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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
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"A beer guru" - Popbitch.
Des de Moor


London beers

First published in BEER magazine, August 2011. BEER is sent free every quarter to CAMRA members, who can also view it online. The magazine is additionally available in selected newsagents. Click on the beer names for more detailed notes on each beer.

Evin O'Riordan of The Kernel brewery, SE1

150 years ago, London was the world’s brewing capital, home to the biggest and most technologically advanced breweries yet known. Brewing in the capital subsequently set into a long decline, reaching a depressingly low point in 2006 when one of the two remaining independents, Young’s, turned its back on over four centuries of tradition and upped sticks for Bedford.

But since then the list of London brewers has doubled in length, and there’s a definite buzz in the air, with a growing number of discerning drinkers who appreciate a local product. The new brewers are an eclectic and inventive bunch, by no means limited to cask beer.

Take Evin O’Riordan of the Kernel brewery in Borough, whose handcrafted bottled conditioned specialities have earned him well deserved recognition as one of the top five international newcomers in the annual awards. Evin brews both American-style hoppy IPAs and traditional London porters and stouts, such as Kernel London 1890 Export Stout (7.8 per cent), based on a Truman recipe. This is a dense and weighty liquorice humbug-tinged mahogany beer with fresh chocolate, blackcurrant and ashy roasted malts on a long, pursing finish.

More conventional but of impressively consistent quality is Sambrook’s in Battersea, first of the new brewers to open back in 2008. Their three beers so far have been available both as cask and Real Ale in a Bottle. Sambrook’s Junction (4.5 per cent) is the special bitter, named for nearby Clapham Junction station. It’s a rubyish mid-brown beer with a complex jammy, cindery and malty palate and a drying, tart finish with a marmalade edge.

Siblings James and Lizzie Brodie have let their imaginations run wild at the brewery attached to their father’s sprawling William IV pub in Leyton, with approaching 50 different beers in the repertoire, the majority of them also available bottle conditioned. Brodie’s Passion (3.8 per cent) is typically eccentric, a pale gold fruit beer that smells and largely tastes of fresh passion fruit, but well matched in the palate with some cereal substance and an appropriately gentle sprinkling of hops.

The Camden Town brewery began in the cellar of a Hampstead pub but in early 2010 expanded on a grand scale – its high tech German-built kit in Kentish Town is quite likely the most significant investment in an entirely new brewery in London since Guinness built the now-abandoned Park Royal in the 1930s. Besides cask bitters and pale ales it produces continental styles, including the outstanding unpasteurised Camden Town Hells Lager (4.8 per cent) in bottle as well as keg. Nicely malty, delicately honeyed and tingling with noble hop flavours and subtle citrus, this is a wonderfully refreshing but substantial example of the style.

Fuller’s in Chiswick, meanwhile, is keeping one step ahead with its own historical revivals and forays into long matured beers. An IPA launched last year, Fuller’s Bengal Lancer (5.3 per cent), is assertive but recognisably English, with a firm orangey malt palate turning toasty, bitterish and peppery with the earthy tones of Goldings hops. The well loved veteran independent has set a high benchmark for the newcomers, whom it’s also generously helping with advice.

You’ll find much more on the London brewing renaissance in my new book, The CAMRA Guide to London’s Best Beer Pubs and Bars.

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