London Craft Beer Year – 2012 Roundup
Ho ho holy shit we’ve just had a good year for craft beer in ye olde smoke of London. We hope this finds you still dizzy with digestion fatigue – still recovering from an overload of turkey, sausage, figgy puds, champagne and of course way too much nice beer. We want to take this moment, at the start of the new year, to reflect on some of the things that stood out as milestones on the London craft beer scene in the year we just managed to live through.
The first thing to say is that it really looks like more and more people are taking to drinking the good stuff. There are new pubs, offering new concoctions from new breweries, setting up business faster than you can say “I want to drink that”. We hope this trend carries on until there’s a decent pub within walking distance of every single thirsty London dweller. The people riding vanguard on this wave of amazing pubs in London are the Beer Pioneers & Connoisseurs at Craft Beer Company. Over the last year I’ve had more delicious beers at their establishments (and their sister pub Cask) than anywhere else in the whole world. 2012 saw them spread out beyond their watering hole in Leather Lane, to Brixton in the south and Angel in the north, and even further out, all the way to Brighton. Their dedication to serving top notch hootch brings a tear to our eyes. Last year they had their one year anniversary and they’ve already managed to settle themselves as London’s number one place to drink the best frickin’ beer out there. Someone in their staff must be sleeping with the right people because they always have an amazing selection of knockout brews on offer. My personal favourites from last year has been from Mikkeller, Evil Twin, Dark Horse, Southern Tier, Stillwater and just recently Omnipollo. We can’t wait to see what they’ve got in store for 2013.
Another hero of craft beer in London from last year is of course The Kernel Brewery. Every time I drink Kernel I feel both spoiled and extremely lucky to have such easy access to what I think is one of the best breweries in the world. 2012 was the year when Kernel stepped up their production, doubling their output (at least to my knowledge) and improving their distribution massively. You can now find a range of Kernel brews all around London. It’s come to the point now that if I walk into a pub that has a range of decent beers but no Kernel I find myself getting sulky and downright offended – “How dare they not serve the most local and delicious beer of them all. IT’S BREWED RIGHT OVER THERE!” If anything Kernel has made me a snob and redefined where the bar should be when it comes to what I expect out of a brew. It’s very high and should make other breweries shake in their brewer pants. The exciting thing for 2013 will be to see how they extend their range. Will they just carry on doing super steady pale ales, porters, stouts and IPAs? Will they do some crazy collaborations? Will they do some sours? I can’t wait to find out.
There’s also been an explosion of new breweries that started up in 2012. Some might say too many. I guess time will tell who’ll succeed to become breweries we’ll tell boring stories about to our grandchildren, about how we were there when they were selling their home brewed experiments out of some dingy shed, while others (I guess most of them) will realise that brewing is seriously tricky and end up destroyed by their competition. The new London breweries that we’ve come across who we’d put money on in the upcoming London Brewery Deathmatch is Beavertown (their alpha series was outstanding), Partizan, Brew By Numbers and Weird Beard. If you know of anyone else that seems promising please let us know. There’s nothing we love more than finding a new amazing brewery.
One more honourable mention we want to make before we stop harping on about last year is the arrival of the crazy Scots from BrewDog in the big smoke. Fair enough, they officially landed 2011, but last year saw them grow their influence on the London beer scene. They now have two BrewDog pubs, one in Camden and one in Shoreditch, where their taps are flowing with the most delicious brews, both their own and others. Their Firestone Walker and Anchor tap takeover from last year was epic and we hope they keep on bringing these giants of brewing over to educate our mouths and savage our livers.
One last thing is that we really hope that 2013 is the year that London gets its very own craft beer festival. We’ve already booked our tickets to the Mikkeller hosted beer fest in Copenhagen in May, but surely we’ve got enough dedicated beer geeks here in London to put on a decent gathering of world class brews. We can’t let Manchester get all the glory with their Indy Man Beer Con. At the moment the only contender is Craft Beer Rising, but their current collection of breweries isn’t much to write home about. Maybe they’ll pull it out of the bag but I’m not holding my breath.
That’s it, our summary of last year’s craft beer shenanigans. All we hope is that 2013 will be just as exciting and that we all will get drunk, a lot, on the most enjoyable brews our hard earned shekels can buy. Here’s to 2013, chin chin.