Thursday, 26 March 2009

Le (La?) Gothique Beer Festival

Since writing the title you will be relieved to know that I have established that the venue is masculine (whether this is correct French I don't know). The (male) Gothique is an odd place, tucked away in the inner courtyard of a massive Victorian high gothic monsterpiece beached on a dual carriageway somewhere in Cla'ham. Our cabbie's older brother had gone to school there and apparently bears the scars to prove it. The slipper was the progressive teaching aid of choice in 1970s SW London , I gather.

Host Mark Justin had laid on 40 or so beers made by a number of obscure regional brewers plus Kent megapower Shepherd Neame. I pitched up with Adam (GM of the Westbridge) and Duncan Sambrooke (proud owner of Sambrooke's Brewery, of which more later). We arrived possibly a little early (5ish) and the crowd was predominantly gloomy men. There's a certain look: Millets coat, greying ponytail (Option B: long hair, side parting - if James Hunt was still alive...). Later it livened up.

The beer was very mixed IMHO. Among the worst things I have drunk this year (a big statement) were the Midhurst Mild (tasteless) and the Chocolate and Orange Delight (sewage nose). But there were some stars: Wandle - brewed by charming Dunc (see above), Downton IPA (a fearsome 6.8% but massive depths) and just about anything from Shepherd Neame but especially their lightest offering Canterbury Jack - a pure expression of English Hops (or so I told myself knowingly).

I have long avoided the pickled egg. I once bumped into Richard, landlord of the Cock & Bottle (Artesian Road, W11) at Belfast City Airport at around 8pm on a Sunday. "Don't come near me", he said, "I've had 16 pickled eggs".

Tonight, however, was the night. And I enjoyed my 50p Parson's "Buffet Range" egg. A good accompaniment to large amounts of variable quality beer.

One thought - the half even is too large a measure for these events. Bring on the THIRD.


  1. Did you go dressed as a goth then? Eyeliner and fishnets?

  2. A-hem. I was just trying not to look like everyone else. And being a balding 42-year old male that was a challenge.