Tuesday, 21 December 2010

New Year's Eve T-Bone Fest at Draft House

Just wanted to let you know what’s happening with us for New Year’s Eve. Well, no surprises. Great food, great beer, great music. Oh, and we'll have plenty of our legendary 28-day aged 600g Angus T-Bones on hand. Visit the website for how to contact us to book.

On the music point the usual ban on (cough) handbag house prevails, but we may up the funk level a few notches while maintaining a liberal sprinkling of Draft House classics (what would New Year’s Eve be without Jolene by Dolly Parton?). Dancing is not forbidden.

On the beer front, surely there could be no better moment to crack open one (several?) of our famous rare, large format bottles. Or, don’t forget, we absolutely condescend to a wide range of champagnes “to suit all budgets” as they say in the tour guides.

In all three Draft Houses chef will be laying on some awesome specials. So whether you’re just popping in for a pint or slipping into a 600g T-Bone we dearly hope to see you on the big night.

Also, we have one room free in the Battersea Party Rooms, complete with dancelfloor, DJ Booth and cocktail bar if any of you folk feel like throwing your own club event. See below for picture of the legendary Bridge Bar.

Likewise at Tower Bridge, one of the Tasting Rooms is available with all the same opportunities for merriment (picture below). Cocktail bar, kicking sound system, glitter ball. And as always NOTHING is too much trouble for our events teams.

Thursday, 14 October 2010

If we don't act now, pubs will disappear

(from The Times today, by yours truly)

The pub is broken. The trajectory of its long-term decline got steeper yesterday and there is no help at hand. Punch Taverns announced that 1,300 of its 6,700-strong estate have “no future” and will be closed or sold. We are used to hearing that 50-odd pubs a week are disappearing, but if the closures are accelerating soon whole areas of the UK may lose access to draught beer and a community gathering place. 

What has gone so horribly wrong? Why are our pubs, once the mainstay of the urban street corner and heart of every village, no longer viable? The death of some is inevitable. Noone is going to suggest that we suspend the drink-driving laws which have killed off any inn unfortunate enough to be situated on an A Road roundabout (‘one for the road, anyone?’). But what of the rest? Why is the pub dying?

The pricing model is broken - supermarket booze is too cheap. The supermarkets routinely use beer as a “traffic driver”, selling it below cost price to draw in customers for their weekly shop. Asda was recently selling 20 tins of Stella Artois for £9 (hope your fridge is big enough). And a price war in 2007 saw own-branded beer for sale for as little as 22p a tin – David Cameron’s much-quoted “20 tins for a fiver”. Leaving aside the appalling social and health impact of unsupervised drinking at these prices, how can the hard-pressed pub-goer justify £2.50 or more per pint against this backdrop?

The regulatory environment is broken. The smoking ban has alienated many customers. Hard-pressed independent landlords (surely the future of the industry) are swamped by bureaucracy and box-ticking unmanageable for a small business without access to an HR department. Last week yet another set of new rules, passed by the last government, came into effect stipulating that all pubs must offer wine by the 125ml measure – by law. This means new menus and glassware for a measure that research shows nobody wants.

The pub ownership model is broken. Brimming with free market zeal the Tories forced the breweries to sell off their pubs in the 1980s. The dogma of the day said it was anti-competitive that pub tenants had to buy beer exclusively from their brewery owners. Fuelled by oceans of debt (Punch Taverns, for example, owes more than £3 billion, or £464,000 per pub) smart City types formed the ‘PubCos’ which acquired these estates. But the insanity is that the ‘tie’ which obliges the tenant to buy beer from its landlord, remained in place in the majority of instances. So now most pubs are not only paying large rents, but also have to buy their beer at grossly inflated prices from their landlord, prices which if charged by a supermarket would cause a customer to shop elsewhere.

Pubs themselves are broken. Challenges arising from supermarket pricing, regulation and punitive leases all have a cost. And that cost is a poor selection of the cheapest brands of beer, ‘ready’ meals, poorly trained staff and management, delayed refurbishment, increasingly desperate price promotions and so on. In other words, a disheartening experience for the customer creating a spiral of decline, leading sooner or later to yet another closure statistic.

