London Fields Brewery is one of those exciting young breweries that have been restoring the brewing scene to the city in the last few years. Founded only last year, they’ve already had to upgrade from their original 2 barrel plant to a new 10 barrel one, just to keep up with demand.
Throughout last autumn they held a series of open weekends at the brewery, which I’m sure helped them establish themselves and get well known in the area. With beer, music and food they managed to make it feel more like a beer festival than a brewery visit, albeit with only their own beer on tap!
If I say that I ended up there three times, that might give you a clue as to how much fun those weekends were, and how good the beer!
On my last visit I picked up a collection of their bottled offerings to take home. As their first open day of 2012 is coming up next weekend it seems a good time to revisit them – and to make room for the bottles I will no doubt come home with.
We start with Hackney Hopster, their first and most popular beer. The bottle I have is labelled at 4.7%, although they now brew it slightly stronger at 4.9%.
It’s a nice pale gold in the glass, with a fleeting head on top. The nose is full of big floral hops that bring with them a hint of sweet, sticky exotic fruits – it’s like sticking your nose in a hop sack.
In the mouth, you get more of those exotic fruit flavours coming through – it’s fairly light, easy drinking and sweet but with a lovely backbone of hop bitterness that comes through towards the end. If anything, that bitter tail overwhelms the sweet fruit and leaves your mouth a little dry, but that’s no bad thing – it just has you reaching for another mouthful.
It’s a fantastic start to the collection.
Next up we have Harvest Ale, a seasonal beer from the autumn that also comes in at 4.7%. This one is properly seasonal, made at harvest time within 24 hours of the hops being picked!
Similar in colour to the Hopster, although with a creamier, more lingering head on it, it’s another fruity, hoppy nose although more berries this time – and there’s a whiff of malt in there too.
There are a lot of bubbles in the mouth. The sweetness is much less apparent – it’s more like a traditional bitter; still a hint of fruit but with a much more pronounced hop bitter core. Tasty, although not as autumnal as I might have expected.
On to their Wheat Beer, a third 4.7% beer. It’s another pale beer, with a long lasting foamy head and a tantalisingly ‘wheaty’ nose, with citrus and even a banana hint.
Sweet and fruity in the mouth with quite a generous carbonation. It’s a little dry at the end, but aside from that it’s a great example of a classic wheat beer.
Next, London Fields Gold, slightly stronger at 5.1%. It’s a rich gold in the glass, with a lingering fine bubbled head on it. The nose is full of sweet honey malt, and a green, fresh grass-like aroma.
In the mouth you get more of that sweetness; fresh, green and some sweet citrus flavours to start with, feeding into a nice, gentle hop bitter tail that fades out perfectly with the sweetness. The gentle fizz, fresh flavour and delicate sweet / bitter balance makes this a wonderful, easy drinking beer.
And so lastly onto the London Fields IPA, again at 5.1%. This particular one is single-hopped with Galaxy hops, although the hop they select can vary.
Amber in the glass, it has a seriously big head that doesn’t go away – Kavey sums it up as a “coke float head”. The nose is incredible; big floral hops, with tropical passion fruit, loads of sweetness which screams “drink me!”
If anything it’s better in the mouth; a big sweet hit up front, then slowly the huge hops come through – starting with the fruit and leading into buckets of hoppy bitterness as the bubbles fade from your tongue. The tail is amazingly long, deeply bitter but without becoming overpowering.
It’s a properly incredible IPA; the star of the bunch by a country mile. I don’t say this lightly, but this IPA could give Kernel a serious run for their money.