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

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Camden Town Helles


Beer Tastings 2011: Revised October 2011.
Hells Lager was featured in a piece on bottle conditioned beers from London in BEER August 2011. Read more about London bottle conditioned beers.

ABV: 4.8%
Origin: London NW5, England
Website: http://www.camdentownbrewery.com/

Brewery

Australian-born Jasper Cuppaidge owns the Horseshoe pub in Hampstead, and in 2006 installed a tiny microbrewery in the cellar. In doing so he was following in an honourable tradition, as his family once owned the McLaughlin brewery in Rockhampton, Queensland, bought by Carlton & United (Fosters) in 1961. He grew up with brewing and in his blood, and his first brew at the Horseshoe, a birthday present for his mother, revived both an old family recipe and the McLaughlin brand.

Perhaps unexpectedly, given that this was not some real ale boozer but a stylish gastropub attracting a young and trendy crowd, the own-brewed beer proved a hit, holding its own against the British and imported craft beer classics on sale and suggesting there was a growing market for locally brewed quality beer. Jasper originally planned a moderate expansion but was persuaded to seek investment on a much bigger scale. He recruited Danish head brewer Troels Prahl, a renowned yeast expert who runs what’s essentially the European branch of US yeast supplier White Labs, and in 2010 a gleaming computer-controlled German-built 20hl brewhouse was installed under five arches at Kentish Town West Overground station. Since then demand has rocketed and the kit has expanded further.

I first met both men soon after the commissioning of the new brewery at the pre-GBBF 2010 reception hosted by the British Guild of Beer Writers at Brew Wharf. Their dedication to and enthusiasm for the cause of good beer was obvious but it was clear they weren’t heading down the traditional British micro route of beer festivals, guest ales and free houses, instead looking for other outlets including style bars and food venues. Though they both love cask beer, it didn’t occupy top priority in their business model. To the disappointment of a few real ale stalwarts, both offerings at the reception were craft keg beers, early adopters in a market that’s becoming increasingly important in London.

These beers were an American pale ale that’s since become the brewery’s flagship, and an already very impressive crack at a cold fermented and properly matured traditional German unpasteurised lager, Camden Town Hells. I noted this at the time as a slightly hazy yellow beer with a fine white head and an aroma that was both lightly flowery and floury, with that flour-and-water-paste note boasted by some of the leading German-brewed examples of the style.

Hoppy floweriness continued into a nicely malty, refreshing and slightly citric palate, pebbly on the tongue — its creators told me it had a bit too much hops to be a true Helles and shaded towards pils but I found a good firm malt there too. The shortish finish was pasty and lightly hoppy. Overall it was a refreshing, decent and very promising.

Since then the recipe has been tweaked and, according to Jasper, improved still further. A sample unpasteurised bottled version the brewery sent me early in 2011 turned out to be a very accomplished beer. This was clear gold with a fine just off-white head, and a very honeyed malty aroma with an undertow of lime. Again there was that full, firm malt I look for from a helles, juicy and honeyed with subtle citrus, a tingle of noble hops and tasty, slightly spicy notes at the back of the mouth. The finish stayed honeyed with lightly fruity cereal, and a sprinkling of lightly metallic hops.

The Pale Ale may be more popular, but to me this has become Camden Town’s most accomplished beer.

Read more about this beer at ratebeer.com: http://www.ratebeer.com/beer/camden-town-hells-lager/127856/

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