Another blogpost, another Friday night. I do go out on other days of the week, honest. But this particular Friday night could not possibly go unblogged. For this Friday night saw me waiting under the clock in Waterloo. Not for a romantic liaison, but for Real Ale bro to appear so we could wing it on over to La Gothique for the Wandsworth Common beer Festival. Now the history of the place is indeed fascinating, what with its Crimean war orphanage, trench recovery hospital, World War 2 interrogation centre and the detention of Rudolph Hess. It is also architecturally intriguing, this eerily lit chateau sitting in the middle of blocks of flats, criss-crossed below by train tracks and the common.
But we all know what the real draw is. That beer list, is quite simply, dudesome. Twitter has made it impossible not to hear about all about the cool niche scene happening right now; collaborations, limited editions, quirky versions of established beers. However, hearing about the beers is one thing, getting them is another, especially if you don’t have the sort of life that means you can jump on a train at 1pm to get to the launch before it all runs out. These beers also bring a whole new slant to Beer Ticking. There is nowhere to tick ‘em- they aren’t listed anywhere! Which all adds to the exclusivity, the feel of the hunt, the buzz of actually finding one.
Or all of them, in a courtyard in Wandsworth as the sun set after a spring day that was dressed up as summer. The sneaky Dark Star Hophead Citra version, Oak matured casks of Sambrook’s Wandle and Junction (the cutest little 36 pint casks ever seen!) Summer Wines’ Apache APA, Redemption Trinity Pale Mild, Windsor and Eton Conqueror Black IPA... It was like stepping into the last few weeks’ hot topics in the beer realm of Twitter, without needing to go to work with a hangover or trekking to a pub on the other side of London only to get there two minutes after the cask is drained. Although, we did miss the Hophead Citra, by just one pint. That’s the last time I am honest when the barman says ‘Who’s next?’
This really is a beautiful time to be a beer drinker in London. Yesterday, I was performing in Verdi’s Requiem at the Blackheath Halls and post performance, gasping and in need of a major beer style quench, R.A bro produced the most beautiful selection of brown bottles that he’d picked up on a quick afternoon hop to Kernel’s Saturday shop.
Imperial Brown Stout, on its first day of release, was just what Verdi himself would have chosen, I am sure. Followed by Suke Quto Coffee IPA, Dark Star/Kernel Imperial Marzen and blissful mainstay, London Porter. I am saving the Redemption and Kernel collaborative Mild until after tonight’s performance.
It’s all going on in London town- these limited editions and collaborations, as well as all the launch nights, make the beer scene here ever changing, innovative and, well, darn good fun. But thank goodness for festivals like Wandsworth Common’s, for giving those of us with day jobs the chance to get hold of them!