Wednesday, 23 January 2013

The Camden Town Brewery

If you’ve taken the time to read some of the other gibberish which I’ve inflicted on this blog you may have noticed a trend for cocktail bars. We think cocktail bars are great. They provoke reactions such as ‘Wow, I had no idea this place existed!’, ‘This drink tastes like a pudding’ and ‘Oh great. Another date in Nightjar...’. You may also have noticed an underlying resentment at the amount of time I spend in cocktail bars. Unfortunately for me (and anyone I’m dating) social norms and a total inability to wow people with my dazzling conversation dictate that I have to go to swanky cocktail bars in the hope that the setting will distract from the crushing inanity of 2 hours in my company.

In all honesty, I’m not a huge fan of cocktails, they may look nice but they leave me broke and disappointed at the end of the night. I much prefer a nice dirty lager, it’s cheap and what it lacks in presentation it more than makes up for in convenience. Funnily enough, I wrote something weirdly similar on our sister blog ‘my lack of sex life for people who couldn’t care less’.

This blog would be as dull as it was brief if it was called ‘my favourite places to drink with my friends (both of them)’. However, if it was, the Camden Town Brewery would be near the top of my list. So please forgive some self-indulgence because, while it may lack hidden doorways and a cocktail list like a Tolkien novel, the Camden Town Brewery is a very cool bar.

The brewery, which produces its beers under the railway arches near Kentish Town West, does a great line in pale ales, wheat beers and lagers. Now I’ll be the first to defend British beer, but more often than not I want something crisp and refreshing rather than some dishwater served in a handle under the pretence of being ‘real ale’. This is really where the brewery finds its niche – finally we have some interesting beers which can be served cold and sparkling without the need to look to Germany, the USA or, heaven forbid, Belgium*. 

Hats off to the Camden Hells Lager for saving me from yet more nights of Red Stripe and Fosters. This will no doubt offend the purists who read the minutes of CAMRA meetings and think that anything that doesn’t taste like soil isn’t a beer. If you find that the Camden Pale Ale lacks the necessary undertones of mud and gravel I can recommend the London Fields Brewery - where all the beers taste like compost. The only beer I would exercise some caution over is a stout called Camden Ink. I feel a bit bad for criticising it, I mean I couldn’t sue them for false advertising. I guess that when I ordered a pint of ink, I was hoping that they would take it slightly less literally. While parker pen cartridges aren’t generally a key component of my preferred tipples, if you’re a big fan of stout give it a go. Also feel free to send me hate mail telling me how wrong I am and how delicious Ink is.

The brewery bar has been open since March 2012. I know this because I kept phoning them to see if it had opened (I told you I wasn’t cool). The bar takes up one of the seven railway arches which the brewery occupies and is open Thursday - Saturday. Looking at the bar I like to think that the brewers had a conversation along the lines of:

‘What the fuck did you buy seven arches for? You know we only have 4 customers?’
‘Meh, fuck it, I’m sure we’ll think of something, how about dodgems?’

Fortunately, they haven’t gone the way of Proud and used the excess room as ‘art space’ so that overprivileged kids in red trousers can get in touch with their creative side and show how in touch with London’s arty underbelly they are. Instead, the nice folk at the Camden Town Brewery decided to tack a bar onto the end of their brewery. Unpretentious and simple, it’s everything I want from a bar: nice beer, brewed 10 yards from the tap,
served by staff who like what they do at a price that doesn’t require the backing of a trust fund.

While this isn’t a food blog (because there’s only so much you can say about 2 for 1 Pizza Hut), I’d recommend eating at the Camden Town Brewery. In keeping with its rough around the edges image, a variety of food stalls are invited to come and set up shop outside the bar to serve up a selection of street food. If anyone has been to Whitecross Street Market (which you all should) you’ll recognise a few faces and understand just how good London street food is these days. You can check who’s cooking and when on the brewery’s website.

So that’s the Camden Town Brewery - if you met someone in 151 King’s Road and are looking to impress them on a date, don’t come here (or anywhere else I drink). On the other hand, it’s a great little place to take your mates (or the mythical lager girl who thinks that watching the Six Nations is a perfect way to have some couple time). In doing so you will ensure that your chosen company sees just how cool you are with your expertise in lesser known London drinking venues. If you go on a Thursday they will even give you a tour of the rest of the brewery - I have always found that tours are a good way to further high-functioning alcoholism in the name of education. The same thing could be said of writing for this blog.

(*Fuck Belgium) 

The Camden Town Brewery, 
55-59 Wilkin Street Mews, 
NW5 3NN 

0207 485 1671

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