KING’S ARMS – LONDON

King’s Arms
11A Buckfast Street
London
E2 6EY

SEVENTH VISIT: FRIDAY 10 OCTOBER 2014

SIXTH VISIT: FRIDAY 12 SEPTEMBER 2014

FIFTH VISIT: WEDNESDAY 4 JUNE 2014

FOURTH VISIT: SUNDAY 4 MAY 2014

No thanks to you, a detour along Bethnal Green Road had taken me to the King’s Arms where I finally purchased a can of Westbrook’s White Thai. It was alright. Pleasant enough. But at the end of the day it is still a wheat beer and wheat beers aren’t really brewed for me. Nice can though. My travelling companion was feeling a tad under the weather and needed some fresh air. But I couldn’t resist the pull of the gnome and returned to the bar for a half of Hobblen Chouffe. But I’m not a total scumbag so I scooped it down a new world record time of no hours, no minutes and no seconds.

THIRD VISIT: SATURDAY 19 APRIL 2014

I wandered past Rough Trade East but they were queuing out the door – evidently that guy who used to be in Spacemen 3 and Spiritualized is more popular than I thought. I wandered past BDShoreditch but it was rammed – not quite queuing out the door rammed but rammed. I wandered past the Well & Bucket but it was rammed – not quite BDShoreditch rammed but rammed. Thankfully, the King’s Arms was quiet – not empty quiet but quiet.

As usual there was a great selection of beers available. The one that caught my eye the most was Custard Pie by Magic Rock and Toccalmatto. I like beer. I like custard. I like pie. How could I not like a beer called Custard Pie! And you know what? It does taste like a custard pie. Not all the way through, just a little bit on the finish but it is definitely there. Custard Pie Beer. Genius!

Once again I’d found myself in the King’s Arms and once again I’d found myself wanting a can of Westbrook White Thai but once again I had to leave before getting a chance to have one. Next time I’m in the King’s I’m having a can of White Thai – DO NOT LET ME FORGET, thank you.

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SECOND VISIT: SATURDAY 12 APRIL 2014

A busy day. I’d been south of the river. North of the river. Beyond the confines of the M25. Back within the M25. North of the river. South of the river. And now, once again, north of the river.

When I arrived in the King’s I was informed I only had time for one beer as we would soon be departing on a quest for food. Bummer. I didn’t even bother scanning the beer board as I’d already been told that Earl of Denmark – a collab between Mikkeller and Earls (the brewing arm of the Earl of Essex up N1) – was on and tasting great. I’d been in the Earl of Essex the night before but the beer had failed to make an appearance by the time I departed at 8, despite tweets stating it would be on by the early evening. It tasted great. I would’ve happily bedded in for the night and had as many pints of it as possible. But friendship is a democracy so I had to go with the majority and leave.

Buckfast

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FIRST VISIT: FRIDAY 21 FEBRUARY 2014

Alight at Shoreditch High Street. Walk east along Bethnal Green Road. Pass BrewDog. Pass the well and bucket. Walk a bit further. Then a little bit more. Take a right into Buckfast (Tonic Wine) Street and there you will find the Shoreditch’s best kept secret. It’s a nice space. A traditional London boozer that sells quality beer. The bar occupies most of the man room but tables line the perimeter and there are some barstools. The back room is the place to head if you want to be (mildly) boisterous or conspiratorial. The walls are lined with framed butterflies and moths. Not pictures of butterflies and moth but actual butterflies and moths. I’m not sure if there is an actual reason for such decoration or if the owners just thought it would look cool, which it does. As is becoming the norm, beers are listed on a beer board.

