There’s a report on the BBC website today about the increasing fashionability and popularity of craft brewing in London. Its main focus is the Beavertown Brewery in Hackney where the brewer is Robert Plant’s son.
A few years ago it was only bearded, beer-bellied types who were proudly out in their appreciation of real ale and the vast number of diverse styles that offered an alternative from the industrialised, mass-marketed poor-man’s pilsner styles that dominated bar counters in this country. (Stella Artois always gets stick for leading the bland lager pack but I actually think Stella is relatively well-made and has less of the chemically taste of the cheaper brands.)
But now craft beer is, to use a Sunday supplement phrase, ‘achingly trendy’. Craft beer isn’t always real ale – punk anarcho-brewers like Brewdog take pride in setting 41-year old CAMRA’s (the Campaign for Real Ale) nose out of joint. But, generally, the presence of living yeast in the brew gives a marvellous complexity to a well-brewed beer and the majority of new British brewers (with a few exceptions like Greenwich’s Meantime) tend to use traditional methods.
In the last year or so, I’ve been to a lot of the new craft beer outlets in London – the two Cask Bar outlets in Pimlico and Hatton Garden, the architectural oddity of the Euston Tap, the Brewdog pub in Camden, Tap East in Stratford Westfield and so on – and I’ll perhaps plan a visit soon to Hackney to visit Beavertown.
But I’ll be even keener to try and find the beer whose photo from the brewery’s product page I’ve linked to above – Shoreditch Blonde by the Redchurch Brewery. They’re based in Bethnal Green but the name is an obvious reference to the famed Redchurch Street – maybe, apart from the Leake Street tunnel near Waterloo, the most active graffiti art area in London.
Beer plays quite a part in the novel and the character who has a passion for it is cool, urban Kim – James just drinks lots of it (at the start of the novel, anyway, before he goes on his personal narrative beer journey).
So, in another of those extraordinarily touches of serendipity that give me a little hope that the novel is tapping into the Zeitgest, the beer is based on a German style and brewed with German malt. I’ve been looking for a significantly named beer for Kim to serve James in a scene early in the novel – and now I’ve found the perfect one. Now to find a pint of it.