It seems that January rather ran away with us. We’ve been overwhelmed with high-calibre content of late: that in mind, apologies for the tardiness of this post. Regardless, we think you’ll agree that the latest ‘Pint by the River’ post from Roger Clapham was too good to forego.
The cold, dreary expanse of January is half-gone as I write this and there is a hint of the days getting longer already, even if I am still having my breakfast staring into the blackness outside the kitchen window every morning. It’s always portrayed as such a bleak time of year, but like some ridiculous self-help guru or similar fountain of positivity I always like to make a few plans for the coming months right now, and get some pleasure from what may lie ahead.
Like all plans and ideas though, those hatched at a bar or round the table at home – imaginations fired by alcohol – are always the best, most joyful ones: unsurprising then that I don’t go in for the idea of a “dry January”. I’ve no objection to people that do – my wife attempts it annually, then blames me when she ends up having a drink on the 15th or some such as it’s a weekend and I’m having another beer – but it’s simply not for me. So if you’re in the pub or the beer shop this month too, here are a couple of breweries you’d do well to look out for.
The Moor Beer Company are based in Bristol, and obviously use the quite brilliant marketing tag line of “drink Moor beer” – a take on promotion that I can really get behind. They’ve been brewing in varying capacities since 1996 and are now a leading light in the industry for natural “unfined” beer – meaning all their beer is unfiltered, unpasteurised, and still carries live yeast in it rather than certain additives that can hamper flavour. They do a fantastic range of cans too, which can now be found in some pubs and bars (including a certain central London one called The Social – unless they’ve all been had again) and specialist shops across the country. The Nor’hop and So’hop beers are part of this canned range, and arguably two of their best – both are very tasty pales ales, brewed with exclusively Northern or Southern hemisphere hops respectively. They both come in at 4.1%, with the Nor’hop having a milder taste whilst the So’hop has the distinct tropical fruit flavours of the new world hops in that west coast Californian style.
Back in London, in the wilds of West Norwood, you’ll find the Gypsy Hill Brewing Company, yet another quality brewer in the southern expanse of the capital. In parts of South London there’s a decent brewery around every corner now – it’s like that urban legend about never being more than a few feet from a rat in the city, except with decent beer instead of the devil in rodent form. What I particularly like about this brewery is that their range – and their intention for that matter – is fully flavoured beer but without the rocket fuel strengths some brewers seem to believe is a good thing. Yes, there is a time and place for 7% plus monster IPAs and stouts, but I don’t think your average session in the pub is necessarily right for them. The “Southpaw” amber beer is sharp, well-crafted and bitter, a great session beer at 4.2% and well recommended. Elsewhere, the “Hepcat” ale is their take on the somewhat daftly named “session IPA” style – i.e. a full flavoured pale ale but at a lesser strength – it’s a bright, smooth, delicious beer with a good amount of fruity punch, and only 4.6%. Seek it out, and make January brighter.