We took up residence at one of the front room tables. Unfortunately, the bench that runs along the length of the wall is rather thin and I quickly realised that I would not be able to get comfortable. But if you’ve got toned buttocks (unlike me) and don’t slouch (which I do) you’ll probably be fine. My opening gambit was a My Antonia by Birra del Borgo (originally brewed in collaboration with Dogfish Head). It’s a beer that I’d only previously enjoyed from a bottle. The bottles are delicious but the draught adds a whole new dimension to it but perhaps that’s only because I had a whole pint of it. I was getting way too uncomfortable so we relocated to a couple of stools at the bar. Despite the place have a decent amount if people in there wasn’t so many that we would be causing any annoyance by choosing to sit there. We ordered a couple of Old Freddy Walkers (a 7.3% Old Ale from Moor). As we suspected it was served too cold (the curse of keg) so we ordered a couple of pints of Birra del Borgo’s Cortigiana to allow it some time to warm. Even after we’d consumed the Cortigiana the OFW was still too chilly. We gave it a bit of hug. And a little bit more time. But it still wasn’t at the temperature that it should’ve been at. But we gulped it down anyway. There were plenty more beers that I fancied but I needed to get my south of the river.

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CRAFT BEER RISING – LONDON

Craft Beer Rising
Old Truman Brewery
19 Brick Lane
London
E1 6QL

FIRST VISIT: SATURDAY 22 FEBRUARY 2014 (AFTERNOON SESSION)

Craft Beer Rising launched in 2013. Even before it had opened its doors to the paying public the word on the street was that it was nothing more than a corporate wank fest. By the time it had gently shepherded out the last of its drunken punters that word on the street was that it was nothing more than a corporate wank fest but it was also whatever you chose to make of it. In due course the 2014 edition was announced and I initially had no plans to go. But then I was informed that the Saturday sessions were taking place on the same Saturday as a gig by The Coal Porters. A beer festival followed by a gig? Count me in. Over the coming weeks the brewery list began to emerge. It was certainly more than decent enough but not exactly epoch slaying. There were several great breweries on the last but hardly anybody that you’d struggle to find if you went searching within the confines of the M25. But, hey, a beer festival is whatever you choose to make of it.

I had a great time. Caught up some old acquaintances. Made some new ones. Chatted face to face with some folk who I’d previously only chatted to on Twitter. Bumped into quite a few people who I know from the excellent Bristol beer scene. And, perhaps most importantly, I got drunk on super tasty beer.

The Old Truman Brewery is a great space. The festival occupied several rooms of varying shapes and sizes – like a giant beer lined rabbit warren. Some the areas were way more cramped than others but even in those spaces the traffic was flowing reasonably smoothly and swiftly and you rarely had to wait for more than a few seconds to get a beer. Some criticism has been levelled at the amount of branding at the event but I liked the fact that each brewery had their own little stall and it was easy to see exactly who they were before getting too close as it made it easy to avoid having to make the embarrassing choice of walking away emptied handed or buying a beer you didn’t really want. Oh, the queue for the gents wasn’t anything to be overly concerned about, which is always a bonus. The people manning the bars and food stands were all friendly and helpful. And the stewards and security staff were numerous and easy to spot but certainly not obtrusive. All in all it was a job well done.

Anyway, for those interested, here are the beers I consumed:

Attaboy by Truman’s – 4.6%
Sour Saxon (Cell Rebirth) by The Celt Experience – 4%
Ola Dubh 18 by Harviestoun – 8%
Original by Thistly Cross Cider – 7.2%
Fifth Element by Beavertown – 7.3%
All Day IPA by Founders – 4.7%
Discovery by Renaissance – 4.5%
IPA by Lagunitas – 6.2%
Re Hop by Toccalmatto – 5%
Delirium Tremens by Huyghe – 7.5%
Black IPA by Brighton Bier – 7%
Sour Saxon (Cell Rebirth) by The Celt Experience – 4%
In The Pines by Wiper & True – 5.3%
Independence by Bristol Beer Factory – 4.6%
Imperial Raspberry Stout by Thornbridge & St Eriks – 10%

I suppose the simple fact that the only beer I had more than once was the Sour Saxon strongly suggests that it was my beer of the festival. It arguably was but it should be noted that I didn’t have a bad beer all day, which is something I’ve never managed to say after a session at the Great British Beer Festival.

If Craft Beer Rising returns in 2015 I will return to Craft Beer Rising.