Words and picture by Roger Clapham.
At the risk of sounding like a half-arsed politician, it seems the fabled “green shoots” – although of spring rather than some miraculous national economic turnaround – are now here. It’s daylight when you get up, the landscape seems less grey than it did a month ago, the clock change has confused your entire household once again, and that muddy patch in the park finally seems to be drying out. As such, a reflective change in drinking habits seems appropriate, with the dark beers that go down so well on a cold black night being replaced by a shift to something lighter in tone, best supped in the beer garden or on the pavement outside the pub on a light evening. With that in mind, here’s some recent favourites well suited to just that.
First up is Keltek Brewery’s King, described as a premium bitter, from Redruth in Cornwall. This may not score highly in the hipster beer rankings, as despite the fact that good quality bitters are far from ubiquitous it is not a fashionable style of beer. But frankly fashion can go hang, as this 5.1% ‘boring brown beer’ is marvellous. As you’d expect there is some toffee sweetness in the flavour, and it’s very easy to drink – you wouldn’t think it’s as strong as it is. A smooth and exceptionally good example of a modern bitter, this has fittingly won a number of awards, and is well recommended.
Next, from the Beavertown Brewery in North London, their Neck Oil Session IPA. Beavertown are one of those breweries who can be relied on to do good, interesting, and tasty beer – pretty much all of their range is worth drinking, and it all comes in cans too, which actually keeps the beer fresher for longer than it would in a bottle as no light penetrates it. Those cans also have some eye-bleedingly bold graphics on them, taking a hefty chunk of inspiration from all those old Grateful Dead album sleeves and blasting them off into space, which certainly knocks the standard no frills / big-logo-here approach most brewers take into a cocked hat. The Neck Oil itself lives up to its name, although I’d call it more of a pale ale than a session IPA, merely because I like being a pedant occasionally. There’s a good dose of pineapple and bittersweet flavours, and it genuinely is one of those beers you could drink all day. It’s fairly easy to find too, certainly in London and the South-East, and in independent specialists nationwide.
Finally, a golden ale from the Wild Card brewery in Walthamstow, East London. I should declare something of an interest here as I live about three streets away from this brewery, and I’ve lost a few hours in their brewery tap bar on more than one occasion. However, they’re a good bunch (London living wage payers to start with) making good beer, and they get extra points for calling their porter the Ace of Spades. The King of Hearts is my favourite of their range, a lighter, straw-hued ale. It’s 4.5% and made with lager malts, which give it a nice sharp edge. Ideally drunk outside, with a little bit of spring sunshine peering out from behind the clouds.
Pint by the River archive
If you are partial to a pint then issue 11 of An Antidote To Indifference is for you. On sale now priced £5 plus p&p.