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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
"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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Sambrook’s Junction, Powerhouse Porter and Pale Ale

London Beer Tastings 2011
Junction was featured in a piece on bottle conditioned beers from London in BEER August 2011. Read more about London bottle conditioned beers.

ABV: 4.5%, 4.7% (5% in bottle) and 4.2%
Origin: Battersea, London SW11, England
Website: www.sambrooksbrewery.co.uk

Sambrook's Junction

The departure of Young’s from London in 2006 helped draw Duncan Sambrook’s attention to the lack of breweries in London and spurred him to create his own. Opened in 2008, it turned out to be something of a pioneer, presaging what’s rapidly becoming a flood of new London craft breweries. Sambrook’s is still one of the most successful, and there’s some irony in the fact that Young’s ended up inviting Duncan’s beers into some of its own pubs to plug the demand for locally brewed products that it could no longer satisfy.

As it happens, Sambrook’s two cask ales, Wandle and Junction, are a good fit for Young’s leading duo of ‘Ordinary’ (officially known simply as ) and Special. Tasted side by side, they don’t really taste alike, but they fill a similar ecological niche. Special when on form can be a complex, tasty beer, but Junction (named after Britain’s busiest railway station, Clapham Junction, only ten minutes walk from the brewery) is a worthy challenger. It’s also good as a bottle conditioned beer, and was one of the London beers I chose to feature in my tutored tasting of London beers at 2011’s Great British Beer Festival.

A sample supplied by the brewery poured  a rubyish mid-brown with a pale yellowish head. A rich aroma with a note of blackcurrant jam set up a full malty palate with complex, gritty, jammy flavours and notes of cinders and yeast. The drying tart finish had orange marmalade, more blackcurrant and roasty dark edges.

Sambrook's Powerhouse

The brewery has deliberately concentrated on a small range of beers — two regular bitters, a couple of seasonals and the very occasional special. The first seasonal was Powerhouse Porter, available over autumn and winter in both cask and, slightly stronger, in bottle. The cask version was the first beer I drunk when setting out on my first ever round of pub research visits for my London beer guide, which started on a high at what later became the national Pub of the Year winner, the Harp at Charing Cross.

The beer was a very dark chestnut, with a little fine beige head and liquorice toffee and sticky malt aroma. There was more liquorice alongside dark fruit on a thick blackcurrant palate with restrained roast and a note of soot. Cinders and dark malt danced in a lingering liquorice finish with a restrained roast and bit of hops.

A bottled version supplied by the brewery similarly coloured with a fine fawn head. I noted cola, chocolate and some sappy acid notes in the aroma, a sharpish, full and nutty palate with more roast and less fruit and liquorice than I remembered from the cask, with dark berries emerging in a mellow chocolate finish. The complex recipe includes Maris Otter pale, crystal, brown and chocolate barley malts and Fuggles, Goldings, Boadicea and Challenger whole leaf hops.

For summer 2011, Sambrook’s issued a Pale Ale, which I sampled straight from the cask among the complimentary beers supplied by the London Brewers Alliance at the British Guild of Beer Writers’ pre-Great British Beer Festival reception at Brew Wharf. This was a very light gold, with some fine white head, and a fine citric aroma with grapefruit, orange and a decent heft of pale malt. The palate began sweetish with cereal notes and quickly developed hoppy marmalade tones with a faint whiff of smoke. A chewy orange peel finish preserved the cereal theme. Perhaps the least distinctive of the brewery’s beers but decent and tasty.

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