Enfield Town – Good beer doesn’t live here. Yet.

So it’s time to revive the blog. Around 18 months ago I started working full time for the London Ambulance Service. On a frantic day of flat viewings we ended up settling for a place in Enfield Town.

Now don’t get me wrong, I like where we live, but there is a distinct lack of anything that resembles a good pub here. Neither craft nor CAMRA types are catered to and since moving here I’ve been wondering why. There’s plenty of pubs, why does nobody seem to care that they all serve the same beers and feel more or less the same? I have a few ideas:

  • McMullen – Anyone that has visited a McMullen pub will know that they are generally pleasant. Their beer on the other hand is tedious. Apart from a strong ‘festive’ bitter that they brew (which I have yet had the opportunity to try), their beers occupy the 3.8%-4.8% range of hop-less, crystal malt heavy swill. They never seem to stock guest beers on any visits I’ve made in the past and all their keg offerings seem to be macro lager/Guinness. Clearly, despite claiming to be a brewery, they care very little about making good beer and seem much more intent upon being a bar/restaurant chain in disguise.
  • Transport – Despite being in Zone 5, Enfield Town is very well connected. Either of the two train stations can have you in central London in around 30 minutes. When there’s a wealth of amazing beer so close, why bother staying here?
  • Demographic – Enfield Town’s population is majority white and middle aged or elderly. With craft being embraced by a younger crowd, it’s not all that surprising that the streets aren’t paved with DIPAs. But why no twiggy real ale pubs? I’ve got no proof that this is the case, but CAMRA seems to cater towards a more working class crowd these days. The people of Enfield Town are probably more into their Pinot Noir than a pint of bitter.

Whilst it sucks there isn’t a pub that seems to cater to those enthusiastic about beer, I understand. But though it’s slim pickings for proper beer here, there are a few places that might serve a decent pint. No comment on whether the pub itself is actually nice to be in.

The Old Wheatsheaf – 3 handpulls, usually from regional family brewers such as Marstons and Wells and Youngs.

The Cricketers – McMullen Pub, did have Camden Hells on last visit. But that’s macro lager now right?

The Stag – Board out the front claims ‘Craft Beers’. Really it should be singular, as it serves BD Dead Pony Club.

The George – Punk IPA. Rubbish pub.

Crown & Horseshoes – GK pub, but had Timothy Taylors on last visit, not bad condition either.

The Moon Under Water – It’s a Spoons.

Holtwhites Bakery – Sells bottles of Redemption and Orbit, so probably worth just going there and picking some up (along with some amazing bread/pastries/cheese) and drinking at home. Alone. Whilst you write a blog slagging off Enfield Town’s pubs.

 

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Enfield Town – Good beer doesn’t live here. Yet.

Five Points Brewing Company – IPA & Railway Porter

I recently bought a bottle of Old Greg’s Barley Wine by Five Points Brewing Company from my local bottleshop (BEER:shop, St. Albans). Not many of the newer craft brewers seem to produce a barley wine, so I was pretty excited to see what Five Points had done with the style. However, upon opening, it was a dud. The cap hadn’t sealed properly and as the brewery had aged these beers for a year prior to its release, the resultant liquid inside was completely un-carbonated and tasted horrific. After contacting the brewery to express my dissatisfaction, they very kindly sent me a few beers to make up for the poor quality product. These beers were much, much better.

Five Points IPA – 7.1%

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This beer is hopped with Galaxy and Cascade, an interesting bill that got me excited from the start. Amber with a small white head, it gives nothing anything away just yet. The aroma however, is a totally different story. A mass of peach and mango assault my nose as soon as it gets within sniffing distance. This gives way to some piney and citrus notes, with a welcome touch of balancing malt sweetness. All of these flavours are replicated on the palate, with a long, bitter finish. However despite this bitterness and the fairly hefty ABV, this beer is incredibly drinkable and refreshing. If I wanted to get liver damage, I could session this beer without utterly destroying my taste buds too.

Most breweries produce an IPA at the moment and Five Points have ensured that this beer holds its own against some of the big guns.

Five Points – Railway Porter – 4.8%

Round two. I love a good porter.Featured image

This might just be one of the most attractive looking beers I’ve seen in a while. A large mocha head adorns the pitch-black liquid. The alluring aroma is surprisingly complex with coffee, caramel, dark chocolate, brown sugar and raisins all mingling together. Light-medium mouthfeel. (Side note: I’ve noticed people seem more concerned with mouthfeel in dark beer styles. Not sure why. I don’t see the need for every stout and porter to be like drinking syrup.) Flavours of roasted malt, coffee and chocolate greet you on the palate, making this beer quite rich for a low ABV beer. Earthiness from hops comes through at the end, with a good lingering bitterness.

This is a very impressive example of how a porter should be. Great example of the style without being overstated.

What Five Points have done here is very wise. Had they not sent me these beers, I would not entertain purchasing any of their beer in the future. However, if you send someone a few free beers, they will drink them. Everyone loves free beer. More so, people love good beer. I guess Old Greg’s is just an unfortunate error in an otherwise high quality range of beers.

