The Craft Beer Revolution!

August 4, 2015 by Richard Brown

The Craft Beer Revolution!

What is Craft beer? Well, this I am sure could be debated long in to the night! I guess it is a bit of a grey area. But what I can say with all confidence; any bar, which just serves Carling, Fosters, Carlsberg or John Smiths, is not serving Craft Beer, only crap Beer! There is an official definition of a craft beer brewer, which goes as follows:

Small: Their annual production is less than 2 million barrels (62 million gallons) 6 million barrels (recently changed)

Independent: Less than 25% of the brewery is owned by a non-craft brewer

Traditional: Greater than 50% of their volume comes from all-malt beer, instead of using mostly adjuncts (e.x. rice, corn) like that mega-breweries use. This basically means they use higher quality ingredients.

That doesn’t really help too much does it? But really, what we are saying is, craft beer has a higher quality, with less production, and essentially brewed with love and passion by individuals who care. However, I’m still a little confused. Take Brewdog for example. I’m sure most of us have seen their flag ship beer ‘Punk IPA’? Now, this beer can be found in almost every supermarket, and is popping up in bottles, and on draft, throughout hundreds of pubs worldwide (not nationwide, worldwide!) I have always considered this to be craft beer, and Brewdog themselves call this craft beer. But, going by the definition above, should it be? Gosh this is confusing!

But hey, lets not dwell on the technical definitions. To me, the true definition of craft beer is just damn fine, often unusual, beer. You don’t have to travel far to find it either. Just hop on a train, head in to London and your there. For starters, why not try the Craft Beer Co; you could spend a whole week in this place and probably only scratch the surface. There are hundreds of beers on offer. I would challenge even the most beer ‘phobic’ person not to find a beer they like. As a beer sommelier said to me only the other week (yeah, there are beer sommeliers out there too!!) saying you don’t like beer, is like saying you don’t like food. The craft beer scene is that diverse.

However, popping up to London is all well and good, but I needed to find bars and shops closer to home. So I set my self a challenge, to sniff it out locally, and I was pleasantly surprised what I found! For example, Supermarkets are now stocking good beer. Take M&S for example, they now have a number of great UK craft beers and American IPA’s on offer. Just to point out here, the yanks are superb craft brewers, they’ve been at it for years, and the IPA’s they produce are normally double, if not thriced hopped, which gives them a lovely citrusy flavour. But beware, like most craft beers, these are normally pretty high in alcohol, around 6-8% abv, so drink with caution. You can also find great examples in Waitrose and most other high street supermarkets. But I needed to dig a little deeper than just large international supermarkets, I wanted to find more unique local bars and shops. So here’s a quick guide to some of the best places I have found locally where you can pick up some interesting brews:

Pipe of Port – Famed for their wine, these guys are now stocking some great beers too. Fantastic stuff from Coopers, London Fields Brewery, Meantime Brewery, Portobello Brewing Co and more. Give the Chapel Down Curious IPA a go. I always try and get in the Pipe at least once a week for my fix of this wonderful IPA from Kent.

Bourgee – Just sit at their great bar, and enjoy a Goose Island IPA from Chicago or a Portobello Pilsner, both would be great with a burger for lunch!

The Cliffs Pavilion – Can’t believe this one! All these guys used to serve were boring lagers, but they now have three different types of beer from the Meantime brewery in Greenwich, good on ya!

Westcliff Casino – As with the Cliffs, they only ever used to cater to the lager lout, but now they have a few different bottles from the Stevens Point Brewery in Wisconsin. I can thoroughly recommend the Point IPA. Keep it up guys!

Weatherspoons (Last Post & The Elms) – Love em, or hate em, but these guys are doing very well and I couldn’t leave them out! Brooklyn Lager, Lagunitas IPA from California, various beers from the Six Point brewery in New York, even an interesting Rye beer from Adnams in Suffolk. Give the Six Point Bengali Tiger ago, its bloody good!

The Crooked Billet (Old Leigh) – Even an old classic boozer such as the billet are now joining the craft beer revolution! They have recently started to serve a couple of beers from the Siren Brewery, and Roosters ‘Fort Smith’ in cans. Liquid Mistress from Siren is my favourite there.

The Railway Pub - (by Southend Central Station) – Now this one was a find! Grab yourself a Dogfish Head IPA, sit back, and enjoy some live music. That’s exactly what I did! Not only do they have Dogfish Head from Delaware in the US, you can find Brooklyn Lager from New York, Blue Moon from Colorado, and an interesting brew from Sweden called Bomble Bee 17. Well done chaps!

Henry Burgers – Where the hell do I start here? I reckon I could write a whole article on the craft beer these guys are serving up, they’ve got loads! One winner here though, and keeps drawing me back, is ‘Beavertown’. Brewed in east London and served in cans, it is perfect. Henry is probably the only bar / restaurant in Essex serving this awesome brew! I must also mention the Brooklyn Black Chocolate Stout, this is a super rare find, at 10% abv treat it with respect though! They even have craft beer all the way from Japan!

Vino Vero – Technically not a bar, more of a shop, but you can have a glass or two on the premises. Most people only think of these chaps for wine, but they have some wonderful ale on offer! Beavertown, Brixton Brewery, Camden Town Brewery and The Canopy Beer Co, to name a few! All brewed in London, I tried the Canopy Brockwell IPA last week, very nice!

Kings Off Licence – This is a bit of an odd one really! Located on Hamlet Court Road, this just resembles a normal local offie, but, they have loads of hard to find beers from all around the world. America, Canada, Germany, Belgium, Mexico and the UK they cover most bases. Seriously guys, they’ve got some really good stuff here, it’s like an Aladdin’s cave, and you never know what you will find from one week to the next!

Well there you go, just a few places serving up some wonderful, interesting craft beer. I must add, I had great fun researching this article!! Don’t you all think we need a local dedicated craft beer bar? Now there’s a business idea! So come on entrepreneurs, you heard it here first. Craft beer is alive and kicking, and believe me it is here to stay. Craft is the future of beer, and its cool, UBER cool. Long gone are the days of just old men in working men’s club supping on warm, flat ale. Craft brewers (and drinkers) tend to be young bearded hipsters who certainly know how to brew interesting beer. They’re pushing the boundaries of traditional beer making; more often than not, just throwing the rulebook out the window. Craft beer is so diverse; dare I say, as diverse as the wine industry. A lot of specialist bars now have beer lists, the same as restaurants have wine lists, together with beer sommeliers on hand to offer advise. It appeals to all, young and old, men and women! So come you lot, if you haven’t already, dive in, and get involved; drink more beer…craft beer, you’ll love it!


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