Taproom: The Islington Cask Ale Pop-up
We’ve all seen pop-ups before – from pop-up restaurants to pop-up galleries, complete with the obligatory hipsters and fashionistas. The Islington Taproom is the first time we’ve seen a cask ale pop-up, serving beers from some of the best UK producers for a limited time of 21 days only. It’s a concept that we here at The Evening Brews welcome with open arms. We like anything that makes more people drink better beer. Hipsters or not.
Taking up residence right on busy Upper Street the Taproom serves all their beers straight from the cask. You can choose between a pint or a taster flight of thirds for £3.60. The beers on offer were from heavy hitters of the craft beer world such as Red Willow, Tiny Rebel, Marble, Moor, Windsor and Eton and many more. The beers rotate quickly, and the list is strong enough to keep most cask lovers happy.
I went with a Red Willow Shameless, a Marble Stouter Stout and a Marble Manchester Bitter. I’ve had the Shameless before, that time on keg, which I would prefer, but the cask version still had an abundance of hop aroma and a big hit of flavour for its meagre 5.9%. I normally don’t go for bitters, expecting them to be on the flat and boring side, but as this was made by Marble I took a dive of faith and was amply rewarded. It was malty, hoppy and bloody good! Well done Marble. The Stouter Stout was everything I expected it to be – toasty, deep, both sweet and bitter, and beautifully balanced. Listen up Marble, you’re on our radar now, and we’ll endeavour to write more about you in the future.
It’s encouraging to see initiatives like the Taproom popping up. So much of what is associated with cask ale is all about tradition and heritage, which sometimes feels a bit stale and boring. Or at least unappealing to outsiders and people without massive beards and t-shirts with bad puns on them. Although I’m usually against hipsters wearing beanies inside it’s good to see that they’re taking the casks away from the usual Hairy Wizards Of Ale. I hope 2013 will bring more interesting pop-ups, events, tastings and beer related shindigs. The more variety and creativity that is injected into the craft and cask beer scene, the more this sacred juice will appeal to a new audience, and we can all get drunk together on the good shit. It might even help to shake some of the dust of the image of The Average Ale Drinker, which can only be a good thing.