Ah, London. I really do like drinking in London. Maybe it’s because I don’t live there, so haven’t yet been beaten into submission by it. Everything still feels buzzy and new, and I always end up thinking that I should have stayed longer, because I’ve still got places I need to go.
My pre-GBBF session was pretty much based around places I know and love. I find it very hard now to get within ten minutes of King’s Cross station, and not start thinking about The Euston Tap. I still read mixed reports about it, but I can honestly say I’ve yet to encounter anything than excellent, polite service from the staff there. Quite a feat, given how busy they were at points over the weekend (running out of glasses at one point!). The first pint of the day – a clean, crisp Camden Helles (4.8% abv) – slaked the train journey thirst in no time; crisp and first then drying into sweet/citrus notes. I could have happily stayed for another couple, but we had a specific agenda.
A quick tube ride later and we find ourselves sitting in BrewWharf; somewhere I’ve not visited before despite being in Borough a lot recently. A quick scan around the bar led to slight disappointment. Although Ivanhoe’s Pale Ale (4.3%abv) was perfectly nice – very nice, actually; Piney bitterness and biscuit body – it was the only offering from the brewery available. It’s a smart place all right, all exposed brick and pale wood, but can someone give me a reason to go back when I’m around next?
Onto The Rake next, and Kernel’s Centennial IPA (10.1abv) was truly worth taking on in spite of the heft of the abv. Orange-hued, bursting with orange-pith aroma and with a comfortingly viscous mouthfeel, it remained utterly, utterly drinkable and we whiled away another hour talking the transfer market whilst this nectar warmed our bellies. With the GBBF trade session in full swing, The Rake was a little oasis of calm in an afternoon where the temperatures were getting a little on the high side. If you’re not familiar with the place, jump on over to Rabid Barfly (link on the right) – Glyn’s the general manager.
After a bowl of Paella in Borough Market (well, part of it. It was closed, being a Tuesday), we headed over to The Market Porter to see what was on there. I love drinking in The Porter – and I’m not sure why. There’s something about it I can’t put my finger on. In terms of beer, we needn’t have looked further than Meantime’s Pacific Pale Ale (4%abv). In fact ,we didn’t – Wow – what a beer. Darker than you’d expect, with a firm, fudgy malt base, the nose just leapt out of the glass. I must add, too, that it was a pleasure to experience a Mango/Tropical Fruit sweet aroma rather than the usual ‘Grapefruitiness’ that we seem to be getting so bombarded with (more on this later). Stupidly drinkable and with a perfect, clean finish, we sank two of these each and I could have sunk two more. Stomachs rumbled.
A quick nip to Neal’s Yard Dairy over the road and some clean, slightly piney Goat’s cheese was procured, and, alongside some of my favourite Cornish Yarg and half a chewy, dense Rye loaf, we had an impromptu picnic. The beer was perfect for the cheese, and for a couple of hours, all was well with the world.
It’s moments like this – of sweet harmony – that give me the greatest pleasure whilst eating, drinking and writing about it. You think that you’ve experienced all that you can, but then something unexpected hits you and you realise that, in fact, there are most blissful moments ahead of you than you’ve probably experienced. And if that’s not reason enough to keep seeking them out, and helping others to do so, then I don’t know what is.