Eating Brixton

The transformation of Brixton over the past 5 years into a foodie drinky haven has been one of the most dramatic in London and luckily I live about ten minutes away. The downside to having such a culinary cornucopia on ones doorstep is that there is now so much choice, that deciding where to wet my whistle or calm those hunger pains has become a real challenge!

I fell in love with that sourdough pizza perfection that is Franco Manca some years ago as it was one of the first to see the potential in Brixton’s Market Row. Still probably the best pizza I have ever had.Screen Shot 2013-09-24 at 10.05.19

Just a few doors down is the Bukowski Grill. As the name suggests it’s pure Americana.  A laid back dark moody space with boozy milkshakes, good beers and American BBQ. Screen Shot 2013-09-24 at 10.04.25Crispy Cajun popcorn shrimp were the perfect amuse bouche. Screen Shot 2013-09-24 at 10.11.08I found the rub a bit dry on the intensely flavoured smoky ribs, but this steak sandwich impressed despite my sourdough being a tad burnt. My favourite were these tobacco onions, sliced fine and battered in a KFC type batter. Heaven… The bill was very reasonable and with Charlie’s Beat poems adorning the walls of the toilets it was a “trip” worth taking.

Screen Shot 2013-09-24 at 10.04.40Next door is Wishbone more US import style food but turning our attention to the humble chicken. I went on cold Sunday night and without heating or doors, we froze our wings off. Speaking of which we sampled a two styles of deep fried flappers. Screen Shot 2013-09-24 at 10.16.11If I’m honest the food didn’t really hit all the right notes. Batter lacked crunch & sauces tasted a bit pre fab. The very en vogue deep fried mac n cheese was a bit soggy stodgy as opposed to crunchy gooey. The spare decor of the place & lack of warmth made it feel like we were eating in a meat locker, which certainly didn’t the food any favours. So in fairness should go back and give em another shot…

Screen Shot 2013-09-24 at 10.17.40Over in Brixton Village I ate some of the best Thai food I have had in recent memory. Kaosarn is on the outside corner off Coldharbour Lane. A simple cafe type set up, wooden tables, paper napkins & plain white plates. But the food! I had this astonishing Gang Kua Sapparod Goong aka Red Prawn Curry with tomatoes, kaffir lime, coconut milk & pineapple. The flavours so distinct and nuanced. The rice fluffy, the prawns succulent. Kaosarn is great value and a must visit.Screen Shot 2013-09-24 at 10.18.03

Inside Brixton Village is Senzala Creperie which is great for lunch or brunch. They do super buckwheat pancakes or as the French call them galettes with all manner of fillings served with proper side salads. With the likes of Honest Burger(which I have still yet to visit due the massive lines outside every time I go), the Craft Beer Company & the Crown and Anchor(who do very good food as well) plus stacks more Brixton is sure to only increase it’s notoriety as the place to eat & drink in south London.

Sainsbury’s Taste The Difference USA Beers

Now I have been fairly impressed with Sainos Taste the Difference wines. They essentially contract established producers in “insert region” but the packaging is all Sainsburified. Well made wines at fair prices for the most part.

So I was hopeful this foray into USA “craft” beer with Tap Room Brewing would be as successful. Thanks to Beer Googles Reviews for sussing out that Tap Room is actually contract brewed by Genesee Brewing Company out of Rochester, New York. A little misleading methinks. Not the best start…

But here are my tasting notes.

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Tap Room American Pale Ale 5.3% abv

Eye- Sugar golden brown, no real head

Nose- Rye Bread, ripe banana

Palate- Ultra dry, tart, green, no fruit, lemony finish

Verdict- Honestly wasn’t much impressed. It tasted chemical & somewhat “unnatural”.

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Tap Room IPA 6.3%abv 

Eye- Caramel

Nose- Yeast, beetroot & crystal malts

Palate- Corn, dusty leather, some peach, orange zest, toasted brazil nuts w/ a spicy dry finish

Verdict- Despite tasting more complex notes on the palate I still felt let down. Brewed by numbers & lacking soul.

Well Sainos despite the eye catching Americana labels you best go back to the drawing board on these beers. Perhaps finding another brewer to collaborate with? You could do a lot better than this.

Wild Beers

Screen Shot 2013-09-10 at 14.56.32 The Wild Men of The Wild Beer Co

I have been a big fan of The Wild Beer Co ever since I was first introduced to them early this year by my friend & neighbour Paul who has known founders Brett & Andrew since Uni(at least I think that’s how he knows them). The beers coming out of their brewery in Lower Westcombe Farm Somerset have such personality & depth of flavour.

Here’s my tasting notes on 2 of them:

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Scarlet Fever Red Ale 4.8% abv

Eye- Deep auburn, root beer red foam

Nose- Grapefruit, dark chocolate, toasted coffee beans, pistachio, caramel apple

Palate- Tart red fruit, serious, warming bitterness, dry woody finish

Verdict- This ain’t your typical red ale, very mature and refined. Wants food this. Game, mature cheese or anything with mushrooms would love it.

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Epic Saison 5%abv

Eye- Deep yellow, buzzing bubbles, thick individual bubble foam

Nose- Jasmine, mango, dried pineapple, ginger snaps

Palate- Deep apricot, complex jagermiester herbs, long luscious zest super clean finish

Verdict- Saison is a very popular style right now. I love good Saison. This is bloody good Saison! (I recently had their Solera Saison on keg and was equally impressed with it)

So whether they come in wickedly branded bottles or on keg their beers are well worth getting into.

