Old Folks Hackney Outing

Sums up the plan really.

With a bank holiday looming, and Mrs O not working, a weekend away seemed like a good idea. Plans all got a bit complicated once we started considering parental taxi requirements. Eventually we decided on Thursday night that we could pop down to London after work on Friday and get back home on Saturday afternoon to drive our daughter into Ipswich for the evening. With no time to speak of we picked a couple of tap rooms within a short walk of a reasonably priced hotel and so our evening was planned.

As things turned out we were later than planned getting away from home, and then got held up on the A12 due to what looked like quite a nasty accident - maybe we were lucky not to have left home when we has been expecting! Checking into our hotel in Bethnal Green we had a brief chat with the guy on the desk, who recommended two local pubs favoured by Arsenal and Spurs fans respectively. Despite his impressive beard, he clearly didn't understand when we said we were in town for some craft beer!

Eventually though we reached our first destination - Mother Kelly's Bottle Shop and Tap Room.

It was actually quite busy - honest!

Showing my novice blogging skills I took the first of all too few not very good photos. Despite appearances Mother Kelly's was actually quite busy. In fact I would go so far as to say that it was buzzing. It's just that everyone was outside where I didn't take any photos! Mrs O queued for food while I went to the bar. With novice blogging skills once again coming to the fore I can't remember the name of the street food stall outside the tap room, but it was damn good. Maybe the fact that we were starving helped, but actually I think it was just really good food - not cheap but decent enough value for London. Thankfully Untappd saves me when it comes to our beer choices. I went for Wu Gang Chops the Tree by Pressure Drop. My tasting notes simple say "Light, lemony delicsiousness". The brewery says "hints of clove, citrus and banana", which I wouldn't disagree with, and "will go nicely with spicy food", which I can wholeheartedly endorse. Mrs O had Calypso Berliner Weisse by Siren. With 23 taps on the wall and 6 fridges I could have stayed all night, but the Bar Explorer badge gave us good reason to move on to our next stop...

Never know what you might find if you are being nosy.

...which was the Redchurch Tap Room. I took some really bad pictures of the tap room itself (you can judge how bad they must have been when you have seen some of the ones that I am using!) so I will just have to describe it. Whereas Mother Kelly's had been bustling, Redchurch was virtually deserted. A couple of lads were having a smoke outside. Inside we were greeted by a collection of kegs, a string of fairy lights, and a staircase. Seeing no sign of a bar downstairs, we ventured upwards, where we found two people sitting at a table and a bloke behind the bar. Mrs O chose the Paradise Pale Ale, which is really quite low in bitterness and very fruity - exactly the kind of beer that she likes the best. I went for the Great Eastern IPA, which is an interesting Anglo-American kind of beer. It had the maltiness of a traditional English IPA, but the bitterness of an American style. It also had a great tropical fruit aroma, although this was less evident in the flavour. At 7.4% there was a slight alcohol burn, but not unpleasantly so.

While we were drinking, the lads from outside came in along with another couple. One of the guys started playing darts, which I thought was rather more trad pub than hip tap room, but what do I know? Maybe it was an ironic dartboard?!

As we were leaving I decided to have a nose around, as I was wondering where the brewing actually happened. That was when I discovered the barrels and brew kit pictured above, tucked around a corner out of the way. Having looked at the website it appears that brewing has now moved to Harlow so this is probably the abandoned original brew kit. Presumably the barrels are something to do with the Urban Farmhouse range, although those beers didn't seem to be available in the bar upstairs.

Momentary excitement!

Moving on to our next port of call I was excited to see Five Points, which I hadn't been expecting - probably because it is just a distribution centre, which explains why it hadn't turned up on my taproom search. We also passed The Last Tuesday Society cocktail bar, which piqued Mrs O's curiosity.

Drunk or arty?
A little further down the road we thought we had found Forest Road Brewing Co. We hadn't! But we did just a couple of minutes later. In keeping with the name there was abundant greenery (some of it real) all round the small bar. There was also a guy on a balcony knocking out some tunes - I know, I'm showing my age. Forest Road was a little busier than Redchurch, but not a great deal. As for the beer, I had High Pitch, which is a schwarzbier infused with cold brewed coffee and was absolutely delicious, smooth and creamy, almost like an iced coffee in fact. Mrs O went for the Chip, a fruity English style pale ale, not too bitter and so, once again, just to her taste.

Leaving Forest Road we had to choose between going on to our last planned destination - the London Fields taproom - or back to The Last Tuesday Society. By this time we were starting to become slightly depressed at not having seen anyone else over the age of 25 all night. However, Mrs O decided that we should go on, and maybe call in at the cocktail bar on the way back to the hotel.

The Taproom, which claims a capital T as if it is the only one, was also not particularly busy for a Saturday night. Mrs O went for the Live and Let Lychee, a refreshing fruity sour; while I appear not to have Untappd whatever I had! Now I really can't recall what it was, which is a shame as I think it was another good beer.

Heading back towards the hotel, we were disappointed to see that the Last Tuesday Society had just closed. Mrs O put it on her list of places to go next time she is in London. Instead we carried on back to Mother Kelly's for a final drink, or three, of the evening. For the first time that night Mrs O couldn't find anything that she really fancied. Maybe in part because her mood was dampened by feeling too old to fit in with all the bright young things around us. I understand how she felt, although I didn't let it put me off my beers - Epicycloid and Ionize by Gama Brewing Company, Simcoe Bale Ale by Dry and Bitter, and Mad About Cacao by Brouwerij Frontaal - all very fine beers. 

I have to say that I enjoyed all the beers I drank, but not really any of the venues. All four places we visited seemed to have a very homogenous clientele of white twenty-somethings. There also seemed to be no sense of community or contact between different groups. Maybe that is just my age and the fact that it was just the two of us, maybe it is London (I am a country boy really), maybe it is just the particular places that we visited.

Somewhere for next time?

In the morning we made our way to Broadway market were we enjoyed a fantastic breakfast in the sunshine at El Ganso. That is definitely somewhere I would visit again; everything on the menu looked enticing and it was a real challenge to make a selection. The market itself was vibrant, colourful, and a veritable United Nations of foodstalls. The Dove hadn't opened unfortunately but I hope to give it a try another time as the advertised beer selection looks great. In fact I didn't get to try any more craft beer in London, but the two of us did have a lovely day. Perhaps the beery highlight of the weekend was Fourpure's Easy Peeler at Byron back in Ipswich that evening. The beer was fine, but the company of Mrs O, our daughter, and our son's girlfriend, was what really made it special!


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