Pub owners and staff up and down the country, if they have got this far, will be cursing me for the calumny I heaped upon the industry in the last paragraph. And of course there are many honourable exceptions. Prosperous metropolitan and suburban areas still support a thriving, well-run, increasingly food-led pub trade. Pubs are not closing in these areas. I know from bitter experience how difficult it is to buy licensed sites in Notting Hill, Mayfair or Islington.

But we are talking about pubs in non-thriving areas, i.e. much of the country outside the prosperous South East. What’s the recipe for revival? This is a crisis, and emergency measures must be taken.

Government has a big part to play, loath though I am to admit it. Nowhere is the bonfire of regulation more needed than in our trade. Tax on draught beer should be slashed and a minimum price for alcohol set – Tesco boss Sir Terry Leahy asked for this himself this year. Business rates must be reduced (ours were up by as much as 25% this year).

The hardest nut to crack will be reform of pub ownership. But crack it we must and brighter minds than mine must help. The high rents and tied leases set by PubCos must be stopped. Currently the PubCos cannot change lease terms because of loan covenants. With heavy debts and fewer customers it is in their interests to find a better way to do business. The government may have to step in too, they own the banks after all. The goal must be to make pub ownership and attendance affordable for everyone, everywhere in Britain.

Charlie McVeigh, licensee at three Draft Houses in SW11 and SE1


Tuesday, 12 October 2010

The Slider Cometh?

Draft House Northcote is outgrowing its kitchen. It's just too darned busy. But rather than turning you good people away on a weekend, we are looking at our most popular dish - The Draft House Burger, famed the length and breadth of Northcote Road to see if we can reduce the cooking time.

Mindful of other disastrous tamperings with a classic (New Coke anyone?) chef Sabrina Gidda and I are proceeding with care.

The inspiration for this blue sky burger research came from a conversation earlier this year at one of all-round NYC food expert Daniel Young's Burger Monday events. We were talking about the elements which give the humble burger its unique irresistibility. One of them, undoubtedly, is the char on the exterior of the patty. He posited that the ultimate burger is the double, with four sides of char.

Given that our chunky 9oz Draft House Burger takes 14 minutes to cook to medium thereby slowing service on a crazy Saturday, we wondered whether two might be better than one. See picture above.

The experimentation continues. Thoughts welcome, people.

Monday, 11 October 2010

Why only one Cask Ale at Tower Bridge?

Well, we started with three and I wasn't happy with the quality. Nor were some of the punters. Among them was Hermano Primero ("The older and let's face it, cooler half of the Dos Hermanos blogging crew") who described his pint of Wandle at Tower Bridge as "flat as a pancake". This sparked some lively debate on-line with some coming vigorously to our defence. And certainly those - like myself - who think the Wandle at Northcote and Westrbidge is as close to transcendental as you are likely to get - were riled. But the bugger had a point. It was, well, flat.

What does flat mean for a cask ale? At its best a good pint of live cask ale has a bright clarity and a raciness in the mouth which never, and I mean never equates to fizziness. It is a glorious, fecund foaminess. Imagine the primordial soup controlled by superhuman genius for your pleasure. It's that lively. 

The trouble with this unholy, beautiful stuff is that unlike pasteurised keg beer it is alive and if any of a number of factors are not absolutely perfect than it is, well, shite. Or flat. And one of the key things required is turnover. And at Tower Bridge, with twenty-four choices (21 of them in keg) we just weren't getting the turnover on the cask pumps. So following Hermano-Wandle-Gate we dropped down to one which we are rotating cask-to-cask. As turnover increases (and boy is it ever) we will of course be adding to the roster. Watch this space.

Currently on the hand pump is a cask lager - Schiehallion from Clackmannanshire. I indulged in a little quality control and can confirm that everything, and I mean everything, about it was just, well, right.

Next blogpost - re-engineering the Northcote Burger - the Slider cometh.


Sunday, 19 September 2010

Draft House Tower Bridge: First Images

Photos by Anthony Parkinson

View from Queen Elizabeth Street - still not finished but what a day...

