Great British Beer Festival
Hammersmith Road
W14 8UX


Everybody knows what the Great British Beer Festival is. Everybody has an opinion on the Great British Beer Festival – some of those opinions are favourable and some of those opinions are not so favourable. My viewpoint is simple: Feel free to dis it but you’d be daft to miss it.

There’s no real point giving you a blow by blow account of my GBBF 2014 experience but suffice to say – as I arrived before one and remained until the bars closed at seven – I had a lovely day.

For the sake of historical accuracy here are the beers I consumed:

Collaboration – Hogs Back & Elusive
North Wall – Hop Kettle
Roaring Meg – Springhead
Sublime Chaos – Anarchy [best UK beer I had]
Bananatana – De 3 Horne
Hemel & Aarde (Octomore BA) – De Molen [best beer I had]
TIPA – Emelisse
Vintage Ale 2014 – Fullers
Prince of Denmark – Harveys
Lekker Bakkie Kobi – Uiltje
Den Dorstige Tijger – Ramses
Brettanosaurus Rex – Oersoep
McEwan’s IPA – Wells
Kastel Triple – Van Honsebrouck
Kastel Rougue – Van Honsebrouck
Morpheus Undressed Foederbier – Alvinne
Rauchbier Kräusen – Schlenkerla
Sublime Chaos – Anarchy [so good I had it twice]
Shire Stout – Ramses
Hemel & Aarde (Octomore BA) – De Molen [so good I had it twice]


Cock Tavern
315 Mare Street
E8 1EJ


Three visits for the price of one! We were in this part of town because we were meant to be hanging out in a church with Michael Gira. As soon as you walk through the door of the Cock you know that you are in a boozer that has remained almost exactly the same for many a generation. Sure, the beer list is way more varied and exciting and the clientele look much less dangerous than I imagine they would’ve in the days before ‘craft’ but if it wasn’t for those two facts you could easily pretend you were drinking in the 1960s or perhaps even the 1860s (but probably not).

These days the Cock is the home of London brewers Howling Hops. Consequently, there were quite a few of their beers up for grabs. It would’ve been rude to have not kicked off proceedings with one of their offerings so I plumped for an IPA Export No.2. It’s 7% and pretty dang tasty. And the Cock is very probably the only place on the planet where it has been sold, which, in beer geek terms, makes it extra tasty. We headed across the road to church…

… we returned almost straight away as the guy we wanted to see wasn’t due on for another hour or thereabouts. This time we decided to head over to the west of the city and ordered a Weird Beard Hit The Lights IPA. It’s a 6.3% and dang tasty. But is you can buy it in loads of other places it doesn’t qualify, under beer geek rules, as extra tasty. The quiz had started and the quizmaster was shouting out the questions. He seemed to like the fact that he was being allowed to shout in the pub. Personally, I think they should invest in a little PA system so he can ask the questions in a nice and clear and polite fashion. A couple came in just as the quizmaster was bellowing: IN SHAKESPEARE’S OTHELLO WHO KILLED DESDEMONA? The woman blurted out the answer. The quizmaster wasn’t impressed. He came across and gave the woman a stern talking to. She quite rightly remarked that if anybody didn’t already know the answer they shouldn’t be doing a pub quiz. Time was ticking towards headlining act time so we gulped down a Weird Beard Decadence Stout and wandered back to the gig.

The gig was strange. The venue – St John at Hackney Church – was impressive but too vast for my liking. Gira’s guitar sound was good but his vocals were way to high in the mix. I found myself wishing I was at a Swans gig instead of witnessing Gira on his own. After 45 minutes I departed and returned. On Mare Street the police were wrestling with an elderly geezer. We entered the pub just as he was bundled into the back of police van. The pub let out a collective roar of joy. Apparently he had been causing trouble all evening. I suppose he’s be drinking in the Cock for decades and doesn’t fully appreciate the young trendy folk who know occupy his bar stool. We’d done east London and west London and now it was time to go continental: a Blikken & Blozen by De Molen was ordered. It was time to make the journey south of the water.

I liked the Cock. I’d like to go back to the Cock. There’s a particular reason that I would like to go back to the Cock but the reason will remain unspoken and, indeed, untyped.

Cock Tavern