Borough Market is known as a centre for excellent food and drink; The Rake, and its related enterprise Utobeer, being great beer geek venues. In the wider areas there is a great supply of artisan food from hand baked bread, olives of many varieties, rare breed meat and of course some great cheeses. Disposing of spare income becomes dangerously easy for those with expensive tastes and poor will power, like myself. As a side observation there is an alarming amount of Cumbrian produce that is almost impossible to source in my part of Cumbria, this I find telling and the subject of future posts I expect.
On this occasion we also visited Brew Wharf, a place I had heard about but seemingly not heard great reviews. Indeed, one or two respectable beer commentators have been somewhat derogatory about this spacious venue. I had, however, also been informed of the involvement of a new brewer. Phil Lowry has beer in his bones, having been in the industry for much of his life. Certainly, he is not new to brewing and has taken on the job of brewing beer at Brew Wharf with enthusiasm using his moniker Saints and Sinners.
Of course the most important thing about beer is how it tastes. Unfortunately, immediately prior to my trip to Brew Wharf, I had a glass of Stone Ruination. It might seem strange to some of my readers that I actually regretted this great beer making an appearance. When it was pulled through the taps in The Rake the detrimental effect on subsequent beer appreciation should have been taken into account. Despite following this massive American hop bomb, Hoptimum still managed to hold its own. This is a great American hopped golden ale. Phil claims to be very choosy with his selection of ingredients. Many brewers concentrate on just the grist ingredients when looking for a malty beer. Conversely, heavily hopped beers can give faint consideration to the grist resulting in a thin and watery hop tea.
Hoptimum however has an integrated approach and the malt provides a great textured canvass for the complexity of the hops to shine. Its little brother, goldfish bowl, named after the feeling the brewer has in his glass cage, is a session beer looking remarkably like it’s bigger sibling, despite a very different list of ingredients. Much more a session beer, but still with enough punch for those that like a little bit of flavour in their beer.
Necessarily several pints of each were consumed, just to check the drinkability. Once the over-the-top completeness of the true American IPA was subdued, and my palate was once more able to appreciate subtlety, I found significant drinkability did indeed exist in these new Brew Wharf beers.