Those controversial green banquettes (better get used to 'em).
The Bar

Blair Macann's magnificent Steak Tartare

Soused Herring and God Lager. Say no more.
Many's the long hour I have spent trying to photograph beer. It always ends up looking pants. Please take it from me. It's delicious, and looks good in real life. The teutonic fonts on the other hand, look - well - teutonic.

The Dining Room. The Copper sign (half cut off on right) was the pub's sign many years ago, found in the attic.

Entrance to Dining Room.

Chef Blair Macann

Friday, 16 July 2010

A Day at Fuller Smith & Turner

A merrie band of Draft House types made its way to Chiswick on Wednesday for Cask Marque exams and a tour of Fuller's Griffin Brewery. Among those who hadn't yet taken the test (an exhaustive examination of one's cask beer management knowledge) was yours truly. We learn if we passed or failed next week. If it's the latter in my case I promise to close all Draft Houses down the next day and adjourn to a darkened room with a revolver and bottle of whisky (I won't deserve a beer, clearly).

Not especially being a London Pride fan I have always had a somewhat jaundiced view of Fuller's and their dominance of the West London market. But having seen Young's flee its splendid Victorian brewery in Wandsworth Town Centre for an anodyne facility in Hertfordshire (following a merger with Charles Wells) I have been wanting for some time to re-evaluate my opinion. Indeed, there is much to like, perhaps even love about Fuller's.

Despite being extremely cramped for space between the Thames and the Great West Road those stubborn Fuller's types have stuck it out on their historic patch.

The brewery is close, even claustrophobic. Ancient, disused coal-fired coppers sit cheek-by-jowl with modern, computerised kit. Narrow corridors are lined with wooden barrels of the Master Brewer's latest vintage offering - currently the 2007 (below).

Our guide was a 41-year Fuller's veteran, John. He regaled us, somewhat wistfully, with tales of the golden era of "wet" brewing - in effect the period until 1984 when brewery staff were permitted to drink while they worked.

There were some notoriously thirsty types, some drinking 15-plus pints a day. But, as John informed us sagely, these chaps were engaged in heavy manual work so they didn't really feel the booze. Workers were paid partly in tokens which they exchanged for pints, often starting off with a foaming mug before the morning shift at 4am. I'm thinking the chaps in the front row below might have had a couple. We especially liked the watering can.

It's hard not to like a place which has not only been at the heart of the revival of cask beer, but which also engenders such a fierce loyalty and - yes - pride in its staff.

And now there are follow some silly pictures of Draft House managers who should have been paying attention to more stories about drunken brewery staff but instead chose to eff about.

Here was the light canteen lunch which we were privileged to share with the Fullerites:

And finally, a richly deserved pint in the Mawson Arms next to the Griffin Brewery.

From left to right Michael (Westbridge), David (Westbridge), Juan (Northcote), Neil (Tower Bridge), Charlie (Owner), Adam (Operations). Regrettably, these were not the only pints drunk on this occasion (ouch). But I did learn to like Chiswick Ale and tolerate Discovery. I bought a bottle of the 2007 Vintage Ale which will go to the top-scorer in the Cask Marque exam.

PS a special apology to our Australian colleagues, David and Michael, who had to tolerate Fosters jokes throughout the day. I would like to correct the impression, if it was given, that Fosters is anything but the finest beer in the world.

PPS Thanks so much to the fabulous Annabel Smith of Cask Marque who managed to make a potentially dry   subject interesting and useful.

PPPS Huge gratitude for Juan Christian's surprisingly good pictures (considering they were produced by a camera phone). Thanks Juey!

Tuesday, 22 June 2010

Budget: Some Thoughts on Saving the Pub

While glad that, for once, alcohol is exempted from duty increases I am disappointed that Cameron, Osborne and Clegg didn't use this moment of economic crisis to bring about positive change for the licensed trade and therefore for the country as a whole.

Most seem agreed that the pub is in crisis.

One of the key reasons for this is extreme promotional discounting by supermarkets - often to below the cost at which landlords can buy beer. Why not, therefore reduce tax on draft beer and cider sold into the licensed trade?

And set a minimum price for alcohol while you're at it.

If we want to save the community pub, and I think most are agreed that we do, these are crucial first steps.

