London beers #2: Partizan Pale, Clarkshaws, and Pressure Drop

Three more cracking Capital ales from The Wanstead Tap

pressure drop strictly roots

How could I resist the invitation to try a bottle of Pressure Drop Brewery’s Strictly Roots Dandelion and Burdock Porter brewed in collaboration with the legendary wild man of the marshes John the Poacher, when plonked on the bar of the Tap by Dan. I’d picked up a copy of John’s book in Leyton Library and stupidly only skimmed it in the Leyton Tech but it appeared to be full of stories of catching rabbits on Hackney Marshes. I’m making the assumption that he foraged the Dandelion and Burdock on the marshes for Hackney based Pressure Drop. Like one of John’s gamey marsh rabbits Strictly Roots can best be described as an acquired taste (I grew up on wild rabbit for the record) with strong hints of alluvial deposits from the river Lea and an intense muddy aftertaste kicking in after a liquoricey opening salvo. Best consumed sat on the banks of the Lea with a copy of Marshland by Gareth Rees.

Clarkshaws Strange Brew

There seemed little strange about this  ebullient bottle of sparkling amber ale from Clarkshaws after the Strictly Roots. Cooked up in East Dulwich, Strange Brew No.1 went down beautifully in the evening sun. I was drawn to this beer amongst the 100 on offer at the Tap by the modesty of its label amongst a veritable gallery of vivid branding lining the shelves. Surely this indicated that the beer would speak for itself. To be honest I was also sucked in by the individual bottle numbering (this one was Batch No. 1, Bottle No.54) giving it the feel of a limited edition. Not only did the beer speak for itself it sat there on the table reciting poetry before breaking into arias and sea shanties. Apparently it’s vegetarian as well.

Partizan Pale Ale

Partizan Brewing from Bermondsey have a distinctly different attitude to beer labeling on their seductive range of ales that even include a Saison Iced Tea. This zesty, citrus-tinged Pale Ale had my taste buds dancing round my gullet in the kind of kooky oompah-band hanky-waving gyrations that the figures on the bottle look like they are about to burst into. It then made me want to get up and do a few laps of the table to Half Man Half Biscuit’s All I Want For Christmas is a Dukla Prague Away Kit. Sign of a good beer.


These are dozens more are all available from The Wanstead Tap or direct from the breweries.

London beers #1: Reliance Pale Ale & Wu Gang

London is currently bursting with breweries, at least 50 at the last count. Luckily for me a place has opened on my doorstep that sells a great selection of the ales they are turning out giving me the opportunity to sample them by taking the short stroll across Wanstead Flats to the Wanstead Tap

Brixton Brewery Pale Ale

Reliance Pale Ale – Brixton Brewery

According to the eye-catchingly designed label this luscious golden pale ale is named in honour of one Brixton’s dreamlike arcades – the Reliance Arcade built in 1925 and now thankfully granted Grade 2 listed status. I wrote about the arcades in This Other London. German theorist Walter Benjamin used the Paris Arcades as the inspiration for his seminal work The Arcades Project. Benjamin saw the arcades as being like the portals to the underworld of ancient Greece, ‘a land full of inconspicuous places from which dreams arise’. The arcades were ‘galleries leading into the city’s past’ that we pass during the day not realizing the wonders they hold.

In the case of the Reliance Arcade the dream that has arisen is this glorious pale ale. I don’t know how to describe it in terms of its aromas and the varieties of hops used in its brewing except to say that my taste buds ascended to the heavens and did laps around the evening sun. It’s bloody gorgeous.

Pressure Drop Brewery

Wu Gang Chops The Tree – Pressure Drop Brewing

I had no idea what a Hefeweisse is and was beguiled into buying this curious brew by the idea that it contained ‘foraged herb'(s). Dan at the Tap suggested it had hints of sage. It’s also got a lovely label – you don’t find artwork like that on a tin of Carlsberg. Pressure Drop are also relatively local being based over the valley in Hackney.

It slides down like a melted ice cream working it way over your knuckles on a childhood summer afternoon. I couldn’t taste the foraged herbs to be honest but by the time I’d worked that out it didn’t matter.

I’d better get over to the Tap for the next batch.