It’s fair to say that 2015 was a pretty incredible year for events in our Balham shop and indeed our new Clapham Junction shop. We welcomed brewers and food producers from across the country (and indeed the globe) and, as we begin to fill up our 2016 events calendar, we thought it would be good to take a moment to look back on a few of the highlights of last year.
By The Horns – 4th March
One of our most local breweries came down early in the year to take us through their core range and some exceptional specials, such as the Sour to the People
. Although sours can be risky at big tastings, the fruity, moderate tartness of this beer meant we sold out on the night and have continued to sell out ever since with customers not being able to get enough of it. Since this event, BTH have gone on to expand their brewery and capacity with a lot of exciting plans coming to fruition so keep an eye out, because we’ll definitely be getting these guys down again to discuss some of the awesome stuff they’re getting up to.
Harbour – 18th March
Harbour are seriously cool guys. Don’t believe us? Beside the fact that they’re brewers, they all surf and have a mini skate park in the brewery. Pretty awesome, right? Joe, their Developmental Brewer, travelled up from Cornwall to take us through their pale ale, IPA, light ale as well as a few specials, incuding an imperial stout to finish off the evening. The state of most people’s heads the next morning was a testament to how good a night was had.
Belgian Beer Tasting – 15th April
A night which has gone down in We Brought Beer folklore, the Belgian Beer Tasting, in partnership with Cave Direct, was quite possibly the booziest event we’ve ever had. Bart, a Belgian sommelier and our host for the evening, led us through tasters of eight beers in total, finishing up with Kwak (8.4%), Delirium Tremens (8.5%), Troubadour Magma (9.0%) and finally Rochefort 8 (9.2%). Suffice to say, some people were stumbling a bit by the end, although Bart did manage to go through most of the evening without a single slurred word! A lot was learnt on the night, and only slightly less remembered, including a new trick for holding your beer using only your belt! This was a night that will stay long in the memory of all those who attended.
Lervig – 22nd April
From Norway came our most well traveled brewer, Mike Murphy. An American, he had brewed around the world before settling down at Lervig, Stavanger, in 2010, a brewery that had been started in protest at the closure of the area’s local brewery by Carlsberg. Originally a lager only brewery, Mike turned them around by producing more American style beers and they have now collaborated with some of the best breweries in the world – from Magic Rock to Evil Twin. That night we were taken through the Johnny Low
, a 2.5% session IPA, Lucky Jack
, Hoppy Joe
and their single-hop Galaxy IPA
. Aside from the fantastic beers, it was also great to hear about Norway’s beer culture. Despite having incredibly strict alcohol laws, Norway is teaming with quality craft breweries, largely driven by their belief in quality over quantity. We’ve tended to keep Lervig as a permanent fixture at the shops ever since this tasting and we’re hoping to have them back again in 2016.
American Beer Tasting – 13th May
Although many of the beers we’d tried before had been American styles, this was our first tasting dedicated soley to beers with a zip code instead of a postcode. With beers from Fordham, Old Dominion, Saugatuck and Tailgate breweries, we were treated to a great range of beers and styles from across the pond. We could try to describe the event, but we reckon these photos
from Chris Coulson more than do the evening justice.
Orbit – 10th June
Based up near Kennington, Orbit are producing German style beers with an ability few other breweries in the UK posses, as well as some more in vogue styles. Robbie, one of the brewers, joined us with their Duke
Köln style lager and Ivo
pale ale and gave us all a lesson in the history of each style, how they’re drunk, why people aren’t happy with calling Kolsch a lager, and even a bit about the history of 4AD record label. Orbit call what they do “Hi-Fidelity Brewing”, and that comes across in the precision and consistency with which their beers are brewed.
Weird Beard – 15th July
Weird Beard have always been a favourite with the WBB staff and customers and their branding is amongst the most unique out there, with the individual skulls, “Lupin”, changing to suit the personality of each beer. From their 2.5% milk stout, Dark Hopfler
, to their 200th batch triple IPA, Defacer
, they consistently hit the mark. What’s more, they have a particular desire to use the Japanese hop Sorachi Ace at any given point and it just gives some of the most wonderful characteristics to a beer. Gregg and Chris (you’ll hear more about Chris later!) came down to guide us through a selection of their range, finishing up with a side-by-side tasting of both the barrel-aged and non-aged versions of their imperial stout Sadako
Brooklyn Brewery – 12th August
There are few people who have become as synonymous with craft beer in the UK as Brooklyn Brewery, thanks mainly to the huge success of their lager. Their UK ambassador, Rachel, joined us to took us through the history of the brewery via the medium of beer. The Sorachi Ace
saison and Blast! IIPA
were both crowd pleasers, but it was the Black Chocolate Stout
ice cream float to finish the night that really wowed everyone. The intense and warming characteristics of the stout melded perfectly with the vanilla ice-cream to leave many people trooping back home via Sainsbury’s to pick up some ice-cream of their own.
