Whilst the classic notion of pub culture is seemingly still in decline, the rise of Craft beer culture is reaching new heights. A recent post in the Guardian outlined that Pale Ale sells are higher than ever, increasing in as much as 70% over the past 2 years with younger demographics taking up the drinking of real ales. With this, London especially, is seeing new establishments opening up to cater for the growing taste. Festivals are being held all over the country so lovers of these, often limited edition drinks, can share in their unique tastes and talk about what is essentially a passion project for all involved.
On the 30th of May Craft Beer Co’s Covent Garden branch celebrated its 1st birthday, in the only manner a craft beer bar can, with a generous selection of limited edition and one off brew ales. On tap was a grand sum of 30 keg and 15 cask ales to make a not so small sum of 45, each catering to a different taste, style and flavour, all originating from across the globe.
On the lighter more eyebrow raising end of the scale we had a 2.5% Pale ale that was brewed using cucumbers. Evidently a testament to the creativity of the brewers involved, the lightness of the drink would make it well suited to a summer barbeque. At the other end of the scale were the 10 to 12% stouts that, naturally, are best left until last as it will be all you’ll be tasting up to the end of the week. Surprisingly there were some exceptions to this rule, Partizan’s Cherry Vanilla Stout certainly gained my attention, having a soft spot for ruby and cherry beers, the cherry vanilla had a depth of flavour that I didn’t expect in a stout, easily making it one of the best I’ve had.
Other favourites included the greatly named Dark Star Revelation, primarily because it sounded like it was the name of a warm up act for Genesis, but also because it seemed like an ale I could get along with, a great middle of the road drink. Also on this list was Fruit Loop by the 3 Blind Mice brewery. The name says it all, tasting more like a cider than an ale it was certainly unique and refreshing, further outlining the diversity in the selection of drinks on offer.
A special mention has to go out to the brewer Magic Rock for creating a stout that redefined boundaries. The Dessert Lady, as the name may suggest is a sort of dessert ale that assaults all the senses, primarily the nose, with overwhelming tastes of synthetic vanilla extract. Entire conversations were had on the subject of working out just what could accompany the thing, yet no solid outcome could be agreed upon.
What amazed me most about the whole event was just how passionate and knowledgeable the patrons of the bar were on the subject. As I mentioned earlier, Discussions were had on the most suitable accompaniment of an ale and the finer points of the drink itself, it was an education. There is a level of sophistication here that most people attribute to wine drinkers, but with less of the pomp and arrogance. Whilst I have been assured that there are some elitists amongst the ale community, with their specific notions of what truly defines an ale, most are in it for the discovery of new tastes and an all-round good ale.
If you’re ever in the Covent Garden area Craft Beer Co is certainly worth a visit if you want something unique and different. It’s a small bar, but the quality and atmosphere epitomises the whole craft movement so well, and whilst it is disappointing that an ale you really like will be gone by the end of the week, moving on and looking for that next great taste is all part of the experience, besides, if you really want something specific, home micro brewery is always an option.