(you can expect a book on this subject from yours truly in due course, but don't start holding your breath quite yet)

Saturday, 19 June 2010

North vs South Pouring Battle: THE SPARKLER VERDICT

The latest in our somewhat nerdy series of beer tasting events was less well attended than some. Clearly a couple of hours discussing different head consistencies is not everyone's bag. Still, Pete Brown (Beer Writer of the Year 2009) and Duncan Sambrook (Wandle brewer and all-round local hero) were there along with a small but focused crowd, all of whom were able to walk out unaided at the end.

So what was it all about?

In essence, cask ale in the North of England is often pulled though a sparkler, a small showerhead-type object affixed to the end of the nozzle. This forces the beer through microscopic holes, agitating the carbon dioxide in the ale and thereby delivering a more full-bodied pint with a thick, creamy head. A bit like (forgive me) tinned Boddington's, though that effect is created by releasing nitrogen so is, in fact, an entirely different process. Draft Stouts use a similar device with a similar outcome, though the creaminess seems more profound and long-lasting on the black stuff.
By contrast, in the South, the beer is poured straight out and - if well kept, pulled and served in a very clean glass - creates a foamy head which disappears after a few minutes. 

Our goal on Wednesday, other than drinking a cellar-load of beer, was to play around with the sparkler a little and see what happened. Thus we selected an archetypal Southern brew (Sambrook's Wandle) and a quintessentially Geordie effort (Mordue's Workie Ticket) and sampled them both with and without the Sparkler.

Having discussed this at some length on Twitter (and - gasp! - in person) with Drapers Arms-owner Nick Gibson I was forewarned. But nothing prepared me for how dreadful Wandle would taste through the Sparkler. Duncan was appalled (see below). Pete refused to drink his. That's how bad it was. Wandle is a truly great beer which perfectly encapsulates the unique genius of traditional British brewing - namely to produce full-bodied, full-flavoured ale with a low alcohol content (in this case 3.7%). But put through a Sparkler it became sweet dishwater.

By contrast, Northerners, it would appear, swing both ways. Mordue's Workie Ticket worked well with and without the sparkler. But again they tasted entirely different.

There it is above, in all its creamy-headed glory. Still sweet but balanced by the extra-bitter hops included in the brew to balance the sweetening effect of the Sparkler. 

Duncan Sambrook, a chemistry graduate, explained the sweetness. Apparently the agitation of the CO2 by the sparkler causes the bitterness molecules from the hops to attach themselves to the CO2 molecules. Thus most of the bittnerness is removed from the beer itself, and resides afterwards in the head. To prove this, Duncan encouraged us to take the teaspoon test. This involved spooning a small amount of the creamy head into one's gob - and sure enough it was astringently bitter. Fascinating.

Attendee James Diggle (above) enjoying a Workie Ticket without sparkler. This had a goodly amount of bitterness and kept its head well.

Having learned to drink cask ale in Edinburgh - my palate shaped on the forge of such great sparkler-led institutions as the Athletics Arms, the Windsor Buffet, Mathers, and the legendary Blue Blazer, I expected to like the sparkler more than I did. 

In all honesty, I have been corrupted by weak Southern ways and I like my beer foamy and thin. Ho hum.

Thanks to Pete brown (of whom I neglected to get a picture) and especially to Duncan Sambrook for allowing us to roundly mock the Sparkler-Wandle (followed by much adulation of the straight-out version) and to all attendees. Watch this space for future chronic outbreaks of beer-geekiness.

Friday, 18 June 2010

New Site East-Side...

Last week we exchanged on a new site - our third! - on the south side of Tower Bridge looking onto the mayor's office from the front and onto Shad Thames at the back. This is our first tentative step outside of SW11, the Draft House heartland, so we shall see if the Easterners like our blend of honest food and beers which aspire to greatness. We take possession of the site at the end of this month and, following a 6-week fit aim to open by end-August.

Time Out Says Draft House is Best Pub

Last year they gave us 4 / 5 stars. Then in April they said we were the best "Pub with Great Beer". And this week, in Time Out's list of "London's Best Pubs & Bars" we came second, beaten by Mark's Bar at Hix Soho.

