I had a totally bonkers hour in Borough Market yesterday.
I popped into Brew Wharf for a quick refresher after a long afternoon's wine tasting (90 wines in about 4 hours - a new personal best). On the bar was Hopsession #2 (6.1%abv), brewed in collaboration with Steel City Brewing. Never one to shirk a challenge, I ordered a pint, and struggled through it. It's one of the hoppiest, bitterest beers I've had in a long time, deliberately unbalanced (we'll return to this later), and really close to being drinkable. I should have ordered a half.
After that, I needed a beer. Popping into The Rake, I found Dark Star Triple (8.5%abv). My notes read: "What madness is this? A limited brew that attempts to put all the mealy, hoppy goodness of a Belgian triple into a cask ale. Against the odds, it succeeds, with malty, yeasty sweetness leading, backed up by a brilliant herbal bitterness". My enjoyment of the beer was enhanced by an impromptu fitness session from regulars and staff - one-handed press-ups and door-frame fingertip pull-ups. Of all the things I expected to find at The Rake, the staff and customers all doing press-ups was fairly low on the list.
As I was finishing a second beer (Marble Chocolate, 5.5%abv, very nice too), who should arrive but none other than Gazza Prescott himself, of Steel City Brewing. We've never met before, so after quick intros, I told him I'd just had a Hopsession. He asked me what I thought, and I told him 'unbalanced'. Frankly, he couldn't have been happier. He hit the nail on the head by saying that it needed more aroma hop, and I suggested that they might have moved some of the hop additions from early to late. He gave me the sort of look usually reserved for the feeble-minded, and made it clear that there would be no funny business - the beer simply needed more hops, and later in the boil.
So, a crash course in mid-Atlantic pale ale design, and some low-key floor acrobatics in one of the best beer bars in London. You don't get that in Leeds on a Tuesday night (thank goodness).