Words & Photos - Matthew Curtis
I’m a man who enjoys his creature comforts and a taste of home and as I originally hail from rural Lincolnshire the part of North London I’ve chosen to settle in is the idyllic leafy suburb of Crouch End. Gritty, urban East London has never really appealed to me and the thought of walking down the suburb the beer I’m about to review takes in title from alone at night puts the willies right up me. Having said that East London is not without its charms such as fantastic flower markets, brilliant Indian cuisine and more recently it’s become home to an increasing number of excellent pubs and micro breweries serving and creating the sacred elixir we have come to call craft beer.
Brodie’s was founded by James and Lizzie Brodie in the summer of 2008 after they took over the abandoned Sweet William Brewery in Leyton and they brew a mixture of traditional English style bitters alongside some hyper hopped brews that take inspiration from our American friends across the pond. When I was in the Mason & Taylor a couple of weeks ago I tried my first Brodie's Beer, Hackney Red IPA and was thoroughly impressed so along with the Kernel IPA Citra I reviewed last week I took home a bottle of their Dalston Black IPA as I am a big fan of this relatively new genre.
Brodies Dalston Black IPA, in a word, superb.
Unlike a lot of the craft breweries whose beer I really enjoy Brodies beers are bottle conditionedand go through another period of fermentation before they are consumed. The majority of beers I have enjoyed recently from both sides of the Atlantic have not gone through the bottle conditioning process but have been immensely enjoyable as have the few bottle conditioned beers such as this one but as I’m not a brewer myself I don’t understand the advantages or disadvantages of creating the beer in this way. I think this goes a long way to prove that regardless of how the beer is created or served if it tastes good and drinkers are happy then brewers should have free license to brew their beer as they see fit and call it what they want.
After leaving the bottle of Dalston Black to settle for just a few minutes to make sure the yeast and I don’t become too closely acquainted I gently pour the dark, lively contents into a pint glass. This black IPA is not too thick, certainly not as thick as a stout or a porter but visibly has more body than a standard pale ale and produces about a centimetres worth of a latte hued head. Even before I have a chance to get my nose in the aroma hits me, bags and bags of earthy citrus, predominantly grapefruit flavours cruise through the sinuses with barely any hint of the roasted malts within.
One thing I love about a this style of brew is how it completely tricks the senses and I’ll never forget my first taste of Thornbridge Raven, my first black IPA, having never tried this style of ale before. Knowing you have a beer in front of you with an ABV of over six or seven percent that’s brewed with dark malts you immediately expect something heavy and laden with sweet malt flavours but when tasting a black IPA you instead receive a beautifully refreshing hit of bitter citrus and slices of toasted bread. Dalston Black is no exception, it is pithy, malty wonderment captured and preserved in bottled form and potentially one of the best beers in this style that I’ve had the luck to try. The hops really whiz around the palate and make your cheekbones tingle. The malts are not too in your face and let the hops take centre stage and so appeal to my personal tastes beautifully. The malts in the beer are never overpowering and the notes of coffee I often get with this style that I would normally associate with a great stout are very muted but provide a study scaffold for the resinous, zesty flavour. The finish is long and wonderfully bitter and your tongue keeps dancing long after you’ve swallowed your last drop until you are left ruing the day you only decided to by one bottle.
I’m having a lot of luck with beer recently, thanks to social networking and some fantastic, fanatical writing by my fellow bloggers I’ve not found much wrong with any of the beers I’ve tried lately. I’m now excited that there are so many beers from breweries such as The Kernel and Brodie's that I’ve really got my work cut out for me, in fact the London brewing scene is looking very healthy indeed! Thank you Brodie's for joining in the serious arse kicking that the UK ale scene needs, East London is suddenly starting to look a whole lot more inviting.