So I guess, in their eyes, that makes us the #1 pub in London.

It's kind of hard to take in.

Tuesday, 15 June 2010

And the winner of the DH Westbridge Quote Competition?

We asked you, the customer/reader/boss which quote you wanted over the bar in the Westbridge. An astonishing 210 replies to our surveymonkey.com yielded only one winner:

"No soldier can fight unless he is properly fed on beef and beer." -John Churchill, First Duke of Marlborough

And, in order, the runners up were:

2. "Dost thou think, because thou art virtuous, there will be no more cakes and ale?" -Sir Toby Belch from Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night

3. "Home of the Third" (me)

4. "Beer is living proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy." -Benjamin Franklin

5. "Make sure that the beer - four pints a week - goes to the troops under fire before any of the parties in the rear get a drop." -Winston Churchill to his Secretary of War

...with the wooden spoon going to Abe Lincoln: "I am a firm believer in the people. If given the truth, they can be depended upon to meet any national crisis. The great point is to bring them the real facts, and beer." 

Wednesday, 2 June 2010


England vs USA 12/06/10

GK     Anchor Porter

LB     Left Hand Milk Stout
CB     Brooklyn LAGER
CB     Anchor Steam Lager
RB     Brooklyn Brown Ale

LW     Goose Island “Honkers”
MF     JW Dundee Honey Brown
MF     Samuel Adams Lager
RW     Belgica

CF     Titan IPA
CF     Lone Star

RED CARD: Anheuser-Busch Budweiser

Wednesday, 26 May 2010

Arrogant Bastard - In-Coming This Weekend

The Stone Brewing Co guys were obviously paying attention in Guerilla Marketing 101. Their epicly uncompromising website says it all:  

"Arrogant Bastard  is an aggressive beer. You probably won't like it. It's doubtful that you have the taste or sophistication to be able to appreciate an ale of this quality and depth. We would suggest that you stick to safer and more familiar territory - maybe something with a multi-million dollar ad campaign aimed at convincing you that it's made in a little brewery, or one that implies that their tasteless, fizzy yellow beer will give you more sex appeal. Perhaps you think that multi-million dollar ad campaigns make beer taste better. Perhaps you are mouthing your words as you read this..."

I was fortunate enough to taste this, together with the extraordinary Levitation Ale, at our extreme US Craft Beer Tasting a week ago. And now we have secured a keg, due to go on sale at some stage this weekend at Draft House Northcote. It won't last long...call ahead (020 7924 1814) to see if it's on.

Sunday, 23 May 2010

Extreme US Craft Beer Tasting - Report

This was a cracker of an evening. Andreas Falt from Vertical Drinks did us proud, talking the group knowledgeably through the ten insane beers on offer. When, after beer # 5 or #6, the group grew restless and began indulging in that great crime of "talking amongst themselves" he would clap his hands briskly and efficiently together and order would miraculously be restored. The line-up, with tasting notes, is below.

Star attendees included beer blogger Mark Charlwood, Henrietta Lovell (The Rare Tea Lady), violinist Eos Chater of Bond and I at last was able to meet Nick Gibson, co-owner of Islington's Michelin-starred Drapers Arms. Also the charming Sam and Nigel from The Coastguard Arms in Kent - more here.

So thanks Andreas and to all who came. A top time was had by all.

Next event (blog-preview to follow) is on 16th June and is a demonstration of cask ale pouring techniques (go to http://sparkler.eventbrite.com/ for more info).

Sierra Nevada Pale Ale – 5.6%
American favourite Pale Ale! A delightful interpretation of a classic style. It has a deep amber colour
and an exceptionally full-bodied, complex character. Generous quantities of premium Cascade hops
give the Pale Ale its fragrant bouquet and spicy flavour

Sierra Nevada Torpedo IPA – 7.2%
An American double IPA. Full bodied and lots of hop character. Good balance between malt, hops and

Victory HopDevil IPA – 6.7%
Menacingly delicious, with the powerful, aromatic punch of whole flower American hops backed up by
rich, German malts. HopDevil Ale offers a roller coaster ride of flavour, coasting to a smooth finish
that satisfies fully.