 

 

 

 

Grain “Redwood” Red Ale

Screen Shot 2013-08-22 at 15.22.30I discovered Grain Brewery almost by accident in 2010 when I made my maiden voyage into learning about beer while cycling around Norfolk & Suffolk. I arrived announced but was shown around the former dairy barn by the very warm & welcoming Phil (cofounder & brewer).

Since my visit Grain has gone from strength to strength winning a string of awards including two gongs for this Redwood Red Ale 4.8% abv.

Here are my notes…

Eye- Lovely bright copper red

Nose- Sweet corn, malted caramel & lemon peel

Palate- Sharp, clean, fresh peach, pithy, creamy malt texture and a nutty orange zest finish

Verdict- Definitely worth it’s CAMRA & SIBA awards this one. A great session ale for a sunday lunch or warm autumn evening

Their beers are available at these fine shops  and online through Russell & Newnes

You can also watch me taste their Grain IPA in my very first video beer review here.

 

 

Crate Brewery- IPA, Golden Ale & Lager

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3 Good Crates of Beer

I’m very keen on discovering & supporting the ever growing number of new London Breweries that seem to be sprouting up like well… sprouts all over this fine city.

So when I came across a selection of simply labelled yet still eye catching beers from previously unknown to me Crate Brewery at that holy home of liquid fantasies the City Beverage Company I snapped them up.

I held onto them for a bit but then drank them all in a self pitying session after failing my drivers test.

Here’s run down of each

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Golden Ale  3.8% ABV

Eye- Bright Vit C pee golden yellow

Nose- Warm caramel, raw sugar, hint of buttercup

Palate- Leafy green, nice subtle spice, clean almost bracing. Intensely sharp pithy lemon finish.

Verdict- A very tasty session ale happy drunk on it’s own, with roast chicken n all the trimmings or perhaps some creamy soft cheeses.

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Lager 4.8% ABV

Eye- Deep Golden

Nose- Fruity Floral

Palate- Very Czech Pils in style. Mineral & hint of citrus. Crisp, refreshing, thirst quenching & totally delicious

Verdict- Reminded me of unfiltered Pilsner Urquell. Which is very high praise indeed. Is definitely in my top 5 UK produced Lagers. Drink it solo, with Thai or Indian but whatever you do just drink some.

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IPA  5.8% AVB

Eye- Copper

Nose- Warm malts and a touch yeasty

Palate- Tin peaches, golden syrup, dry corn husk. Serious & structured with a not unpleasant slightly soapy finish

Verdict- A full flavoured but not overdone in terms of hoppiness or sweetness of malt. An IPA to mull over big decisions with or have with gamey fowl such as duck, partridge or pigeon.

Do go say hello to the gang in Hackney Wick where you can soak up their fine beer with some lovely stone baked pizza. Yes it’s a Brewerria! What could be better?!!

Stockists include Ales by Mail City Beverage Company

Bernard Jantarovy Lezak-Dunkel/Amber Lager

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I brought this bottle back from my recent trip to Prague. It was definitely the pick of the bunch.

Bernard make some excellent beers in Humpolec in the Czech Republic.
I popped the stopper and from the first sip I was smitten.
To the eye it’s lovely bright copper red w/ persistent fine bubbles.
Nose of caramel & chestnut
On the palate it’s clean fresh and crisp.
Hints of toasted hazelnut, marmite & cherry bark play hide and seek on your tongue.
An easy drinking but wonderfully crafted Czech Amber Lager. 4.7% abv
http://www.bernard.cz/en/beer/assortment/bottled-beer/2.shtml

Marble Brewery Organic Chocolate Stout

P1020070

Big fan of Marble’s beers and this dandy was no exception. A dense and long lasting mocha/root beer float head, nose that was deep nutty dark choc nibs whiffs of wet dog and aged oak. Palate was mocha rich & mouth coating but not overwhelmingly so. Hints of wet wool choc ganache and a long bitter choc finish. Cracking Stuff! 8/10

Available direct from Marble Beers

“Bobby on the Wheat” Pale Wheat Ale

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By the Horns Brewing based in Wandsworth is relatively new addition to London’s ever mushrooming craft beer scene. I recently tried their “Bobby on the Wheat” pale wheat ale.

Now wheat beer is a bit like marmite and Morris dancing in that it can starkly divide public opinion. I eat marmite from time to time & am a big fan of wheat beer when it’s well made. Morris dancing however not offensive, doesn’t excite me regardless of how skilfully it’s performed. This “Bobby…” is a good attempt though.

Nose of malty, yeast honey & confected lemon. Palate hits 1st w/ lemon peel then richer lemon meringue cuts in finishing on a lovely savoury coriander seed note.

Though you may disagree with their London kitch naming By the Horns have produced a very acceptable wheat beer here.
7/10
http://www.bythehorns.co.uk/

Storm Beer Bali & Mee Goreng

Last September I had the pleasure of attending a friend’s wedding on the beautiful Indonesian island of Bali. Before that though I was hanging out in Seminyak and came across Storm Beer. I was very impressed with their Golden Ale and it went a treat with the Mee Goreng.
I shot this on my iPhone and the quality wasn’t too bad at all.

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