Members' bottle share: Goose Island Brewpub, London
222 Shoreditch High St, London E1 6PJ
Saturday 20 November 2021
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Bottle shares are back, and I could not be happier. Over the last 18 months I have been finding myself really missing beer events, and the Beer52/Ferment bottle shares are always some of my favourite to attend and host.
The last one to take place was right at the beginning of March 2020, at The Bookshop Alehouse in Southampton, and it was a wonderful low-key affair - in my write-up, I even say: “it was one of the most fun evenings I have had the pleasure of putting on for Beer52 and Ferment,” so it was inadvertently the perfect event to end on before the world went *on fire*.
This time round though, we were back where we were in January 2020, at the Goose Island Brewpub in Shoreditch, London. Mabel, manager at the brewpub, picked their brand new Kveik IPA as our first drink of the evening - a lovely fruity softness from the Norwegian farmhouse ale yeast and tangy citrus notes from the hops mean it went down a treat. It was an excellent choice to start the evening with, since it was a very interesting beer with enough character to incite discussion among the attendees, but drinkable enough to not distract. Everyone seemed to enjoy it, and I didn’t have to facilitate conversation - all eight Beer52 members were friendly and chatty enough that conversation flowed easily. Just how I like it.
The second beer of the evening was a sour IPA from Brick Brewery and Pastore called Two Ways, which I picked up at Kill the Cat bottle shop and tasting room on Brick Lane. This sour IPA has gooseberry puree and yuzu juice added, and is dry-hopped with Motueka, Nelson Sauvin and Citra for an extra juicy and dry finish. Attendees Jeff and Blair are big fans of sour beer, so this one went down really well with them - they said they loved the mild aftertaste and how smooth it was to drink, despite its sourness. Ishaan thought it was incredibly vibrant and was impressed, and his friend Akash thought it tasted like a sweet lime juice (and I’m not sure if that’s a good thing or not). Natalia commented that it was a bit too intense and she prefers lighter, more bitter beers, but Ken liked the intensity and thought it was reminiscent of a palate-cleanser you’d have between courses at a restaurant, but in a good way - he doesn’t usually like sours but thought this one was very tasty.
The penultimate beer, I must admit, was a selfish pick
The third beer, again purchased at Kill the Cat, was Lewes-based Beak Brewery’s Popple pale ale. I picked this one because I absolutely love it, and think it’s so well-balanced and a great example of a hazy pale, since it has oats and wheat for softness, and Idaho-7, Galaxy and Citra for a hoppy, piney, fruity character. Blair agreed it was lovely - she doesn’t tend to get on well with hazy beers, but thought this was very good since it’s not as viscous as some are (such as big NEIPAs) and you can really taste the hop profile. Ishaan liked the fact that at first when trying it it’s smooth and sweet, but then you get the slight hop bitterness (a sentiment which was echoed by Ken, who enjoyed it after stopping to sip and savour it), and noted that you can detect a slight fizz, which to him gives a better mouthfeel than the very spritzy Two Ways sour IPA we drank previously. Natalia wasn’t so keen, as she found it too thick and didn’t like the juxtaposition after the sour IPA, which is fair enough - you can’t win them all.
The penultimate beer, I must admit, was a selfish pick. While I was in Kill the Cat trying to decide what might follow on well from a pale ale, I spotted a row of Kernel Export India Porters, checked the hop showcase and it was Bramling Cross, and knew this was The One. The Kernel’s Export India Porter is consistently one of my favourite beers of all time, so I was so excited to share this special beer with everyone at the bottle share. Safe to say, it went down really well - with its robust roasted-maltiness and lemony, spicy and earthy hop bitterness, this beautiful and complex beer offered something for everyone to enjoy.
Finally, Mabel (our gracious host) let us try some of the brewpub’s Bourbon-barrel-aged 2019 English barleywine, which was an absolute treat. She explains that it’s the brewpub and the brewery in Chicago’s effort to make something that showcases elements from both countries, and is extra-special for a winter release alongside their Bourbon County Stout. For most attendees it was their first ever try of a barleywine, and everyone loved it, even if some decided it was not ‘for them’ - which is still a hit in my book. It was a rich dark-amber colour and smelled “like mince pies” according to Natalia, with notes of caramel and dark fruit. The taste was sublime, with a gorgeous raisin-like flavour, some vanilla and oak character from the Bourbon barrels, and a warm boozy finish. What a great beer to close the evening’s tasting with.
It was a very relaxed event, and it was an absolute pleasure to be hosting these kinds of bottle shares again. The group all seemed to have a fun time and everyone got along like a house on fire, with lots of fun chat about the beers we drank, and social media handles exchanged at the end of the evening.
It’s so good to be back.
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