At the risk of confusing the hell out of some followers here is a review of an event I went to at a bar the other week. India stories will resume forthwith..
I was lucky to be picked by those lovely people at Qype to sample some ales as a preview of the Hip Hop Off beer festival that was held down at this new bar on the corner of Redchurch St and Bethnal Green Road.
Having been away of course, in a country where it is virtually impossible to get a decent beer (where are the IPAs in India is what I want to know!) it was a delight to try some new drops, a couple of which were fantastic.
We were introduced to the selection on offer by Steve Taylor who is a man truly passionate about his beer (although he is not an ale bore. He is happy to bore about lager as well..!) Seriously though, it was great to meet someone who can explain the cultural and historical rise of lager and the decline of ale in the last century and who is determined to get people drinking good quality beer – regardless of whether it is fizzy or flat, cold or warm.
It was also nice to see some real thought going into the selection of beers for the festival, selecting different breweries takes on the hops that they were using and allowing the drinker to compare what they had done. It’s a good indication of the attention to detail that has clearly been an intrinsic part of everything about this place, I mean, there was some criticism of the lampshades but I didn’t think they were THAT bad… As others have said though, this place is in hipster central and yet it manages to be entirely unpretentious and stylish without overwhelming.
So we started out with a couple of beers brewed with the Citra Hop, an American developed plant with fruity flavours. We had tasters of the Darkstar Hophead Citra, a special edition of the house ale and the much stronger Kernel IPA Citra. Some found this second beer too strong, but while I couldn’t necessarily have drunk it all night, I found it an amazing drop. It assaulted you with it’s smell first before the fruit cocktail of flavour with a silky texture hit the palate.
These two were among my favourites of the ones we tried during the night but Steve managed to even find something for the avowed beer-haters among us, bringing out a bottle of something that tasted like fizzy cherry sweets and not in a particularly good way as far as I was concerned; It won over the unconverted though so he obviously knows what he is doing.
The boozy food consisted of an excellent beer soaked “English” Rarebit and duck cured with hops which was subtle but delicious. The venison with chocolate sauce didn’t work for me to be honest though and I felt the meat was marginally overcooked. Having said that, at least they are trying something a bit different with their menu and it was certainly a lot more interesting than your standard pub fare.
It’s the beer and the devotion to it in all it’s many forms that really wins me over here though. I feel I could happily spend evenings in here knowing that I would get a good drink and be in a casual but cool environment without any pretension.