Sunday, May 18, 2014

The Bull, Highgate

In Highgate to see a band play the other night, we turned out to be in a very nice little brewpub, home of the London Brewing Company microbrewery. It was relatively quiet when we arrived, and service was pleasant and professional, but felt a bit all-hands-to-the-pump already, with three different table waiters and several bar staff milling around frantically serving about two people total. Hard to imagine what a busy night would look like! The menu looks really great, with high-end gastropub food, although the prices are equally high-end, and there was nothing appetizing in the vegetarian selection. (There is a surprisingly wide range of gluten-free offering, though.)

The band playing ("The Swinging Garçons") were a lot of fun, highly skilled but relaxed swing jazz with a side-serving of virtuoso steel drum. They play in the Bull every Thursday night, with variations to the line-up. (Disclosure: one of our SfTP reviewers is a regular member of the band.)

We also tasted the three London Brewing Co ales that were on tap (alongside a wide range of domestic and imported bottled beers). All were very nice. Notes below:

Waterlow Gold: a light orange ale with a cheeky sparkle, a fruity aroma of zest and berry, and a floury and pithy first taste, just a bit tart. It's not very bitter on the swallow, but satisfying flavours of green wood and grapefruit pit linger. The individual parts were all nice, if not outstanding in themselves, but the overall impression is a very nice and lively pint that went down like a beauty. If I weren't planning to review the others, I'd have stuck with this one all night. ****

Beer Street, Best Bitter: a beautiful, burnt sienna pint, which glows like copper against the light. The dry malty aroma leads to a yeasty, tart apple and lime first taste, and then to a chewy, spicy mouthtaste, with hints of cardamon. It's darker and smokier on the swallow, with a hint of hickory and lingering walnut bark. A bit dark and musty for my taste, but very interesting and complex. A couple of these would make me perfectly happy over an evening. ***

Vista dry-hopped red ale: a lovely, bright chestnut red with big-bubbled foam, and a startling tangerine and lime aroma. There's tart pineapple on the tip of the tongue, incredibly sweet but eye wateringly sharp, and then green orange and kumquat scrapping in the mouth, with a hint of rusty iron and fresh holly. Bright berries and zesty lime bring life to the swallow, with a sweet sappy aftertaste that lingers like a slice of a tropical beast's heart dripping on the roof of your mouth. Mmmmmm! I shall come for this one again... ****

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