Mondo – 26th August
Mondo are one of London’s newest breweries and, back in August, they were even newer! However, by investing in quality equipment from the off, they ensured that they hit the ground running. On the evening, Todd and Andrew from the brewery came by to talk us through 5 of their beers, with the James’ Brown Ale
surprising many who hadn’t expected such a light approachable beer of that style. As well as tasting core favourites Rider
Pale Ale and Kemosable
IPA, it was their seasonal, Poppa Cap
, a strong pilsner, that made everyone really sit up and take notice with all 30 litres of the keg taken home that night in growlers! Keep an eye on Mondo – if their initial months are anything to go by, the next couple of years should be very interesting indeed!
Brick – 2nd September
Despite being founded in December 2013, we weren’t able to get Brick into the shop until mid-2015 when they started taking on new accounts. We were so enamoured with the incredibly solid beers they were producing that we quickly invited them down to the shop. Ian, founder and head brewer, and Aidan, head of sales, came down to the shop with something that always gets us excited – an exclusive! Just for this event they had kegged their normally cask-only beer, Sir Thomas Gardyner
, a 3.8% American Pale Ale that, to be honest, completely took everyone by surprise with it’s intense, citrus hop character. Their core range Pioneer IPA & Pilsner on keg were also firm favourites. If you get a chance, head on down to the brewery, because they’ve got some experimental exclusives in their tap-room brewed on Ian’s old homebrew kit that will blow you away.
Celt – 9th September
For our first Welsh Meet the Brewer, Tom and Ellie from The Celt Experience came down from Caerphilly and provided us with one of the funnest MTBs that we’ve ever hosted. Oh, and there was also cheese! Having tasted a mix of core & seasonal (including a gooseberry saison!), we finished the night with an 8.5% chocolate rye porter, 614 Annes
, and a pungent blue cheese. If you’ve never tried a Celt beer before, get down to the shop and pick some up, because they’re awesome and Tom, their head brewer, is one of the most infectiously enthusiastic people in the industry. If you missed the last one, fear not, because there’s no way we won’t be getting them back down!
London Beer Lab – 23rd September
We like London Beer Lab. A lot. In fact, we like LBL so much that we brewed a beer with them, The Bear of St. John.
A 6.5% Red IPA, this was brewed to celebrate the (slightly delayed) opening of our new shop in Clapham Junction and the MTB was used to launch it. What LBL are doing is incredibly cool, constantly revolving and changing their lineup meaning there is always new and exciting stuff is coming out. Whilst we believe our Red IPA was pretty damn good, it has to be said that their Black IPA completely stole the show. A wonderful blend of sharp, bright hops and a rich, roasted backbone combined to create one of those beers that really sticks in the brain and makes you go wow. Bruno, who came down to the shop, and the rest of the team there are doing a fine job, be sure to check them out.
Beer & Pie Matching – 30th September
Any pub worth its salt serves a decent pie – there is something intrinsically wonderful about having a great pie with some beer. In MyPie, we had someone who makes some of the best pies going. Starting with a Steak & Ale Pie paired with Fourpure’s Beartooth
, we moved onto a Rabbit & Pork Belly Ragu with Northern Monk Pear & Hawthorn Wit
, Chickpea & Pumpkin Curry with Saison Dupont
before finishing with an Apple & Pear pie matched with Redchurh’s gorgeous Old Ford Export Stout
. Chris, Mr. MyPie, is an exceptional cook which made choosing these pairings nice and easy. If you ever see him crop up an event, be sure to head straight to his van, because you’ll be getting some quality grub.
Five Points – 7th October
The Five Points Pale Ale
was one of the first beers ever to get cracked in We Brought Beer and it has remained incredibly close to all of our hearts so when we had a chance to get Five Points down to the shop, we jumped at it. Although their head brewer couldn’t make it down due to illness, we were joined by their Head of Marketing and one of their first employees, Doreen. Trying their five core range beers, we were all impressed with the simplicity of their beers, all of them are great examples of the styles. The stand out beer of the night was their Hook Island Red
, a 6.0% red ale with a great body and brilliant tropical fruit flavours that come out against the bigger backbone.
Cloudwater – 21st October
There are few breweries which got beer drinkers as excited in 2015 as Cloudwater! Their branding, beer background and future plans meant there was a lot of hype around them, leaving them with some big expectations to live up to. Thankfully, Cloudwater nailed everything, their seasonal approach to their beers providing them with a pointed note of difference to most other breweries. We were lucky enough to have Paul Jones, one of the co-founders, come down to the shop and take us through their Autumn range with their two lagers, Motueka
, and their NZ Hopfen Weisse
all sampled on the night. Overall, I think what impressed people the most were their lagers. Whilst it’s a style that can often be forgotten in the current climate of producing beers that destroy palates with hops, it’s important to remember that there’s a reason why lagers became the world’s most popular beer style – when done well, they’re damn good! We might not see it for another year, but the Vienna Lager is a beer that will definitely be gracing our shelves once more.
