It’s only fair to warn those of you who are somewhere on the autism spectrum, before you release your Inner Angry Nigel in the comments section, that this post is mainly about beer, not wine. Rest assured, Colins and Nevilles, that my normal wine reviewing service will resume in the next post.
I normally hate holiday smugness. I hate the cute photos of feet in flip-flops on Facebook. I hate having to admire the tan acquired (I make Dracula look swarthy.) I can’t even watch A Place in the Sun without rolling my eyes.
So it is with trepidation that I am writing about a bar in Puerto Vallarta in Mexico. But if it makes you feel better, I am also going to tell you about a bar in somewhat less exotic Shepherds Bush.
I am normally, as the blog title heavily implies, a wine girl. Undeniably though, beer is Having A Moment. One of my favourite things about living in West London is that if a trend makes it out of Dalston and across to us, it is here to stay. Not for us, yet, the sherry bars, pop up vegan restaurants, or speakeasy cocktail places where you enter through a door disguised as a kebab shop’s fridge, having given Stavros the code word. We are all over the craft beer thing, though.
Brew Dog in Shepherds Bush was heaving when a gang of us went on Saturday night – deservedly so, the beers are great and with a couple of exceptions it’s fair to say you aren’t spoiled for choice in that neck of the woods.
We tried the really, seriously delicious Punk IPA, and then a ridiculous, seriously a bad idea: Tactical Nuclear Penguin, a beer so boozy (32%) they sell it as a shot in a brandy style glass.
At the Union Cerveceria in Puerto Vallarta, we’d learned enough from our monster London hangovers to stay away from the stupidly strong stuff. We’d spent much of the holiday drinking dark but refreshing Negra Modelo (yup, that’ll be the black version of Mexico’s Corona alternative, Modelo lager).
We also tried the brilliantly marketed Chupacabra ale – which tasted exactly like a memory of childhood holidays, Carambar sweets from France.
I really like the idea of small, indie breweries making unique products and successfully turning their consumers into fans. That’s one of my favourite things about wine : beyond Blossom Hill, there are an amazing array of small growers and producers creating brilliant wines that are yet to be discovered.
But the challenge with craft beer is the same as in wine: as CAMRA members will tell you, the UK has a phenomenal track record in producing interesting beers that haven’t been marketed to a Hoxton audience. The hardest part is differentiating great product from great hype – but it is great fun trying. I’d love to hear what you make of the craft brew revolution?
Thanks for reading –