Five Points Brewing Company – IPA & Railway Porter

Brasserie Galibier – An Oasis in The Alps

Recently I was fortunate enough to go snowboarding in the French Alps; specifically, a small resort above the town of Valloire. Unlike its neighbours Belgium and Germany, France does not have a rich beer history. When most people think of French beer, they normally recall one of two things: Kronenbourg or those cheap stubby bottles sold in most supermarkets. Macro-breweries dominate the majority of the French beer industry, so I was astounded to discover what appeared to be a local craft brewery with their beer for sale in most bars and restaurants throughout the town.

Featured imageMy discovery of this beer was entirely accidental. Our snowboarding had been cut short one day due to unbearably poor visibility. In order to dispel our disappointment, we walked up the hill towards a bar that we’d seen advertised on a billboard in town. To add insult to injury, this bar was shut. Fortunately, there was a hotel opposite the bar, so we decided to go in for a drink.

The hotel bar was totally empty. We stood at there for a minute. No sign of the bartender. Just as we were about to walk out, a small French lady in her fifties trotted out from a side room, beaming from ear to ear. On the small two tap font there was the expansive choice of Stella Artois, or Stella Artois. We asked for a beer each, expecting a ‘chalice’ of delightful wife-beater. ‘Blanche ou ambreé?’, she replied. Expecting some sort of hideous variation of Stella, I replied ambreé. To our surprise, she bent down to a fridge below the bar and produced three bottles of beer. It was an IPA. It was delicious. Between the three of us, we cleared most of her stock, getting fairly drunk in the process.

After discovering this delightful brew, the hunt was on. I ordered it whenever it was available. The brewery also had what appeared to be a sort of café/bar selling some of their limited edition beers. I was able to try their crisp and hoppy Pacific Lager, which blew me away.

The brewery is named Brasserie Galibier after the nearby Col du Galibier mountain pass. The pass features as part of a stage on the Tour de France and is usually the highest point of the competition.

I have brought a couple of Brasserie Galibier beers back to Blighty with me, so expect full reviews shortly. Unfortunately their beers do not appear to be imported to the UK, but if you do get a chance to try one, I recommend it.

Brasserie Galibier – An Oasis in The Alps

3 Fonteinen – Oude Kriek

My girlfriend recently visited Brussels and so, with a vague list of stuff I’d like to try, she returned with some bottles. One of them is the beer I find myself sat here with right now, Oude Kriek by 3 Fonteinen.

Sour beers seem to be in vogue at the moment, but it’s not a style I’ve fallen in love with yet. I felt the same way about hefeweizens a year or so ago, but with a little perseverance they have come to be one of my go to beers. Let’s hope this beer plants a seed that might blossom into lambic love.

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The cork gives a satisfying pop as it is released from the elegant, green 375ml bottle. Once poured into a glass, this beer reveals itself to posses a hazy, deep pink hue with a light pink head that disappears as quickly as it arrived.

Up front, tartness, vinegar and funk dominate. This is followed closely by sour cherries and subtle hints of oak. Up to this point, very impressive and much more complex than I was expecting.

This beer explodes with delightful effervescence on my palate. The sweetness hits first with a smack of cherries. According to the label on this bottle, it was made with 35% cherries – I don’t doubt that for a second. Sourness follows alongside ‘the funk’, with the same hints of oak rounding off the satisfyingly dry finish.

This beer is an absolute corker (I’m not ashamed of this pun). It is complex and balanced simultaneously. I will be buying this again and I reckon it’ll be the perfect summer’s day refreshment.

Not many of these appear to make it to the UK, but at the moment you can get it at:

http://www.beerritz.co.uk/buy/3-fonteinen-oude-kriek-37-5cl_1885.htm

Tonight’s bottle was supposed to be something else. Pending the outcome of an e-mail sent to the brewer, I will either be posting about good customer service, or a scathing review of a beer I had been looking forward to.

3 Fonteinen – Oude Kriek

The Kernel – Imperial Brown Stout (London 1856) – 10% ABV

The Kernel Brewery was one of the first craft breweries that I became aware of after the local ales I grew up on back in Norfolk. I have a lot of love for The Kernel.

This bottle was picked up from the brewery and travelled in a backpack for many hours on a fairly drunken Saturday, so when it came to opening it up, I was a little worried the cap might have lost its seal. Thankfully, it hasn’t.

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The beer pours like used engine oil with that satisfying glug of a full-bodied beer. A nice cappuccino coloured head adorns the top of this black beauty.

The aroma is an indulgent mix of coffee, caramel, chocolate, brown sugar and hints of vanilla. Such is the richness of the aroma of this beer, it’s taken me a couple of minutes to stop sniffing and take a sip.

On the tongue, I’m greeted with a full-bodied beer. I haven’t ever poured maple syrup into my mouth, but if I had, I reckon it’d feel a bit like this. The initial chocolate is kicked into touch by strong, bitter coffee and burnt brown sugar. A bit of vanilla pokes its nose in too. The bitterness lasts for an eternity and accompanies the warming sensation in my stomach perfectly. However, there is minimal suggestion of the high alcohol content on the palate.

This beer rocks. It is a full on experience, whilst remaining restrained enough to ensure you’re left wanting more when you’ve finished the glass. Don’t have more though. You’ll end up horribly drunk. Great beer, go get it!

The Kernel Imperial Brown Stout can be found at:

http://www.beautifulbeers.co.uk/beers-other-english.irc

http://www.beerhawk.co.uk/british-beers?brewery=206

http://www.alesbymail.co.uk/browse-by-brewery/kernel

The Kernel – Imperial Brown Stout (London 1856) – 10% ABV