Dogfish Head 60 Minute IPA – 6.0%
60 Minute IPA is continuously hopped - more than 60 hop additions over a 60 minute boil 60 Minute is
a session India Pale Ale brewed with a slew of great NorthWest hops. A powerful, but balanced East
Coast I.P.A. with a lot of citrus hop character. The session beer for hardcore beer enthusiasts!

Dogfish Head 90 Minute IPA – 9.0%
An Imperial I.P.A. A big beer with a great malt backbone that stands up to the extreme hopping rate.

Sierra Nevada Kellerweis - 4.8%
A great example of a Bavarian-style cloudy Wheat beer. Lots of banana and cloves on the nose and
refreshing full bodied palate.

Victory Saison – 6.8%
Their version of a Belgian style saison. On the nose the wheat malt and spices come through. On the
palate comes a balanced mixture of malt and spices. A beer that leaves you wanting more of it.

Stone Levitation Ale – 4.4% (my personal pick of the bunch)
Stone Levitation Ale might be the lowest ABV (4.4%) beer that they produce but there is no lack of
aroma or flavour in this one. It has a fantastic fresh hop aroma mixed with a malty background. In the
mouth it has a lot of flavours from the roasted malts and from the hops in the bitter finish.

Stone Arrogant Bastard Ale – 7.2% (we will shortly be the only people in the country to have this on draft)
Arrogant Bastard Ale is an American style strong ale with a hoppy finish. On the palate it is round,
velvet and with a slight sweetness. This is then finished with a warm and bitter finish. Not a beer for
the faint hearted.

Dogfish Head Palo Santo Marron – 12.0%
An unfiltered, unfettered, unprecedented brown ale aged in handmade wooden brewing vessels. The
caramel and vanilla complexity unique to this beer comes from the exotic Paraguayan Palo Santo wood
from which these tanks were crafted. Palo Santo means "holy tree" and it's wood has been used in
South American wine-making communities.

Wednesday, 12 May 2010

Line-Up For Extreme American Craft Beer Tasting (19th May)

I now have the line-up for the tasting of ultra-extreme US Craft beers on 19th May (7.30pm at DH Westbridge).
Myself and Andreas from Vertical Drinks will be hosting. We are still finalising the line-up but the lead act will be a selection of wacko bottles from Dogfish Head, a gang of stoner-brewers from Rehoboth Beach, Delaware (marginally easier to pronounce than a certain Icelandic volcano). Star of the show may be the legendary 120-Minute IPA, which clocks in at an immodest 18% ABV. I say "may" because this stuff is as rare as hens' teeth. Follow us on Twitter for more updates. In the meantime, we can confirm the following monsters:

Sierra Nevada Pale Ale 5.6%
Sierra Nevada Kellerweis Hefeweizen 4.8%
Sierra Nevada Torpedo IPA 7.2%
Victory HopDevil IPA 6.7%
Victory Saison (large format) 7.5%
Dogfish Head 60 Minute IPA 6.0%
Dogfish Head 90 Minute IPA 9.0%
Dogfish Head Palo Santo Marron 12.0%
Stone Leviation Ale 4.0%
Stone Arrogant Bastard Ale 10.0%

Aficionados will have noticed the presence of Arrogant Bastard, a stupidly rare beer in the UK.
For £10 you will get the opportunity to attend a chaotic but ultimately satisfactory tasting.

I f you can't make this one, our next humdinger of this type will be on 16th June.

Saturday, 1 May 2010

Third Wednesday: US Craft Beer Tasting at DH Westbridge on 19 May

Continuing our series of beer events on the THIRD WEDNESDAY of the month we are pleased and proud to announce a tasting of ultra-extreme US Craft beers on 19th May (7.30pm at DH Westbridge).

Myself and Andreas from Vertical Drinks will be hosting. We are still finalising the line-up but the lead act will be a selection of wacko bottles from Dogfish Head, a gang of stoner-brewers from Rehoboth Beach, Delaware (marginally easier to pronounce than a certain Icelandic volcano). Star of the show may be the legendary 120-Minute IPA, which clocks in at an immodest 18% ABV. I say "may" because this stuff is as rare as hens' teeth. Follow us on Twitter for more updates.

