Friday, 13 March 2009

A beer adventure down south.

Casks of various brewers ready to depart for the Harrogate beer festival.

It was only the other week when I overlooked much of the organization for the annual Harrogate beer festival. Coincidentally it was at my work, the Daleside brewery that many of the casks for the festival were collated together to be transported to the event. However the event itself, showcasing many of the greatest beers in Yorkshire, I would be unable to attend due to already scheduled liaisons down south.
However as a substitute for missing out, I would be visiting a brewery that I have admired and longed to visit ever since the very beginnings of my quest for real beer. It has produced many globally recognized classic beers with a certain flamboyancy and fondness of often using multiple English hop varieties to great effect.

As you have probably have guessed, the brewer was Fuller-Smith and Turner, of Chiswick, London. Many years ago I had almost dreamt about such a brewery visit (when I was about 20 I became pretty obsessed with Fullers beers) and the tour was very enjoyable. We were escorted around the brewery buy an old fellow called Jeff. The place seemed huge compared to humble Daleside brewery, with multiple buildings and forklifts roaming about and a sort of old but very well preserved feel about the place. Inside the brewhouse seemed a formidable size, with huge pristine stainless steel vessels of at least 60 barrels capacity and an overall red and green color scheme running throughout. Overall it reminded me a little of Caledonian brewery, back from my old days at Heriot-Watt university… Except alittle more posh.

Behold the mighty gleaming stainless steel copper, a centrepiece at the very heart of Fullers. I never thought I'd see the day.

London Prides well balanced, firm but smooth malty notes latched on to the meaty textures of the Cumberland sausage excellently.

Multiple fermentation vessels.

Me by the copper; note that my current beer diary is too large to fit in coat or trowser pockets like previous volumes. Instead volume 5 has to be carried by hand.
After the tour we got some free samples and headed for the brewery tap for some lunch where I excellently paired Cumberland sausage to a London Pride, and got another try of Chiswick Bitter, one of the finest examples of the style I have ever known. Oddly enough the great Mike Jackson beer hunter himself was also a big Chiswick fan, and until this point I had only got hold of the stuff twice in my entire beer hunting life. It was just as I remembered it, fruty hops to the nose, dry peppery hop resins on the gentle palate, a great beer, and obviously dry hopped.
Following the main event I was also given the chance to dine at one of London’s fine Belgo restaurants, a chain of restaurants specializing in Belgian food with Belgian beer and managed to pick some great beer-food pairings. Check out the beer lists at In the end I left with a better impression of London that I first thought. I guess I have never really been beer hunting properly in London, and until this point thought it would be just cammed with trendy cocktail bars and clubs. But we saw more decent looking pubs than imagined and not that many trendy bars, which encourages me to visit again some day for a more intensive beer hunt. A grand idea indeed.


Ed said...

Fullers is great stuff isn't it? Drop me a line when you're next down South and we might be able to meet up.

Rob said...

I will indeed Ed. I was intending to on my last adventure however it was only a quick weekend visit and we were fully sceduled. Not sure when Im next in London but should be in Cambridge next month sometime.