Pretty F****** Good Toast – 4th November
Pretty F****** Good Toast pretty much does what it says on the tin; David is a guy who makes some awesome toast! Rabbit confit, chocolate shavings and parmesan was paired with Orbit’s Rauch
; asparagus, marmite and Lincolnshire Poacher with Anchor’s Big Leaf Maple
; Wild Beer Co’s Schnoodlepip
with a pastrami, caramelised onion and Cornish Yarg and finally Sambrook’s Russian Imperial Stout
finished the night off with some smashed avocado, black truffle and goats cheese. The first beer and food event in our new shop, it was an awesome way to kick start everything there, setting the bar very high for future food events!
London Beer Factory – 4th November
London Beer Factory are pretty new, but they’ve made sure to get themselves into drinkers glasses by concentrating on a core range of beer that they’ve been steadily nailing down, coupled with some awesome branding. We invited Sim and Ed, two brothers and the co-founders of the brewery, down to take us through their beers. We’ve had the Paxton Pale
and Chelsea Blonde
in the shop before, however, we also tried their two new beers, the London Bohemia Pilsner
and Beyond the Pale
. The Bohemia
was a crisp, clean, refreshing pilsner that our very own Alex Marshall ended up getting in for his wedding. Their Beyond the Pale
was a fruity little session IPA, at 4.2% ABV it was easy drinking but with a juicy, tropical fruit characteristic. Oh, these guys also bought down a beer taxi. Pretty cool!
Fourpure – 11th November
Our first Meet the Brewer in the new shop, and we were delighted to not only be able to invite Fourpure back after their brilliant turn in our Balham shop, but also be one of the launch sites for their Winter seasonals, Northern and Southern Latitude. Taken inspiration from the differing seasons in each hemisphere, Northern Latitude
was a rich, deep warming red rye IPA, whilst the Southern Latitude
was brighter and lighter, reminding you of the hot weather down under. Co-founder Dan came down and talked us through their core range beers, as well as these seasonals and their sour beer, Hoptart
. It’s fair to say everyone was impressed and left feeling slightly merrier for the tasting.
Home Brew Club – 17th November
Ever since We Brought Beer opened, we had always wanted to host a homebrew club. Most brewers start out at home and the experimentation and dedication of these guys is really one of the reasons why the craft beer industry is so forward looking. When we met Chris and Emma, two award winning homebrewers, we realised we had found the perfect people to run the club. Combined with our upstairs space in Clapham Junction it became clear that November was the perfect time to launch the club. With a packed out and fully engaged audience, Chris and Emma took us through the basics of homebrewing before those who had brought along their own brews shared them around for appraisal. This was the first of many nights that will be running, more info on the next one can be found here
And Union – 18th November
Having had And Union in the shop as one of our first Meet the Brewers, we were delighted to have them back, and this time their founder Rui was over here from South Africa. These guys had started up with the goal of bringing craft beer to South Africa, which they have done with aplomb. We had their Unfiltered Lager
, Summer Wheat
Pale Ale and Friday
IPA, as well as the Neu
dark lager and, to finish, their Touro
Tripel Blond, the pièce de résistance. In fact, the Touro
proved so popular that we sold out of it entirely before the night had even finished! These guys have done a great job in blending German and American beer styles, taking aspects that work for both, and putting out some very good beer!
Sambrook’s Brewery- 18th November
Staggeringly, when Sambrook’s first opened back in 2007, they were one of only four or five breweries in London at the time. Now that London can count over 80 there’s no doubt that Sambrook’s really did show the way for a lot of people. We were lucky enough to have Duncan Sambrook, the founder of the brewery, down to take us through both their more “traditional range” and their newer, “craftier” offerings. A particular highlight was the 10.4% Russian Imperial Stout
, loaded with full roasted, molasses and rich chocolate flavours. Aside from a slight warmth on the back of the throat, there is very little hint as to the ABV of this beer. This was a great evening hosted by one of the pillars of the London brewing scene.
Gipsy Hill – 9th December
Our final MTB of the year and we had the excellent Gipsy Hill back in with Beatnik, Southpaw, Hepcat, Yuzu, Six O’Clock Swill
and the Dissident Porter
. These guys have continually amazed us with how full-flavoured their beers are despite being predominantly under 5.0% and it was great to have co-founder Charlie down, covered in paint having just finished touching up their popup bar. We love these guys and what they’re brewing and with expansion plans already in motion, expect to see much more of them over the coming year!