For £10 you will get the opportunity to attend a chaotic but ultimately satisfactory tasting. To book, click here.

I f you can't make this one, our next humdinger of this type will be on 16th June.

Wednesday, 28 April 2010

Writing A Book (help)

I am writing a book about beer and saving the pub. Well, more of a Swift-style Modest Proposal (although there is no current plan to feed children to anyone).

Do let me know if you have any thoughtful or hilarious beer quotes (and, yes, I have the Benjamin Franklin one) or any other thoughts/ideas.

I am obliged to you all.

Monday, 12 April 2010

Thanks for these Terrific Pictures and Review

So many thanks to @aforkful for her generous review of Draft House Northcote - here are two pics I have stolen from her blog, featuring the all-new Eggs Florentine and that old stager (for us, anyway) Squid & Chorizo.

Tuesday, 30 March 2010

Now this is really good...THIRD WEDNESDAY at Sambrook's

Every third Wednesday of the month we will be hosting a thrilling tasting event at Draft House Westbridge.

We kick off 21st April at 6.45pm with a FREE brewery tour of Sambrook's Brewery to see how the wonderful Wandle is actually made. Then *STOP PRESS* it's all back to Westbridge to be the first to taste Junction Ale - the stronger and darker of the two beers brewed by Sambrook's.

But this is not just any old Junction - this is a special batch which has been Oak-Barrel Aged and Dry-Hopped giving great richness and complexity.

Attendees will be the first members of the public to taste this unique and extreme interpretation of one of Draft House's best selling beers (which most likely will never go on general sale). And there'll be plenty of Wandle too. Duncan Sambrook, who is not as excitable as I am, says: "Junction Ale will be conditioned in a traditional oak cask for a week and dry hopped with Bramling X hops.  We are hoping that this process will help to enhance the maturation of the beer during the secondary fermentation to produce a uniquely flavoured take on our award winning Junction Ale."

Just to be clear - the tour is free, but the beer won't be when we get back to Westbridge - but Junction will be charged at the usual price of £1.15 per third pint so it'll be a steal, really.  Places are limited for the Tour so let us know asap at westbridge@drafthouse.co.uk. Or visit our website.

Wednesday, 24 March 2010

Loving this Picture from Twitter...

A darling customer posted this on Twitter last Sunday (having come all the way from London Fields via a recommendation from the good chaps at The Drapers Arms in Islington - thanks, chaps!). It just sums up to me what lunch should be all about (assuming the company was bearable). Thanks, Sally.

Friday, 19 March 2010

Draft House Westbridge - what does it all mean?

This month we marked officially the transformation of The Westbridge into Draft House Westbridge.  Some of you remarked, not a lot has changed. Well, like those guys in the Jack Daniels ad, that's kinda how we like it round here.

That said, there's a new, sleak oak back-bar. There's beautiful new signage in the Draft House idiom. OK, we redecorated and chose a slightly different wall colour (Carnforth White by Farrow & Ball (ouch!) since you asked).

Here's the team gathering for battle before the launch last Thursday (um, that's me in the green jumper).

The menu now clearly shows the huge range of draft and bottled beers. The food is sensational. That's largely thanks to Anton Gonsalves, our new Head Chef (left) and the King of the Draft House Kitchens, Simon Noumar (right). To encourage you to try the new menu and in celebration of all this Draft House transformation business we are offering 50% off ALL FOOD, ANYTIME until end-March. Now that's a deal.

And the service is by the same informal but cheerfully efficient guys and girls who have been at Westbridge since Day One - led by Alex Mole (left) and Adam Simmons (below right)

The bottom line is, The Westbridge is where the Draft House idea germinated. So all we've really done is bring it home. We hope you enjoy it - do let us know all about your experiences with us. Our Facebook page is sort of fun - please do join  and you'll be kept up to date with beer tastings, new brews etc. Also, in case you didn't know, I have been known to pronounce on various matters on Twitter - click here to follow me.

And finally, do visit the Battersea Party Rooms website - they are the best private rooms in South West London IMHO - and all at pub prices.