They say…

Des de Moor
Best beer and travel writing award 2015, 2011 -- British Guild of Beer Writers Awards
Accredited Beer Sommelier
Writer of "Probably the best book about beer in London" - Londonist
"A necessity if you're a beer geek travelling to London town" - Beer Advocate
"A joy to read" - Roger Protz
"Very authoritative" - Tim Webb.
"One of the top beer writers in the UK" - Mark Dredge.
"A beer guru" - Popbitch.
Des de Moor


BrewDog Camden NW1

’s Best Beer, and Bars updates
North London: and Primrose Hill

BrewDog Camden, London NW1

Bar, specialist (BrewDog)
113 Bayham Street NW1 0AG
T (020) 7284 0453 W f BrewDog-Bar-Camden tw BrewDogCamden
Open 1200-2330 (2400 Fri-Sat, 2230 Sun).
Cask beers None, Other beers 16-26 keg (BrewDog, imports), 140 bottles
Gourmet burgers, pizzas, cheese and meat boards, Wifi. Disabled toilet.
Tastings, Meet the Brewer events, beer launches.

At the end of a year that’s seen the launch of a number of new London beer specialists, the delayed opening in mid-December 2011 of controversy courting Aberdeenshire brewery BrewDog’s fourth pub, and its first outside Scotland, was arguably one of the most eagerly anticipated among the capital’s beer connoisseurs. Heralded by brewery founders Martin Dickie and James Watt posing on a tank outside the former Laurel Tree pub in Camden Town’s Bayham Street, the first announcement of being open for business went out over Twitter and rapidly attracted a crowd. When I visited quite late on the first night of official ordinary trading after all the launches, the place was packed with a largely youthful crowd, including a good few brewers and competitor licensees who’d come to see what all the fuss was about.

The old pub has been slickly and stylishly done out. A single moderately sized bar upstairs has remnants of old pub pillars visible but is otherwise new bare brick, walls clad in gym-style wooden parquet tiles and bar top and drinking shelves made of slabs of grey stone — which might just be a suggestion of “granite” Aberdeen, the brewery’s nearest city. Downstairs there’s a more loungey space with its own bar, used for tutored tastings. Staff seem knowledgeable, enthusiastic, friendly and welcoming — these last qualities perhaps contrary to expectation given BrewDog’s cultivatedly pugnacious image and the bar’s location in one of London’s most painfully trendy haunts. Even more surprisingly, prices are remarkably keen — gourmet burgers devised by TV’s MasterChef winner Tim Anderson are no more than £7.

BrewDog's Martin Dickie (left) and James Watt getting tanked up in Camden Town. Pic: BrewDog.

But inevitably most people are here for the beer, and if they’re not they’ll still be encouraged to try it. There’s a small stock of wines and a few carefully chosen and unusual spirits, but customers who ask for these are prompted to consider trying a beer first. The choice is impressive, starting with up to 26 keg lines, although only 17 were in use when I called. BrewDog beers are understandably well represented, with 5AM Saint, Hardcore and Punk IPA always on, and numerous guests and specials, on my visit ranging from tasty 2.8% reduced duty beer Blitz! to 18.2% Tokyo*, taking in the latest in the Abstrakt series and a Christmas porter. Other draught options come from US and global craft brewers — Evil Twin, Lagunitas, Mikkeller, Port or Stone, for example: a collaboration between BrewDog and Port/Lost Abbey’s Tomme Arthur was on last week. “Tasting floats” of four third pint are available for experimenters. The rarities will multiply if plans to install an experimental picobrewery on site come to fruition.

The bottled range pursues a similar theme, with BrewDog’s own beers, including rare specials, lining up alongside US, Scandinavian and Japanese entries. Alesmith, Baird, Ballast Point, Bear Republic, Cigar City, Green Flash, Hitachino Nest, Nøgne-Ø and Southern Tier are names to set beer geeks’ mouths watering, though there’s a notable absence of the handful of British brewers in the same general class — the only nod to Thornbridge is the version of their stout produced by Epic in New Zealand — or of the German and Belgian stalwarts usually spotted on bottled beer lists. Even the “lambic” comes from Mikkeller. It’s a brave and interesting list, testament to the BrewDog team’s close connections to international craft brewing.

It has to be said — the deliberate absence of cask beer leaves a notable gap in an otherwise impressive offer. BrewDog themselves brew some excellent cask beer and I’ve no doubt the staff here would conscientiously ensure it was served at its best. Far from underlining its position on the cutting edge, the lack of cask makes BrewDog seem parochial, persisting in the not overchallenging task of noising up a tiny handful of CAMRA purists while the new, young drinkers frequenting London’s beer bars happilly drink cask alongside craft keg, and US brewers that BrewDog idolise, like Stone, are ramping up their cask production. Charming assistant manager Lucy is clearly primed for the question, and sidesteps it by saying, “There’s nothing wrong with cask, but we prefer our beers this way,” before adding rather intriguingly, “That’s not to say we won’t ever have cask beer.” If they do, I will unhesitatingly recommend BrewDog Camden as one of the very best beer bars in London.

Overground Camden Road Underground Camden Town Cycling LCN+ 6 6A, Regents Canal towpath Walking Jubilee Greenway

4 comments to BrewDog Camden NW1

  • steve

    The rumour is that brewdog plan to cease cask production in 2012

  • Dominic

    Im not really bothered about the lack of cask, it will make an interesting change to see how it fares; the only real problem is, like you said, seeming to stem from their not-so-fruitful relationship with CAMRA, creating an air of snobbishness. That said they are missing out on some great beers by not including cask.

  • Bob Steel

    A good balanced review Des, but I for one have been put off Brew Dog since they first arrived by their ‘in yer face’ attitude and the constant abuse directed at the CAMRA membership and cask ale in general. The pic of the tank is very apposite as they seem to be keen to continue trench warfare against anyone over thirty who drinks cask ale 🙁 Of course CAMRA has it’s bores and luddites, but Brew Dog should grow up, and let its beers do the talking, preferably without having to splash expletives all over their web site! When I have had BD cask ales they have been pretty good – but I find the keg versions too cold and therefore less tasty.

Leave a Reply

You can use these HTML tags

<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>