kelly: yes I find the resurgence of the dimpled jug worrying. I've been casual handed one recently a fair bit. Oddly I think in a small way it's positive as it's often in younger trendier bars/pubs where have people thrown off or more likely never had the old prejudices about twiggy bearded real ale types. That being said prefer a clear straight glass or which ever is appropriate for the beer.

Jack R. said...

Jeff Alworth, the preeminent American Pacific NW beer writer, cleverly titled British brewers producing aggressive, hop-focused India Pale Ale and 2X IPA as: Son's Of The American Revolution.

btw, I just purchased your 3 books; the comparison to Bill Bryson got my custom.

SimonW said...

Regarding the breweries in london four years ago there was of course also Grand Union Brewery in the London Borough of Hillingdon, Battersea Brewery in the London Borough of Wandsworth and Twickenham Fine Ales in the London Borough of Richmond. The last one is still brewing today and doing well I understand.

Gary Gillman said...

I recall the latter of those, good to hear it's still going strong.

The London brewpub scene was interesting in the period I mentioned. Mash and Air had an outpost on Great Portland Road, I am not sure if it is still operating. There were one or two brewpubs in Covent Garden/Soho, and of course the excellent Porterhouse there, still going strong. And how can we forget the Bruce chain with the wooden floors, they made Dogbolter and other ales? I wonder if they still exist, they were fun.

That would be another good v-blog topic, the current London brewpub scene.


matthew turner said...

First thing. love the video blog‘s, I really do. but can I just ask 1 thing? in every video, whenever someone pours a pint, they put the spout of the swan neck into the beer. know I’m a barman and from the get go, I was told that this was a big no no. was I told wrong and my boss is over hygienic or does no-one else care??

Barm said...

If you are the type of dirty scrubber that uses a sparkler then the swan neck gets submerged in the freshly pulled pint. Otherwise, keep it out of the beer.

matthew turner said...

ahhhh right. well im from a town called rye on the south east coast, and most of our beers are local brews so they dont go anywhere near a being headless hoppy piss water down here ;)

Gary Gillman said...

I was thinking too whether the glasses were being raised into the nozzle, but I couldn't tell from the video. The glasses were being placed in position but I couldn't see if the spout actually went in.

I dislike in the extreme when beer is dispensed with spout immersed. Apart from any sanitary issue, the collection of staling, sticky beer on the tubing might impart off-flavours to the beer. As I recall in England some years ago, the servers were generally careful not to raise the glass into the spout. They pulled the pint fast from under the tap and whisked it off. Gregory and Knock said in their Beers of Britain (mid-1970's) when comparing methods of dispense that rarely is your pint served as fast as by traditional hand-pull. How right they were.

I dislike sparklers, but when used I don't see why that should encourage the spout to go in the glass, the foam forms just the same from the effect of the device, doesn't it?

Perhaps the old service methods are giving way, but the most agonizing thing, experienced here and there in North America, is to see a laboriously slow and entirely wrong pull with the glass hiked up as far as it will go. I think I once walked out mid-course of such a demonstration.

Beer is best served perfectly conditioned at 55 F with an insubstantial head, no sparkler, and the spout never touching the beer. It was always served that way in Orwell's pub, wasn't it?


Gary Gillman said...

Post-script: this goes beyond the trivia (relatively) of whether spouts should be dipped, but do you recall the scene in one of Alan Sillitoe's novels where the protagonist was served a sour pint? I think the landlord refused to change it and an argument ensued. I believe it was in Saturday Night And Sunday Morning. I read that in the early 70's, before I knew a jot about beer, and it made an impression. Today, that scene reminds me of the emotions beer can arouse in England. And that's all for the good, it's to keep valuable traditions alive.

What a fine writer he was, Alan Sillitoe, I was so sorry to read that he passed away earlier this year.


Martyn Cornell said...

"Porter was first brewed up the road from here in Shoreditch" - argh, Pete, noooo! See here, and more especially here for the complete flattening of THAT myth.

Pete Brown said...

Yes and no Martyn.

Annoyingly I committed a slight slip of the tongue. See how with IPA I said it was first 'perfected' by Hodgson? That's how, in a forty second soundbite, I sum up the fact that he wasn't the first to brew it, but was the first to make it his own become widely recognised for it.

I meant to say the same thing about porter. I was not repeating the myth that porter was 'invented' by Harwood. Rather, after Poundage, I wanted to say that Harwood's brewery - probably under his son - was where porter was perfected and popularised, but not 'invented'. Harwood's brewery - like Hodgsons with IPA - didn't invent the style, but was recognised as the first to really take it and do something special with it. As I say - difficult in a 45s soundbite.

Martyn Cornell said...

"Harwood's brewery didn't invent the style, but was recognised as the first to really take it and do something special with it.

Well, no, there's no evidence at all that Harwood, who was a comparatively small-time brewer and certainly not one of the Big 12 porter brewers in London, had anything meaningful to do with the development of porter, apart from John Feltham's claim that he did from 1802, and that odd poem by "Gutteridge" from 1788: and the whole "Harwood developed porter" idea was comprehensively kicked to death by Dr James Sumner, lecturer in history of technology at the Centre for the History of Science, Technology and Medicine, University of Manchester, in an article called "Status, scale and secret ingredients: the retrospective invention of London porter", in History and Technology magazine, Volume 24, Issue 3, September 2008, which you can download here, although unfortunately it will cost you $30. The REAL development of the techniques that enabled the big porter brewers (who, as I said, didn't include Harwood) to become so successful was probably done by men such as Sir Humphrey Parsons, owner of the Red Lion brewery down by St Katharine's Dock.