My first pint in London during this trip didn't exactly go as expected. The plan was to dump the cases at the hotel and make the 30 second walk round to the nearest boozer for a much needed pint of something on cask. Unfortunately I was misled by a London pub guide that stated that the Carpenter's Arms did decent pub grub. I was politely informed by the barmaid that it does no such thing. Luckily for us right next door was a sparsely decked out establishment by the name of Imbiss Austrian Beer Food. It was a superb second choice, and we tucked into wurst and leerkase washed down with Hitter Morchl for me - a rich roasty dark lager, and a more lady like measure of Stiegl Goldbrau for my wife.
After this very satisfying meal we struck out on a bit of sight seeing which took us to Knightsbridge and the excesses of Harrrods where the only beery piece of news I can relate is a bottle of Harrods own brand lager that turned out to be bloody awful. It was produced in Germany and I have no doubt it tasted a great deal better when it left the brewery. There is no way the German's would allow a beer as bad as that pass quality control. My guess is that it had been mishandled quite badly in the interim, resulting in oxidation and a general funkiness.
With the pavement pounding done for the day we headed back to the Carpenter's Arms to sample some of the six casks on offer. The first and best was Cooking from the Grain Store Brewery - session ale at its very best giving plenty of flavour, begging you to drink pint after pint. I moved on to Titan which proved to be one of those overly malty sweet ales that I just don't enjoy at all. To get the taste of Titan out of my mouth I opted for a pint of Between the Posts Whippet Special Ale, a malty pale ale that for some strange reason tasted of chocolate. A strange sensation because the colour of the beer did not hint at this type of flavour at all.
On the way back to the hotel we opted for a final drink in the Mason's Arms, a nearby pub that only stocked Badger's ale on cask and gave me the chance to try some First Gold in its most natural form. The bottled version of this ale has let me down badly on more than one occasion, the carbonation is far too high and the single show case hop does not get the chance to shine. On cask it is a different ale, completely dominated by the hop choice and tastes very earthy indeed, much like mouthful of soil, but not in a bad way, if you know what I mean. The second Badger ale on offer was Hopping Hare, 'thrice hopped', one of these hops was Stryian Goldings I reckon, giving the beer a very typical citrus golden ale flavour.
Finally, for a little hotel refreshment I chanced upon some Marks and Spencer ale that M & S in their infinite wisdom have deemed unsuitable for the Irish market. The Cornish IPA is wonderful stuff packed with American hops including Chinook, Willamette and Cascade. It is a crying shame that this ale has been withheld from the Irish Market. Please M & S, take back the metallic Yorkshire Bitter and give us this one instead! The second ale withheld from Irish shores is a Welsh Honey Bitter, once again featuring a favourite hop of mine - Challenger. It is ferociously carbonated, attempting to jump out of the bottle upon opening, but for some reason the prickle on the tongue works rather well with this beer, giving a zing of refreshment to the golden ale. The honey doesn't really feature much, except for perhaps a slight sweetness, but no real honey flavour to speak of. I always enjoy a trip to London, but my next may well prove the best. I have been invited for a tour of the Fuller's brewery by the guy in charge of the laboratory there. It should prove very interesting indeed.